Why the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is shit

Have been pondering Matt Appleby’s excellent post about the Chelsea Flower Show.

Now as you know I don’t ‘do’ personal, ad hominem attacks. This is an allotment blog, not a fish market.

So what follows is out of character. But I’m moved to say it, because I’m… well, moved. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is an annual wanker-fest that sums up everything that’s wrong with the RHS. In my humble opinion.


I’m sick of the bandwagon-jumping, expenses-claiming, braying, Bolly-gobbling, name-dropping, royalty-fawning, sleb-spotting, arselickan bullshit of the jeunesse (and vieillesse) dorée who frequent this annual wank tank horror show.

It’s a parvenu’s dungheap. A social collective enema masquerading as a horticultural event. To ‘get it’, you need a Babel-fish ear translator with ‘Universal Translation’ turned off, and ‘Pure Tosser-ese’ selected.

Gibbet on the lawn

Lest you think the Flower Show has any kind of appeal to anyone under the age of 40 with a normal working cerebellum, consider that this is an event that rates Diarmuid Gavin an ‘enfant terrible’.

Er, hello? This is not Geiseric the Vandal we’re talking about. Gavin’s a mildly paunchy, chirpy, middle-aged bloke who happens to like a sequinned gibbet on his patio. If this is dangerous and ‘risqué’, I’m Russell Brand.

Look, I want to love the RHS. I really do. I’m a serious and committed gardener. I massively admire the RHS’s gorgeous gardens and respect its staggering and incomparable wealth of expertise. We should have much in common.


But my name isn’t Apricots, Godfrey or Kenneth. I don’t live in a thatched house outside Tonbridge Wells, a footballer’s mansion in Cheshire, an über-chic Soho studio or a converted beach hut in Brighton. I hate Werther’s Originals. I don’t require regular, clandestine whippings to get off. And even if I could afford the several hundred quid required for a Chelsea ticket, I wouldn’t buy one.

Why? Because I may be 40 – but I’m not (yet) a mindless suburban drone, a Bufton Tufton fuckwit, a too-cool-for-school TV sleb, a merchant wanker or Paris Hilton’s London proctologist.

And I know most other RHS admirers/members aren’t, either. We’re just gardeners, who want to hear about growing shit. So RHS: Please reduce the price, get rid of the ponces and Ponzis, and give us back our London Flower Show.

PS: If you’re going to the show next week (and don’t know what you’ve let yourself in for), take a note of any prices that send shivers up your spine – refreshments, flowers, whatever. I may be moved to post about this next week so folks can log on here and let everyone know how badly they were ripped off.

25 Responses to “Why the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is shit”

  1. Suzanne Says:

    LMFAO! how true

  2. Mike Says:

    Damn, reading your blog puts me in a better mood than my morning cup of coffee. Effin’ hilarious.

  3. Caz Says:

    what a fab Monday rant!!! so cleansing for the soul 🙂

  4. Manor Stables Veg Patch Says:

    So take it you don’t like it then? Why not just SAY so…?! don’t beat around the bush like that! x

  5. Matron Says:

    Don’t hold back, Soilman! Just say what you really mean. Funny stuff!

  6. Soilman Says:

    Er, ahem. Sorry, folks. “Soilman goes postal”. Don’t know what came over me.

    As you were.

  7. Cazaux's Food Factory Says:

    Unquestionably your most effervescent rant to date and I dig it Soilman.

    Down with garden shows egoistic glam. We are the understated British and demand that celebrity chefs and sitcom actors are banned from all future events.

  8. altadenahiker Says:

    Careful Soilman, your rant might produce the wrong effect. Now I’m curious as hell to see the flower show for myself.

  9. Soilman Says:

    As an American, Altadenahiker, you might find the flower show enjoyably English in a ‘quaint’ sort of way. Many Americans do. That’s because when their visit’s done, they can return to a proper country and leave these tedious morons far behind.

    We, on the other hand, have to live with them on our small, cramped island. Unfortunately.

  10. compostwoman Says:

    Your rant sums up exactly why I am NOT , depite being really very inclined to be, a member of the RHS…

    HDRA and the Soil Association, yes…but NOT RHS…

    just because of shows like that!

    Nice rant, btw…and nice blog, also 🙂

  11. corynsboy Says:

    I bought two tickets for my Mum & Dad this year (A Mother’s day gift) £90 with a booking fee!

    Every bastard is out to make a buck these days regardless of the value for money their event represents. I appreciate that RHS have precious few events that attract this sort of attention but The CFS is getting more like Wimbledon every year and this is being encouraged.

    The BBC & RHS have the Gardeners World team there all week with Rachael De Thame (oh!) and Alan Titchmarsh doing the Sue Barker and Jon McEnroe presenter roles. And just like Wimbledon, once you get there a crap pot of tea will be in the region of £6 and bottled water will be £3.50 for 500 mls.

