Chelsea Flower Show 2017: Set  your bets  

There is what to play for: this year sees the shortest set of runners and riders on Main Avenue in living memory, using only eight sponsored gardens battling it out. While some variety of gardens could be given medals, just one of the medallists could win Best Display Garden — and that I give a decoration forecast for each garden and my chances beneath.

This season sees a continuation of this tendency for wild “plant communities”, rather than gardens in the normal sense. But there is a solid showing in the adventuresome conceptualists. What seems to be missing — on plan, at least — is most contemporary cutting-edge plantsmanship, which is arguably Chelsea strength that is traditional. But planting detail is often exercised “on the ground”, so we can reasonably expect for some significant horticultural inspiration.

While there’s a clear favourite this year (I would lay my shirt on James Basson) , a surprise cannot be ruled out — especially when an early spring has caused numerous designers to update their planting strategies. Essential late-spring plants are jettisoned, with performers pinning their hopes on summer blossoms instead. As a result we might get a marginally different horticultural feel in Chelsea this year.