By Sarah Wilson
The world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show is back after the cancellation last year due to Covid-19. Designers are currently making their final preparations for the event, following the decision to postpone it until September for the first time in its 108-year history.
The event will showcase all the usual cutting-edge garden design ideas and fabulous floral displays as well as the best gardening-related shopping around. As traditional, the show takes place on the spectacular grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London.
'This year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show is going to be a moment in history,' says Helena Pettit, RHS Director of Shows & Gardens. 'We are grateful to all the designers, growers and sponsors who have embraced the new date and worked hard to adjust their plans and take on the challenge to be part of this one-off autumn show.'
For many designers, the change in season has provided a rare opportunity to work with exciting new plants that you wouldn't usually see at RHS Chelsea. 'I am looking forward to the array of late summer and autumn flowers and plants that will be on display,' adds Helena. 'It's going to be an incredible and unique sight.'
We've rounded up all the info you need to know about the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 below – from what's on to travel info. It's time to book your ticket!
When is the Chelsea Flower Show 2021?
The Chelsea Flower Show takes place from 21–26 September 2021.
For specific opening times, see below:
- 21–22 September, RHS members only: 8am – 8pm
- 23–25 September, RHS members and non-members: 8am – 8pm
- 24 September, Chelsea Late event: 5.30pm – 10pm
- 26 September, RHS members and non-members: 8am – 5.30pm
Where is the Chelsea Flower Show located?
The Royal Hospital Chelsea in London is home to the iconic Chelsea Pensioners and, for one week only in September, is also home to the world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
The full address is:
Royal Hospital Road
Royal Hospital Chelsea
Chelsea Flower Show 2021: What to expect
You'll find all the details of what's on below, to make it easy to plan your day.
Get inspired by beautiful show gardens
On the lookout for inspiration for your outdoor space, whether that’s new landscaping ideas or planting suggestions? The Chelsea Flower Show promises to deliver, encouraging you to look beyond the beautiful gardens and plants on display and make more considered plant choices in your own garden.
Here's a selection of what's on offer from this year's show gardens at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
'The Florence Nightingale Garden – A Celebration of Modern Day Nursing' designed by Robert Myers will shine a light on the critical role nurses play in modern-day healthcare. It will also celebrate the remarkable legacy of Florence Nightingale and the importance of gardens for well-being and recovery. The garden will be a bright and vibrant space with colorful late summer perennials.
'Finding Our Way – An NHS Tribute Garden' by Naomi Ferrett-Cohen will celebrate the efforts of NHS workers throughout the pandemic. The healing power of gardens and nature also inspired the design of 'The Bible Society: Psalm 23 Garden' by award-winning designer Sarah Eberle and 'The M&G Garden' by design duo Harris Bugg, which aims to raise awareness of the increased need to introduce beautiful and restorative green spaces in our towns and cities. Perfect if you're looking for sensory garden ideas.
In a year where international travel has been limited, gardens taking inspiration from foreign landscapes will transport you to far away destinations. Despite being based in Thailand, first time RHS Chelsea Flower Show designers Tawatchai Sakdikul and Ploytabtim Suksang are determined not to let potential travel restrictions prevent 'The Calm of Bangkok Garden' being part of this year's historic show.
Designers also taking inspiration from foreign landscapes include Ekaterina Zasukhina with Carly Kershaw, who will explore the beauty of the Ural Mountain region in Russia in their 'Bodmin Jail 60° East: A Garden Between Continents', as well as award-winning designer Jonathan Snow with the Himalayan-inspired 'Trailfinders' 50th Anniversary Garden'.
Meanwhile, 'The Yeo Valley Organic Garden' by Tom Massey, supported by Sarah Mead, will bring a slice of Somerset's Yeo Valley Farm to SW3, inspiring visitors to adopt organic gardening practices and put nature first. The later show date has given them more scope and a greater range of plants for the garden, particularly flowering plants for late summer color including dahlias, echinacea and rudbeckia.
