Go and see the pretty way of protecting the environment, while having a fantastic day out. So says Steve Clarke, group marketing manager of The Fuelcard People. He said: “Nothing beats strolling around on a sunny day, looking at beautiful flowers. The Chelsea Flower Show is at the end of May, so sunshine is hardly guaranteed, but 100+ years of visitors can’t be wrong.”
Steve is well placed to talk on green issues. The company has been the automotive industry’s only official partner of Cool Earth, the leading international environmental charity, for over five years. “Every tree we protect in the Amazon rainforest is good for the planet,” he said, “but so is every plant on view at the Chelsea Flower Show. Nothing is quite as good for the planet’s future as growing things, whether they be flowers or vegetables.”
Over 150,000 visitors will descend upon the Royal Hospital Chelsea for the Show, travelling from all over the world. Although most will use public transport, there are 2,000 parking spaces available for pre-booking in nearby Battersea Park. This caused Steve Clarke to pause and consider the Chelsea Flower Show paradox.
“There is so much to see and all of it relates to gardening, the most environmentally friendly activity possible,” he said. “But, there are 169 companies showing garden products, another 113 firms selling plants, and at least another 100 assorted exhibitors. Then, there are the displays themselves – 17 show gardens, six artisan gardens, six fresh gardens, plus all of the huge showpiece attractions. Even a flower-covered railway station is being created in the Great Pavilion. How does it all get to Chelsea?”
He has a point. Every item at Chelsea is transported there, sometimes from overseas. Consider carrying a few hundred plants by train and it becomes clear why almost everything travels by road. It ranges from a single truck of assorted goodies from Yorkshire, to a fleet of three large vans making several trips from the south coast with greenhouse components.
“Chelsea Flower Show is a wonderful thing,” said Steve Clarke. “It just seems strange that such an environmentally-positive message is delivered by an event that depends upon countless thousands of miles of road travel.”