Chelsea Flower Show 2017:exclusive look behind the scenes as the finishing touches are added to this year's show gardens

Garden designers are making their final preparations for the opening of this year's Chelsea Flower Show.

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As the world’s greatest annual flower show gets ready to open its gates to the Queen, the press and ticketholders, the finishing touches are being added to the huge array of spectacular creations by the designers, landscapers and planting teams.

Our horticultural expert Pattie Barron donned the compulsory hi-vis jacket, passed on the optional metal-capped boots and ventured forth down the bark-chipped paths of the forthcoming RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, dodging the plant vans, pulleys and TV crews in order to see how the exhibits - and the exhibitors - were progressing. 

Scroll through our gallery (above) for the full behind-the-scenes preview.

Not for the fainthearted, Sarah Raven and Tricia Guild’s exhibit, the Anneka Rice Colour Cutting Garden, part of BBC Radio 2’s five Feel Good Gardens, shows the zingy end of the plant spectrum.  This is a garden brimming with exciting colour combinations, just there for the taking. Pink cosmos, gold and orange poppies and ruby-red lupins - here they are again - look positively harmonious under Sarah Raven’s expert eye, while lime green alchemilla offsets navy blue delphiniums. Luscious!

One of the Main Avenue show gardens, 500 Years of Covent Garden is inspired by the area’s floral heritage. Designer Lee Bestall copied the arches from the old market garden, bought wonderful old apple trees out of retirement and designed furniture derivative of old fruit crates.

Wild creatures run wild over the terrain in front of the Grand Pavilion, but as they’re made of driftwood, are unlikely to do much damage.

Inside the three-acre pavilion - which has enough room to park 500 London buses - is packed with floral displays and medal-winning plants. Each flower exhibit vies for attention, in its own unique way.


  1. A five-day show, open to ticket holders from Tuesday May 23 to Saturday May 27
  2. There are over 500 exhibitors from around the world, with more than 100 exhibits in the Great Pavilion, and around 270 trade stands
  3. There are eight Show Gardens, five Fresh Gardens, nine Artisan Gardens and more than 100 floral displays
  4. The Great Pavilion covers nearly 3 acres, enough room to park 500 London buses
  5. Once Britain's largest flower show, it has now been overtaken by RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
  6. Visitor numbers are capped at 157,000 each year
  7. The installations take 800 people 33 days to build
  8. Gnomes are banned from the displays, a rule that was temporarily lifted in 2013 for the show's centenary year - but it's thought some exhibitors still try to smuggle them in for luck...
  9. During last year's show, there were 24,000 cups of Pimms, 17,500 cups of tea, 4,500 portions of fish and chips, 17,250 sandwiches and 10,858 glasses of champagne served.
  10. In 1932 the rain was so heavy that a summer house display fell to pieces, the show was dubbed the Chelsea Shower Flow

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