Surviving RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Surviving RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Doing Chelsea sucessfully requires a combination of determination, sharp elbows, careful editing of what there is to see, and good cashflow.

This week promises to be HOT at Chelsea, and HOT London is pretty darned tropical for we country souls used at least for room for a breeze to keep our necks cool, even if our feet are hot.

So how to survive The Chelsea Flower Show, and make sure you see everything?

Get there early - like 8am.  Then it's just you, the photographers, the gardeners polishing their footpaths.  You'll be able to actually get close enough to see the gardens, and a lot of the stallholders won't have opened up yet, so you won't find yourself spending too much money.

Take water.  A bottle of water bought at the Chelsea Flower Show will cost a breathtaking amount when you could take it along for free.

Wear comfortable shoes. Those pavements are hard on the feet and it's only in the floral marquee that there's any give under foot.  

Wear a hat.  This week is forecast properly scorchio and the shady patches will be crowded.  If it's really hot you could also run a handkerchief under some of the water in your bottle and tie it round your neck in a jaunty fashion which will also keep you cool.

Take your phone and make sure there's room to take pictures.  This way you don't have to take notes: you can photograph plants you like, their lables, suppliers you like, their contact details, and note it all down from your phone afterwards.  Don't buy anything AT the Chelsea Flower Show - you'll have to carry it around if you do! Do take details of suppliers, plantsmen, great slop makers, and order on line later.

Follow interesting people who WILL get to the front for you on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  I recommend @pitcombe on twitter and instagram, @upwiththelark on twitter and instagram and @louatlarches on twitter and instagram.  Pitcombe is a great fellow, a cheerful gardener like you and me, who has a great eye for colour and a fine, dry wit.  Up with the lark is Heather Edwards, garden photographer, and she'll be in the show early every day taking lovely pics to share.  Lou at Larches is my dried alpacca poo supplier and she's there too this week, and like you, me, Andrew and Heather, has a keen eye for an interesting plant, and will post and post I've no doubt.

So remember the comfy shoes, get there early, keep hydrated, don't be shocked if a small, dry sandwich costs you £20 cos I did warn you, and don't buy anything! You can photograph the things you like and their suppliers and order on line later - that way you don't have to carry anything either.  It'll be hot enough without bags to weigh you down.

What are your tips for surviving Chelsea?  I'm having a year off this year, and am looking forward to seeing a bit on the telly, and no doubt will be champing at the bit to get there next year.  Nothing like a bit of absence to make the heart grow fonder.