Here is a taste of the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show: the food, drink, vending, and lovely setting where the show takes place.

The Chelsea Flower Show is held right in the city of London on the beautiful grounds of the Royal Hospital. The hospital is home to former members of the British army. The “Chelsea Pensioners” can be seen walking through the show in their distinctive scarlet coats. From what I understand, the residents give up their pension in exchange for room, board, and medical care by the hospital.


Chelsea Pensioners

With some of the Chelsea Pensioners

Covering the 11 acre grounds, you’ll find the larger gardens are outdoors, with some of the smaller exhibits displayed under large tents. There are large fields of grass throughout the show grounds where visitors can enjoy a picnic lunch. You can bring your own, or take advantage of the vendors selling fresh breads, cheese, and other delicious picnic fare.


Chelsea Picnic AreaChelsea

Picnic area & Chelsea visitors relaxing and picnicking on the lawn

Several of the main paths are lined with London Plane Trees. These large trees provide a canopy of shade over the show exhibits This year they also provided what seemed like a snow storm of pollen. I don’t typically have allergies, but even I was sneezing and coughing a few of the days. Last year the weather was colder and windier, and I didn’t notice the pollen at all.

London Plane Tree


Over in the concessions you’ll find the “Chelsea Bun”. It is a bit like a cinnamon roll, but with dried currants, lemon peel, and a coating of powdery granulated sugar. The dry texture was helped greatly by a lovely cup of tea.


Chelsea Bun

Chelsea bun & tea

In the afternoons, you find visitors walking through the show with pitchers of Pimms. Pimms is a gin based liquor which is infused with fruit and spices. It is mixed with English style lemonade (lemon lime soda), cucumber, mint, and fruit. On the warm and sunny days the afternoon Pimms was especially refreshing.

Fred with Pimms

Fred Foot, Marketing Director for Bulldog Tools, UK with the afternoon Pimms

This year there was a display of artisan retreats – small outdoor structures designed as artist studios. Here is a sampling of some of these retreats. I may need one of these in my garden!

Artisan RetreatNeedlepoint Haven by Kaffe Fassett


Artisan Retreat

Vintage Inspired Retreat by Orla Kiely

Artisan Retreat

Wild at Heart at Home by Nikki Tibbles


Some of the vendors at the show have absolutely magnificent products. It is probably a good thing I couldn’t take much home with me on the plane. Here is a snapshot of just a few: David Harber Sculptures, A lovely garden rettreat, and whimsical play structures.

David Harber

David Harber Sculptures


Outdoor Structure

Oak Garden Structure

Play Structure

Whimsical Play Structure


And that is all for this installment of the Chelsea review. Coming up next:

Hampstead, tour of a private London garden, and the hidden gardens of Westminster Abbey!

Posted in Garden Shows By Emma Kelly on 6th June 2012

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