Coronavirus: Chelsea Flower Show moves online for first time

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Image source, PA Media
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The famous event has been held at London's Royal Hospital Chelsea since 1913

Chelsea Flower Show will be held virtually for the first time after it was cancelled due to coronavirus.

The famous event has taken place at London's Royal Hospital Chelsea every year since 1913, apart from gaps during World War One and World War Two.

It was called off in March due to lockdown but the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) will host free content including garden tours on its website.

The charity said it hoped it would "inspire more people to get growing".

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Image caption,
Thousands of people normally attend the week-long event

Every morning of the virtual event between 18 and 23 May, a leading designer, florist or gardening personality will provide a tour of their own private gardens.

Daily "school gardening clubs" will take place to provide activities for families to garden together, while "potting bench" demonstrations will show techniques for growing and maintaining plants.

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Image caption,
The Royal Family also traditionally visit the show

Lunchtimes will see RHS advisers being joined by a special guest for an interactive Q&A session, while a special series of programmes celebrating the show will be broadcast on BBC One and Two throughout the week.

UK growers who would have been at the event will also provide behind-the-scenes tours of their nurseries and some will replicate the displays they would have had in the Great Pavilion.

The charity's director general, Sue Biggs, said: "We really hope the virtual show will help fill the gap caused by the sad but necessary cancellation of this year's show."

Chelsea Flower Show

Image source, RHS/Luke MacGregor
  • The first show opened on 20 May 1913 with the first events held over three days within a single marquee
  • A show still took place in 1915 after war was declared in Europe. although with fewer exhibitors. It was then cancelled for the duration of World War One
  • Rain during the 1932 show was so severe that a summer house fell to pieces
  • The flower show was discontinued again in 1939 due to World War Two, only returning in 1947
  • The RHS lifted its ban on gnomes for the centenary show in 2013 and famous faces such as Elton John and Helen Mirren painted figures to sell for charity
  • The current Great Pavilion is about 11,775 sq m (2.9 acres) in size, approximately enough room to park 500 London buses

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