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Royal couple visit flower show

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will be among the first people to get a glimpse of the exhibits at this year's Chelsea Flower Show when they tour the event in private.

The world's most famous flower show, which has been held in the grounds of the Royal Chelsea Hospital since 1913, will be open to the public from Tuesday but special guests including the royal couple will get a sneak peak a day early.

Visitors are expected to flock in their thousands to see displays of plants, flowers and furniture for ideas on how to decorate their gardens.

Recent wet weather has failed to dampen the spirits of the hundreds of exhibitors who come back every year to showcase a mix of traditional, contemporary and sometimes wacky designs.

The entrance to the central London site is expected to be dominated by show regular Diarmuid Gavin's 24-metre tall pyramid-shaped design. The Westland Magical Garden is made up of scaffolding constructed over eight levels, all covered in greenery but with different themes.

The award-winning designer said: "I am interested in structure, in planting and in how people use their gardens. I'm also concerned about the lack of space for people to garden or care for the environment at a time when there is pressure for more and more housing on our crowded island. So instead of having just one patch of garden, I thought why not have seven gardens one on top of each other."

Bellboys will take people up the levels in lifts, with the option of a stainless steel tube to slide back down.

Other eye-catching exhibits include an installation featuring dozens of green perspex rods to create a cage-like display with orchids, ferns and tulips growing inside. Its designer, Tony Smith, said the structure, which is six metres long, three metres wide and two metres tall, was designed to represent two of the seven deadly sins.

The exhibit offers something for all the senses, with a soundscape, LED screen and perfume which is sprayed on visitors intermittently.

Mr Smith's exhibit is part of the show's Fresh area, a category introduced this year for innovative design and new ideas and concepts.

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