Chelsea Flower Show opens in autumn among the pumpkins for first time

Pumpkins, asters and berries replace the usual spring blooms, colours and smells

Chelsea Flower Show, hit by pandemic closures that forced events to go online, opens its first autumnal show this week as part of its return to life.

Royals and celebrities are attending a preview day on Monday where pumpkins, dahlias and autumn colours replace the usual spring and early summer blooms, before the show opens to the public on Tuesday.

“We are so excited to be creating the world's first Chelsea Flower Show in September and celebrating this beautiful time of year in the garden with autumn colour and seasonal delights,” said Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) director general Sue Biggs.

“Being the most famous flower show in the world, it is also a great opportunity to promote autumn gardening.”

The RHS postponed this year's show from May because of the continuing pandemic, and cancelled last year’s event in favour of an online show.

This year's move to autumn means the event will have a different look and smell, with asters, nerines and trees full of fruit and berries. The RHS said it would have a similar atmosphere to the spring show.

Among the displays is an organic show garden by Yeo Valley, which encourages people to put nature first, which had to be redesigned with late summer planting when the show was moved.

“We want to create a beautiful garden that inspires visitors to think about using more sustainable gardening practices,” said designer Tom Massey.

“September is one of the most wonderful times of year in the garden and so it is extra special to be part of the first, and most likely only, Chelsea [show] in September.”

Members of the royal family will tour the show on Monday, including the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Princess Royal, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra.

They will visit the RHS Queen's Green Canopy Garden, the largest plot at the show, which highlights the vital importance of trees and woodland, with 21 trees and more than 3,500 plants.

“While everyone associates spring with being the time to garden and grow plants, there is much that can be done now as well, like dividing herbaceous perennials, planting spring flowering bulbs and collecting seeds to create colour in your garden next summer”, said Ms Biggs.

The Florence Nightingale Garden is marking the bicentenary of the trailblazing nurse’s birth and will celebrate the importance of the nursing profession in the 21st century.

Next year the garden will be relocated to St Thomas’s Hospital in central London, to a spot currently being used as Covid-19 testing and vaccination centre, so that doctors, nurses and patients will be able to enjoy it in the future.

The show will run until September 26.

Updated: September 20th 2021, 12:36 PM