The RHS flower show has been held in the royal hospital's gardens for over a century and is regarded by many as the best in the world. Exhibiting at the RHS Chelsea flower Show is the pinnacle of anyone's horticultural career.
Each year cutting-edge designs, new plants and ideas are shared by the world's best flower, garden and houseplant experts. Visitors travel worldwide to attend the show; the experience is unique, and there is nothing like Chelsea. The best designers from Tokyo to New York show off their best designs and ideas, and visitors revel in a week of indoor and outdoor plant inspiration.
Houseplants at RHS Chelsea flower show
The Houseplant Studios at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show are buildings dressed to promote the benefit of indoor plants and inspire visitors' own indoor spaces. Happy Houseplants last exhibited in 2022, and the team often get asked what it feels like to exhibit at the RHS Chelsea flower show. We always say it's a lot of work, time and energy, but you will have the best week of your career!
Chelsea is a chance to show the best of you, but the show is also a unique global platform, so it's a great opportunity to influence. The show theme for 2022 was "wild" with many of the show gardens designed to ensure they were teeming with native plants that benefited UK wildlife and sustainable horticulture.
Exhibiting at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show
The first thing to decide on is the design and the concept. From there, you can apply to the RHS to exhibit at the show. You must include all the relevant documentation with your application, the brief, designs and drawings, and what's your 'big idea'. To be successful, you need to be clear about your design and the messages you want to communicate; competition to exhibit can be fierce.
Our focus was the Plants. Plants provide oxygen so we can breathe, remove pollutants from the air and improve our mental well-being. But what about the plant's well-being? All too often, houseplants are treated as disposable items, like a wilted bunch of flowers, discarded when they no longer look their best, but they are alive and do so much for us; the least we can do is try our best to keep them happy. They deserve our gratitude.
We thought, what better way to show this than a Plant Clinic at the RHS Chelsea flower Show!
The design of our exhibit was a collaboration between Sarah Gerrard-Jones, the author of 'The Plant Rescuer - The Book Your Houseplants Want You to Read' (Bloomsbury 2022) and the team at Happy Houseplants.
The Plant Clinic?
As children, we view nature with awe and wonder, but as we grow up, our culture provides evidence that plants and animals exist purely to support the human race. We have been conditioned to see nature as a commodity to be exploited: a tree has more value chopped down than it has living; an elephant tusk is more valuable than the elephant itself. In our self-imposed role as overseers of nature, we've likely agreed that we've failed on a monumental scale and that it's time to realign ourselves with nature rather than lording over it. At a fundamental level, we need plants to exist; this fact alone should warrant our appreciation and respect.
All too often, houseplants are treated as disposable items, like a wilted bunch of flowers, but they are alive and do so much for us; the least we can do is try our best to help them recover. The resurgence in the popularity of houseplants is a sign that people want to be enchanted by nature again and make space for it in their lives. Buying a plant, swapping cuttings or sowing seeds – to experience the magic of watching them grow – has become a priority in many people's lives. Make room for plants, physically and mentally, show them kindness, engage your senses, and learn what they love, and in return, they will show their gratitude by enriching your life.
The Plant Clinic was an interactive space for people to learn how to care better for their plants.
Winning Gold at the RHS Chelsea Flower show
Preparing your plant design takes months; selecting and curating the right plants and ensuring you have sourced the best takes time. The Houseplants need to be in the right place, so light-loving plants need sufficient light to grow, even for a few days of the show.
You are allowed on site a week before the show opens; the build involves long days and hard work, but it's a lot of fun mixed with mild panic as the deadline for the first day of the show approaches. The Houseplants Clinic involved a large team from Soil Ninja, Worcester Terrariums, and liquid gold leaf mixed with specialists to help us deal with electrics and final build-out.
The show site is packed with machinery, plants and people; you could never get used to the scale as you see fully grown trees gracefully move around the sky before being placed into a show garden, the BBC building a TV Studio in a day or a whole house being thrown up in a few days. You can make lifelong friends in build week as you create something amazing together.
Judging takes place a day before the show opens in three stages; assessing, judging, and moderation. RHS judges are experts; we had houseplants experts from the glasshouses at Kew in 2022. You are judged across several criteria, including your brief, design, build and presentation, and the judges look for perfection.
On the Tuesday of the show, usually by 8 am, award cards are placed on your exhibit - we won Gold in 2022, which was the culmination of six months of hard work.
What happened to the houseplants after the show?
Our 2022 houseplant exhibit had a large plant wall and palms and ferns. All took a bashing through the show, so they were no longer fit for sale, but all were healthy and well and would soon recover given the proper care. We had a flash sale in the last hours of the show; we sold a lot of plants and then donated the remainder to the food workers on site, they had been working long hours all week, and houseplants make anyone feel special.
Discover some of our gold medal-winning rare and unusual houseplants from our RHS Chelsea Flower Show Studio.