Flower show not dampened by weather
After one of the soggiest springs in living memory, the world's most famous flower show opens this week.
The 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 at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Visitors are expected to flock in their thousands to see displays of plants, flowers and furniture for ideas on how to decorate their gardens. 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."
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.
Deputy show manager Sarah Easter said she was impressed with the originality of some of this year's exhibitors.
She said: "They're always pushing the boundaries in terms of what's possible in the time. What they create in the timescale is incredible. We've seen a big trend in topiary at the show, which wasn't very expected. It's quite a traditional planting form which has made a comeback. We've an F1 car made of topiary."
She said the build-up to the five-day show had been the wettest for 100 years but should only make the plants look better.
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will tour the event in private on Monday, while celebrities will also get a first look.
The flower show, which has been held in the grounds of the Royal Chelsea Hospital since 1913, will be open to the public from Tuesday.