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Queen to visit Chelsea Flower Show

Published 17/05/2015

Final preparations are made to Prince Harry's Sentebale Garden
Final preparations are made to Prince Harry's Sentebale Garden

The Queen and celebrities will get the first look at the Chelsea Flower Show tomorrow, as the finest horticulturalists from all over the world exhibit their immaculately designed gardens.

Home-grown talent will vie with designers from as far afield as Australia and Dubai to win the coveted title of best show garden at the world-renowned exhibition.

And for the first time in its century-long history, an amateur will compete with professionals for the award.

Sean Murray, a nurse from Ashington in Northumberland, claimed his spot on the main bloom-lined boulevard after winning the BBC's Great Chelsea Garden Challenge.

Also hoping to get the royal seal of approval is designer Matt Keightley, 30, who has created a southern-African themed garden for Sentebale, a charity co-founded by Prince Harry which helps poor children in the small kingdom of Lesotho.

Mr Keightley, who designed a garden for the Help for Heroes charity at last year's show, said: "It is such a privilege being part of the show. It was last year and nothing has changed in that respect.

"I'm hoping the Queen will like it, that would be the icing on the cake."

He was tasked with creating a garden inspired by the charity's new children's centre, and the garden promises to "transport" visitors in Chelsea, west London, "to the landscape of Lesotho in southern Africa".

The garden features bright flowers of oranges and reds, plants native to the small African country, and a waterfall to echo the nation's oases.

Mr Keightley said the sheer scale of the project and the task of replicating the southern African landscape in Britain was formidable.

He said: "The most difficult thing is the scale. We have 50 tonnes of stone in this garden, getting that in is difficult.

"It has pushed me as a designer definitely. It forces you to be more diverse. It is completely different and out of my comfort zone."

Mr Keightley said one of his favourite gardens in this year's show is the M&G garden located next to his and designed by Jo Thompson.

He said: "It is super elegant and very feminine."

A quintessentially British garden, it is inspired by ideas of a writer's backyard retreat and was planted by an all-female team of gardeners.

Mrs Thompson said it "wasn't a conscious decision to have an all female planting team" but it grew organically and this year includes 10 women.

She added: "It is good working with an all female team, it is a really nice atmosphere. Everyone has a job and an opinion, we can all chat and discuss ideas, but there are no egos.

"I've never really thought about it in terms of gender and never had any problems. It is not that boys are banned, it is just the way it has evolved."

From Middle-Eastern inspired gardens to chic, modernist designs to those dazzling with high-tech water features, the horticultural display showcases the very best in green-fingered talent.

Around 165,000 people will visit the show this year.

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