5 June 1998

Conserve all our friendly insects is Chelsea message

Fashion and

fantasy may

dominate the

Royal Horticultural

Societys Chelsea

Flower Show but

education and

science feature

too. Ann Rogers

reports

PLANTS – exotic or home-grown humble – and gardens incorporating massive hard landscaping command the eye. Garden sundries, aids and decorations vie for the cheque book. Yet there was still room for the smallest garden inhabitants at the 1998 Chelsea Flower Show: The insects.

Industrialists, farmers and gardeners all have parts to play in the conservation of butterflies. This was the message Butterfly Conservation aimed to get across to show-goers through The Quarry Mans Garden, designed by Marney Hall and Paul Dyer. There was much to learn from this gold medal winner supposedly created by a retired quarry owner on the disused edge of an old limestone quarry: Rocks for butterfly hibernation, grasses as breeding sites and a fascinating collection of food plants from cornfield, woodland edge and meadows as well as garden favourites such as buddleias, lilacs, hebes and species roses.

Insects were featured on several of the college stands. Hadlow (silver Lindley award) looked at the use of natural predators to control garden pests. Oaklands (bronze Lindley award) displayed giant models of ladybirds and weevils and considered whether they were friends or foes, while Wye (silver gilt Lindley award) presented research into ladybirds from around the world and their potential for pest control.

The British Beekeepers Association was urging gardeners to choose pesticides that are least harmful to ladybirds, lacewings. bees and other beneficial insects, to spray with care and at times when they are less likely to be active.

Bees, now classed as "food producing animals" by the EU "are a most under-valued animal" says BBA chairman Alan Johnson, pointing out that they produce £12m worth of honey a year while their work as pollinators has been valued at £6.9bn/year. Farmers are now finding that oilseed rape produces better where bees are present with a 14% increase in crop, he said.

There is so much to see at Chelsea in so little time. Did you see….? They ask when you get back and whatever it was it is bound to be one of the many things you missed. How nice it would be to make several visits, to sit in the sun and sip cool drinks between sorties, to browse around the gardens at leisure and to carefully examine each of the stands in and around the 1.4ha (3.5acre) marquee.

I/P Francis Chippett of the Royal Hospital Chelsea displays a basket of blooms from Faithful, a cherry red rose from Harkness admired for its bedding, hedging and cutting qualities. The name is borrowed from the Royal Army Medical Corps motto, "Faithful in adversity". RAMC celebrates its centenary this month and Harkness is contributing 10% of sales of Faithful to the RAMC museum at Keogh Barracks, Aldershot.

Nurse Eileen Thomas (left) and actress Susan Hampshire launch a new rose from Peter Beales Roses called Macmillian Nurse. It is a large flowered shrub rose and its white blooms have an occasional peach flush. A percentage from the sales of this

rose will go to Macmillian cancer relief.

Above: Shy glance from a mime artist on Help the Ageds garden. Left: Claire Whitehouse with The Garden of Eden she designed for Christian Aid, drawing attention to work in Ethiopia. "Most people in the UK believe Ethiopia is a barren, drought-ridden country devasted by war," she says but the exhibit shows how tree planting and terracing is restoring the wide variety of plants.