In praise of the trade stands at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

A small note of appreciation for some of the innovative and original trade stands seen at the 2024 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Sarah Raven stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024

Granted, it’s the exhibits in the Great Pavilion and the show gardens that rightfully draw the crowds to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, but it has to be said that the quality of the trade stands at the show improves year on year. That level of participation at RHS Chelsea really adds to the atmosphere of the show.

We therefore thought it was high time to credit their efforts and have selected a few notable examples that in our book, went that extra mile and hence very much worthy of a mention.

The best RHS Chelsea stands as chosen by

In no particular order, our favourites for this year….

  • Blue Forest: The ‘Treehouse People’ were the winners of the 2024 RHS Chelsea Flower Show Best Trade stand for their botanical treehouse. The so called, RHS Chelsea ‘Magical Hideaway’ was designed set in a hillside hollow, within a meadow garden. The extensive treehouse, features whimsical finishes and furnishings creating a treetop hideaway on Main Avenue. Created in collaboration with landscape architect, Randle Siddeley and included participation from companies such as DCM Surfaces (play surfaces) Deepdale Nurseries (trees), John Cullen Lighting (outdoor lighting) and Marley Limited (cedar shingles). We concurred with John Grimshaw, Director of the Yorkshire Arboretum and Tree Health Centre, who wrote “The planting around the trade stands at #rhschelseaflowershow is generally overlooked by the pundits and public alike, but I thought the planting on the Blue Forest tree houses display by Randle Siddeley was as good as any on the show gardens, and much better than most”
  • Sarah Raven: Enviably, charming and ingenious shed, set in a glorious flower yard. Made from recycled and reclaimed materials and designed by film/tv set and prop maker, Armin Lukas. The shed and flower garden footprint mimic that of most gardens. Not only does it show that sheds can be beautiful and original, but also showing the degree of productivity that is possible from flower beds on this scale. All of which were brimming with cut and come again flowers. The whole thing was beguiling to visitors and pollinators alike, as it was brimming with bees throughout.
  • Alitex: Under the guiding hand of their Brand Director, Nelly Hall, Alitex always seems to go that extra mile. This year’s stand didn’t disappoint, featuring two greenhouses, kitchen garden, bespoke cor-ten steel fence and an array of immaculately finished details, from reclaimed tiles, benching, furniture and an array of beautifully grown vegetables and potted plants. As explained by Hall the stand was set up to show the complete journey from sowing, potting on, planting and eventually eating. The stand was created in association with The Pig Hotel, with the vegetables plants all grown and nurtured in their kitchen garden.
  • Niwaki: Purveyor of all things sharp and Japanese, most often the top choice for professional and enthusiastic gardeners. Founder Jake Hobson has an uncanny ability to not only curate beautiful, must-have things, but also spaces and their stand at the show followed suit. Clean, inviting, beautiful, practical and well made, very much a reflection of the company’s motto.
  • Architectural Plants: The Plant Healthy certified nursery, based in West Sussex specialises in unusual, large plant specimens. Their ‘BlobberyTM of Box alternatives’ stand featured a selection of substantial and beautiful topiary domes of various varieties to highlight the diverse options available for use as topiary -beyond the usual buxus sempervirens. They also added an extra focus on UK grown stock, which was also of great interest.
  • Crocus: Not only the landscapers and nursery for the gold and Best-in-Show winning gardens on Main Avenue, Crocus also has a charming trade stand featuring a myriad of their Crocus Collection products. Clever touches, such as the oak cladding and plant choices relate to the show gardens their teams they have built (National Garden Scheme Garden & the Muscular Dystrophy UK Forest Bathing Garden). Beautifully laid out stand, with floral and plant displays by Hazel Gardiner.
  • Hamish Mackie: The sculptor opted for a walkable sculpture garden landscaped by Bowles & Wyer. Gabion walls for height variation, cor-ten lined paths, hedges for a green backdrop and extensive planting featuring grasses such as Deschampsia caespitosa, Luzula nivea, vibrant wildflowers and Ulmus glabra ‘Lutescens’. The design and build was done by Bowles & Wyer.
  • Garden & Wood: the purveyors of all antique gardening tools and gadgetry were awarded the RHS Director General’s Award for their stand at this year’s show. The stand of the Oxfordshire based duo, Louise Allen and Piers Newth combined their passion for gardening, sustainability with their love of (gardening) antiques. A quirky, charming, vintage stand that actively encourages people to recycle rather than replace old with new. “We are aware that our quirky stand at Chelsea Flower Show does not really conform to the normal expectations of a trade stand so we were utterly astounded and a bit thrilled to win the Director Generals Award at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show”, said Piers Newth of Garden & Wood