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BLOOMING GOLD

Proteas win again at the Chelsea Flower Show

Proteas win again at the Chelsea Flower Show
An unprecedented 22,000 stems were used in the display to create a proudly South African explosion of fynbos. (Photo: Mandy Ackerman)

South Africa's Chelsea Flower Show exhibit, inspired by the Cape Mountains, led by designer Leon Kluge and artist Tristan Woudberg, wowed with its fynbos explosion, rare hybrids and a triumphant return after a hiatus, showcasing the country's rich biodiversity and securing a record-breaking 38th Gold medal.

South Africa stole the show at this year’s RHS Chelsea flower show when it won a gold medal with perfect scores from the RHS judges as well as awards for the “Best exhibit in the Pavilion” and the “Best New Design” award. This is unprecedented for South Africa at the Chelsea Flower show. RHS president Keith Weed CBE presented the awards to the team on the opening day of the London show.

Britain’s Charles III (L) visits the 2024 RHS Chelsea Flower Show on 20 May 2024 in London, England. (Photo: Arthur Edwards – WPA Pool / Getty Images)

Team South Africa proudly shows off their awards at the Chelsea Flower Show. (Photo: Mandy Ackerman)

Described as one of the most outstanding exhibits in the history of the Great Pavillion, this year’s design was inspired by the windswept slopes of the Cape Mountains. 

Head designer Leon Kluge and artist Tristan Woudberg led a group of volunteers to create this year’s multi-award display which included large clay sculptures which formed the backdrop for a display of fynbos cut flowers. 

This is Leon Kluge’s third Gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show after winning the top prize in 2018 and 2019 for South Africa. It is South Africa’s 38th Gold medal in its history at the Chelsea Flower dating back to 1976. It’s the first time South Africa has won “Best New Design” and “Best in the Great Pavillion”.

A multitude of species was presented in the display, from the high-altitude fynbos to the strandveld brimming with bulbs which hug the coastlines. The display celebrates the beauty and significance of one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.

An incredible 22,000 stems were used in the display to create a proudly South African explosion of fynbos.

This year special effort was made to include rarely seen hybrids such as Protea “Snow Leopard” as well as the Protea sulphurea and the blushing brides (Serruria florida).

Proteas were a huge part of the SA display. (Photo: Mandy Ackerman)

A multitude of species was presented in the display, from the high-altitude fynbos to the strandveld brimming with bulbs which hug the coastlines. (Photo: Mandy Ackerman)

After a four-year hiatus and the sponsor of three decades (1989-2019) withdrawing their support, a private sector-led team stepped forward to ensure South Africa’s flora was represented. The team which is spearheaded by Kluge, an acclaimed plantsman and landscape designer with numerous international floral exposition awards to his name, along with Keith Kirsten, conservationist Michael Lutzeyer, and Marinda Nel came together to realise South Africa’s return. A transformative contribution from the Rupert Nature Foundation as well as Grootbos Private Nature Reserve along with numerous contributions from the private sector provided the financial support needed to create the display in London.

The team also spotlights the Grootbos Florilegium, a collection of botanical illustrations depicting rare plants in the Grootbos Nature Reserve. DM

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  • Norman Sander says:

    Overberg is where home is. We see new flowers every autumn. All the flowers along the seafront make a wonderful show. Our daily walks take us through fynbos, the beauty is majestic.

  • Denise Smit says:

    How absolutely beautiful. Congratulations. The most perfect flowers

  • Bill Gild says:

    Well done to this dedicated, talented and hard-working group of individuals!

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    There is nothing in the world quite like our Fynbos….something to be celebrated by all South Africans! Great achievement and acknowledgment in a time of chaos , confusion and political uncertainty. Thank you and well done!

  • Winston Bigsby says:

    Brilliant! Well done Saffas!

  • Rae Earl says:

    A visit to The Eden Project in Cornwall some years ago brought home how well respected the fynbos is overseas. Within the huge geodesic domes of the Project, an incredible array of fauna from around the world has been created by contributors. This ranges from the world’s biggest indoor rain forest to Mediterranean climate plants and, incredibly, a perfect and live fynbos garden which survives the often freezing cold and winter weather extremes of Cornwall. Worth a visit.

  • Petrus Fourie says:

    As someone who grew up in the Overberg (now resident in the UK) and with family involved with the Chelsea Flower Show over many decades, it is such a wonderful occasion to visit this show. Thank you to those creating a South African exhibit again, cannot wait for tomorrow.
    In some respects the RHS represents the good side of British life, this love of all things growing, and seeding and flowering. Flower show is perhaps a little misleading – it’s a gardening show. And gardening is a wonderful way to reconnect people to real food and our habitat. Gardens is also therapeutic – one of the Chelsea gardens will be moved to our hospital in Cambridge when the show finishes.

  • Chris Brand says:

    Congratulations to the team responsible for this enormous achievement, especially under the disastrous situation that you found yourself in being 4 years without a sponsor. I am glad that your new sponsors will be able to BRAG about these achievements and I sincerely trust that you will inform your previous sponsors about these achievements with a bit of a smirk (and do not allow them back to act as sponsors again). Well done.

  • Ritey roo roo says:

    Wonderful achievement yet again! It’s truly shocking there is no formal govt support for this prestigious event.

    • Jane Crankshaw says:

      Sadly it does not fulfill BEE criteria! Our Minister of the Environment didn’t try hard enough to get the ANC on board although the ANC can still find millions for useless endeavours that allow a little feeding at the trough!

  • Austin Evans says:

    Where is the South African Tourist Board as a sponsor. Much better than sponsoring a football team!!

  • Elizabeth Christie says:

    RHS President Keith Weed, how unfortunate. Reminds me of my cookery teacher at school, Miss Fish.

  • Frank van der Velde says:

    And to think that we in the Cape have the privilege of hiking year in year out in that magnificent ‘ fynbos’

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  • Karin Bloem says:

    A magnificent achievement, well deserved by the talented and hardworking team, under the leadership of Leon Kluge. You make us proud to be South Africans. Keep up the good work!

  • Glory to God the Creator and to the hard work if every person involved.
    I salute you 👏

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