How the virtual Chelsea Flower Show is going to work

This year, the event is going online with plenty of garden tours, talks and demonstrations filling the schedule.

Around this time of year gardening fans would be donning their nicest outfits to visit the annual Chelsea Flower Show. The physical event has, of course, been called off, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your flower show fix anyway.

Like so many major events in the calendar, the Chelsea Flower Show is going online in what’s being called Virtual Chelsea. The new event kicks off on May 18, with the first day reserved for Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) members.

The empty grounds of Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, which would normally be full of tents at this time of year (Victoria Jones/PA)

Members’ Day will play out online, with videos and articles exclusively released, ranging from Monty Don touring his garden to practical advice on growing peonies and tulips.

Virtual Chelsea runs until May 23, with the following days holding a host of different videos, talks and more. It’s perfect for those who love to have a snoop around other peoples’ gardens, as well known figures in the gardening and design worlds will be taking us into their backyards.

If you’re missing London’s parks there will be virtual tours of them too, along with Q&A sessions with experts and potting demonstrations.

Just like the real thing, you can catch up with what’s happening at the event on TV, with a daily show happening on BBC One at 3:45pm and another on BBC Two at 8pm.

The RHS and BBC’s The One show are also putting on a competition to celebrate this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. Gardeners are being asked to send pictures of their efforts in one of the follow categories: back garden, front garden, indoor garden and kids’ corner garden. People are also being asked to write about how their gardens are helping them through this time.

This is in line with this year’s emphasis on the positive impacts gardening can have on your health and wellbeing. New research from the RHS recently found seven in 10 people felt their gardens had helped their mental health in recent weeks.

RHS director general Sue Biggs is calling for the government to make sure new homes have private or communal gardens or a balcony, as National Statistics recently showed one in eight households have had no access to a garden during lockdown.

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Have you got a show winning garden at home? Join us to get the nation to ‘grow and show’ as we celebrate Virtual #RHSChelsea with a new competition! ⁣ We’ve joined forces with @bbctheoneshow to launch #MyChelseaGarden – a competition encouraging gardeners of all skill levels across the nation to share images of their green spaces and growing efforts at home in search of the very best. ⁣ ⁣ You can enter pictures of your garden in one of four categories: ⁣ Back Garden⁣ Front Garden⁣ Indoor Garden (Houseplants, window sills, balconies)⁣ Kids’ Corner Garden ⁣ ⁣ One winner from each category will receive 4 tickets for #RHSChelsea 2021 and a special RHS Award.⁣ ⁣ Entries will be judged by One Show Presenter Alex Jones, Monty Don, RHS Head of Shows judging, James Alexander Sinclair, and Sue Biggs, RHS Director General.⁣ ⁣ We’d love to see your #MyChelseaGarden pictures to share the joy of plants during these challenging times. Here is Sue Biggs’ garden 🌸🌷 ⁣ ⁣ See link in bio to find out more about the competition how to enter your #MyChelseaGarden into the competition

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You can follow the hashtag #MyChelseaGarden on social media to see everyone’s snaps of their gardens. It’s good timing for some: garden centres reopened last week in England and Wales, and in Ireland today. No doubt people are keen for inspiration on what to do with their plants, particularly now there’s easier access to supplies.

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You can follow Virtual Chelsea online here.