Chelsea beckons for Hortus Loci

Sandy Felton talks to Mark Straver of Hortus Loci as they prepare for the run-in to this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

When it comes to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show there is one group of people who are ready and prepared for the challenges that the most prestigious flower show in the world heralds – Hortus Loci.

Run by Mark Straver and his business co-founder Robin Wallis, Hortus Loci are the ‘go-to’ nursery for leading horticultural talent. At this time of year in the pre-Chelsea and RHS Show season run-up Reckless Gardener usually tries to catch up with Mark to see how things are going as he prepares the plants for some of the leading RHS show gardens.

This year at Chelsea, Hortus Loci will be supplying Tom Dixon’s IKEA show garden and Mark Gregory’s Welcome to Yorkshire Garden as well as the plants for Tom Stuart-Smith’s RHS Bridgewater Garden. That means over 40,000 plants will be heading to Chelsea this May for the show gardens and glitzy trade stands.

(pictured above: left,Robin Wallis, right, Mark Straver)

Last year there were lots of problems with the weather and plants being ready for Chelsea, so I asked Mark how things have gone this year: “This year the weather has been much kinder with a relatively mild winter and early spring. Having said that we are always worried right until the end as weather extremes can undo everything very quickly. I don’t rest until all the plants are off site en-route to Chelsea,” explains Mark.

Some exciting news is that we are also supplying the plants for the recently-announced Tom Stuart-Smith RHS Bridgewater garden for Chelsea and are collaborating closely with Crocus who are building it. Tom is very keen on making sure the garden is one for all seasons, so that’s been fun. There’s over 10,000 perennials and shrubs to cover the huge area of the triangle.  Key plants include Angelica sylvestris Ebony, Iris sibiricas in variety, Rodgersias in variety and Cenolophium denudatum,” added Mark.

Many of the plants destined for Chelsea this season are edible and will be helping highlight a future trend for urban farming as well as a throwback to traditional Yorkshire veg growing.

(pictured above, Welcome to Yorkshire Garden RHS Chelsea 2018)

For the Hortus Loci team, Chelsea marks the climax of months of hard work growing shrubs, trees, perennials, herbs and vegetables. The team work closely with designers and partner growers, to ensure that they get the exact number, type, colour, shape and size of plant for their gardens. The stakes are always high with the hope of winning a cherished Gold Medal or even Best in Show.

Mark points out that it has been a very busy growing season – particularly with grow-your-own and wildlife-friendly planting emerging as key themes: “We also have a packed calendar of events at our Plant Centre as well as opening the two new demo gardens which we plan to update each season with new looks,” explains Mark.

Mark adds that looking at the gardens they are supplying this year, it definitely looks set to encourage a ‘grow-your-own’ lifestyle showing the public fun and simple ways to be as self-sufficient as they can: “Grow-your-own has become a mainstream trend and what’s wonderful is that people can get involved even if they’ve only got a windowsill or balcony. It’s often their first experience of gardening, so really important to encourage,” Mark says.

Before Chelsea, Hortus Loci will be at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival with its own plant stand and will be sponsoring plants for the four Green Living Spaces gardens aimed at inspiring generation rent to get gardening and growing. They are also growing plants for the Habit of Living Show garden by Karen Tatlow and Katherine Hathaway which references the charity Diabetes UK.

Chatsworth comes along in June and Hortus Loci will be supplying plants for headline sponsor Wedgewood on their garden designed by Jamie Butterworth. Through to July and RHS Hampton Court Palace, where they will be supplying the Viking Cruises garden designed by Will Williams, the RHS Young Designer of the year 2018.

Once the famous shows are over, many of the plants are returned to Hortus Loci and can be bought at a discount by members of the public. The Hortus Loci plant centre, situated at its 17 acre nursery site near Hook in Hampshire, is the place to go for advice and to get that Chelsea look for their own homes.

For information on Hortus Loci please visit their website at:

All images strictly ©Hortus Loci – Welcome to Yorkshire Garden ©RecklessGardener.