Yesterday saw a triumphant start to the UK's premier garden exhibition, which is a sell-out event once again.
The royals came out in force yesterday at the exclusive preview gala celebration for the Chelsea Flower Show. As well as the Queen, the cortege included the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, The Princess Royal, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra.
One of the attractions was a garden designed for Sentebale, the charity co-founded by Prince Harry, which helps vulnerable children in Lesotho. The garden was created to “transport visitors to the landscape of Lesotho”, featuring flowers native to the country.
There are 550 exhibitors taking place this year. Other highlights include the M&G Garden, designed by award-winner Jo Thompson for the show's headline sponsor and the Beauty of Islam garden, designed for Al Barari Firm Management.
A number of big names from the business world also attended the opening yesterday, including Rory Macnamara, former Morgan Grenfell director and recent addition to the board of Alliance Trust, as well as Rocco Forte, owner of the eponymous luxury hotel group. Lakshmi Mittal, the Indian steel magnate who owns a 34 per cent stake in Queens Park Rangers, also made an appearance.
Meanwhile luxury Dubai hotel Atlantis, The Palm teamed up with Selfridges’ award-winning florist Philippa Craddock and luxury tea brand TWG Tea to recreate the hotel in flowe form. VIP guests were served the world’s most expensive tea - TWG Tea’s Yellow Gold Tea Buds, which is plated with 24-ct gold and costs $480 a gram.
Designer Matthew Williamson picked out his favourite garden on Twitter.
Celebrity cook Nigella Lawson preferred this offering
As did rival chef Nigel Slater
Already a number of awards have been announced, with gold awards going to the likes of Brewin Dolphin, Homebase, Morgan Stanley and L'Occitane.
According to William Hill, there is one clear favourite to take the title of Best Show Garden at this year's Chelsea Flower Show. The Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden, designed by Dan Pearson has seen its odds narrow from 4/1 to 8/13, which the bookies said underscored the “torrent of support” for his creation.
“It’s hard to pinpoint the root of this gamble, but the fact Pearson makes his return to Chelsea after over a decade away is likely to have swayed some people,” said spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke.
The people's choice award is still open; the deadline to vote is 1pm on May 21st. The details to vote are available here.