Confirmed gardens for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021:
- The BBC One Show and RHS Garden of Hope designed by Arit Anderson
- RHS COP26 Garden, designed by Balston Agius, led by Marie-Louise Agius
- The M&G Garden designed by Hugo Bugg and Charlotte Harris
- The Florence Nightingale Garden - A Celebration of Modern Day designed by Robert Myers
- Guangzhou China: Guangzhou Garden designed by Peter Chmiel and Chin-Jung Chen
- The Yeo Valley Organic Garden designed by Tom Massey, supported by Sarah Mead
- Bodmin Jail 60° East: A Garden Between Continents designed by Carly Kershaw and Ekaterina Zasukhina
- Trailfinders’ 50th Anniversary Garden designed by Jonathan Snowty
- Bible Society: The Psalm 23 Garden designed by Sarah Eberle
- Finding Our Way: An NHS Tribute Garden by Naomi Ferrett-Cohen
- Finnish Soul Garden – A Nordic Heritage Seaside Garden designed by Taina Suonio
- The Calm of Bangkok Garden designed by Tawatchai Sakdikul and Ploytabtim Suksang
- The Boodles Secret Garden by Thomas Hoblyn
- The Parsley Box Garden by Alan Williams
- Guide Dogs for the Blind 90th Anniversary Garden designed by Woolcott and Smith Garden Design
- The Blue Diamond Blacksmiths Garden designed by The Blue Diamond Group
Gardening for small spaces – new this year
With millions more people gardening and growing plants since the pandemic, the RHS has introduced two new garden categories providing inspiration for anyone interested in growing plants as part of their small garden ideas.
The new balcony gardens at this year's show will demonstrate the different ways small outdoor spaces can be transformed into functional and interesting gardens. A prominent theme in this category is how to turn a balcony into a calming space to escape and relax in using plants to create a sense of being immersed in nature.
With searches for advice about planting containers up by 256% this year, container gardens are also making their debut with achievable, clever design ideas. They will target the increasing number of us choosing to use containers to maximize our outdoor space and wanting to take our gardens with us when we move.
'We are really excited to introduce these two new garden categories to the show this year, following the huge resurgence in gardening during the pandemic,' says Helena Pettit. 'We want to show the thousands who visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show just what you can do with next to no outdoor space.'
The ten gardens in these two new categories have been designed by first time RHS Chelsea Flower Show designers.
Balcony Garden line-up:
- The Landform Balcony Garden by Nicola Hale Green
- Sky Pocket Garden by James Smith
- Balcony of Blooms by Alexandra Noble
- Arcadia by Martha Krempel
- Sky Sanctuary by Michael Coley
Container Garden line-up:
- The Stolen Soul Garden by Anna Dabrowska-Jaudi
- A Tranquil Space in the City by Mika Misawa
- The IBC Pocket Forest by Sara Edwards
- The Hot Tin Roof Garden by Ellie Edkins
- Pop Street Garden by John McPherson
Learn something new with workshops, talks, demonstrations, garden advice from the experts, and more
There's more to the Chelsea Flower Show than just show gardens. There are also live demonstrations, workshops and talks.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show's Great Pavilion will be awash with color and scent with some of the world's finest growers and nurseries returning to the event, offering stunning displays, plants for sale and expert advice. Home to the best plant nurseries in Britain and from around the globe, you'll find plants of all varieties.
You'll also find plenty of inspiration on how to green up your home regardless of space or natural light with the House Plant Studios. Stylists will dress each studio to represent different rooms in a house. if you're looking for indoor garden ideas, this is bound to be a highlight.
You can also marvel at science in The Discovery Zone, which champions the latest exciting innovations and research from the world of horticulture. Explore interactive displays and exhibits in this dedicated space in the Great Pavilion.
The RHS Gardening Advice team of experts will be located in the center of the Great Pavilion. They suggest you bring photographs of your plant problems rather than live plant material if you are looking for specific answers to growing concerns.
Refuel with delicious food and drink
A wide array of refreshments is an important factor for every great day out, and at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021, there promises to be something for everyone.
There will be a range of bookable catering facilities at the show, including three-course meals, seafood platters and afternoon tea:
- The Ranelagh Restaurant offers dishes crafted from locally-sourced meats, sustainably-caught fish and the finest seasonal vegetables.
- The Champagne & Seafood Restaurant is an exclusive eatery that serves the very best catch of sustainable fresh seafood with champagne.
- The Chelsea Brunch offers food served in elegant surroundings complete with champagne and an à la carte menu.
- The Drawing Room, a collaboration with The Dorchester, is the place to enjoy a floral-inspired champagne breakfast, or champagne afternoon tea. Alternatively, drop-in for bar bites and a glass of something chilled in its luxurious surroundings.
- Jardin Blanc with Raymond Blanc has a delicious choice of food, exciting cocktails and inspirational gardens. All menus are exclusively designed by the acclaimed chef.
