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Chelsea Flower Show marks 100 years this week

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Gnomes designed by various celebrities including Elton John's  on display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London.

Gnomes designed by various celebrities including Elton John's on display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London.

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Michael Vaughan attends the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London.

Michael Vaughan attends the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London.

PA

Marc Quinn unveils his sculpture at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London.

Marc Quinn unveils his sculpture at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London.

PA

Gnomes designed by various celebrities including Elton John's (centre) on display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London.

Gnomes designed by various celebrities including Elton John's (centre) on display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London.

PA

David Gandy attends the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London.

David Gandy attends the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London.

PA

Ben Fogle and his wife Marina attend the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London.

Ben Fogle and his wife Marina attend the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London.

PA

Marc Quinn unveils his sculpture at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London. P

Marc Quinn unveils his sculpture at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London. P

PA

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Gnomes designed by various celebrities including Elton John's on display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London.

Celebrities flocked to the world's most famous flower show for a sneak preview ahead of the Queen's official visit

Chelsea Flower Show is celebrating its centenary year - and has even lifted its ban on gnomes to mark the occasion, with a host of stars invited to decorate the ornaments.

 

Among those getting the first glimpse at this year's blooms were baker Mary Berry, gardening expert Alan Titchmarsh and actress Joanna Lumley.

 

Chef Jamie Oliver said: "I've had a good look around and there is some very, very good stuff. There's a nice array of completely different styles, which is fantastic.

 

"Some of my favourites so far are the centenary garden designed by Roger Platts, which is phenomenal, and the Australian garden.

 

"I love gardening but I don't have as much time to do it as I'd like - but I'm massive on veg, I spent all day yesterday picking things from my garden for Fifteen.

 

"When you're a chef, the closer you get to nature the better."

 

England cricketer Michael Vaughan, visiting his friend Jamie Dunstan's garden As Nature Intended, said: "This is my first Chelsea. I expected it to be big, but it's absolutely spectacular. It's a brilliant family day out.

 

"I'm not a huge gardener but I know when I see something special."

 

Historian Dan Snow said he was particularly taken with the East Village Garden, based on the area of London that was formerly the athletes' village at London 2012.

 

"I think it's terrific," he said. "I love the idea of the urban garden.

 

"And I'm obsessed with wildflowers at the moment, so it's lovely seeing them today. They're such an expression of spring."

 

Television presenter Ben Fogle said: "I've been coming here for 10 years and used to attend with my mother.

 

"As a Londoner, I love how it spreads beyond the boundaries of the gardens themselves, making all of Chelsea like a living painting."

 

The Queen and other members of the royal family will attend later, before tomorrow's public opening.

 

Prince Harry will also be there to show his grandmother, patron of show organisers the Royal Horticultural Society, around a garden very close to his own heart.

 

The B&Q Sentebale Forget-me-not garden has been created by his charity, which is showing at Chelsea for the first time.

 

The show garden was created by renowned landscape gardener Jinny Blom for Sentebale, which helps vulnerable children in Lesotho. She said Harry had been "passionately" involved in the design process - even having preliminary drawings sent to him for approval while he was serving in Afghanistan.

 

The garden is intended to represent the mountainous landscape of Lesotho as well as its people.

 

Wildlife expert David Bellamy praised the garden for its inclusion of willow trees.

 

"They're very important because they have their catkins and they feed all the creepy-crawlies."

 

He said he came to the show "every year if I can" and added: "Without this, what would happen to Britain?"

 

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said it was hoping to inspire young people to start gardening as a result of this year's show.

 

The miniature gnomes will be auctioned on eBay for the RHS Campaign for School Gardening.

 

Their designers include Sir Elton John, who gave his gnome a pair of his trademark colourful glasses, and Dame Helen Mirren, who decorated hers in yellow and green.

 

The society is also set to be boosted by the auction of a giant orchid sculpture by renowned artist Marc Quinn. The piece, The Rush of Nature, will raise funds for the RHS Chelsea Centenary Appeal.

 

A total of 165,000 people are expected to attend the show over the next week. More than 500 exhibitors spent the weekend putting the finishing touches to the 15 show gardens, 19 smaller gardens and 150 exhibits that make up the 2013 show

Online Editors