Weeds rebranded as 'hero plants' ahead of Chelsea Flower Show

Dandelions are considered a weed despite being a good source of pollen and nectar for insects Credit: Pixabay

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has said gardeners should stop using the term "weeds" in a diminishing way and should instead refer to them as "superweeds" or "weed heroes".

In a move that will likely be music to the ears of those tired of suffering with a bad back or gardener's knee, a third of the gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show this year will feature plants traditionally regarded as weeds, including brambles, thistles and knapweed.

The RHS' new attitude is fitting given the name of its president, Keith Weed.

Cleve West, who will be building a garden for the Chelsea Flower Show for the charity Centrepoint, which helps young people dealing with homelessness, said: “Many of the wildflower so-called ‘weeds’ will, without doubt, be the unsung heroes in the garden because we (including me) have all been conditioned to make gardens with an emphasis on aesthetics.

“Be careful what you disturb in your garden. Piles of what we perceive as rubbish might be ‘home’ to a myriad of lifeforms. “

Gardener preparing plants for the Chelsea Flower Show back in 2021. Credit: PA

Instead of seeing weeds as plants "in the wrong place", RHS Wisley garden manager Sheila Das told The Times they are actually plants "in the right place".

"If you’ve got a weed, it’s telling you what’s going on underground. Your weed is your adviser. It’s your friend," she said.

She added that all weeds serve a unique purpose, nettles for instance can showcase that the soil they are situated in is rich in nitrogen.

Tom Massey at the Royal Entomological Society (RES) said he regarded weeds as “resilient plants”.

Ahead of creating his own garden for the Chelsea Flower Show, he told the Times: “People often get really stressed out about dandelions on the lawn but they are a good source of nectar [for bees] because they flower early in the year and they’re really nice to look at. Even foxgloves and knapweed [are welcome]. There’s a lot of stigma around the word ‘weed’.”

Ms Das added that the RHS was not only embracing weeds but actively rejecting that gardeners need to dig over soil to improve it.

Both her own centre, RHS Wisley, and RHS Bridgewater in Manchester have started operating a 'no-dig' policy, where mulch is added to the surface to enhance soil gaining nutrients.

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