The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

Getting started

We were thrilled to be involved in this unique Chelsea Flower Show which was held in September, for the first time in the shows history, designing Hartley Botanic's trade stand.

Our minds immediately went to the beautiful autumn colours which could be included

The most obvious difference for this show was in the plants. Our minds immediately went to the beautiful autumn colours which could be included. The planting was a rich tapestry of burgundys, deep purples, reds, oranges, soft yellows and a multitude of rustic grasses.

The brief

Hartley Botanic wanted to celebrate their landmark success of 80 years of manufacturing and supplying glasshouses and so it was decided that each of the different glasshouses would represent an era within that history. This started with an original 1950's Semi-Dodecagon Greenhouse and included a 1970's style 'Grow and Store', a 1990's style Victorian Terrace and finally their modern day Opus Grand Botanic which was completed in a black finish for an ultra modern look.

The brief was the same as the Hampton Court Flower Show Tradestand which we also designed and more details of this can be found here.


The design process

We were working on tight deadlines as well as a challenging conditions within the landscape industry as a whole which was being pushed to it's limits. Luckily, we had the support of Stewart Landscapes who were the main contractor for the build. With years of experience in building trade stands and show gardens, it was a wonderful collaboration.

However, nothing was taken for granted and regular meetings were essential to keep progress on track. This even included a trip to Birmingham to check all the plants. We only wanted those that would be perfect for the show.

In a normal garden, 4-5 plants per square meter is a good rule of thumb in terms of planning for the long term growth of the plants. In show gardens, the number is increased to nearer 28 plants per square meter.


The trade stands are all judged in a similar way to how the show gardens are judged with plant compatibility being important. In recent years, judges have also marked down stands where there is over crowding of plants so it's important to get the balance just right.






The build is a very intense process with a non-negotiable deadline and high standards are expected for the show. Despite all this, it can also be great fun to work alongside industry leading designers, contractors and specialists and we look forward to returning soon!

We were delighted that the stand was awarded 5* and hope to be back next year!


Seating area in a large greenhouse

The 'Gin corner' that we designed in the Opus; the perfect excuse for a sit down.

The plant list

Acer x freemanii 'Autumn Blaze'

Achillea millefolium 'Saucy Seduction'

Anemone 'Dreaming Swan'

Asplenium scolopendrium

Astrantia 'Star of Beauty'

Blechnum spicant

Carex testacea

Cosmos atrosanguineus

Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'

Epimedium versicolor 'Sulphureum'

Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate'

Miscanthus sinensis 'Yakushima Dwarf'

Molinia caerulea 'Moorhexe'

Nandina domestica

Panicum virgatum 'Rehbraun'

Panicum virgatum 'Squaw'

Polystichum braunii

Rudbeckia hirta 'Cherry Brandy'

Sedum 'Purple Emperor'

Stipa tenuissima