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Interview: RHS Chatsworth’s Katie Draper

Interview: RHS Chatsworth’s Katie Draper

Katie Draper

The head of the new RHS Chatsworth Flower Show tells Zia Allaway about plans for the event next year

Having spent the past two years working as the Manager of the RHS Show Cardiff, Katie Draper is now taking on the challenge of heading up the new RHS Chatsworth Flower Show at the Derbyshire home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire in June 2017.

What inspired the theme for the Chatsworth Show?

 The theme, ‘Design Revolutionaries’, was inspired by our mission to create something new at the show and by Chatsworth’s gardening history, which includes the work of Joseph Paxton and Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, who were both considered revolutionary designers of their time. We also want to inspire designers and exhibitors to think creatively to produce gardens that will become the classics of the future, just like those leading lights before them. The Chaumont Garden Festival in France also provided inspiration; there is nothing quite like that here in the UK, so we hope that Chatsworth will, in part, fill the gap.

The Chatsworth show will run in June 2017. Photo: Chatsworth House Trust

What challenges has the new show ground presented?

The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire have been hugely supportive, which has made things much easier for us, and they are completely on board with our vision for the show. The show ground will be in front of the house in a natural valley, with the River Derwent running through it. This is an area that up to now has not been used for events and will give the show a fabulous backdrop. There is a bridge over the river within the show ground area, but we are planning to build two more pop-up bridges exclusively for the event to allow visitors to pass from one side to the other.

What new design categories have you planned?

As well as the main Show Gardens, we are including a new category called ‘Freeform’, which has never been done before at an RHS show. For this, we are encouraging multi-disciplinary teams to work together on ground-breaking gardens and installations; so, for example, gardens designers could collaborate with architects and textile or fashion designers, or anyone with a creative vision. We also want the exhibits to be interactive and surprising, immersing visitors in new experiences. In addition, we are running a design competition called ‘Gardening in a Changing World’, which is open to design students, colleges and universities.

How can designers get involved?

Although applications for the main Show Gardens are now closed, designers can still sign up for the Freeform Category and the new design competition. We are also looking for ideas for the two bridges and would welcome entries from designers and students for these too.

The RHS Chatsworth Flower Show will run from 7-11 June 2017;
visit  for further information. 

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