Chelsea 2013 Sneak Preview: Gnomes

It's Chelsea Flower Show's centenary, so things are going to be done a little bit differently this year. I was at the press launch a few weeks ago and couldn't hide my glee that not only are gnomes going to be allowed in, they're a central component of the celebrations.

Previously Jekka McVicar has impishly smuggled Borage  onto her exhibit (see left - he was in party mode at the GMG Awards) and even taken him on tour round the site. This time he'll have plenty of play mates, each decorated by a celebrity* and auctioned off to raise pots of cash for the RHS's Campaign for School Gardening**. Jekka has already told me Borage will be very much on display this time, though I've yet to confirm with her the design of his jaunty new jacket as a result of this rash behaviour.

Whilst the RHS has relaxed some of its rules for this year, it seems the celebrations won't include balloons or flags as the ban on these items is still holding fast. I hope the exclusion won't extend to a spot of bubbly and some birthday cake ;)

* = like those flower pots were last year.

** = good news - it was reported last week that horticulture is set to be included in the new national curriculum due for publication in August 2013.

Sneak preview extra! Here's what the gnomes will look like before they're decorated.


  1. Personally I think it is a pity the RHS has allowed gnomes. I dislike them alot but then I dislike lots of the other sculptures and assorted knick knacks that are already allowed.

    And, continuing with my grumpiness!, whilst it is good that horticulture is being added to the national curriculum, if this actually happens, the industry needs to seriously review its pay levels if it wants to attract young people who are looking for a career.

    Grump over:)

  2. Hi Helen - feel free to have a grump :)

    Just to clarify, not all kinds of gnomes will be allowed in. They're white gnomes similar to the pots which were decorated last year. These will be decorated and auctioned for charity. Whether gnomes of other types will also be let in or are banned as usual remains to be seen.

    I'm with you re levels of pay in the Horticulture industry and it was THE major issue which came out of the RHS conference last year. However, I also believe that by adding it to the National Curriculum, this helps to make horticulture a more 'mainstream' and recognised career choice which should help to increase pay levels. NB looking at the job adverts in Hort Week, not every job on offer is low paid.

  3. Some of my childhood friends were gnomes! When it comes to gardens, I have pretty eclectic tastes ( though some might question the word "taste" in the same paragraph as "gnomes"), and a high Quirk Quotient. My appreciation of a garden is often in direct proportion to the passion of the gardener, gnomes gnotwithstanding.

  4. Is Diarmuid Gavin doing a garden this year? Could be interesting. I have a very old gnome made of concrete that sits among my hostas. He does a very good job of protecting them. Mind you, there is not a lot of colour left on him. Really must get round to giving Norman (yes that is his name) a rub down and fresh coat of paint.

  5. As I was reading Diarmid Gavin sprung to mind!! The mind boggles :) personally I'm not a fan of gnomes but plenty folks are - each to their own.
    If ever I am lucky enough to get a change of career (doubtful at this point in my life) I'd love to do something in horticulture.

  6. Well, its in a good cause, and anyway, Chelsea can be a little too po faced, so I am all for a little fun!

  7. Sorry VP, meant to add my gnomesworth here yesterday. Again, another non fan, but each to their own - I have a friend who loves them but I daren’t ever buy her one as a present for fear I’ll get one back ;-)

    It’s all those stone animal ornaments (especially meerkats) that annoy me more. Strangely, I do like the chicken wire ducks and sheep – now what does that say about me!!

    Being honest, I like the idea of a celebration Gnome permit where the RHS have broken their own rules (even when restrictions apply). Money being raised for charity in a fun way is always to the good. Perhaps in a unique way the gnome ambassadors for Chelsea 2013 might just raise awareness for young people to a career in horticulture. Here’s hoping :-)

    My final question for today, hahaha, has to be is James Alexander Sinclair getting a gnome to decorate and just how will he manage to paint a felt hat on his ;-)

  8. My garden is gnome free zone, but each to their own, it would be boring if we all had the same taste!

  9. I am not a huge fan of Gnomes but could never understand why they were banned when other ghastly statues were allowed in. Now I see from your additional comment that there will still not be freedon for all Gnomes, just celebrity Gnomes. Tut, tut!

  10. Gnomes - now that gives me an idea for a community blog I know of !

  11. Each to their gnome and all that but I'm not a fan, however don't see why they should worry about them at Chelsea when so much other tat is there!


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