RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014

One of Perennial’s 175th anniversary highlights will be Perennial – Celebrating 175 years, a floral exhibit in the Great Pavillion at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014, designed by  celebrated garden designer Jo Thompson.


Chelsea stalwarts Rob and Rosy Hardy of  Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants and Jim Buttress, presenter on BBC’s Grow, Make, Eat:  The Great British Allotment Challenge are helping with the exhibit with further support  pouring in from nurseries and suppliers from across the industry including Coblands  Nurseries, Majestic Trees and CED Natural Stone. This exhibit simply wouldn’t be possible without their support.

Jo Thompson looks ahead to a busy Spring;

“Although Chelsea is still months away, I know the time will fly and I am already getting  the mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation about building another exhibit there. It  is such a fantastic show to be a part of and I am particularly thrilled this year to have  been asked by Perennial to design an exhibit which represents their long and enduring  history of helping all those who work in horticulture.”

Jo’s design is sophisticated, yet relaxed. It draws inspiration from Perennial’s public  access gardens at York Gate in Leeds and Fullers Mill in Suffolk and represents the  charity’s metamorphosis from a pension granting body to a contemporary, personal  ‘lifeline’ for all those working in, or retired from, horticulture and their families.

 “It gives me a real sense of drive knowing that my design this year is helping raise  awareness of the UK’s only charity working exclusively for professional horticulturists. I  feel very lucky to have achieved the success I am enjoying in my chosen career but it  hasn’t been easy. Horticulture is not a profession for the faint-hearted and in the current  climate I know of many colleagues who are struggling to keep afloat. It gives us all great  comfort to know Perennial is there for us should we need them, and I feel quite strongly  that we should all do our bit to support the charity as and when we can.”

Thompson’s design is loosely based on the charity’s furled arum lily logo – a tough  perennial stalwart, which thrives in both shady and sunny areas of the garden. Winding  through the design is a traditional, well-worn, brick path and at its centre, the iconic  stone sett circle, which visitors to York Gate will be familiar with. This pathway is  flanked by welcoming seating areas, designed for a quiet moment of reflection, behind which, perennial borders – a mixture of woodland and sunny – are laid out on either  side.

The planting scheme is anchored by yew topiary shapes, which stand at the entry points  to the exhibit, the formality of which breaks up the softer planting beneath. Dappled  shade is provided by a glade of silver birch, under-planted with a mixture of ferns,  foxgloves and other woodland perennials. The front borders provide interest for sunnier  parts, with plenty of flowers to attract essential wildlife.

Perennial – Celebrating 175 years will appeal to all ages – just as Perennial is there for all  horticulturists young and old. Perhaps the journey through the garden, taking in shady  areas before arriving back out in the sunshine, is a metaphor for the way in which  Perennial guides and assists those it helps through hardship in order to get back on their  feet.

Buy tickets for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014

If you and your company would like to take advantage of the corporate hospitality opportunities available at the show, please contact Laura Garnett: lgarnett@perennial.org.uk.



Find out more about Jo Thompson

Find out more about our 175th celebrations

Find out how Perennial can help

Attend a 175th Anniversary Special Event in 2014 

The History of Perennial by Matt Biggs [link to: web friendly History of Perennial PDF]