Chelsea Flower Show: Queen shows her support as famous event kicks off virtually

May 18, 2020

The Queen says her grandmother would have been "delighted" by people's passion for gardening and continued enthusiasm for the Chelsea Flower Show, despite the lockdown.

Although the physical show has been scuppered by coronavirus, a five-day "virtual" event will take place instead.

The world-famous gardening show has taken place at the Royal Hospital, in Chelsea, London, since 1913, with the exception of gaps during the two World Wars.

The event attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, including royalty and celebrities.

The Queen, who would normally have attended the event in person, sent her best wishes in a message.

Her Majesty wrote: "As Patron of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), I was pleased to hear that you will be providing gardening advice and virtual sessions on your website, from Monday 18th to Saturday 23rd May.

"I am sure that my grandmother, Queen Mary, who first attended the Chelsea Flower Show in 1916, would be delighted that many people today have an enthusiasm for horticulture, and that gardening remains a popular past time in the United Kingdom."

She also shared her favourite flower to mark the first day of the event, revealing that she was rather partial to lily of the valley.

The white bell-shaped flowers, surrounded by dark green leaves, made up part of her coronation bouquet and have been special to her ever since.

The virtual flower show will feature insights into the gardens and nurseries of top gardeners, Chelsea designers and horticultural specialists, with themes for each day ranging from wildlife garden to health and wellbeing, perfect plants and growing in small and indoor spaces.

Visitors will also be able to go on a lockdown tour of London's parks, see potting demonstrations, check out a school gardening club and join lunchtime Q&As with garden experts.

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The value of gardening in supporting people's mental health during lockdown has also been highlighted in an RHS poll.

Over half of people with their own garden or outdoor space said they value them more now than before lockdown, and seven in 10 felt they had helped their mental health in recent weeks.

TV gardener Monty Don, who helps present the show and has previously spoken about his own struggles with depression, called gardens "desperately important", adding that we now need them more than ever.

Statistics revealed one in eight households in England has had no access to a garden during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The RHS Virtual Chelsea Flower Show takes place from Monday 18 May until Saturday 23 May.

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