This Saturday 18 May, Chelsea Fringe brings green-fever to London for the second time. Running for three weeks at various venues and settings across the capital, it is the slightly wacky Auntie of the Chelsea Flower Show (21-25 May) — eccentric, impassioned, and acting with its support, but completely independent.
The Fringe is run entirely by volunteers and features a mix of horticultural happenings that harness the pleasure, excitement and sense of well-being that surround gardens and gardening. Most of the events are free, too.
This year, alongside a variety of talks, tours, workshops, displays and exhibitions, you can also expect a Gnome Invasion, Edible High Roads, Edible Bus Stop, Tree Treasure Hunt, Yarn Bombing, and Dinner to Dye For.
Fringe partners The National Trust will be arranging many excellent activities. For starters, they’ll plant 35 mature fruit trees around the Southbank Centre, to be known as Octavia’s Orchard (after Octavia Hill). They’re also organising wildlife tours and talks at Osterley and, most inventively, inviting Londoners to stay up through the early hours of 9 June and live tweet the dawn (#dawnchorus), wherever they are.
Those who like their gardens served with an umbrella and crushed ice can indulge in The Cocktail Gardener, aka Lottie Muir’s exquisite ‘wild’ cocktails, made using foraged herbs and flowers. If that doesn’t give you hair of the dog, then a Dog Show at Inner Temple Garden to celebrate the bond between gardeners and their canine companions certainly will.
Battersea Power Station’s newly-opened temporary park will house multiple installations, markets and activities across the three weeks. One such activity is a plant/seed swap shop were you can donate a plant that has meaning to you, and in return choose one that has a connection to someone else, as a display of how gardening can help community growth.