RHS embraces suggestions from BBC to raise profile of plants shown at Chelsea

Floral marquee at Chelsea to be zoned as 'Best of British' on one side and various continents or nationalities on the other.

Floral marquee: new focus for the area welcomed in some quarters
Floral marquee: new focus for the area welcomed in some quarters

The RHS plans to zone the floral marquee at the Chelsea Flower Show for the first time after the BBC suggested theming the growers might bring them more publicity.

Some growers have said they are uneasy with the change, while others have welcomed the move if it does take media attention away from the show gardens and bring it inside the marquee.

The marquee will be zoned as "Best of British" on one side and various continents or nationalities on the other.

Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants co-owner Rob Hardy will be in Best of British and called the idea "interesting". He added: "The RHS is coming up with new ideas. It has got to look forward. One of the reasons is trying to get the interest of the press as much as anything else. The floral marquee is not highlighted enough while the show gardens gets loads of coverage."

BBC producer Andy Vernon, who was the producer on Gardeners' World in 2009, is believed to have come up with the idea.

Horticulture Exhibitors Association chairman Cath Sanderson said: "There's a bit of concern about it from members." These include growers saying "if it's not broken, don't fix it", expressing anxiety about late decision making on stand sizes and worries about exhibitors having a lack of "clout", with decisions being imposed on them by the RHS and BBC.

Sanderson added: "A lot of the public would like to see more about the plants but the response from the BBC is they find it difficult to film.

"Vernon has been working with the RHS to come up with the idea so they have a hook. There's a bit of a concern from some exhibitors saying they don't want to be next to a competitor and sales will drop, but they have been assured that won't happen."

An RHS spokesperson said: "To generate more stories and theatre in the Great Pavilion next year, displays will be grouped into two themes - Floral continents and Best of British."

Walkthrough exhibit

Trewidden Nursery plans a "Cape to Cape" walkthrough exhibit in the marquee at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show next year. The exhibit will be four times the size of 2013's stand, showing plants from Cornwall to South Africa.


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