Chatsworth's Chelsea will be green and pleasant
A 28-acre site, an estimated turnout of 80,000 over five days and a cost running into millions - these are the vital statistics giving a flavour of the scale of a major flower show coming to Chatsworth.
The Royal Horticultural Society’s gardening celebration will happen from June 7 to 11 next year in the grounds of the house, joining the organisation’s calendar of events, including shows at Tatton Park, Hampton Court and Chelsea.
Plant exhibitions themed around habitats such as woodland, Mediterranean and jungle will be held in a 14-metre-tall recreation of gardener and architect Joseph Paxton’s Great Conservatory, which was built in 1840 and demolished in 1920, and three large ‘floral bridges’ will span the River Derwent, one built in the Palladian style.
The site will dwarf the 11-acre Chelsea show, and talks are even being held about televising the 2017 event.
Sue Biggs, the director general of the RHS, said bringing a show to the Peak District was a ‘dream come true’, and that it represented a long-term commitment. “I hope we are here for at least 25 years, if not 100 or more,” said Sue, who was brought up in Broomhill.
“Not only will it help with the wonderful work done at Chatsworth, it will help us fund part of our vision to enrich people’s lives and make Britain a more green and beautiful place.”
It will be the society’s first big new event in more than a decade, and Sue said it would boost the local economy through trade stands and tourism, with visitors expected from the UK and abroad.
“There are some amazing visitors we will be able to bring to experience what a beautiful part of the world this is.”
She said it had the potential to be the ‘best event in the horticultural calendar, and the calendar of the North of England’.
Show manager Katie Draper said the event would promote innovation, with an overarching concept of ‘design revolutionaries’. “For example, we can look at Joseph Paxton, who had such a huge impact on the estate,” she said.
“Chatsworth is simply going to provide a stunning backdrop steeped in history but completely at home with the present.”
Show garden entrants are being asked to focus on ‘cutting edge design’ and ‘future heritage’. Katie explained this as: “In years to come, what will the design inspirations be that make history?”
Entries are now being accepted, with a deadline of August 8. “We’re really excited to see what comes in,” she added.
Three-dimensional models can also be submitted to a design competition, looking at how gardens can adapt to changing climate conditions.
As well as the conservatory replica, exhibits will be shown in a millstone-shaped area, intended to surround visitors with flowers and plants.
The decision to hold the show was taken two years ago, and gardeners are already hard at work growing their exhibits. Last year Chatsworth won ‘best in show’ at Chelsea with an exhibit inspired by the estate’s ornamental Trout Stream and Paxton’s rockery.
Sue laughed: “It was a genuine coincidence!”
A community engagement day this week was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.