What the public doesn’t see at Chelsea…

What the public doesn’t see at Chelsea…
What the public doesn’t see at Chelsea…

This month, 157,000 visitors will descend on Chelsea, the world’s most famous flower show.  Ask one of them to describe Chelsea, and they’ll talk about the innovative, inspiring and cutting edge garden designs, the new plants, the start of the social season, the Royal visit, networking at the gala preview, a week of glitz and glamour.

But there’s a lot more to Chelsea than that…

The show costs £4m to run, including hire of the site, marketing, infrastructure and services.  However, the RHS flower shows overall, along with sponsorship by Saga Insurance of Chelsea, do generate funds for the RHS.  This is critical, since for every pound received from RHS members’ subscriptions, the charity still needs to raise twice as much again. 
Proceeds from the show helps fund the Society’s charitable activities.  For example, the RHS runs educational outreach projects including the ‘OPEN FUTURE growIt cookIt’ Project, which is a partnership between the Helen Hamlyn Trust, which directs and funds the campaign, the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Flourish Campaign, and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) founded Focus on Food Campaign.  The project aims to develop children’s interest in and practical experience of growing, cooking and sharing food together. The RHS delivers the horticultural content of the project and works with each school to design and establish a productive kitchen garden.

For older students, the Society runs the RHS School of Horticulture, which trains professional gardeners of the future.  Students apply from all over the world for a place at one of the four RHS Gardens: Wisley in Surrey, Hyde Hall in Essex, Harlow Carr in N. Yorkshire and Rosemoor in Devon.

The RHS is currently unable to meet demand for its schools programmes but that will change when the RHS Bicentenary Glasshouse & Learning Centre is opened at RHS Garden Wisley in Spring 2007.  The Learning Centre will include ‘The Learning Space’, ‘Growing Lab’ and Teaching Garden where visitors will be able to get hands-on experience of growing plants.  Dedicated technical and teaching support will ensure opportunities for learning for all visitors, from primary age upwards. 
This year, income from the Chelsea Charity Gala Preview will go to ‘Wild About Gardens’, a project by the RHS and The Wildlife Trusts.
‘Wild About Gardens’ increases understanding of local wildlife, celebrates what garden owners are already doing to support wildlife, and builds on research into the wildlife potential of domestic gardens (see  With the RHS’s membership of keen gardeners and the Wildlife Trusts grass roots expertise they are the perfect partners to advise gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts that you don’t have to let your garden go wild to benefit wildlife. 
Volunteers and RHS staff will sell RHS membership to around 2,700 new supporters during the week, further boosting support for the charity.

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