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The RHS Chelsea Flower Show opened in London’s west this week so we thought we’d take a look at some of the treasures on show. The show, which is in its 102nd year, has been held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea since 1913 (except during the two World Wars) and while its claim to be Britain’s largest flower show has been lost to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, it remains the nation’s most prestigious. The five day show runs until Saturday. From the top – Chelsea pensioners look at ‘Peter Beales Roses’ in the Great Pavilion; the Inter-flora display in the Great Pavilion; a model poses in front of the Thailand, Land of Buddhism display; and, award-winning garden sculptor David Harber hosts the Mad Hatter’s tea party. For more on the show, visit www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-show PICTURES: RHS/Hannah McKay and RHS.

 

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Queen Mary (wife of King George V) with group at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 1913. The show, which was first held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, in 1913, is celebrating its centenary this year. The 244 exhibitors at the inaugural event have grown to more than 500 today with 161,000 visitors now attending the show each year. Other pictures released to mark the centenary include (see below) gardeners carrying pots at the show in 1931; visitors looking at a display of cacti at the 1964 show; and, an aerial view of the show in the 1990s. The show runs from today until 25th May. For more on the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, see www.rhs.org.uk/Shows—events/RHS-Chelsea-Flower-Show/2013PICTURES: RHS Lindley Library. 

Gardeners-carrying-pots-at-the-Show.-Date-1931.-Credit,-RHS-Lindley-Library

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The Queen visits the Chelsea Flower Show. PICTURE: Courtesy Royal Horticultural Society.

More correctly known as the Royal Horticultural Society Great Spring Show, the history of the Chelsea Flower Show traces its origins back to the 1820s when the society, then known as the The Horticultural Society in London, held a series of “floral fetes” at the Duke of Devonshire’s estate in Chiswick.

The fortunes of the society were on the wane when, thanks in part to its then president, Prince Albert, it was reborn with a new charter and name – the Royal Horticultural Society – and a new garden in Kensington.

The first Great Spring Show was held there in 1862 and continued to be so for the next 26 years until, in 1888, the site of the show was moved to Temple Gardens near Embankment in central London.

It was subsequently held there until 1912. During this year, the show was cancelled and the Royal International Horticultural Exhibition held instead in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. So popular did this prove that the Great Spring Show was subsequently moved there. It’s been held almost every since with cancellations during World Wars I and II.

Today, the show – claimed to be “the world’s most famous gardening event” – attracts 157,000 visitors from around the world who view the exhibits of 600 companies including nurseries, florists and floral arranges. This year’s show, which has sold out, features 17 show gardens, 15 smaller gardens and 100 of nurseries and growers. It runs from today until Saturday.

For more information on the show, see www.rhs.org.uk/chelsea.