Stars take time to smell the roses at Chelsea

CELEBRITIES were getting a sneak preview of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show yesterday as exhibitors unveiled displays with features ranging from giant lock gates to a section of wrought iron bridge and a swimming pool with submerged bar seats.

The serious business of judging the gardens was also under way yesterday before the world famous horticultural event opens to the public today.

The Queen and other royals were also touring the flower show, visiting exhibitions including a garden inspired by Stephen Hawking.

Designers have had to contend with unseasonal frosts up to a week before the show, leading to concerns that the 2010 event would be less colourful than years past. But with London basking in blazing sunshine yesterday, the hundreds of exhibitors were instead having to do their best to keep their blooms cool and well-watered.

They spent the weekend putting the finishing touches to the 15 show gardens, 21 small gardens and hundreds of exhibits at the west London site.

Some of the gardening world’s best-known designers have created gardens for the show, including Tom Stuart-Smith for Laurent Perrier and Robert Myers for Cancer Research UK.

Among the celebrities visiting the show were Jerry Hall, Rolf Harris, TV chef Ainsley Harriott and comedian Bill Bailey, who has had a tropical pitcher plant (Nepenthes) hybrid named after him.

Interior designer Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen was launching a range of Agriframes garden products, while chefs Raymond Blanc and Jamie Oliver were cooking food in two of the show gardens.

Along with their role in supporting biodiversity, the benefits of gardens and gardening for people were being highlighted at some of the show’s exhibits.

At what is perhaps the other end of the spectrum at Chelsea, designer David Domoney has followed up last year’s live piranhas and the Ace of Spades biker garden with an Ace of Diamonds exhibit for the lover of “bling”.

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