Keen amateur gardeners in Worcestershire will be showcasing their talents at the world’s top flower show next year – and plan to meet the challenge in a revolutionary way.
Worcestershire group of the Hardy Plant Society has been chosen to represent the national society during its 60th anniversary year at Chelsea Flower Show in 2017 – and their display will feature high-tech touches.
It will be the first complete stand that constantly rotates in the history of the event – and visitors will be able to use QR codes, via smartphones, to link to a list of plants and how to grow them.
John McGhee, the leader of the Worcestershire committee for planning the Chelsea display, said “We’re delighted to be involved in this gardening adventure. It’s a great opportunity for our county group and one we’re excited about. Nothing like this has happened to us in our 21-year history, although we’ve won first prize several times at the Malvern Spring Festival.
“We’ve had more than 300 plants growing for nearly a year in anticipation of being invited to take part – and more will be added as the Chelsea date approaches. They’re being accommodated at the Offenham nursery of Cotswold Garden Flowers, near Evesham, and they’re plugged into the nursery’s irrigation system.
“More will come from our members, several of whom are also helping to care for the plants at Offenham to keep them in tip-top condition.”
Worcestershire HPS member and designer of the stand Linda Marsh said “We’ve aimed for an innovative, modern design for today. Strong colour will be the theme of our plants, chosen because they will be in flower at that time of year, not forced or held back for the occasion. Sixty different plants will celebrate the society’s 60-year anniversary.
Among the many plants that will feature are Astrantia 'Ruby Star', Beschomeria, Digitalis 'Spice Island', Geranium 'Blue Sunrise' and Romneya coulteri.
Linda added: “The idea behind everything is that we want to show that the Hardy Plant Society is moving with the times, encouraging new members of all ages so that we can grow and prosper.
“The revolving stand is designed so that visitors will be able to stand near the exhibit as plants rotate past them. They’ll be seen from a number of angles, interacting with other plants as they move.”
The Hardy Plant Society has just under 7,000 members across the UK and four continents and has more than 40 regional groups, including Worcestershire, which has just over 100 members. The group meets monthly at Crowle Parish Hall and organises talks, visits, holidays and social events throughout the year.
Hardy plants can withstand low winter temperatures – down to minus 15C - and still survive to grow another year. Most of the British Isles experiences winter temperatures no lower than around minus 11C, so hardy plants usually do well here.