England's fleeting oasis
The illustrious Chelsea Flower Show dazzles for a brief five days
May 22, 1997
Web posted at: 6:56 p.m. EDT (2256 GMT)
LONDON (CNN) -- In a country where gardening is a top hobby, being up to your elbows in potting soil is not the place to be this week. No, true garden lovers are putting down their hoes and gloves and heading to the high-brow Chelsea Flower Show.
More than 730 model gardens and displays adorn 11 acres at what many consider the world's most prestigious horticultural event. The queen herself attended a private showing on Monday.
No plant is too lowly and no theme too lofty for the fiercely competitive show. In the gold medal-winning Latin garden, designer Christopher Bradley-Hole searched for harmony between the ancient and the modern.
"The inspiration was Virgil, the Roman poet Virgil who was born 2,000 years ago," explained Bradley-Hole. "Actually, it is the narrative of his life running through the garden."
Snapping up ideas to take home -- or just admiring -- about 170,000 people are expected to visit the exhibition, 10,000 of them from abroad. While it began on Monday, the show just opened to the public on Wednesday.
"There is an old saying that you get the dowagers and dustmen side by side talking about their common interest in plants," said Stephen Bennett, the show director. "It cuts through all social barriers."
Be it Yves St. Laurent's "Marrakech" design or the traditional English country garden replete with grazing sheep, none of these creations will have a chance to do what gardens are meant to do -- grow. After Friday, all of the displays will be torn up, and their plots will revert back to lawn.
Correspondent Siobhan Darrow contributed to this report.
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