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« Real grass provides the velvet feel at Chelsea Show Garden | Main | The Grass is always Greener on the other side..... »

Garden Designers shun lawns in RHS Chelsea show gardens

Joe Swift - Garden Designer, TV Presenter and Garden WriterI spent a bit of time catching up on the BBC's coverage of The Chelsea Flower Show over the recent Bank Holiday. It was the 87th Royal Horticultural Society show at the grounds of the Royal Hospital and covers 11 acres - of predominately grass that is removed or reinstated after the last show garden and landscapers truck leaves the site.

A total of 157,000 visitors were expected to visit the four-day- event. My quest was to see how many times the presenters Alan Titchmarsh and Joe Swift mentioned the word 'lawn'. It took two full hour shows and three minutes into the Wednesday review of Chelsea programme for Joe Swift to have an eureka moment!

Joe turned to Alan and said "But something is missing, there is not a lawn in a single show garden. That is a sign of the times, a few years ago, it would have never been thought of, now it is all dedicated to hard landscaping and no stretch of lawn - only small strips of lawn around the show gardens."

In May 2007, during the Chelsea Flower Show, Mike Seaton, of the Lawn Society, decided to judge the turf because he felt that it was ignored at Chelsea. Lawns are very much the poor relation at the show, where flowers, trees and wild grasses are preferred. Seaton said "The lawn market is worth £400 million each year in Britain yet few designers make lawns a central feature of exhibits at the show, which is run by the Royal Horticultural Society."

Two years on, things have not change and sadly, they probably will not in the future. There will not be lawns at The Chelsea Flower Show forming a large proportion of the garden design. BBC Gardeners World are not keen lovers of lawns and their care, with the topic barely getting a look in on their weekly shows. Alan Titchmarsh was seen on one programme demonstrating the fine art of turfing by wacking the turf into the ground with the back of a shovel. Hardly what you would expect from an individual who has a Diploma from the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and a life long career in the Horticultural industry.

Joe Swift on the other hand will recall a publicity stunt and interview with Mike Seaton aka 'Dr Lawn' at the now disbanded Blenheim Palace Flower Show. Image - Joe Swift

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