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Frost prompts Chelsea Flower Show fears


With the countdown ticking to the biggest horticultural event of the year, some gardeners are wondering if their plants will be ready in time.

The Chelsea Flower Show takes place from May 21 to 25.

After the long, cold winter, many growers are now keeping their fingers crossed in the hope nature can help their plants catch up.

Linda Smith, of Waterside Nursery, in Sharnford, is going for her third gold medal this year, with a display including a tank with 800 gallons of water.

However, she is worried about the size of her plants.

"We sell pond plants and the ice has meant a lot of the plants aren't as high as they should be at this time of year," she said.

"Things that should be eight inches are only two or three.

"It will affect other people at the show but we will have to work with what we have.

"Some of the bigger nurseries have more heaters and lights."

Chris Tivey, of Philip Tivey & Son, in Syston, sells alstroemerias and expects to be buying in more foreign imports for the show following the UK's extended winter.

He said: "I'll be exhibiting the plants I've grown but there will also be cut flowers in the display.

"Usually, I can use some of my own, as alstroemerias come into flower at the end of May. However, this year the weather has changed everything and it's going to be better just to get some in from abroad.

"Chelsea is really good for us. Each year, more people find out about us. We have a bigger range of alstroemerias than most garden centres.

"My father started the company in the 1950s and we've been going to Chelsea since 1985."

For some growers, however, Chelsea is all about the occasion.

Marilyn Berrington, who runs Oska Copperfield Nursery, in Rothley, with her husband, Barry, said: "We go to Chelsea to take part and it's not really about business so much as the experience. It's a day out and if you're a plant lover it's nice to go."

She said the cold weather had meant a lot of hard work.

"We have to keep covering plants up every five minutes and some are a month or so behind.

"There are problems all round with the weather but we'll have flowers from Africa and Holland to take to the show."

A spokeswoman for the Royal Horticultural Society said most growers were optimistic their plants would be ready in time and visitors to the show, in London, would get to enjoy a few plants that would normally be over by late May.

She said: "People are having to keep things in greenhouses and tunnels for longer but they don't think the weather will be an issue.

"This also means things which would normally have passed by Chelsea will be flowering."

Frost prompts  Chelsea Flower Show  fears

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