Rachel de Thame: Gardener’s World presenter reveals was refused permission to breast-feed at Chelsea Flower Show

de Thame also said the Chelsea show should give greater opportunities to female gardeners

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Rachel de Thame, the Gardener’s World presenter and horticulturalist, has revealed that she was refused permission to breast-feed at the Chelsea Flower Show.

She told the Radio Times: “I absolutely think women and men are equal in the world of horticulture and design, though there was one occasion when I was filming at the Chelsea Flower Show and I wasn’t allowed to breast-feed! I’m an earth mother.

“I liked being pregnant and giving birth and breast-feeding. Up until that point, the job I was doing was working really well with juggling the kids, but not then.”


de Thame, 53, said the Chelsea show should give greater opportunities to female gardeners. “I did notice that there weren’t many show gardens designed by women this year at Chelsea and I am not sure what that’s about. Maybe the same issues that affect women working in other spheres do affect women in horticulture. We have babies. We are not available for full-time work.

“It’s tricky but we definitely need both male and female designers in order to get balance. For me, women and men see things differently. Our eyes are made of rods and cones and men have more rods, which means they are prone to see structure etc. Women have more cones, which means we see and remember more colours and colour schemes. We definitely see things differently.”

A former dancer, who attended the Royal Ballet School before turning to gardening, de Thame is making a film about Jane Loudon, author of the 1840 book, Instructions in Gardening for Ladies. “She was a pioneer,” said de Thame. “She had no knowledge of plants, but she had trained as a botanical illustrator. There was nothing to attract women to gardening back then, but she was bright and clever and made gardening accessible. She turned it into a world that women could be part of.”