Gavin's garden pod off limits for visitors

Press to get best views of keynote show gardens as exhibitors design for cameras rather than visitors' interest.

Two of the biggest RHS Chelsea Flower Show gardens will not be totally visible to visitors when the show opens next week.

Diarmuid Gavin's 20mhigh garden installation will not be accessible and B&Q's 5m-high vertical allotment will leave punters craning to see the top end.

RHS show development head Bob Sweet explained that television gardener Gavin's pod garden would be viewable "on press day but restricted on public days" of the five-day show.

Even Chelsea judges will not see the display in situ but will look at ground level, Sweet admitted. "The worry is it is like a big wheel at the funfair. If people could get a ticket there would be 2,000 waiting in the queue so we just can't do that logistically," he said.

"On press day the garden will be raised and lowered and we're discussing with Gavin the opportunity to do this again in the first and last hours of the show. But B&Q is a fixed structure."

Designer John Brookes added: "There are all sorts of novelty gardens - they are going more and more bizarre.

"In order to catch the camera some are designed to look better photographed from above. I don't think that is very helpful to the public."

Pushing boundaries in search of coverage

Steve Bradley, Garden writer

"I think Diarmuid sees Chelsea as a television audition. I know that he is keen to get back on to TV. The BBC and RHS spend an inordinate amount of time showing show gardens rather than the rest of the show."

Matthew Wilson, designer

"Designers don't make real money from Chelsea so make up in other ways by pushing the boundaries. It must be in your mind how it looks on camera. I'm hoping to have a Clifton garden next year and I will be thinking about the seven million viewers on TV".

Bob Sweet, shows development director, RHS

"The designers know the gardens are going to get exposure in the BBC through overhead cameras but public viewing is one of the criteria when selecting gardens. We have asked for redesign in some instances and rejected others because they lack access."


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