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Chelsea Flower Show

For five glorious days every year in May, the Royal Horticultural Society puts on the Chelsea Flower Show. The show, which is held in the Royal Hospital Chelsea grounds, London, is the most famous of its kind in the world. The show is open from 8am till 8pm on all days except the last day when it finishes at 5.30pm. On the final day many floral arrangements are sold off cheaply to the eager public.

Probably the easiest way to get to the show is to walk from Sloane Square tube station which is about 10 minutes away. The nearest mainline station is London Victoria. There is no shortage of buses which run close to the show, numbers 11, 137, 170, 211, 360 and 452 being the nearest.

There is public parking at Battersea Park which is a 20 minute walk from the showground. There is also a Park and Ride Service from the park to the Bull Ring Gate entrance to the show. From Tuesday to Friday there are more than two thousand spaces available but parking is restricted on Saturday because of other events taking place in the park. Guide dogs and assistance dogs are allowed entry to the park but for safety reasons there is no admission for children under five or for pushchairs.

Leading names as well as unknown designers proudly display their show gardens to the judges and public. The centrepiece of the show is the floral marquee. The show, which first took place in 1852, receives huge publicity every year including extensive coverage on the BBC. Almost 160,000 visitors attend annually and tickets are highly sought after. For the first two days admission is restricted to members of the Royal Horticultural Society. Members of Britain's Royal Family regularly attend show previews as part of their patronage of the Society.

The interest in show gardens has grown year on year and much of the show is devoted to space for these gardens. In recent years many designers have chosen a natural focus as their theme with wildlife gardens playing an important part.

The Chelsea Flower Show prides itself on being the focus of attention for those wishing to discover the latest trends in gardening. Most shows see the launch of a new plant as well as the revival of older varieties. Indeed, the show has become the garden equivalent of a fashion show! Friendly rivalry has become a part of the show as exhibitors compete for the various awards. There are awards for Best In Show, Best Courtyard Garden, Best City Garden and RHS President's Award as well as awards for junior displays and floristry trophies.

It is not only a show about flowers. Anything even vaguely garden related can be found in the various marquees from statues to greenhouses and Wellington Boots to fountains. Refreshments are found everywhere throughout the show. There are places to enjoy a quiet coffee and licensed marquees where you can enjoy cooling refreshments of a stronger variety. ATM and banking facilities are to be found in the grounds as the organisers realise there is always a huge temptation to spend! The Chelsea Flower Show has something for everyone and represents a celebration of horticulture at its very best. In fact most people will agree that one day is simply not long enough.

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