Matthew Appleby, editor of Horticulture Week journal, says that Covid has accelerated the current development. “It’s an enormous change within the Great Pavilion.
“During lockdown, quite a few nurseries decided that they had to sell online because the shows were cancelled, and they found that it was more lucrative and less onerous than doing the show circuit. Plus, a lot of exhibitors are reaching retirement age and they just found it easier to sell online. There are younger growers coming through, but they tend to sell online too.”
Whether all guests will welcome the modifications is debatable, he says. “It depends what your perspective is. Plant nurseries don’t tend to get as much media coverage because they’re not as exciting as designers. But they’re good for showing new plants and they’re much loved by the silent majority, so I think they’ll be missed.”
A game-changing undertaking
New show-gardens’ sponsor Project Giving Back was based in May 2021 by two personal people, each RHS life members, who wished to assist charities. PGB plans to fund 42 gardens over three years at Chelsea.
“The founders felt that a lot of good causes had lost their opportunity to get their message out there due to the pandemic. They see Chelsea as a valuable platform to thousands of people that can be accessed by charities,” says Hattie Ghaui, PGB undertaking director.
“It’s funded by the founders from their own private wealth. Over the three years, we’ll be investing between £10 million and £12 million. A high proportion of the budget is focused on our relocation plans for the gardens [after the show].”
Ghaui hopes that PGB will proceed past its three-year plan.
For 2022, PGB personally invited designers to work on its Main Avenue gardens, and acquired 40 functions for six All About Plants slots, 4 of which handed Chelsea’s vetting panel. For 2023, it has already had greater than 200 functions for its 14 slots, from designer-charity groups, charities and backyard designers.
Who is the newt?
This yr’s headline sponsor would be the Newt, a working property and luxurious lodge in Somerset (previously Hadspen House, house of backyard historian and designer Penelope Hobhouse), now owned by South African businessman Koos Bekker and his spouse, Karen Roos. The Newt will likely be staging a backyard set up and “engagement areas” the place guests can style merchandise from the property.
Work in progress
Two RHS initiatives – a present backyard designed with Joe Swift and an set up within the Great Pavilion to have a good time the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – are each but to be unveiled, plus yet another present backyard funded by Project Giving Back.
Shortlists for Plant of the Year and Product of the Year will begin to be drawn up this month.
The Place2Be Securing Tomorrow Garden
Sponsors: Sarasin & Partners; Place2Be
Designer: Jamie Butterworth