Storied Chelsea Flower Show to Launch First-Ever Virtual Program

By Jill Brooke

The Chelsea Flower Show, the oldest and most fabulous floral extravaganza in the world, was canceled due to Covid-19 but now announced the show will go on – but in a special on-line series.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)  says this is the “first” ever virtual version of the show which has taken place at London’s Royal Hospital Chelsea ever since 1913 – minus gaps during World War One and World War Two.

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The virtual tour will be available to a world audience between May 18 and 23. Highlights will include virtual garden tours, a school gardening club, virtual floral arrangements and tours as well as experts providing growing tips.

Prompting this decision was how important gardening is to the public sequestered at home.

“Many feel they need gardening in their life now more than ever before for their mental and physical wellbeing during this national emergency.,” says RHS director-general Sue Briggs. “This applies to everyone from those who are having to self-isolate to families planning, maybe for the first time, to grow their own food.”

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Each day for the virtual series will begin with a video tour by a leading designer, florist or gardener showing their own back gardens. 

Some of the planned extravaganzas will be replicated by contributors who will give tours while others will stroll to their own backyards and share growing tips for summer plants. 

Last year Kate Middleton, The Duchess of Cambridge, participated by creating a garden at the 2019 event.

Expect some surprise guests as it gets closer to the event.

Sue Biggs says they hope “the virtual show will help fill the gap caused by the sad but necessary cancellation of this year’s show.”

She also added that it was fortunate that we are living in this era, vs. others.

“We’re lucky to live in a digital age where we’re able to bring aspects online so we can continue to share the world’s best in horticulture and bring garden design inspiration, breath-taking displays and horticultural knowledge to enjoy during this difficult time.”

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After all, during World War Two, the show shut down from 1939 to 1947. And there was no Zoom, Facetime or Skype. 

The BBC will also create a series about the Chelsea Flower Show to correspond with the on-line presentation.

Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD.