It’s an autumn celebration for the Chelsea Flower Show this year.
As any work email will surely tell you, we’re living through “scary/unprecedented/unusual/strange times” (delete as appropriate), which is forcing the events industry to make some pretty radical changes. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, for example, has been boxed into a rethink – first cancelling their 2020 show and running an online extravaganza instead, and now, pushing the 2021 edition back to September.
It’s another first for the festival; 2020 was the first time since World War II that the Chelsea Flower Show was cancelled, and 2021 will be the first time ever the festival has been held in the autumn. Though the Royal Horticultural Society had hoped the usual May date could prove suitable with capacity limits and extending the festival by a day, the reality of the coronavirus outbreak have forced them to push the event to autumn for the first time in 108 years of floral delights.
Concerns about the current rate of infection, combined with fears about which tier London could be in by May, have driven the postponement. The hope is that by September, millions more people will have been vaccinated against Covid-19, allowing the Chelsea Flower Show to proceed as close to normally as possible. (Indeed, the government has made promises to offer every UK adult the vaccine by then.)
Still, every setback presents a new opportunity, as they say. Instead of the usual springtime blooms and colourful hues, the change of dates will likely steer the Chelsea Flower Show in an autumnal direction, bringing vibrant reds and oranges into the centre of the festivities. They plan to “celebrate the best of autumn horticulture”, with Salvias, Asters, Dahlias, grasses, fruit, and vegetables likely to feature prominently. The new dates for the festival are September 21 – 26, which also extends the celebrations by a day to allow more visitors the chance to come along.
Exhibitors who had been booked for May being given the opportunity to mount a display at the autumn festival, and for anyone who feels that eight months is too long to wait for the historic flower show, there’s more good news. The RHS are reprising their Virtual Chelsea Flower Show from last year, by hosting a series of free events featuring luminaries of the gardening world. From May 18 – 23, you’ll be able to join behind-the-scenes tours of glamorous gardens, led by gardeners, florists, and designers, as well as pick up tips and tricks for your own garden during Q&A sessions. Look at it this way: at least it can’t be ruined by the British weather!
You can find out more from the RHS website, or alternatively check out some of our favourite green spaces in London.
Also published on Medium.