Leading article: Flower power

"THE WORLD'S greatest living masterpiece", the Chelsea Flower Show, comes into bloom again today. For all its slightly studied attempts to retain the elegance of its pre-Great War origins (the show dates back to 1913), the show remains deservedly popular because it displays some surprisingly modern and pluralistic features.

British horticulture today is not all Panama hats and patio tubs. It is also about design, style and Terence Conran. Chelsea is as much fashion show as floral show, telling us what is in. One year it was duckweed; another, the colour purple. This year, tellingly, it is steel. It is not a domineering theme, however. Cottage gardens featuring tulips (a sort of Fifties retro-flower) and honeysuckle will still be well represented. This is a variegated exhibition. It remains, this side of paganism, the most sensually rewarding way to celebrate the arrival of spring.