Its well-manicured exhibits have often been inspired by foreign landscapes and featured exotic blooms.
But at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, visitors are more likely to see familiar plants such as hawthorn – or even stinging nettles and other weeds.
The Royal Horticultural Society, which runs the event, is asking participants to go more eco-friendly by using native or long-established species to create wildlife havens.
The Royal Horticultural Society, which runs the Chelsea Flower Show, is asking participants to go more eco-friendly by using native or long-established species to create wildlife havens
The Queen, pictured here on the first day of the show in May 2019, is a regular visitor to the event
Among plants being suggested are hedge varieties that support biodiversity, including hazel, hawthorn and cotoneaster, as well as trees such as crabapple, sweet chestnut, weeping willow and hornbeam. Also likely to feature are plants – cow parsley, buttercups and nettles – many amateur horticulturists still do their best to deter, despite the trend for wilder domestic gardens.
Native plants are believed to be better for the environment than exotic ones, as their nectar is preferred by local pollinators, including bees and butterflies.
It is the latest move to boost rewilding by the RHS, which – as the Daily Mail revealed last year – has overhauled the rules for the Britain in Bloom competition so villages are judged on their eco credentials as well as beauty. This year’s Chelsea Flower Show returns to its usual late May date at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, having been held in September last year due to Covid.
As well as wilding, themes include sustainability, climate change, the mental, physical and social benefits of gardens, and celebration of institutions such as the RNLI and the RAF. It is not known whether the Queen, a frequent visitor, will attend.
Helena Pettit, RHS director of gardens and shows, said: ‘We can’t wait to see the return of a spring RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2022 and welcome our visitors back after a two-year wait.
‘The show is jam-packed with stunning gardens and inspirational displays and, with an abundance of wildlife-friendly planting, we won’t be the only ones buzzing!’