Golden Cheers, to SANBI Kirstenbosch-South Africa at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016!

Written by: Catherine Browne

With this year being SANBI-Kirstenbosch’s 41st annual entry to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show, we thought to share some information with you, as the show is on the go, taking place in London this week. With more than 160 000 people visiting the Chelsea Flower Show, the success of the stand depends on the enthusiastic team of volunteers who join designers and SANBI representatives in ensuring that the SA display is perfect in every way.
The team have yet again done us proud, being awarded GOLD! Congratulations to everyone involved and we can all feel proud knowing that our country’s amazing biodiversity has wowed the crowds, celebrities, judges and all, yet again. This is their 34th Gold!
Here are a few facts to share:
1. This year the theme is yet again breath-takingly brilliant and truly unique:Harold Porter National Botanical Garden– A Gateway to the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve World Heritage Site. We love how the themes always carry a story, share knowledge and awareness and are so unique to our gorgeous natural treasures.

Chelsea 2016 final_4
© Alice Notten
Chelsea 2016 final_21
© Alice Notten
Chelsea day 7_9
© Alice Notten

2. The designers David Davidson and Raymond Hudson have been responsible for designing and creating the Kirstenbosch-South Africa exhibit for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for 22 consecutive years, together with a small core team and an enthusiastic crew of volunteers. May your inspiration and passion continue!

Kirstenbosch- South Africa Chelsea Flower Show 2016 exhibit designers David Davidson & Raymond Hudson with Gold Medal © Alice Notten

3. The Harold Porter National Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay was bequeathed to the National Botanical Gardens, now SANBI, in 1958. The garden is renowned for its waterfalls and amber pools, showcasing over 700 species of indigenous South African plants and over 100 species of birds. Such a treat to showcase this garden this year, from the heart of the Cape floral kingdom.

© Alice Notten

4. The Kirstenbosch- South Africa exhibit is one of over 100 floral entrants. You’ve got to admit our diversity is tops!
5. Approximately 1000 kg of plant materials were sent to London for the Kirstenbosch- South Africa exhibit, including mostly cut flowers, but also cultivars, plants and display materials

Chelsea 2016 final_5
© Alice Notten

6. The team consists of 2 designers, 3 SANBI staff members and approximately 15 volunteers some of which are from South Africa and others from the UK. Your hard work and dedication has paid off, thank you for representing our country and natural heritage so beautifully.

Chelsea team 2016
© Alice Notten

7. The great pavilion where the exhibit is taking place is roughly 2.9 acres, enough room to park 500 London buses.
8. There was a campaign in 1927 to get the RHS to ban foreign exhibits from RHS Chelsea to reduce competition with British firms. The RHS refused saying ‘horticulture knows nothing of nationality’. Aren’t we glad, as it’s such an honour to see our biodiversity showcased to the world.

9. The RHS Chelsea Flower show has been held every year since 1913, apart from gaps during the two World Wars. That’s over 100 years and Kirstenbosch- South Africa have been there 41 years.
10. The Botanical Society of South Africa sponsored the production of this year’s exhibit information booklets in support of our long-standing strategic partner, The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). A stunning resource sharing about the exhibit theme- showcasing Harold Porter National Botanical Garden, The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve and Clarence Drive; about the team involved in making it all come together; partners; about what a biosphere reserve is; and about the Botanical Society. Compiled to be informative and beautifully illustrated a memento of another stunning Chelsea exhibit.
We trust all visitors of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 will enjoy the experience. Well done again to the team, safe travels and see you with that gorgeous Gold upon your return.
For those interested, the model of the exhibit is on display at the information desk of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (Gate 1).

Information sources:

South African National Biodiversity Institute
Royal Horticultural Society


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The Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) are an NGO conserving and educating about biodiversity for over 100 years.

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