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Chelsea Update June 16th

We are growing plants for 6 show gardens at the new September Chelsea Flower Show. Two of the gardens are brand new and we will announce these in due course. The remaining four are gardens that were originally destined for the postponed May Show. (Bodmin Jail: 60 degrees East- A Garden Between Continents, Guangzhou China: Guangzhou Garden, Bible Society: The Psalm 23 Garden, Trailfinders’ 50th Anniversary Garden).


We have been growing plants for Chelsea gardens for many years and are well used to managing just about any winter or spring weather conditions. We are confident that we can beat the weather most of the time and still have plants at their peak of flowering for the opening of the Show. However, the RHS has thrown us a curved ball. Chelsea in September! We have never grown plants for an autumn show before so this this presents a whole new set of challenges, and we are thrown in at the deep end, because there is no practice run!


Our greatest fear is that we are far less able to manipulate growing environments in the summer. Overall, we want plants to remain cool, and unstressed, and it is difficult to do that when we have spells of hot weather. Even in shade, plants may get too warm and will either flower too early, or finish flowering and become autumnal. And there is little that we can do to prevent that.


The strategy that we have decided to run with is that of keeping all of the Chelsea plants, growing slowly and steadily, minimizing stress which might trigger flowering. Plants were potted from a 9cm into a 2L pot during May and are currently being grown outside. At the moment these plants are looking fantastic and full of vigour.

Towards the end of this month, many will have the traditional “Chelsea chop” which entails cutting them back quite hard to promote fresh growth and a later flush of flowers. At the same time most will be potted on to their final 4L, 5L or 7.5L pot, and then moved to shady outdoor spaces where they will continue to grow, initially devoting their energy into producing new roots and more foliage before producing flowers. Provided it’s not too hot, and we can keep everything well-watered, then we think this is a good plan, the best plan… and the only plan!

Foliage plants like hostas will not be cut back and left to continue growing steadily. Quick growing annuals like Orlaya, Ammi and Nicotiana, will be produced from a late sowing in May, to produce plants that are full of vigour and flower for the September show. Bulbs were potted at the end of May, which should ensure a later flush of flowers.

 That’s it for now. Check in again soon and see if our strategy is working.

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