THE Chelsea Flower Show has reached new heights - with a garden in the sky.
An Avatar-inspired garden that lifts people 25 metres into the air by crane is among the highlights of this year’s creations at the world’s most famous flower show.
TV gardener and designer Diarmuid Gavin demonstrated a 52ft 6in (16m) long hanging garden pod - the first floating garden at Chelsea - raised 82ft (25m) on an enormous crane at the centre of Failte Ireland’s “Irish sky garden”.
Those lucky enough to enjoy the full experience of the garden, inspired by the sci-fi epic Avatar, step into a pod - named the Wonkavator - sit on a traditional garden bench and attach themselves to a harness before take-off.
Gavin described going up in the pod as a “magical experience” and said the concept was in the spirit of the show.
He said: “It’s the most magical experience I’ve probably ever had in my life. I’ve never been on a flying carpet, but you just glide up so gently.
“You feel completely safe and enclosed by plants, it’s amazing.”
He added: “Chelsea’s all about showing off. You should have a bit of fun, and my pink Wonkavator garden is a bit of fun.”
Film star Gwyneth Paltrow helped to launch B&Q’s show garden, which focuses on “growing your own” food and contains the tallest structure ever at Chelsea - a glass tower block-like building complete with window boxes full of vegetables.
Shane Connolly, whose floral displays for the royal wedding included a series of trees in Westminster Abbey, has been demonstrating how plants can be used on different occasions.
Dame Helen Mirren is launching a flower named in her honour.
And a new rose from Harkness in memory of actress Natasha Richardson, who died after a skiing accident, is being launched by her mother, Vanessa Redgrave.
The flower show, now underway, sold out in record time this year, as the UK’s love affair with gardening shows no sign of dimming.
But the unseasonably warm weather has presented some creators - like many gardeners across the country - with a challenge as they make their designs a reality.
After a weekend putting finishing touches on the gardens, some of which had last-minute design tweaks with changes to planting as planned blooms flowered too early, the exhibitors were being judged this morning.
The exhibits range from a modern take on a kitchen garden, a plot with the largest trees ever to be brought in to Chelsea framing a working water mill, to gardens which evoke 1940s Wales or renewable power and even a Korean entry which makes a toilet the central feature.
Elsewhere, floral displays include the annual Florist of the Year competition in which entrants have designed floral jockey silks, while a £70,000, 11ft 6in (3.5m) high sculpture of a cypress tree covered in 23.5 carat gold dominates the grand pavilion of the show.