Chelsea Flower Show to mark Platinum Jubilee with sculpture of Queen’s postage stamp silhouette

·4-min read
A floral sculptural portrait of Queen Elizabeth II
A floral sculptural portrait of Queen Elizabeth II

The Chelsea Flower Show will celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a flowerpot reconstruction of Her Majesty’s “iconic silhouette” planted with one of her favourite blooms.

Celebrities and members of the royal family will get a first look at the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) showpiece event on Monday before it opens to members of the public.

The Queen is hoping to attend the event at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, with a decision being taken on the day as to whether the 96-year-old monarch, who has mobility issues, will be able to go.

Renowned florist Simon Lycett has designed a bespoke sculptural portrait of the Queen, situated at the centre of the show’s Great Pavilion.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Mr Lycett said it would be “utterly overwhelming and magical” if the Queen saw his monument in person.

“It would be totally special, and a delicious cherry on top of what is already a rather gorgeous cake,” he said.

Chelsea Flower Show
Chelsea Flower Show

The monument, formed from a ton of locally sourced and cut steel, is shaped in the familiar postage stamp profile of the Queen and painted a platinum jubilee purple.

In the centre, a smaller silhouette is formed from symbolic green foliage, including rosemary for remembrance, as well as oak, hornbeam and other native British tree foliage.

“The two silhouettes are linked by floating shelves which hold 70 terracotta pots, hand-thrown by Whichford Pottery in Warwickshire, where I’m from, and they are planted with Lily of the Valley, which in 2020 Her Majesty revealed to the RHS is her favourite flower,” Mr Lycett explained.

Showgoers can expect a “sensory overload” walking past the monument, he said, “because 70 big pots of Lily of the Valley smell spectacular”.

The creation of the monument has been a “wild knuckle ride”, the florist explained, as Lily of the Valley is a very fragile plant which is now nearing the end of its season. He said the week will involve lots of long hours to ensure the plants are well watered and “looking fresh”.

After the event, which is open to the public from Tuesday through Saturday, the individual pots will be donated to schools and community gardens so people can have a “little patch” of the plant grown especially for the Jubilee.

The steel frame, which weighs the equivalent of a saloon car, had to be brought into the showground on a crane-lift lorry. It is hoped it will be repurposed into a permanent feature in an RHS garden after the event.

“It’s not just going to be a one-hit-wonder for the duration of the Chelsea Flower Show, it’s something that will definitely have a legacy,” Mr Lycett said.

In the show’s Great Pavilion, the monument will be surrounded by a photography exhibition of the Queen visiting the show throughout her reign.

As well as the Jubilee, “planet-friendly gardening" will be a feature across the show, the organisers said, with exhibits and displays promoting sustainable practices.

Mr Lycett is among 10 new ambassadors chosen by the RHS to celebrate the first May Chelsea Flower Show since 2019. The group, which includes DJ Jo Whiley and television presenter Nicki Chapman, will work with the RHS to promote gardening and growing to wider audiences.

Two new ambassadors for inclusivity, believed to be the first of their kind, have also been announced.

Joe Swift in the BBC Studios Our Green Planet and RHS Bee Garden he designed for the Chelsea Flower Show - Luke MacGregor/RHS/PA
Joe Swift in the BBC Studios Our Green Planet and RHS Bee Garden he designed for the Chelsea Flower Show - Luke MacGregor/RHS/PA

Manoj Malde, an award-winning garden designer, and Sue Kent, an amateur gardener and Gardeners World presenter with an upper limb disability, will both help RHS to be more accessible for all.

BBC Earth has teamed up with the RHS for a garden designed by Joe Swift featuring a raft of species that help to sustain bees, which are in decline in the UK and more widely.

The BBC Studios Our Green Planet and RHS Bee Garden design features the silhouette of a bee wing as the centrepiece for planting including salvias, hardy geraniums, and euphorbias as well as shallow water for insects to drink from, mud for bees to make nests and a dismantlable bee hotel.

Sarah Poll, RHS head of shows development, said: “It has been three years since we’ve been able to hold RHS Chelsea Flower Show in the spring, and we couldn’t be happier to see the show return to its traditional May slot.

“The glorious weather we have had in the last few days means that the plants will be at their best as we see our spring favourites at RHS Chelsea once again.

“With a bumper crop of 39 gardens, the return of a spring RHS Chelsea will set the gardening season off with a bang.”

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