Carnivores and royal roses launch English "season"

Tue May 24, 2011 10:40am EDT
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By Madeleine Cowley

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Vertical gardens, carnivorous plants, English roses and Britain's Queen Elizabeth launched the UK summer social season at a preview for the Chelsea Flower Show this week.

The tallest garden and the biggest to have ever been built at Chelsea were among 17 exhibits along the main avenue of a gardening show which heralds the start of an English social season that includes Ascot, Wimbledon, Henley Royal Regatta and the Glyndebourne opera festival.

Celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin's audacious gold medal-winning Irish Sky Garden was the largest garden ever built at Chelsea and includes a hanging garden winched 82 feet in the air.

Next door another gold-medalist was a six-storey vertical allotment sponsored by Do-It-Yourself retail chain B&Q, which showed a unique way to use cramped urban space and, at 30 feet, the tallest garden ever featured at Chelsea.

Star power was at full luminosity for the media preview ahead of Tuesday's opening to the public.

Besides the queen, actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Vanessa Redgrave, model Jerry Hall, socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, shoe designer Jimmy Choo and Carry On star Barbara Windsor wandered through the exhibits.

Prince Albert of Monaco was the highlight of the gold medal-winning design on show from his principality, while British actress Helen Mirren (who played Queen Elizabeth in "The Queen") posed for photographers with "Helen" a carnivorous plant launched at the show. She and comedian Bill Bailey each had a flesh-eating plant named after them.

"I'm immortalized in the form of a carnivorous plant, not something that happens every day," Bailey said, speaking in support of the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS).   Continued...

<p>A model poses with the William and Catherine rose, by David Austin Roses, during media day at the Chelsea Flower Show 2011, London May 23, 2011. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor</p>