The Green-Fingered Alternative – The Chelsea Fringe

chelsea fringe london

If this weekend’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a little too mainstream for you, then the associated Chelsea Fringe might be right up your garden path…

Taking place from 18 May to 9 June and now in its second year, the Chelsea Fringe spreads its branches far wider than the formal events in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. It encompasses community gardening projects, art installations, guided walks and lectures staged right across London and into the home counties, with exhibitors ranging from the seasoned professionals who exhibit at the Flower Show each year right through to enthusiastic amateurs. Here are some of our highlights for this year:

Gnome Invasion – a community project based on Ockenden Road in N1, this leafy road will be getting some new neighbours in the form of our old pot-bellied, pointy-hatted friends and their floral companions. The project is specifically aimed at getting children excited about gardening (and it should make for some rather interesting photo ops if you fancy popping along)

Coal Frame – set in the new park that sits between Battersea Power Station and the Thames, step inside the temporary structure that’s been set up to look at the gargantuan structure in different ways. It’s a good excuse to check out London’s freshest parcel of green space too.

King’s Cross Skip Garden – the Chelsea Fringe offers an ideal opportunity to go and see the new development behind Kings Cross station and visit the fantastic Skip Garden, which is slowly moving around the area as new building plots are developed. As it says on the tin, you’ll discover vegetable plots and flower beds set within these unusual containers, and they also have a yurt – read about our visit a few months ago here.

Seeds For The Desert – visit the grounds of one of our favourite London museums, the Horniman on Forest Hill, and you’ll find Adele Howitt and Fiona Weir’s living art installation. Just look for the shell of an old car which has been transformed into a bee-friendly home for flowering plants…

Fine Words Buttering Parsnips – head north from the Thames to Keats House in Hampstead and you’ll be able to attend a talk by Caroline Holmes on Keats’s poetry about  the natural world and the work of William Cobbett, the early 19th century journalist, farmer and writer who railed against the policies that damaged his beloved farming communities.

With London’s parks and gardens exploding with colour as the summer approaches, the Chelsea Fringe provides an ideal opportunity to see the city at its absolute best. Finding hotel accommodation in London couldn’t be easier either – check out for everything from budget accommodation to the height of five star luxury.

One option for your visit is to pick up a copy of the free ‘London Is The World’s Garden Capital‘, a free e-book which is being launched to coincide with the fringe events. This guide will be the ideal companion if you would like to explore some of London’s fascinating horticultural history, and wherever you’ve chosen to stay you’re bound to discover a spot nearby that has a story to tell.