For many people, the Hillier exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show, is one of the “must-see” gardens at the show with visitors flocking, eager to see which new plants will be launched each year.
As Chelsea’s most successful exhibitor, and holder of the world record for having the most consecutive Chelsea gold medals, Hillier always puts on a fantastic display. This year is no different, with a whole host of ways for visitors to interact with the garden throughout the week and gain inspiration to take home to their own gardens.
If going for a 73rd gold wasn’t enough to keep the Hillier team busy, they are also creating a special installation for the RHS. As well as the main exhibit, the team is also creating “A Royal Celebration by Hillier”, which will be at the entrance to the Great Pavilion. This is the first time that Hillier has been involved in a Chelsea installation outside of its own exhibit, and is also the first time that the RHS has created a floral entrance to the marquee.
At the heart of the entrance will be impressive corten-steel staircases, which will give people a taster of what is to come in the main Hillier exhibit within the Pavilion. These will be adorned with beautifully royal-themed floral displays to welcome visitors and celebrate the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
This year’s “Stihl Inspiration” by Hillier is the first year of many that Hillier will be working with world-famous garden tools manufacturer, STIHL, as part of a wider sponsorship agreement between the two companies. Inspiration is a key theme in all Hillier Chelsea activity this year, starting with the garden design. The garden has a walkway to provide visitors with opportunities for greater interaction with all elements of the exhibit. Taking people on a journey through “work, rest and play” zones, the garden offers visitors ideas to easily re-create the Chelsea look at home.
The growing team has been busy tending to every need of the latest Hillier plant varieties which will be launching at the show. This year, these are Eryngium ’Blue Waves’, a hybrid developed solely with Hillier Nurseries in the UK, along with Hydrangea aspera ‘Gold Rush’ which is also exclusively grown by Hillier Nurseries in the UK.
As Chelsea’s most decorated designer, having won nine gold medals, Hillier’s designer, Sarah Eberle, knows the challenges of creating a Chelsea garden perhaps better than anyone: “No Chelsea is ever the same and each year throws up new challenges! The weather of course is always one of the biggest factors and significantly impacts on the way the plants grow – it certainly keeps us on our toes! This year we’ve gone from blizzards to 28 degrees, the poor plants don’t know what’s going on, so the Hillier growing team have had to really closely monitor them, and the environments that they are grown in, to make sure they are perfect for show time.”
A key ethos at the heart of Hillier is inspiring future generations to be involved with horticulture, as chairman Robert Hillier OBE said at a recent Hillier press day, “they’re the future.” To reiterate this, Hillier will once again be holding its unique “Young Hillier” takeover on the Friday of the show. Now in its fourth year, the Hillier takeover gives the younger members involved with Hillier the opportunity to man the Chelsea exhibit and be at the forefront at the world’s most famous horticultural show.
Martin Hillier, Senior Manager of Hillier Trees and a fifth generation of the Hillier family, commented: “There’s a concern in the industry that not enough young people are getting involved with gardening. However, here at Hillier we are keen to counter that and passing on horticultural knowledge and expertise through generations is imperative for us. As a family run business, we are keen to ensure that future generations are involved and encouraged, and it’s certainly something we actively promote at Chelsea with our Young Hillier takeover.”
As part of Hillier’s focus on future generations, at this year’s show, Hillier has commissioned 15-year-old art sensation, Kieron Williamson, whose work has sold for thousands of pounds, to paint a series of pieces portraying the “Stihl Inspiration" by Hillier garden at the show. After the show, Kieron’s pieces will be auctioned to raise money for Hillier’s charity partner, Wessex Cancer Trust.
For more information, and updates from the show, please visit www.hillier.co.uk, follow @HillierGarden on Twitter or HillierGardenCentres on Facebook.