Experience the RHS

Visitors to the 2011 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and everyone who downloads the new RHS Chelsea iPhone app, will get an exclusive look at the Royal Horticultural Society and its remarkable work.

Launching at RHS Chelsea, the RHS Experience will bring elements of the RHS to life, from its leading scientific research and education projects, to its life-changing work with communities.

At 430m square, the RHS Experience will be approximately the size of two large show gardens and will be an interactive display. It will allow visitors to walk through, interact and learn about the charitable work of the RHS and find out how the charity is making a difference through the income generated from members, visitors, donors and supporters. Visitors will also be able to get answers to all their horticultural questions by asking the RHS experts.

Planting of the RHS Experience is being undertaken by Matthew Wilson, managing director of Clifton Nurseries, London. Matthew, respected garden designer, Channel 4's The Landscape Man and former RHS Head of Gardens and Creative Development, designed the planting scheme to capture the spirit and flavour of the RHS gardens by bringing key plants that are synonymous with the RHS gardens at Wisley, Rosemoor, Harlow Carr and Hyde Hall. Showing visitors how to take the planting ideas home to their own gardens is also important to the design. The RHS Experience will demonstrate how to blend flower and foliage colour, shape and contrast to best effect.

Of the eight large (2.2m x 1.2m) planters that encircle the RHS Experience, four are designed for deep shade, two for dappled/semi shade, and two for full sun, so there are plenty of inspirational plant combinations for specific growing conditions for gardeners to take home from RHS Chelsea and apply to their own space.

The central atrium will be planted with a high - impact mix of perennials and grasses designed to demonstrate the value of applying a bold yet simple palette to smaller garden spaces. The featured plants will include Salvia 'Tanzerin' and Geranium Rozanne ('Gerwat') highlighted with Calamagrostis 'Overdam'.

"I love mixing plants with really bold foliage along with much finer- leaved plants," says Matthew. "The big, blue green leaves of Hosta 'Big Daddy' look amazing with the fine, narrow golden leaves of the woodland grass, MillIum effusum 'Aureum'. It's a fantastic combination for shade and can really lift a gloomy spot, and if you have the urge to plant a Rhododendron, but not the space to fulfil that urge, then R. yakushimanum hybrids are ideal, rarely getting to more than 1.5m high and wide.

"For full sun the perennial salvias are hard to beat, with great intensity of flower colour - bees and butterflies love them too, " he says. "If you mix these with the lovely blue Geranium 'Rozanne' and then splash a smattering of bright red Geum 'Mrs J. Bradshaw' through the mix it will make a superb summer flower display that will need very little looking after and crucially, given the dry start to the year, won't need much in the way of water."

The RHS Experience promises to be an informative, educational and sensual delight for all visitors and can be found at the corner of Southern Road and Main Avenue (site MA1).

Show visitors will also get the chance to see the RHS Experience at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (5-10 July ) and RHS Flower Show Tatton Park (20-24 July). To buy tickets to these shows visit www.rhs.org.uk/flowershows


Article posted on 17 May 2011.

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