RHS Chelsea Flower Show rules allow use of artificial grass for first time this year

Artificial grass is to appear on a garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for the first time this year.

Chelsea Flower Show allows artificial grass. Image: Tony Smith
Chelsea Flower Show allows artificial grass. Image: Tony Smith

Tony Smith's Easigrass Garden, the Urban Plantaholics Kitchen Garden, will incorporate artificial turf as an architectural feature so as not to contravene show rules on the use of plant material.

RHS head of shows development Bob Sweet confirmed that it is a first for artificial turf to be featured in a Chelsea garden despite the strict rules.

"It is the first time we have allowed artificial plant material in an exhibit. It is just about permissible. As the RHS, we have to advocate using real plants."

Smith told HW his original plans for an Easigrass show garden were rejected for being too "out there" but that he was pleased that the "more sensible option" urban garden had been accepted.

He has become known for his exuberant conceptual designs after hitting headlines with the Quilted Velvet garden featuring 10,000 pink impatiens at last year's show.

The synthetic grass in question is Easigrass' premium brand Mayfair which features 63 colours, and even features thatch.

Smith said: "It explains why I am prepared to put my reputation on the line and use artificial grass at a show like Chelsea. Regardless of the fact they are paying for it, it is a great product and shows how far artificial grass has come in recent years."

The garden features an outdoor area of bedding including Bronze Fennel, Verbena Silver Ann and Tulip China Pink grown by Burston Nurseries. The brief describes the owner as a reclusive city bachelor with a stressful job who uses plants for company. His conservatory has been replaced with a grotto that is filled with a hardy fern collection supplied by Fernatix.

And with no need of a kitchen to cook in, his passion for orchids, also grown by Fernatix, overruns the indoor area.

Smith explained: "It is an eccentric's garden, it's not meant to be for the average young couple because I get so bored of gardens designed like that. Kitchen gardens are the height of fashion at the moment but this is a twist on that - it's a horticultural joke."

The grass will be used on the roof of the grotto as decoration; hence it is permissible because it is not substituting plants.

Sweet added: "We don't allow artificial plant material in Chelsea Flower Show but in this instance you could put anything on the roof of a cave to decorate it. It could be wallpaper so we allowed him to use artificial material. He is not using it instead of grass."

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