Hillier set for Chelsea 'first' with Royal Wedding installation

Published: 27 April 2018 - Fiona Garcia
The Agapanthus Bridal Bouquet is one of the plant varieties that will feature in Hillier
The Agapanthus Bridal Bouquet is one of the plant varieties that will feature in Hillier's Royal Celebration installation at Chelsea this year

Hillier Garden Centres will make history, as the family-run business looks set to create a special display at the entrance of the Grand Pavilion at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. It is the first time the Royal Horticultural Society has ever commissioned an installation in the key location at the famous gardening show.

Hillier, which boasts 12 garden centres and tree and plant nurseries operations, was approached by the RHS in January to create a special installation at the entrance of the Grand Pavilion. The showcase has been designed by Sarah Eberle, who is also responsible for Hillier’s main garden within the pavilion this year. It has been titled, “A Royal Celebration by Hillier” and will feature impressive corten-steel staircases adorned with beautifully royal-themed floral displays to welcome visitors, as well as Hillier trees.

Sarah was free to come up with her own theme for the showcase but, considering the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle takes place on the weekend that Chelsea begins, it seemed fitting to celebrate the occasion. Some of the star plants will include Lavendula Regal Splendour, Cotinus Royal Purple, Agapanthus Bridal Bouquet, Lavendula Tiara, as well as Hydrangea Kanmara Champagne.

Although Hillier holds the title for being the most successful exhibitor in Chelsea history, having received 72 consecutive gold medals, this is the first time that the company, as a stalwart of Chelsea, has been involved in an installation in the wider showground, away from its own garden.

Hillier also unveiled the design for its main garden at the show, which will see it team up with Stihl and, for the first time, allow visitors to walk onto its exhibit. Typically, members of the public are not allowed onto the show gardens at Chelsea but, this year, Sarah Eberle – who describes creating Chelsea gardens for Hillier as “the pinnacle of my career as a designer” - wants to welcome visitors on to participate with the garden in a different way. 

She said: “It is my third year designing a garden for Hillier and I need to look at how we ring the changes. We want to help inspire visitors and help them understand horticulture…It is about trying to educate people. Part of my brief is to make the exhibit more relevant to the market...

“In previous years we have excluded the public from the garden but this year we have gone even bigger than before, so we are going to ring the changes and allow the public to walk through it.”

Sarah, who is the most decorated designer at Chelsea, having won gold in more categoies than any other designer, explained that the garden this year is “based on a journey” and that the planting follows three distinct themes, although admits it has “created quite a challenge” in thinking of the design from different angles and how visitors will be guided through, rather than just observing from a distance. Feauting a walkway for members of the public, the garden will be broken down into a number of smaller themed sections where visitors can take direct inspiration for their own gardens.

As always, Hillier will launch a number of new plants at the show and willl stock these in its centres to help customers recreate a piece of Chelsea at home.

The family-run business has also announced that it has commissioned 15-year-old art prodigy Kieron Williamson to create limited edition paintings of the garden. Known as 'mini-Monet', Kieron is one of the world’s most sought-after professional young artists and boasts a global waiting list of art enthusiasts that eagerly look forward to his next masterpiece. His first painting sold for £14,000 when he was just six years old; he has featured extensively on worldwide television, websites and in newspapers and his work has been secured for many prestigious private collections, including Royalty. Hillier has commissioned Kieron to paint a series of pieces portraying its 'Stihl Inspiration' garden and he will be painting live on the exhibit. 

Read more about Hillier’s Chelsea plans in the May 11 issue of DIY Week

Hillier's main exhibit will feature a walkway, inviting visitors to explore the garden



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