Royal Horticultural Society calls on female designers to create gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show

Only one third of the top gardens have been created by women in the past decade

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The Royal Horticultural Society is calling on female designers to apply to create gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show after it emerged that only one third of the top gardens have been created by women in the past decade.

A “disproportionately small” number of female garden designers apply to create the Chelsea show gardens, which occupy the most high-profile plots, on the Main Avenue of the world renowned flower show, the RHS has said.

This year just two of the 15 show gardens are designed by women. Kamelia Bin Zaal, is making her Chelsea debut with "the beauty of Islam", which explores and celebrates Islamic culture.

Multi RHS gold medal winning designer Jo Thompson is returning to Chelsea with an all-female workforce to create the M&G garden "urban retreat", which represents a quintessentially British restorative retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

“Women need to put themselves forward,” Thompson told The Independent.

“It’s very hard work so you need support at home. You spend three weeks away from home at Chelsea, and the preparation is about one third of the working year - it’s a really big commitment,” she added.

Thomson suggested the low numbers of women involved might be due to a lack of confidence. She said would-be competitors might be put off at the prospect of being dismissed by organisers when they applied but insisted that this was not the case.

“The RHS are really supportive and the whole process of applying to do a garden is a really positive one. They want these gardens,” she said.

RHS director general Sue Biggs said: "There are a huge number of extremely talented female garden designers out there, but for some reason a disproportionately small number apply to design show gardens at our world famous flower show.

"We really want to change this trend and better reflect the garden design industry, so I urge women designers out there to come forward with your designs."

Thompson echoed these comments and said she’s never been treated differently from any other competitor because she was a woman.

She said: "It's a hugely inclusive experience on Main Avenue, and I would advise any women considering it to push themselves forwards and they will see the benefits."

The Chelsea Flower Show has been held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, in London, every year since 1913, apart from gaps during the Second World War. This year’s show opens to the public on Tuesday and runs until Saturday.

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