From the Duchess of Cambridge’s play garden to the trend for trees and woods, this year’s show finds its wild side Come rain or shine, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has been an institutional fixture in the British gardening calendar for well over a century, waylaid only – albeit reluctantly – by two world wars and a national worker’s strike. It is steadfast, though never stagnant: a comprehensive horticultural history may be charted across the show’s residency at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, from the 1920’s penchant for rock gardens, through 1960‘s orchid-mania, to the conceptual show pieces of recent decades. It is the stage upon which gardening fashions are elected, plant varieties unveiled and new talent is discovered, while royal delegates – ever greater in attendance – jostle among selfie-ing celebrities for a tour of the Great Pavilion. So what are the definitive themes of 2019 at the world’s most prestigious flower show? We’ll begin with the obvious one: an undercurrent of environmental concern. Promoting environmental issues is certainly an increasing characteristic of Chelsea show gardens; one recalls James Basson’s Mediterranean quarry of 2017, an evocation of ecological ...