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Chelsea Flower Show

This year's Chelsea Flower Show was held last week, an event of particular significance for one of its garden sponsors, Brewin and Dolphin, as they celebrated their 250th anniversary. So we thought it fitting to review the past of the Chelsea Flower Show, its origins and how it evolved to what it is today, with an eye to our horticultural heritage. Read more information about coach trips Chelsea flower show 2014.

The event officially started as 'The Great Spring Show' in 1862 and was originally held in Kensington's RHS gardens, but for many years before that, the society had been holding flower shows from its Chiswick headquarters, which had themselves been followed by less formal events such as fetes. The rationale behind the sudden Chiswick upheaval and migration was largely attributable to the era's weak public transport, which stopped anyone from visiting the region and thus saw a drop in the popularity of the show, something that was remedied by the newer and more central venue. After twenty-six years at Kensington, however, the display was moved to Temple gardens again, which seemed more suited to the assignment due to the historical heritage it had inherited.

After moving to Temple in 1888, the company was now free to rent its Kensington sites to house more subject-specific shows, such as the 1902 Coronation Rose Show, although this show was only partly successful because of high interest levels, but a significant absence of roses! 1905 saw the show's first association with the Chelsea Hospital and the show was permanently moved to the hospital grounds after three successful years at Holland House, Kensington, to allow more space for exhibitors.

These modest beginnings had grown into an institution by the roaring 1920's, the famous Chelsea tea parties were founded and royal visits to the show became commonplace - much to the delight of exhibitors, guests and affiliates of the press.

However, the entrants this year were a far cry from the old exhibitors - the 'Best Display Garden' was the aforementioned commemorative garden of Brewin and Dolphin, in which designer Cleve West celebrated the 250th anniversary of the company with a series of carefully pruned metaphors. The hedging of Yew and Beech, Mr. West said, was there to symbolize the company's continued stability and structure, while its ingenuity was symbolic of the surrounding herbaceous plants.

This year, at Chelsea, there was a new category-'Fresh Garden 'and designer Tony Smith secured the' Best Garden 'award in this category with his' Green With 'garden' depiction of envy and desire. This display's thematic structure is derived from both its planting decisions and the style that has been added to them. In order to isolate them from interaction with their viewers, Smith has imprisoned a trio of Orchid flowers in Perspex towers, while many of us will be happy just to see and smell the flower; it is the option of tactility that lets us take it for granted.

Ishihara Kazuyuki Design Laboratory Co's Sotoyama Garden is one of the most culturally oriented projects this year, as it is called, literally, for a region of Japan famous for its rural integration with civil amenities. Therefore, the garden exhibits a microcosm of the way of life that ruled the area of Sotoyama. This is expressed in the naturally sourced stone and wood paths and incorporation of nature and architecture and indeed represents an attitude towards nature that is severely missed in modern living.

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