The Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show takes place every year in May. But due to the pandemic, the event was pushed back to September. This is the first time the show has ever been held in the autumn, which meant that the mini gardens and stands on display looked a little different this year.
Despite Chelsea Flower Show 2021 missing out on displaying all the beautiful plants and flowers summer has to offer, the event’s first few days have proven to be just as successful as previous years.
On the show’s first day, open only to celebrities and VIPs, among the attendees were members of the Royal Family, Prince Edward, the Countess of Wessex, and Princess Anne.
Familiar faces on British film and television also visited the event, including Nick Knowles, Alex Jones, Bill Bailey, Dame Maggie Smith, and Dame Judi Dench.
Among the gardening experts walking the show’s grounds were Alan Titchmarsh, Frances Tophill, and David Domoney.
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For David, although there were some summer displays missing in the show this year, such as the daffodils, the event is still worthwhile because “it’s just as important to garden during the autumn”.
The gardening expert said: “Things like the daffodils – which were big displays in spring – we miss seeing, but on the other hand, there are other plant varieties that are showing autumnal colour or later colour, so there is that balance.
“It’s really weird to think we are so close to Christmas, where you think, well in two months we’ll be putting up Christmas decorations. So, there is that emotion connected to it as well.”
David added: “But it’s just as important to garden during the autumn – because it’s nature’s time for planting really.”
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The expert, who often appears on BBC’s Love Your Weekend alongside Alan Titchmarsh, went on to explain which tasks both beginner and experienced gardeners can start doing now.
Because of the colder weather, David recommended focusing on indoor plants at this time of year.
He said: “In autumn, there is usually a growth of people buying indoor plants, pot plants for inside the home. And you get a lot of beautiful and fragrant varieties.
“A lot of the younger population are engaging in indoor plants, and we’re seeing a much bigger uplift of sales in garden centres because of that.”
There are various reasons why young people have become more interested in plants and gardening in recent months, according to David.
He said: “I think there’s a greater awareness of the planet, of sustainability and global warming, and there is a closer connection to the importance of the planet with the joint younger generation.
“And I think getting close to nature, and growing their own plants inside their homes, is very important.
“I think lockdown has had an impact as well. With a lot of people working from home, they’ve got a home office, and they don’t just want to look at their walls.”
David continued: “But I also think that there is more of an awareness of the fact that interacting with plants can have a positive impact on your mental health.
“Plants produce oxygen, and so the more plants you have inside the home, the greater the fresh air, which can increase our cognitive abilities.
“Plants also remove toxins from the air. So, by choosing the right plants, you will be feeling better indoors.”
The connection between mental health and gardening is one of the key topics David focuses on in his recently released book, My House Plant Changed My Life.
David wants to encourage people to become interested in gardening by discovering house plants and taking care of them.
For low maintenance plants, the gardening expert recommended “things like rubber plants, cheese plants, cactus, and jade plants, which is the money tree”.
“They do pretty well,” he added.
To watch after your house plant properly, David advised giving them plenty of water and feed.
But some plants need more care than others. The garden expert said: “Usually you slow down on feeding during the autumn months, but any pants that are flowering like orchids and cyclamen, you need to give a good feed with Miracle Gro Pour and Feed plant food.
“Flowering plants for autumn and winter you keep feeding, but other houseplants, you give a bit of a rest.”
Another task gardeners can do in autumn is begin protecting plants from early frosts.
David advised buying a fabric like horticultural fleece, “which is like a light material that can be pulled over the top of the plants”.
The garden expert added: “You can also put them in a more of a sheltered position.”
The RHS also recommended using fleece to protect plants from the cold and wind, as well as to prevent pests from damaging them.
On its website, the RHS advised investing in polypropylene fleece, woven meshes, or perforated polythene.
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