The RHS and The Chelsea Flower Show – Enjoy from Your Own Home + 10 Things to Know

May 18, 2020

“[RHS is] driven by a sheer love of plants and the belief that gardeners make the world a better place – this underpins all we do.” —RHS guiding principle

It is by no mistake that I have chosen to hold TSLL’s annual British Week during the similar annual time of Britain’s annual well-known and beloved gardening event that is the Chelsea Flower Show. And while the Chelsea Flower Show is THE largest flower show of RHS, they also host many more throughout the season: Malvern, Chatsworth, Harlow Carr, Hampton Court, Wisley and others (see the full list – there are still a couple that are not cancelled this year).

As I watched last year’s episodes of Gardeners’ World that I realized there were so many other flower shows and each just as wonderful for the garden aficionado as the next.

But today, I’d like to talk about the Chelsea Flower Show and how you can enjoy it wherever in the world you are at this very moment.

It all began on May 20th in 1913 when the event was called the Great Spring Show. And while it was halted during WWI primarily as the government saw it sadly as an indulgence, many of the gardeners were called to war to serve their country. It did return however and began to include educational exhibits. While the show was halted in 1939, it resumed with vigor in 1947 and “it was said that the show represented the determined effort to keep the flag of British horticulture flying.”

Now as many of us know, for the first time since WWII, the Chelsea Flower Show will not be open to the public for in-person attendance. The flower show will be virtual this year and it begins today, running through May 23rd. But I am getting ahead of myself.

For many of us living outside of Britain, not unlike myself, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (RHS standing for The Royal Horticultural Society) may not be something we are familiar with, so I would like to share with you today what RHS is – its mission and principles – and information that will hopefully inspire you to step into gardening in your own life.

Did you know?

1.The RHS Objectives: Inspire, involve, inform, improve

2. Gardening helps the environment by reducing carbon-dioxide emissions

3. Attitudes and approaches to gardening have changed over the years and at RHS

“We are trying hard to garden more in tune with the planet rather than imposing our will on the natural world.” In other words, no more spraying to kill weeds or eradicating pests with poison.

4. Home Gardeners can do a small, yet significant part to help the planet and climate

  • remove concrete in front gardens and replace with plants and trees to increase shade, reduce floodwaters that pour into drains.
  • green walls and climbers help insulate buildings in winter, so plant that rambler or favorite vine!
  • Even if you do not have the ability to add plants in the ground, invest in windowboxes, place plants on your balconies, use pots.
  • cultivate a pollinator garden to encourage more natural pollination and increase the bee population.

5. If you live in Britain, RHS Plant Centres are now OPEN from 10am to 4pm seven days a week

6. No matter where you call home, you can Become a member of the RHS!

Becoming a member (paying an annual membership) has many benefits:

  • Free entry to the four RHS Gardens, where you can bring a family guest or two children (aged 5–16 years) for free
  • Free days out to more than 200 RHS Partner Gardens in the UK and overseas at selected periods.
  • Special access and discounted tickets to RHS Flower Shows: RHS Chelsea Flower Show, RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, RHS Flower Show Cardiff, RHS Chatsworth Flower Show and RHS Flower Show Tatton Park.
  • The Garden, monthly magazine (worth £59.40 per year)
  • Personalised, expert gardening advice
  • Save money on selected books, courses and more

7. The RHS is UK’s leading gardening charity, “aiming to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place”.

8. Each day this week, beginning tomorrow for non-members and today if you are an RHS member, visit the RHS website for free virtual video tours into Britain’s favorite garden designers’ personal gardens like Adam Frost who will take viewers through his rural garden in Lincolnshire. Below is just a sample of what you can view and learn over the next six days:

  • How to grow foxgloves with flair with the Botanic Nursery
  • Designer Tom Massey will be planting some of his Chelsea-bound plants in his small front garden to get the space buzzing with wildlife
  • Find a little zen when you step into the exotic world of designer Ishihara Kazayuki, as he shares with us his delightful garden in Japan.
  • Cut flower expert Sarah Raven leads a tour of her garden in East Sussex and discusses what’s ready for cutting in the garden in May
  • Help on growing your own vegetables
  • Spice up the day with chilli and herb experts Newlands Nursery
  • Get inspiration on succulents, carnivorous plants and orchids
  • Get gardening advice in our Q&A session featuring garden blogger Alice Vincent

9. Each evening on BBC Two Monty Don and Joe Swift will be on at 8pm to talk about highlights from the past ten years. (They will also be on BBC One at 3.45pm each day.)

10. Learn how to garden day by day with daily tips and ideas

Grow at Home is RHS initative to teach and inspire you to keep on growing. Below are just a smidge of all that you can learn on their website through videos and posts:

While many of us do not live in the UK and cannot readily visit the flower shows unless we plan a special trip (which is absolutely worth doing and is on my list to do in the future), what we can all do is become gardeners in our own way. Gardeners’ World (which I view through Amazon Prime as it is available via the AcornTV app/channel) has been a tremendous teaching show for me and every Friday evening between March and early October you will find me watching the latest episode hosted by Monty Don.

Gardeners’ World is in its 52nd season (52!!!!!) and will take you through the seasons and garden jobs you may be unaware you need to do (or just serve as a wonderful reminder as there is much to remember) – when to sow this seed, when to prune that shrub, how to layer your garden so something is always in bloom, when to harvest this vegetable, when to plant that vegetable. I will be sharing more about gardens and gardening in the coming days during British Week, but I wanted to bring awareness to not only the joy gardening can bring into our lives no matter where you call home or how big or small your garden is, but also how helpful you are being in relationship toward the planet. We can all contribute and when many of us contribute, it can make a positively powerful impact to a healthier planet. RHS and its many well-known advocates such as Monty Don and the Gardeners’ World crew are doing just that, spread the word and inspiring us all to grow. 🙂

Enjoy perusing the Chelsea Flower Show this week, perhaps with your cuppa in your favorite chair or on your porch or whilst sitting in your own garden. And if you have had the opportunity to visit the Chelsea Flower Show or any of the RHS Flower Shows, please do share in the comments what you enjoyed about your visits. I think it would be delightful to live vicariously through your memories since most of the shows are halted this season. 🙂

~Read more TSLL Gardening posts here in the Archives

~View all TSLL’s British-Inspired posts here.

2020 TSLL British Week Posts






7 thoughts on “The RHS and The Chelsea Flower Show – Enjoy from Your Own Home + 10 Things to Know

  1. What a dreamy, inspiring, and informative post! Thanks very much, as the virtual Chelsea Flower Show will surely bring some brightness to me and the rest of the indoors crowd 🙂

  2. Oh my gosh! I almost forgot about the Chelsea Flower Show; thank you for the reminder and the up close treat!! Someday I want to attend in person! ??

    1. My pleasure Laura! The benefit in this unwanted closure to the in-person experience is that so many of us who could not be there can enjoy it no matter where we are. Certainly a wonderful opportunity to explore and learn. Enjoy!

  3. Thank you for sharing the information about the Chelsea Flower Show and the virtual opportunities that will allow us to follow along. I love the tradition and elegance, and I already wondered if you chose to hold British Week to coincide with this historical event…now I know! 🙂

  4. Just yesterday, my elder daughter and I were talking about our next trip to the UK and how a visit during the Chelsea Flower Show would be lovely. I’m glad to see that it’s available in the virtual world this year!

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