RHS registers rising interest at its annual show preview

Record levels of interest in this year's RHS show preview point to an exciting season ahead as the charity unveiled its plans for 2008 last week.

An emphasis on the unusual and on evoking a passion for gardening were two major aspects of the preview on 16 January at the Royal Horticultural Halls in Westminster.

RHS director general Inga Grimsey said the RHS will focus through its shows on three big themes this year - children, the environment and membership.

Highlights of the forthcoming shows include a Thai floating market at Hampton Court (8-13 July), a special rose feature at Malvern Spring (8-11 May) and the best young florist competition at Tatton Park (23-27 July).

Some of the gardens touted to draw the crowds at Chelsea, on 20-24 May, include a George Harrison-inspired design by Yvonne Innes and Olivia Harrison, and a 1.5m sunken garden by Chinese designer Shao Fan, entitled A Forest Within the Chaos of a City. Cardiff's show runs on 18-20 April and BBC Gardeners' World Live is at the NEC on 11-15 June.

RHS shows director Stephen Bennett told more than 150 journalists at the preview that Hampton Court "has more new rides than any of the other shows this year, and we are campaigning for the 'grow your own' industry".

The RHS will also be celebrating its history with a return to the Inner Temple, the birthplace of the Chelsea flower show, for an event marking the past, present and future of gardening on 11-13 September.

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