    As a festival goer I see this sort of thing happening far too often. I paid £2.50 for a pint of Milk at Glastonbury last year.

    This rant is very catchy! Nice!

  12. Soilman Says:

    Compostwoman: Thanks for kind words. I used to be a member of the RHS but let my membership lapse. Can’t bear it any more.

    Corynsboy: Tickets for two at £90 seems markedly cheaper than previous years. Are you sure you got away with this little?
    You’re so right about the teas and coffees and insulting profiteering that goes on. Wonder if I should do a ‘Chelsea Watch’ post during next week so everyone can post the rip-off prices they’ve paid for things they buy there?

    Any interest?

  13. irena Says:

    classic soilman!

  14. Jo Says:

    I take it you’ve got your tickets then? LOL.

  15. Clare Says:

    I think I might have just peed my pants. ‘kin hilarious.

  16. VP Says:

    Good Rant Soilman.

    I’m a very ordinary person, but I’m going there next week (on Tuesday) to see for myself.

    Will be taking my own bottle od water 😉

  17. Randomperson Says:

    I’m not yet 40 by a long way and have always enjoyed watching the Chelsea flower show. To me this all sounds like a lot of sour grapes from the *wanna be* socialites that cant afford to buy themselves up to the ranks of those involved with the show. So what it costs a lot … may I say at this point I cant afford it either before you say im one of the rich kids… so does the Royal Norfolk Show and many other events that are held do you want to slate those and the people that go to them as well? I feel that this blog is just a way to be able to say as many swear words and an attempt at swallowing a dictionary in order to get attention. A poor and pathetic attempt to belittle people and make yourselves feel better. Pointless! Try venting yourselves at your weed filled gardens instead!

  18. Soilman Says:

    Wow, Randomperson, that’s telling me! You’ve certainly got a point about the dictionary (Pretentious? Guilty, m’lud!), but I should point out that my ire is reserved exclusively for RHS Chelsea. I’m sure the Royal Norfolk, and any other show you care to mention, is simply marvellous.

    Thanks for stopping by, and taking the time to comment.

    VP: I really hope you enjoy it. I wish I could. Tell me what a lovely time you had, and why I should stop being such a miserable bugger, and perhaps your enthusiasm will rub off on me!

  19. Daisy Says:

    Well said Randomperson
    I agree that this smells like a lot of sour grapes and an excuse to use all the foulmouth words possible because a modicum of intelligence is needed (which many seem NOT to have these days) to write a decent sentence without swearwords.

    Of course Chelsea is expensive – the whole idea is for some people to make a lot of money and why shouldn’t they!
    How many would pay a large amount of cash to go to a Football Cup Final or a World Cup match – I think many would pay and without a second thought!

    Enjoy watching the Chelsea Show on TV in the comfort of your own armchair. 🙂

    BTW – the rest of your blog site is great Soilman

  20. Soilman Says:

    Thanks, Daisy.

    Folks, my policy on ‘foul language’ is clear: I do it. A lot. No point complaining, because I won’t stop. And it’s my blog, so I can do what I like.

    Therefore, DO please comment on the topic. Tell me why I’m right/wrong about Chelsea. I’m honoured to have your comments (especially if you disagree). But please DON’T lecture me or anyone else here about profanity. It’s boring, and it’s not the point. And I’ll just delete you if you do.


  21. Randomperson Says:

    Fair point you are talking about Chelsea, I just wanted to make a comparison to say its not the only one that does this because you made it sound like an unsual thing but now adays all events are huge profit making machines unless they are small local affairs. The people at Chelsea work very hard and I agree with Daisy that indeed why shouldnt they make money from it. Yes, I can be hot headed too … and the rest of your site is indeed an interesting read 🙂

  22. Chimp Says:

    the RHS looks like your typical jobs for the boys type organisation, a collection of back scratchers if you will.

    Take the RHS Council – there are some questionable things going on there in my opinion, privately educated millionaires who think rather highly of themselves – they may be active and do good work for this charity (let us not forget that the RHS is a charity), but then surely this council should neutral, and be made up of people who do not stand to make a profit and gain financial reward through there involvement – i’m not talking about MP’s style expenses here, but a culture of ‘we’ll let XXX sort that out, they are on the council after all’ – this is disgraceful. It seems to me that no one else gets a look in, even if they are better or more worthy of mention. I’ve heard an online firm with a few varieties of one herbaceous perennial to be mentioned in ‘the garden’ magazine at the expense of a nursery that’s close to having the national collection of that species – surely this is not right.

    Perhaps you should do some research and print something like this in the Guardian…. Time for the RHS to look at what it is doing. Get some fresh blood in the artieries, instead of a self-congratulatory bunch of back scratchers!!!