RHS Chelsea Flower Show '“ how to get tickets and which Sussex garden designers are exhibiting

RHS Chelsea Flower Show starts today and there are a number of garden designers and nurseries from Sussex involved this year.

Jo Thompson celebrating her gold with Jody Lidgard
Jo Thompson celebrating her gold with Jody Lidgard

One of the world’s most famous flower shows, the event is a great place to find out about the latest plant trends, cutting edge garden design, and to come home brimming with ideas.

One of the biggest attractions at RHS Chelsea are the spectacular gardens and this year you can see two stunning gardens created by Sussex designers.

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At the top of this page you can watch a timelapse video of the Welcome to Yorkshire Garden being created – a video which shows how much work goes into creating each garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Jo Thompson celebrating her gold with Jody Lidgard

Designer Jo Thompson, Wadhurst, East Sussex

Multi award-winning UK designer, Jo Thompson, has scooped gold with her ‘The Wedgewood Garden’, sponsored by Wedgewood.

The Wadhurst designer said: “I’m thrilled. It’s been a joy from start to finish and this is a true team effort. It has been wonderful to work with Wedgwood on such a special garden.

“I’m so pleased to be back at the greatest flower show on earth with such an inspirational and passionate team of people, I couldn’t be happier.”

The Wedgewood Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

Designed specifically as a garden for a woman, the Wedgwood garden includes a feature bronze pavilion, meandering stream, pond with stepping stones, harmonious planting and naturalistic rocks and boulders.

Other notable aspects of the garden include a stone seat and coffee table hewn from the same boulder, split in half. A stunning kintsugi style path, snakes through the garden. The delicate strands of bronze echo the ancient Japanese practice of celebrating the art of precious scars in broken porcelain.

Beautiful willow species, Salix exigua, are dotted throughout the garden, referencing the iconic Wedgwood pattern as well as weeping feature trees.

Contemplative in atmosphere, the planting palette reflects the 18th century colour trials carried out by Josiah Wedgwood with hues of pale yellow, periwinkle, inky purple, rust and peach.

Shoreham designer Naomi Ferrett-Cohen has created The CHERUB HIV Garden: A Life Without Walls. Images taken by Prof John Frater

Designer Naomi Ferrett-Cohen, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex

Naomi has created the The CHERUB HIV Garden: A Life Without Walls – a garden designed to increase awareness of HIV, the issues surrounding young people with HIV, and how CHERUB (which stands for Collaborative HIV Eradication of Reservoirs UK BRC) are working to find a cure.

Even though it is less prevalent in the news today, HIV remains a major global problem. There are 37 million people living with HIV, with 2 million people getting infected every year – that’s one person every 15 seconds of every minute of every day.

The theme of the garden centres on a young person living with HIV and the journey they face, and aims to present two key messages: that it is OK to live openly and healthily with HIV, and that we need to work hard to find a cure through dedicated scientific research.

Shoreham designer Naomi Ferrett-Cohen has created The CHERUB HIV Garden: A Life Without Walls. Images taken by Prof John Frater

The white pod at the top of the garden represents the clinics the young people regularly attend, a cocoon of safety from the outside world. The journey from the pod through the garden shows the journey towards a life of more freedom, and the obstacles encountered along the way, as the path through the planting is interrupted by three dark obstructing walls. 
Each wall is difficult to pass and is inscribed with words that young people growing up with HIV have chosen to describe how they feel about the stigma, secrecy and the daily struggles they face.

The end of the journey is an open seating area, symbolising a society where these young people are accepted without prejudice and feel happy and confident to open up about their HIV, without fear of judgement.

The garden has been sponsored through funds raised by the CHERUB collaboration, which is a UK network of doctors, researchers and patients all working together to find a cure for HIV Infection.

The first area of planting around the pod is minimal and regimented. as you move through the garden the planting becomes much warmer and brighter in colour, looser and less formal in structure.

Aside from the show gardens and at the heart of the show lies the Great Pavilion, which not only plays host to almost 100 nurseries, new and old, but also houses the Discovery Zone, an area dedicated to highlighting the very cutting edge of technology in the world of horiculture.

