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Chelsea’s birthday garden party

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Her Majesty The Queen arrives at the Chelsea Flower Show in London 2012

It’s difficult to sum-up the venerable Chelsea Flower Show in a single sentence, but we’ll have a go. Edwardian gardening institution reinvented for the 21st century. Social centrepiece of London SW3. Temporary oasis in the heart of the city. Eco-friendly event that makes you stop and stare in awe. Whatever it might mean to you, this year, green fingered commentators are set to exhaust their supply of superlatives as the show marks its centenary… showing off by celebrating its 100th birthday in spectacular style from 21-25 May. And you can join them when you buy train tickets to London and head for Royal Hospital Road.

This centenarian won’t get a telegram from the Queen, of course. It’ll go one better with the now-traditional private royal visit (well away from the throng). It’s the sheer scale and complexity of the event that often impresses visitors (and, no doubt, Her Majesty) and this year is no exception.

Centenary blooms

Chelsea’s centenary is marked with its trademark line-up of show gardens, each bursting with ideas for the avid home gardener. There are 550 exhibitors in all this year (over double the number at the inaugural show 100 years ago) – and you won’t be disappointed by the creativity, inventiveness and beauty of what’s on offer, as the world’s leading nurseries set out to impress.
This year, the Great Pavilion, the magnificent centrepiece of the show, is home to an abundance of exciting new plants, along with more traditional favourites from 1913. Look out for one of our favourites, Artisan Retreats, where celebrity artists and designers show off their fabulous outdoor living ideas. You’ll also be able to see how Chelsea style has evolved through the decades, with an exhibition dedicated to marking a century of change at the show.

Visitors look at the flowers at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012

Getting there for less

You can buy train tickets online for services direct to London Victoria – the nearest mainline station to the Flower Show – or jump on the tube and make your way to Sloane Square, which is on the District and Circle Line. It also makes real sense to buy a Travelcard with your train tickets – it’ll save you time and expense when you get to London, and you can use it on buses as well as the tube and local trains.

Sloane Square is just a ten minute walk from the showground, and there’s a dedicated shuttle bus running from the tube station for an extra charge. You can also catch a shuttle bus from just outside the Grosvenor Hotel near Victoria Station.

Visitors looking at the Orchid Society of Great Britain display

RSH and the RHS

And, if as a result of your trip to Chelsea, you get the green-fingered urge to splurge, you can earn some serious redspottedhanky loyalty points by shopping with our friends at the Royal Horticultural Society or by ordering bedding plants from Jersey Plants Direct to take your gardening efforts up in the world. Then spend your points on a rail travel voucher you can use against future rail travel.

So dig in to the world’s best flower show, and say happy 100th birthday to Chelsea at the same time, with cheap train tickets to London and some last minute tickets from the RHS. Because green is the colour – and Chelsea’s just the ticket.

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