As well as this, there will be a selection of hot and cold food and drink outlets around the showground. Cafes, food courts and picnic areas are perfect for a quick bite to eat.
Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options will be available at the pre-bookable restaurants and also from the outlets.
Shop beautiful plants, garden accessories, gifts and more
All around the showground, you'll find a range of exhibitors selling their innovative horticultural-themed products. From gardening essentials to home decorations, each exhibitor at the show is hand-picked and together offer a fabulous shopping experience. From garden buildings and seating to jewellery, textiles, and arts and crafts, there will be something to tempt everyone.
- At the heart of the show, the Floral Marquee features more than 70 hand-picked plant nurseries, all displaying and selling award-winning stock. Buy everyday favorites and unusual varieties for your own flowerbeds, and meet the experts who will explain how to care for the plants.
- The Country Living Pavilion brings together a selection of beautiful and unique products that showcase the talents of artisan designers, artists and crafts people from around the UK. Find one-of-a-kind products, unusual gifts and indulgent treats.
- The Great Taste Market lets you purchase direct from local artisan producers and Great Taste Award winners offering a range of fine foods, wines and craft spirits.
- The Plant Village is filled with colorful displays of plants at the peak of perfection.
- A one-stop shop for all things plant related, the RHS Hub offers great gardening gifts including books, gifts and tools, as well as once-in-a-lifetime gardening holidays.
How to travel to the Chelsea Flower Show 2021
Most visitors travel to the show by tube, bus or train. However, you may prefer to travel via coach, or car (you can pre-book parking with your tickets).
You are advised to check Government guidance on transport closer to the date of your visit.
Travel by bus
Bus numbers 11, 137, 211, 360, 170, 44 and 452 stop closest to the showground, while bus numbers 19, 22, 319 and C1 stop at Sloane Square.
Please note that the 360 bus will not be stopping at bus stop 'CH' at the Bull Ring Gate, Chelsea Embankment. This bus stop is suspended during RHS Chelsea Flower Show week.
Travel by tube
Sloane Square tube station (on the District and Circle Lines) is a 10-minute walk from the showground.
Travel by train
London Victoria is the closest train station to the show. For information on rail services, visit the National Rail website.
For more information on how to get to the showground by public transport, go to the Transport for London Journey Planner.
Cycle racks are available at Burton's Court Car Park, opposite the London Gate entrance (postcode SW3 4SR).
Public parking is available in Battersea Park and must be pre-booked with your tickets. Battersea Park is located outside the Transport for London congestion zone and is approximately a 20-minute walk from the show.
Alternatively, a park & ride service is available, the cost of which is included in the parking charge; buses, including a mobility bus, operate at frequent intervals between Battersea Park and the showground’s Bull Ring Gate entrance.
If you're parking at Battersea Park and using a sat nav, please use the postcode SW11 4BY. This will take you straight to the Rosary Gate entrance.
You can arrive by river with Uber Boat by Thames Clippers to Cadogan Pier or Battersea Power Station. The RB6 route serves both piers but weekdays only during morning and afternoon peak times. Battersea Power Station can be reached seven days a week with the RB1, RB2 or RB6.
The pier is approximately a 15-minute walk from the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
Coach parking is available at Battersea Park:
A permit is required to drop off coach passengers. Please email Chelsea Coaches to arrange this.
Covid-19 safety precautions at Chelsea Flower Show 2021
Extra precautionary measures have been put into place to ensure that visitors can have a relaxed, enjoyable, and safe experience at the show. These include the following:
- The show is taking place over six days instead of the traditional five.
- Some of the fixed catering structures have been moved to make social distancing easier.
- There will be more space for people to circulate.
- The majority of the show gardens will have three open sides to make viewing much easier.
Visitors should keep an eye on the RHS website for the most up to date information nearer the show dates.
Where do you buy tickets for the Chelsea Flower Show 2021?
Whether you’re after modern garden ideas or cottage garden ideas, you can find all the inspiration you need and more at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Limited tickets are still available and can be purchased online via the RHS website.
Sarah Wilson has been a lifestyle journalist for many years, writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for Gardeningetc.com, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, as well as Country Homes & Interiors and Modern Gardens magazines.
Her own (small urban) garden is a work in progress - so many ideas, not enough space to cram them in. Hero plants include her ever growing collection of ornamental grasses, black bamboo and ferns, and the perennials like salvias and penstemons that come back reliably year after year. All very restrained though when in fact she'd love to pack her garden with gaudy dahlias and giant cannas, so these are top of her wish list for what to grow next.
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