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Saturday 18 November 2017

Creations ready to bloom at Chelsea Flower Show

Neil Lancefield

Celebrities were getting a sneak preview of this year's Chelsea Flower Show yesterday, ahead of the event opening to the public today.

Film star Gwyneth Paltrow was helping to launch B&Q's show garden, which focuses on "growing your own" food and contains the tallest structure ever at Chelsea -- a glass tower block-like building complete with window boxes.

And TV gardener and designer Diarmuid Gavin was overseeing the demonstration of a 52ft 6in (16m) long hanging garden pod -- the first floating garden at Chelsea -- which was being raised and lowered 82ft (25m) on a crane at the centre of Failte Ireland's "Irish sky garden".

Those lucky enough to enjoy the experience of the garden, inspired by the sci-fi epic 'Avatar', step into a pod, sit on a traditional garden bench and attach themselves to a harness before take-off.

Designer Shane Connolly, whose floral displays for the royal wedding included a series of trees in Westminster Abbey, also gave a demonstration of how plants can be used on different occasions.

Other celebrities set to attend the world famous flower show in west London include actress Barbara Windsor, novelist Terry Pratchett and Helen Mirren, who is launching a flower named in her honour.

And a new rose from Harkness in memory of Liam Neeson's actress wife Natasha Richardson -- who died after a skiing accident -- was also launched.

The flower show sold out in record time this year. But the unseasonably warm weather has presented some creators with a challenge as they make their designs a reality.

After a weekend putting finishing touches on the gardens, some of which had last-minute design tweaks, the exhibitors were due to be judged this morning.

The exhibits range from a modern take on a kitchen garden, a plot with the largest trees ever to be brought in to Chelsea show framing a working water mill, to gardens which evoke 1940s Wales or renewable power and even a Korean entry which makes a toilet the central feature.

Elsewhere, floral displays include the annual Florist of the Year competition in which entrants have designed floral jockey silks, while a £70,000, 11ft 6in (3.5m) high sculpture of a cypress tree covered in 23.5 carat gold dominates the grand pavilion of the show.

Irish Independent

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