Alternative London garden festival, Chelsea Fringe, begins today bringing three weeks' worth of horticultural happenings where "anything goes – as long as it’s interesting and legal, and on the subject of gardens, flowers, veg-growing or landscape."
Chelsea Fringe flourishes happily around the Chelsea Flower Show taking the exclusive celebration of horticultural excellence as its starting point but spreading the joy of growing and greening across London. There's a barrowload of stuff happening from talks to walks, planting sessions to art installations, pop ups, performances and discussions. Everyone is invited to join in and many events and activities are free. Here are some highlights we've dug up:
HAPPY SEEDS: Free fun for kids and families in New Cross with Happy Seeds Festival at St James's. Learn how to plant tomatoes and enjoy music, dancing, crafts and lunch. Free, Saturday 17 May, 11am-5pm
MAGICAL ORCHARD: See Chiswick Library transformed by heritage pear trees and find the bug hotel, magical maze and more. Free, throughout festival.
GUERILLA GARDENING: Walk with Richard Rogers along the Elephant and Castle River of Flowers and learn about the challenges and rewards of guerilla gardening, Free, Sunday 18 May, 11am-1pm.
MOSS HUNT: Scour Hampstead Heath for moss with a world expert. Free, Sunday 18 May at 2pm.
TULIPS: Watch a performance of How to Build a Better Tulip and then find out about tulip history and science from expert speakers at a special matinee at the Tabard Theatre. Tickets £17/£15, Sunday 18 May, 2pm.
GARDEN MUSIC: The beautiful gardens at the Geffrye Museum in Hoxton are open throughout the festival (free to visit) featuring giant tea bowls planted with tea themed plants. There's a special garden recital of chamber music on Thursday 22 May. Tickets £16/£13, from 6pm.
HERBAL CHAT: Make your own herbal tea and talk to strangers in the delightful King Henry's Walk Garden in Islington with 'i beg your pardon, i never promised you a herb garden'. Free, Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 May, 12-5pm.
FORAGE: Explore Gillespie Park Nature Reserve near Finsbury Park station with a foraging expert and find out about wild food. Free, Sunday 25 May, 10.30am.
DRAWING: Inner Temple Garden hosts the Long Draw, a creative day of drawing in the garden, materials supplied. There will also be garden tours, an exhibition in the potting shed and an installation. Free, bring a picnic on Sunday 1 June, 1-4pm.
DATA HEDGE: Watch the South London Botanical Institute HEDGE sprout from Monday 19 May. You can interact with it via the HEDGE app and Facebook page or visit the Institute on a Thursday during the festival and see the specialists. No, we don't really know what it is either and we've seen the trailer.
Chelsea Fringe runs from 17 May to 8 June across London and beyond - fringe events are also happening in Brighton, Bristol, Kent, Norwich, Llubjlana, Turin and Vienna. Search all London events here. Like them on Facebook for updates: facebook.com/chelseafringe