The Chelsea Fringe, now in its 6th year, is an international festival with its heart centred on the infamous and extraordinary Chelsea Flower Show* itself.
It’s a smorgasbord of quirky horticultural events and happenings for curious gardeners and the perfect way to extend your experience and expand your horticultural horizons.
Last year there were more than 350 Chelsea Fringe events and it’s spreading across the nation and beyond, with ‘satellite fringes’ in Aberdeen, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge and Kent and also as far away as Melbourne and Japan. Most events occur within a two-week slot from May 20 to June 4, but events are also occurring all year round.
From community garden events, workshops and talks to art exhibitions and even a dog show, pretty much anything that’s legal and plant related goes and the registration of events continues throughout the festival so check the website for the very latest information wherever you are. www.chelseafringe.com or follow @chelseafringe on twitter.
Here are five events going on in around that caught our attention but there are dozens more. Some are one-day events; others are recurring on several dates.
London’s First Floating Pocket Park
May 26 dawn until dusk
Floating Pocket Park, Merchant Square, Paddington Basin
London, Greater London W2 1JS
Don’t miss your chance to visit the new 730m2-floating park in Paddington Basin on the Grand Union Canal. The park provides a striking green public space on the water with its own canal boat mooring. It features open lawn areas, densely planted nectar-rich plants in mixed raised borders and communal seating/ You can actually walk over the water on a series of decked platforms and walkways. The diverse planting scheme has been developed to encourage wildlife and the park includes a separate pontoon specifically designed to attract ground-nesting birds. It’s part of the Greater London Authority’s ‘green infrastructure, which is an on-going initiative to improve and connect streets, squares, parks, and canal and riverside spaces across London.
For a list of the many activities happening on the Floating Pocket Park during the Chelsea Fringe check the website. Events include talks by experts at the Canal and Rivers Trust on how to garden in small spaces and also an enlightening talk about the history of gardening on the canals. You can also hear the park designer speaking about the project and answering questions. So if you want to find out about the considerations involved in choosing the planting and how he managed to get the park to float, do come along.
The Inner Temple Dog Show: Celebrating the bond between Gardener and Dog
May 21 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Inner Temple Garden, entry via Tudor Street
The Inner Temple Dog Show Returns: Celebrating the bond between Gardener and Dog at the award winning Inner Temple Garden. For a fun day out you can combine your love of canines with a beautiful garden visit. The Inner Temple Dog Show throws open its garden gates to dogs of all shapes and sizes, with the opportunity to compete in five exciting categories: Garden agility; Best floral outfit (dog and handler); Dog with the waggiest tail; Best junior handler (under 12) and Public’s favourite. Handlers of all ages are encouraged and all dogs will be eligible to compete for Best in Show. Places are limited so please register to enter.
Evening Wildflower Walk
If you want to learn more about wildflowers and the magical setting of the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, then the second of a series of botanical walks in the cemetery park could be the perfect occasion. It’s a walk and talk looking in depth at selected wildflowers now in season, exploring the plant itself, its ecology and its human connections – to literature, folklore, medicine, food and drink and crafts and so much more.
There are lots of wildflowers in season, this session will concentrate on Red Campion, Germander Speedwell, Goosegrass, Comfrey, Columbine, Ox Eye Daisy, Crosswort and Dog’s Mercury.
Walk leader Terry Lyle is a botanist who has over 20 years experience of environmental education in Tower Hamlets.
Too square to dare – Make your own edible tray garden
May 25 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Bankside Community Space, 18 Great Guildford Street
London, Greater London SE1 0FD
Are you longing for some home grown edibles in your home but can’t seem to find the time to replace that dry basil? Or is space just too limited? Maybe you feel you lack the competence?
Don’t worry! You can learn to make your own mini garden by creating a mini habitat of delicious edibles in a seed tray to take away.
The Guerrilla Gardeners’ Garden Tour
May 25 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm FREE
Lambeth North Tube Station, 110 Westminster Bridge Rd, Lambeth, London
London, Greater London SE1 7XG
Richard Reynolds has been guerrilla gardening around the streets of SE1 for thirteen years, and fortunately many of his gardens have thrived and matured over this time into incongruously beautiful landmarks in public space. His activity, without permission, has attracted international attention and inspired others around the world to take over neglected public spaces.
If you’d like to see what he’s been doing and learn more, then join him on a walking tour from Lambeth North to Elephant and Castle via his guerrilla gardens. Learn what works, and how he’s got away with it. Joining him on this walk all the way from Münster Germany is artist and guerrilla gardener Wilm Weppelmann and his assistant Rob Cabbage.
* The Chelsea Fringe is entirely independent of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, but exists and functions with its support.