Rotherview Nursery from Hastings can be found in the floral marquee as can McBean’s Orchids from Lewes. Amanda Patton Garden Design from Pulborough is also taking part in the show.

Shoreham designer Naomi Ferrett-Cohen has created The CHERUB HIV Garden: A Life Without Walls. Images taken by Prof John Frater

An array of shopping stands transform the showground into a purchaser’s paradise, each selling the very best in garden structures, accessories and products, and complementing the quality of the gardens and floral exhibits on show.

Sussex exhibitors include A Place in the Garden from Horsham; Bill Brown Bags from Littlehampton; Botanical Cushions from Crawley; Chi-Africa Ltd from Chichester; Heyland & Whittle from Crawley; Blue Forest Ltd from Wadhurst; Capital Garden Products Ltd from Wadhurst; Sarah Walton from Polegate; and Scarlett Jewellery from Hove.

The RHS invited La Famille to reimagine the celebrated Tunnel installation at the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Entitled Natural Kinaesthesia La Famille’s creative director Paul Malget, from Sussex, has created a lush labyrinth of physical exchanges between man-made and naturally-crafted elements, moulding an interior landscape that takes its cues from wabi-sabi and celebrates the uncontrollability of nature.

The tunnel, connecting Main Avenue and Ranelagh Gardens, has been produced in previous years by florists and floral designers, most notably by artist Rebecca Louise Law (2015) and Joseph Massie (2016).

Katherine Potsides, show manager for RHS Chelsea Flower Show, said: “The RHS Chelsea Flower Show shines a spotlight on the world of gardens, plants and flowers for five glorious days every May.

“We’re lucky to welcome some of the greatest designers, plantspeople and floral artists to the show who bring their creativity, ideas and inspiration to share with its visitors, not to mention the millions watching, reading and listening in around the world.

“RHS Chelsea influences trends long before and after the show and in all sorts of surprising ways; it’s impossible to walk down the local streets without being bombarded by a city truly in bloom around the time of the show.”

When is RHS Chelsea Flower Show?

Chelsea Flower Show takes place between Tuesday, May 22, 2018 and Saturday, May 26. Today (May 22) and tomorrow (May 23) is only for RHS members, with the other days open to the general public.

Gates open at 8am and close at 8pm, apart from Saturday, May 26, when it closes at 5.30pm. Plants will be sold off from 4pm on the Saturday.

Where is it held?

The event takes place in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London.

How do I get there?

Sloane Square tube station (on the District and Circle Lines) is a ten minute walk from the showground. London Victoria is the closest train station to the show.

Transport for London is running a shuttle service on bus 811 from Victoria Station to the flower show. Between today and Friday buses will leave Victoria Station from the Buckingham road stop Z5 every ten to 15 minutes between 7am and 5pm. On Saturday, the shuttle runs until 4pm. A single ticket will cost £4 or £6 for a return.

Public parking is available in Battersea Park and can be pre-booked with your tickets. It is approximately 20 minutes’ walk from the show. Alternatively, a park and ride service is available. If you are parking at Battersea Park and using a sat nav, please use the postcode SW11 4BY which will take you straight to the Rosary Gate entrance.

How do I get tickets?

You should buy your tickets via the Royal Horticultural Society website. An all day ticket for non members costs £105 but there are half day afternoon options.

Can I watch it on TV?

Coverage of this year’s Chelsea Flower show is on BBC One and Two and you can catch up via BBC iPlayer. It is on everyday, apart from Saturday, at 3.45pm on BBC One, with one or two evening shows on BBC One and BBC Two. For the full list of episodes on BBC One and Two click here.

Shoreham designer Naomi Ferrett-Cohen has created The CHERUB HIV Garden: A Life Without Walls. Images taken by Prof John Frater
Shoreham designer Naomi Ferrett-Cohen has created The CHERUB HIV Garden: A Life Without Walls. Images taken by Prof John Frater
Shoreham designer Naomi Ferrett-Cohen has created The CHERUB HIV Garden: A Life Without Walls. Images taken by Prof John Frater