Price of tickets for Chelsea Flower Show grows out of control

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The Independent 16/05/2011

After the 157,000 tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show sold out in record time, demand is proving so high that many are being resold online for up to five times their original price.

Originally on sale at £45 for all-day access, the website Getmein.com is currently reselling tickets to the event for £234 each, including a booking fee. Another agency, Ticketlister, is offering deals for £195 – £45 of which is attributed to a “transaction fee”.

The event faced similar problems last year, when tickets were sold for up to £200. “We would advise not to buy them because there is no way to ensure they are authentic and [the buyer] could be refused entry,” said a spokeswoman for the show. “The best thing for people to do is to buy tickets for our other shows like the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, which takes place in July.”

Visitors to Chelsea could be in for a very different experience this year, as unusual weather over the preceding months has forced many garden designers to rethink their plans. A cold snap followed by the warmest April on record has meant the best laid turf of many gardeners has gone awry at the annual horticultural event. “It’s affected pretty much everyone,” said garden designer Cleve West. “Spring came two weeks early in the south of England, which meant many plants flowered a couple of weeks ago and we can’t use them.

“It’s swings and roundabouts really. I potted a lot of parsnips that usually flower in June, and also I’ve got some trees that are normally quite late in coming out so it meant we didn’t have to force them… I think that Chelsea will be different for people this year, which will make it very interesting.”

It’s not just garden designs that are in need of tinkering. The budget of many planners will also need some attention. Bunny Guinness, the designer of the garden for investment firm M&G, said the company responsible for growing her vegetables had seen increased costs due to the weather. “They had to really crank up the heat in the cold weather,” she said. “The price of fuel went up, and the cold weather meant it cost a lot more then normal. After that it became hot and they had to water them twice a day. So it’s been a mammoth task.”

Despite some designers having to make modifications, organisers are confident of a successful show. “Every year Chelsea exhibitors have to deal with weather conditions. Last year we had the cold spring and it was still an incredible show,” said Hayley Monckton, a spokeswoman for the Royal Horticultural Society, which organises the event each year.

Among the designs on display at this years show are an ornamental vegetable garden, a sunken garden with a nod to a site of ancient Roman ruins near Benghazi in Libya, and a reimagining of an 18th-century garden.

The Chilstone Garden at Chelsea, designed by Heather Appleton, features an “everlasting ice sculpture” standing in a paddle pool by a temple on a garden path made of turquoise deep-pile carpet.

It is a contemporary version of an 18th-century folly. “Follies are meant to be whimsical, foolish and purely decorative, to serve no purpose. But there’s nothing foolish about this folly. It serves as a chill-out space, so it is functional,” said Ms Appleton.

Read the story on The Independent website…