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Kelways at Chelsea


This year is the 100th anniversary of the first RHS Chelsea Show.

Kelways had been winning medals and prizes at RHS shows for many years, so it was no surprise that they were exhibitors at the first Chelsea Show in May 1913, where they won a Silver-Gilt Banksian Medal for ‘herbaceous flowers’.  They have always had a stand under canvas – the first one was prosaically called ‘The Tent’ – never an outside garden.  For the first four years they took out full page advertisements inside the front cover of the Show catalogue.  The covers for the catalogue of the 1913 show are missing, but the other three are full colour plates of individual flowers: Gladiolus Richard Martin in 1914 and Delphinium persicum in 1915 and 1916. 

Kelways have only missed 10 shows, 8 of which were during the period before the firm’s change of ownership in 1933.  Since 1936 we have won an award at every show we’ve attended, and in some years (1955 and 1968-70) we mounted 3 different exhibits and won a medal for each of them.

A Chelsea Show stand
One of our Chelsea Show stands

Since Dave Root's involvement in 1994 we have won a total of 18 medals at Chelsea:- 6 gold, 7 silver gilt, 3 silver and 2 bronze, all of which have been awarded for peonies or irises, or both.

In all, Kelways have taken home a total of 127 Chelsea medals of one level or another, which is an impressive haul.

For more information please contact our Official Historian, Janet Seaton.