Heat, hope and the homeless at Chelsea Flower Show

Tue May 25, 2010 3:49am EDT
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By Paul Casciato

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Dying rainforests, the world's best known physicist, tongue twisting Latin names and the saving grace for the hard up homeless of London's east end were all themes at Britain's Chelsea Flower Show.

Recession-inspired gardens were less of a theme, but the lavish glitz of previous years remained muted at the launch pad of the British summer social season, where some 150,000 visitors sip Champagne and rub shoulders with royals and celebrities.

That's not to say that there was anything dour or dire to see on Monday at the show's press day.

Models in body paint, ladies in parasols and babes in bikinis frolicking in the pool all adorned exhibits, while celebrities took in a sneak preview and the Laurent Perrier Crocus garden was only one of a number of places to cadge a glass of bubbly.

Film star Richard E. Grant told Reuters he was looking for ideas to sate his obsession with building an evergreen garden.

"I come every year," the star of "Gosford Park" and "Love Hurts" said as he wandered the show. "I'm a fanatical gardener and there is no other show like it on Earth."

Show gardens, sponsored by businesses but raising awareness for various charities, took pride of place on the Main Avenue, where tastes ranged from the teenage-friendly plunge pool, foxgloves and the outdoor oven of the Children's Society Garden to the elegant stand of birch trees along a path leading to a black timber slatted canopy over a deck for Cancer Research UK.

British television presenter Gaby Roslin said she had come this year to support Cancer UK, and loved visiting the show organized by Britain's Royal Horticultural Society to see all the many ideas she might incorporate into her own garden.   Continued...

<p>Garden co-designer, Jeanne Noua, an indigenous woman from Cameroon, squats in the Green &amp; Black's Rainforest Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in London May 24, 2010. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett</p>