FOR years, well-heeled Chelsea and Hampton Court have held the titles for the UK's top flower shows, pulling in gardeners from across the UK and beyond to marvel at their spectacular displays from the world's top growers.

Now, though, Oxfordshire is fast catching up as one of the top challengers to the floral throne.

This weekend, thousands of horticulturalists flocked to the sixth annual Blenheim Palace Flower Show, which boasted its most colourful collection yet of extravagant displays, tropical rarities and surprising sculpture gardens.

This year's show hosted some 300 exhibitors, and at its heart was the 20,000sq ft Grand Floral Pavilion featuring more than 30 displays 'from the UK’s finest plantsmen'.

Bolstering its position as one of the UK's top new flower festivals was BBC gardening presenter Carol Klein, who officially opened this year's proceedings on Friday morning.

The Gardeners' World regular also presented this year's Best in Show awards and gave a Q&A session to reveal some of her secrets.

Joining her in the celebrity line-up were Michelin star chef Glynn Purnell and – for some reason – the actor John Challis, aka Boycie from Only Fools and Horses.

Also new for 2018 – and along more botanic lines – were the orchid tunnel, boasting exotic species from around the globe; a new family zone with giant butterfly creations and the 'Enchanted Flower Globe' performance space.

In addition to all this, of course, visitors had the chance to stroll around the internationally-renowned Capability Brown-landscaped grounds of the Unesco World Heritage Site.

It is perhaps little surprise then, that Blenheim's flower show was shortlisted for this year's UK’s Favourite Flower and Garden Festival Award.

The palace was one of 12 locations vying for the award in an online voting competition run by

In the end, it came seventh in this year's public poll – though with voting closing on May 24 before this year's Blenheim show had even begun, it may not have had the best chance.

Either way, the show's star is certainly rising and it is sure to continue growing in popularity.