Chelsea Flower Show 2021
Chelsea Flower Show 2021 differed hugely from the previous 108 shows.
This was the very first time that the prestigious flower show had been held in autumn. All previous shows were held in spring and generally during the month of May.
If you’re interested in the history of this show there’s more info here.
Without a doubt this presented exhibitors with a great challenge but also with a huge opportunity.
In this blog I’ll concentrate on those Chelsea Flower Show 2021 exhibits that celebrated the season.
I was especially looking for autumn colour and an end of summer tropical look. It was there, but not many exhibitors went for it!
The Large Show Gardens
There were only six large show gardens in this slimmed down and delayed show.
Normally there would be at least double that number and the reduction was without a doubt due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With COP26 due in Glasgow within a few weeks it was good to see the Royal Horticultural Society [RHS] demonstrate the important part that gardens can have in meeting Climate Change targets.
This garden had the colour of flowers and foliage that I was hoping and expecting to see.
It was also a show garden buzzing with bees and other pollinating insects and buzzing with interested gardeners too!
Tucked towards the back of the show garden was an area that demonstrated how valuable plants are at reclaiming and greening disused industrial sites.
The garden designed by Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg for the lead sponsors Show M&G had sublime autumnal planting!
Here September flowers were carefully blended with flowering grasses and leaves that showed autumn colours.
Autumn colours can be brass and in your face but this garden demonstrated that they could be subtle and soft too.
The Sanctuary Gardens show garden category was new this year.
Few in this category acknowledged the season.
The one that did – and was a favourite of mine – was the National Health Service tribute garden.
Here a rich palette of coordinated colours was used and all were right for September.
The Great Pavilion
Inside this mega tent [it covers almost 3 acres!] there were lots more autumnal colours.
Pheasant Acre Plants had arguably the most in your face colour!
This riot of colour was mostly spectacular Gladioli and dahlias but supported by colourful Coleus and Heuchera.
It was this colour that I was expecting to see throughout the show!
As for the exhibit by the National Chrysanthemum Society it certainly couldn’t be missed!
There were thousands of well grown blooms in this spectacular exhibit skillfully staged in the shapes of butterflies.
A nice touch at this late show was the inclusion of small exhibits perhaps attracting smaller businesses to enter.
This was certainly the case with the barely a year old new business called Dahlia Beach!
Their market cart was spectacular!
R V Rogers of Pickering in Yorkshire brought along a selection of apples to celebrate the September harvest.
And then of course there should be pumpkins!
On a cart from I think one of the RHS’s own gardens there were pumpkins, chilies and peppers.
This was a great exhibit but perhaps suggested that the take up in this category was a bit thin on the ground.
With the 2021 show being off/on for so long many exhibitors understandably pulled out from what is an expensive show to stage.
So I left the show feeling somewhat underwhelmed. I felt that a unique opportunity had been missed.
Perhaps I had expected too much but I was hoping to see a real celebration of the season of Autumn!
The show will return to its normal late May date next year and I can’t wait to see it!
This is without doubt still the show that everyone wants to be at!
More Garden Shows
You might care to read about the Greenfingers Charity garden at a previous Chelsea Flower Show.
Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants have been regular exhibitors and gold medal winners at Chelsea. They were not at the autumn show this year but staged their planned 2021 show garden on their nursery in May 2021. Read my blog on that here.