The Great Pavilion At The Chelsea Flower Show

July 7, 2019
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Mixture of colourful flowers inside the Grate Pavilion at the Chelsea Flower Flower Show
Photographs from the 2019 Chelsea Flower in London, England, highlight what to expect inside the Great Pavilion

Held for five days every May in central London, the RHS Chelsea Flower is the most famous flower and landscape show in the United Kingdom and perhaps in the world. The show features Show Gardens, smaller Artisan and Space To Grow or Urban Gardens, the Great Pavilion with floral and plant displays, and hundreds of exhibitors. This post focuses on what you’ll find inside the Great Pavilion. For an overall guide to the show with information about its history, what to expect at the show, and how to visit, read my post Guide to the Chelsea Flower Show.

The Great Pavilion contains displays from some of the best nurseries in Britain, science and education displays about horticulture, floral arrangements, and floristry displays. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has a booth inside the pavilion where you’ll find displays from specialist nurseries that have been awarded Master Grower Status and finalists in the Chelsea Plant of the Year and Garden Products of the Year competitions.
The RHS Gardening Advice Team will help you with your own gardening questions. Volunteer Plant Finders can be found throughout the pavilion helping guide visitors to exhibits with specific plants of interest to them.

Obelisk monument in the centre of the Chelsea Flower Show Great Pavilion

The Chelsea Flower Show takes place on the grounds in front of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, London. The obelisk in the centre of the Great Pavilion tent is normally surrounded by fields of grass. The monument honours those who lost their lives in the 1849 Battle of Chillianwala in the Second Anglo-Sikh War. The tent is built over and around the monument for the show.

The Great Pavilion is roughly 11,775 square metres or 2.90 acres in size, enough room to park 500 London buses. That’s a lot of space for a variety of colourful and fragrant exhibits. The best way for me to give you a flavour for what to expect inside the pavilion is by sharing some photos from my 2019 visit.

Focus On Particular Flowers and Plants

Many of the nurseries exhibiting at the show specialize in a particular plant or type of plant. It is impressive to see a large array, in differing colours, of one type of flower.

Daffodils in the Great Pavilion at the Chelsea Flower Show
Daffodils
Rhododendrons at the Chelsea Flower Show
Rhododendrons
Roses at the Chelsea Flower Show
Roses
Display of carnivorous plants at the Chelsea Flower Show
Carnivorous plants
Edible plants at the Chelsea Flower Show
Even found some vegetables
A design created from hostas
A stunning artistic design using hostas
Lilies at the Chelsea Flower Show
The fragrance from this display of lilies wafted to surrounding booths
Fuchsias at the Chelsea Flower Show
Fuchsias
Gladiolas at the Chelsea Flower Show
I pose in front of the gladiolas
Alliums at the Chelsea Flower Show
Allium

Floristry and Floristry Competitions

Suspended test tubes with plant stems in the Come What May floral installation at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show
The Come What May floral installation featured individual stems of the best of May’s wild and garden-grown British flora in test tubes hanging from the ceiling
Cut flowers on an upright birch pole create a 3m-tall living herbarium at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show
Living Herbarium floral installation

The Florist of the Year and the Young Florist of the Year competitions offer florists a chance to display their work. Given that 2019 is the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth, the theme for the 2019 floristry competitions was crowns. Here are a couple of the entries.

Floral crown in 2019 Chelsea Flower Show florist competition
Floral crown in the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show florist competition

Discovery

Discovery displays give insight into how science underpins plants and gardening. 2019 Discovery displays focused on the latest developments in plant genetics, climate change, invasive plants, recycling, and children’s gardening. Below I highlight two of the Discovery displays.

Vertical planting at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show
The City Harvest – Food For All display highlighted vertical planting, including aeroponic and hydroponic methods, to illustrate how there can be food abundance even in densely populated cities
Blue and yellow flowers and bronze faucet in part of the Floella's Future display at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show
Part of the Floella’s Future display

Floella’s Future by Birmingham City Council was a large circular display that raised awareness of single-use plastic and the need to recycle.  Food waste constitutes more than one third of collected waste, much of which can be composted. Small signs in the flower base provided information about the need to recycle and reduce our carbon footprint. The display promoted plant-based alternatives to plastic. Bioplastics made from renewable and sustainable materials such as sugarcane and cornstarch can be broken down completely in water and compost at the end of their use.

Colourful flowers with small canal and canal boat as part of Floella's Future display at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show
More of the Floella’s Future display
Giant face made out of straws in the Floella's Future display at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show
More of Floella’s Future display

Floral Groupings

Red and green of the tropical plants in the Barbados display at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show
Part of the Barbados tropical plant display
South African display at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Display
South African display
Meadow-like display of flowers at the Chelsea Flower Show
A naturalistic planting of gold and purple flowers with silver garden ornaments at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show
Wildflower display at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show
Girl watching a statue of a girl looking at a group of coniferous plants at the Chelsea Flower Show
This is one of my favourite photos from the show: a real girl watching the statue of a girl looking at a grouping of carniverous plants

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Photographs from the 2019 Chelsea Flower in London, England, highlight what to expect inside the Great Pavilion #ChelseaFlowerShow #London #England #garden
Photographs from the 2019 Chelsea Flower in London, England,  highlight what to expect inside the Great Pavilion #ChelseaFlowerShow #London #England #garden
Photographs from the 2019 Chelsea Flower in London, England,  highlight what to expect inside the Great Pavilion #ChelseaFlowerShow #London #England #garden

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  • Reply
    Ken Dowell
    July 7, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    It looks like just an explosion of color. Not something you usually associate with London.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      July 13, 2019 at 10:03 am

      Ken, the Pavilion was definitely an explosion of colour.

  • Reply
    Eva
    July 25, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Got to ask, did that girl just happened to be there when you were taking a picture if so how fortuitous. It made for great shot.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      July 26, 2019 at 9:32 am

      Eva, yes the girl just happened to be there. I wondered afterward if she’d been coached to pose for a photo shot of some kind, but I hadn’t noticed anyone else around taking pictures.

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