Six hundred exhibitors from across the world, present floral exhibitions intrinsic to their local cultures and floral diversities. South Africa has participated in the show for the past 33 years, and has won 29 gold medals and numerous other special awards for outstanding contributions. In 2008, the Kirstenbosch-South Africa exhibit won its 29th gold medal and scooped the Presidents Most Creative Award.

Originally an image-building initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Kirstenbosch-South African exhibit has been funded by corporate investors since 1995. The South African National Biodiversity Institute, together with funding partners (presently First National Bank and Cape Town and Western Cape Tourism), made possible the 2008 exhibit based on the theme of changing climate.

Designed by David Davidson and Raymond Hudson, the exhibit, titled “The Heat is On”, contrasts two floristic scenarios: on the one side, a scene rich in diverse and unusual plant species featuring the fynbos community of proteas, ericas, restios and associated indigenous plants, and on the other, a much hotter and drier scene where water resources are depleted and the visible indicators of climate change impacts are portrayed.

RHS Chelsea Show statistics:

• 157 000 visitors

• 49 000 glasses of Pimms sold

• 5 000 bottles of champagne sold

• 54 000 cups of tea and coffee sold

• 28 000 sandwiches sold

• It takes 800 people and 24 days to set up the show

• Construction of the show includes 5km of piping and

With thanks to David Davidson, Hippo Communications and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)