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Somerset is blooming brightly at the Chelsea Flower Show

PUBLISHED: 16:51 21 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:51 21 May 2018

The Trailfinders South African Wine Estate Garden, plants supplied by Kelways

The Trailfinders South African Wine Estate Garden, plants supplied by Kelways


We look at the people who are flying the flag for Somerset at this year’s prestigious Chelsea Flower Show

The Chelsea displays and show gardens might seem exclusive but there is always something that you can take home for your own garden. Some years it’s a special plant that appears in nearly every garden. In 2015 the charming geum Totally Tangerine was everywhere. This year the RHS has introduced a new category called Space to Grow Gardens that will focus on ideas we can all use in our gardens.

We take a look at which local individuals and companies will represent our county at the world famous event in 2018.

Mendip Bonsai

“It’s surprising how many people from Somerset come to my Chelsea stand,” says Mendip Bonsai Studio’s founder, John Trott. With 50 years experience of bonsai practise, John has a wealth of knowledge that he shares in workshops. Students come from throughout the UK and abroad - one enthusiast rode his motorbike from Sweden to Shepton Mallet, twice, to attend workshops. Mendip Bonsai has been exhibiting at the world’s most famous flower show since 2003, winning several gold medals .

John Trott of Mendip BonsaiJohn Trott of Mendip Bonsai

Nigel Hewitt-Cooper

It was a trip to Shepton Mallet Carnival that prompted Nigel Hewitt-Cooper to move his carnivorous plant nursery from South London to Somerset. Nigel acquired his first Venus Fly Trap as a seven-year-old, and has been devoted to the insect eating plants ever since. His first Chelsea exhibit was also in 2003 and over the years he has won nine gold medals. He has literally written the book on carnivorous plants and suggests that more Somerset garden owners try growing them.

Nigel Hewitt-Cooper & his carnivorous plantsNigel Hewitt-Cooper & his carnivorous plants

John Collins

Blacksmith John Collins is another former Londoner who has found his muse in Somerset. He lives in Frome and produces hand-forged garden ornaments at his workshop in the Mendip village of Holcombe.

“The local industrial heritage like Fussells Ironworks at Mells and Singers of Frome inspires us,” says John.

His company Straysparks has exhibited at Chelsea for 11 years. In 2018 it is showing a new bird feeder frame.

John Collins of StraysparksJohn Collins of Straysparks


Langport nursery Kelways exhibited at the first Chelsea Flower Show in 1913. As the largest UK grower of peonies and irises, you would expect a stunning display in the Floral Marquee, but in recent years Kelways has started supplying plants to show gardens as well.

This year Kelways is supplying six show gardens. Plantsman Dave Root has his work cut out sourcing a wide range of plants, from rare South African native plants for the South Africa Wine Estate Garden to large bonsai specimens for the Wuhan Water Garden. Dave has been working since last June on this year’s show and will deliver nearly 12,000 Kelways plants to Chelsea this year. u

Somerset garden designer Michelle Wake’s new venture The Crafty Gardeners offers floral craft and garden design workshops near Bath and Bristol. Visit to find out more.

Visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show website here.


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