Peek at RHS Chatsworth Flower Show ’18

Welcome to RHS Chatsworth Flower Show
Welcome to RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

I never take for granted the privilege afforded me by the Royal Horticulture Society to attend its world-famous flower shows, especially on Press Day when a few selected journalists are allowed to mingle with and interview designers, horticulturists, craftspeople, and vendors. Over the years I have visited behind the scenes numerous shows including Chelsea, Hampton Court, Tatton Court, Harlow Carr, Sissinghurst, Wisley, and others; in their unique ways, all are just…WOW.

Sculpture by Fantasywire
Sculpture by Fantasywire

This summer kicked off with a new one for me, held for the second year at Chatsworth, a magnificent house and gardens nestled high in the Peak District of Derbyshire, central England. Though last year’s Press Day was closed early due to horrendous downpours – what the British correctly call “chucking it down” – this year the weather was perfect.

Continuing the latest trends, what’s hot at this and other RHS flower shows includes beautiful heirloom flowers, herbs and vegetables mixed in large mixed containers, rustic wooden fences, unique vine-covered arbors, naturalistic designs encircling smaller formal lawns, mowed paths through wildflower meadows loaded with pollinators, small water features, fire bowls, children’s gardens with all sorts of recycled containers (including painted tires) and colorful artwork, and low-maintenance succulents.


A real “back home” display attracted my eye because of its prominent colors which reminded me of my antique pickup truck, which was recently repainted an instantly recognizable bright green. The exhibit, put on by the John Deere company, featured an original 1919 made-in-Iowa Waterloo Boy tractor as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of its introducing one of America’s first successful engine-powered tractors.

I chatted with folks who proudly refurbish wooden handles and metal blades of well-worn garden tools, others who have spent decades carefully cross-breeding various plants to come up with the most amazing succulents, roses, clematis, daylilies, iris, and other fantastic never-before-seen plant cultivars.


Main things at these shows, other than designers trying out their best ideas, are to be inspired with what other gardeners are doing lately, and especially to try some of it out in your own home grounds. The best plants and ideas will take it from there.

Here are just a few more of the dozens of images I took at the show, including a handful of the eclectic, award-winning “show gardens” and closer details of the many dozens of flower, plant society, and product stands, all primed for perfection (and close competitive judging). Scroll over each one for a brief description.

The Best Show Garden award went to the one named The Great Outdoors
The Best Show Garden award went to the one named The Great Outdoors







And for a more detailed surprise encounter with a pair of Mississippi-inspired bottle trees found at this year’s show click here.

Home-made bottle trees greeted thousands of visitors to the grand Floral Marquee
Home-made bottle trees greeted thousands of visitors to the grand Floral Marquee


9 Replies to “Peek at RHS Chatsworth Flower Show ’18”

  1. Your books have been my treasure too! Loved meeting you at the Festival of Flowers. I can’t get to to sleep as I’ve been mesmerized with your photos. Thank you so much for sharing. I was in England last summer and will be returning in July. I visited Chatsworth then and just wish I could have seen the RHS show. I will find out more about the Tatton show and will try to go before leaving for France. Your blog makes me happy!!! I read every word! Thanks for sharing your wonderful YOU! Elaine Klotz

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Elaine! Had fun at the Mobile Festival of Flowers – loved the upside-down crape myrtle fern stands there and bought some new plants for my own garden…
      Enjoy ALL flower shows..I might see you at Tatton Park! If you have any extra time, lemme know where you will be in the UK and I might suggest a really cool out-of-the-way garden to visit…


    2. I’m looking forward to the Tatton RHS show!! I plan to leave Edinburgh the morning of July 20. My Mom (97 on July 21!) will be with me and we’ll tour the show that afternoon. Hope to see you there! I’ll stay in touch.


      1. Thanks – wish I could meet Mom… hope y’all make it to Roslyn Chapel just south of Edinburgh…best Green Man carvings in the UK!
        Won’t meet at the flower show – I attend on Press Day during judging, the day before they officially open…
        Enjoy though, but gotta warn ya, it’s HOT – and parking at this fairly rural venue can be a nightmare with lots of walking…
        Cheers (and HUG for Mom)


  2. It was a fun show…a bit light on design displays for an RHS event but the floral marquees were amazing and the vendors (especially plant vendors) were certainly enjoying a brisk trade. And what a stunning setting! Hope you visited the garden to see the rockery, which I found much improved over my last visit to Chatsworth in 2015. I had a group in tow (we had 8 fabulous days in East Anglia prior to the show), so was there for Members Day…sorry to miss seeing you and you-know-who. Love the blog and seeing the gardening world through your eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks lady! Can’t wait to read about your last tour – that part of England has some cool hidden gardens; I’ve enjoyed Beth Chatto’s – the home of xeriscape gardening (doesn’t the entry garden look like Texas?) – but there’re some other really quirky ones nearby….


  3. So sorry we will miss you! We’ll check out Roslyn Chapel. We’re packing our sun hats and good walking shoes. It can’t be any hotter than in Mobile. We’ve had a heat index of over a 100 degrees for the last week. I’m looking forward to the cooler weather in Scotland and England.


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