RHS Chelsea

We are thrilled to announce that we were awarded a Silver Medal for our Discovery Zone display at RHS Chelsea 2016. Showcasing fantastic plants and exciting ecology, we invited visitors to explore the astonishing relationships between plants and their pollinators.

The display

Planted by Emily Darby.

Designed in collaboration with Tuula Whitlow from Blackator Productions.

Scientific content developed by more than 25 researchers, including Ken Thompson, Jeff Ollerton, Manpreet Dhami, Jane Memmott and Alice Hughes.

We would also like to thank Nicholas Williams from Method1 for designing the graphics and interpretation boards, and Neptune for donating the fantastic baskets that feature in our display.

Staffed by ecologists at the forefront of pollination ecology, including eight PhD students, seven mid-career researchers and one professor, visitors had the opportunity to speak to active researchers about pollinator diversity and horticultural science.

The Plants

The display featured a fantastic array of flowers sourced from Hortus Loci and planted in stunning combinations by Emily. The plants that feature in the display were chosen because they are attractive to pollinators, either in the UK or further afield, and range from plants common to UK gardens, to rarer more exotic specimens.

To find out more about the plants that feature in the display, please click here.

For a full list of all the plants in each of the baskets, along with the pollinators they may attract, please click on the following link: Key to display plants.

Interactive elements

The display incorporated a wealth of scientific knowledge and presented it in an interactive and engaging way, with many different elements for visitors to explore.

Nectar yeasts

Ecologists have discovered that a yeast called Metschnikowia plays a key part in the pollination story and – for the first time in Chelsea’s history – visitors to the flower show will be able to get a sniff of it visitors to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show will be able to get a sniff of it and see how lovely it looks under the scanning electron microscope.

Visit our nectar yeast webpage to find out more and access the BES Chelsea press release.

Painted Lady caterpillars

The display featured a fantastic terrarium containing Painted Lady caterpillars (Vanessa cardui) feeding on the common nettle (Urtica dioica). By bringing Painted Ladies to RHS Chelsea we want to communicate to gardeners that it is important to cater for the larval stages of butterflies if we are to see the beautiful adults in our gardens.

The Beauty of Pollination – Moving Art


We are incredibly lucky to have been given permission to show Louie Schwartzberg‘s wonderful short film ‘The Beauty of Pollination – Moving Art’. This film perfectly captures the  intricate world of flowers and the process of pollination.

The published science

We publish cutting edge research in five peer reviewed journals. To celebrate attending RHS Chelsea we have identified five pieces of research that relate directly to horticulture, and have made them free to access.

This research addresses important questions such as, ‘are native plants better for pollinators than exotics?’, and ‘how good are horticultural varieties at attracting pollinators?’.

To see the answers to these questions and more please click here.