A new book, published to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the most prestigious flower show, includes some fascinating photographs, plans and posters from the Royal Horticultural Society archives.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show, A Centenary Celebration (by Brent Elliott, £25 from Frances Lincoln) looks at what makes Chelsea special, how it has reflected tastes in garden design and planting over the years, and what it means to the nurserymen, designers, organisers, visitors and patrons involved in it. The book is arranged chronologically, with chapters on the early shows, shows between the wars, and decade by decade to the present day.
Queen Mary with entourage at the first Chelsea Show, 1913, looking at a rock garden. She is flanked by the RHS President, Lord Grenfell, and, with his hat in his hand, George Whitelegg, the designer of the rock garden.
The Rock Garden Bank in 1936, showing the crowds examining the rock garden. Rock gardens built with heavy boulders brought on site and planted with alpines, turf, and sometimes ornamental grasses and conifers remained extremely popular until the 1950s.
1971 was a bad year for flooding at Chelsea.