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Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants Help Nurseries to Blossom at their First RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Hardys Cottage Garden Plants, who stepped down from exhibiting at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2019 after winning a glittering 24 RHS Gold Medals, are sharing their 30 years of experience and mentoring two nurseries on their first journey to world’s most prestigious flower show this May!

Rob and Rosy Hardy are passionate about giving back to the nursery industry and have been working with Kitchen Garden Plant Centre and Home Farm Plants, to offer their advice and support to help guide them through the logistics required to create a world-class exhibit for the Show.

Kitchen Garden Plant Centre
Hardy’s began their support for Niamh and Neil Jones who run Kitchen Garden Plant Centre, back in 2019 when the couple were due to exhibit their peat-free sustainably grown herbs for the first time at RHS Chelsea.  Following the Show’s cancellations due to the pandemic, Neil and Niamh have used the time productively, growing larger plants for the display and creating a more ambitious design for their 2022 exhibit.

Kitchen Garden Plant Centre are based in Newent in Gloucestershire and they will be the only herb and edible plant exhibitors at RHS Chelsea this year.  Neil and Niamh are planning to create an ambitious exhibit to display their award-winning and sustainable herb collection, in a new and exciting way, to demonstrate the variety and versatility of herbs.  

The display’s design will highlight that fact that there are herbs which can be grown successfully in wet locations as well as the traditional dry areas in a garden.  Damp and shade tolerant herbs loving herbs such as sweet woodruff, alpine strawberries, sorrel, salad burnet, cowslips and some more unusual moisture loving plants, such as fish mint and Vietnamese coriander. The dryer and sunnier areas of the display will feature more typical herb garden favourites such as thymes and rosemary, sage, oregano and drought-tolerant herbs such as Achillea and Cuban Oregano.

Commenting Neil Jones said, “Niamh and I are so grateful to Rob and Rosy Hardy for their support throughout the RHS Chelsea process. We have exhibited successfully at a number of RHS Shows around the UK but exhibiting at RHS Chelsea is a huge step up for us and can be quite nerve wracking if you havent done it before. Rob and Rosy have been extremely generous with their time and knowledge in walking us through the logistics of the Show and we are hugely grateful for support and encouragement, which has been invaluable.  We are looking forward to this incredible experience and to sharing our love of herbs with visitors to the show and highlighting that there is a herb for everyone and for almost every location in their garden.”

Home Farm Plants
The second nursery Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants are mentoring for this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, is Home Farm Plants based in Bovingdon, which is run by nurseryman Graham Austin and his wife Nina.   

Home Farm Plants have previously exhibited at RHS Chatsworth and RHS Malvern Spring Festival, but Graham has always aspired to exhibit at RHS Chelsea since he was a young man. 

Graham and Nina are delighted to finally have the opportunity to fulfil Graham’s ambition and they are looking to create a spectacular floral display in the Show’s esteemed Great Pavilion, where they aim to wow visitors with some of the finest from their collection of 100 Elatum Delphinium cultivars. 

Named Elatum Delphiniums are only propagated from cuttings. The Elatum are much larger, tougher Delphiniums that can withstand very cold winter temperatures and are reliable hardy perennials.

Graham is planning a show stopping display of approximately 40 specimen delphiniums in large ornate silver planters, in four rows across the stand.  Some of these hugely impressive Delphiniums may reach over 2.5 metres tall for the Show and this stunning display will highlight to visitors the powerful nature of the Elatum’s growth.

The variety of colours of the delphiniums on display will range from white, cream, violet, pink, purples and blues and may include rarer cultivars such as Oliver, Regal Splendour, Ruby Wedding and Austin’s Dawn Chorus (pictured) – a favourite cultivar which was bred by Graham and is named due to its tendency to flower early in the season. 

As if the towering display of specimen plants was not enough – Graham and Nina are hoping to also create a vibrant arrangement using only the florets from a variety of different coloured cultivars, to spell out ‘DELPHINIUM’ across the front of the exhibit.

Graham said, “We are incredibly excited to be exhibiting at RHS Chelsea for the first time and Rob and Rosy Hardy have been a huge support to us in our plans for the Show.  We are so grateful for their expertise and encouragement which has given us the confidence to take our plants to what is the pinnacle of horticultural events. We now just have to hope that the weather is kind and that all our Delphiniums will be looking their magnificent best for all the visitors to the Show to enjoy.”

Commenting, Rob Hardy said, “Rosy and I are absolutely delighted to be able to offer support to these first time RHS Chelsea exhibitors.  We remember our first time at RHS Chelsea very well and the whole process can seem overwhelming if you haven’t done it before. Just providing a bit of guidance on the logistics of the Show, can enable the nurseries to focus on producing their incredible displays of plants. We have really enjoyed mentoring both couples and we feel sure they will enjoy their first RHS Chelsea experience just as much as we did.  We are looking forward to seeing their respective exhibits in all their glory when we visit the Show in May.”

Rob and Rosy Hardy share their Chelsea expertise to other nurseries