Chelsea Flower Show and the Chelsea Fringe

Post by Naomi Schillinger

This year the Chelsea Flower Show celebrates its 100th year. The designer gardens are always packed full of ideas for both small and larger spaces (and budgets!) but whether you have tickets or not for the show, why not grab even more inspiration from the Chelsea Fringe. This is an alternative and vibrant garden festival happening in London over three weeks from Saturday May 18th until Sunday 9th June.

Chelsea Fringe 2012

Now in its second year, it gathers together a fantastically eclectic mix of all things horticultural, from pop-up and secret gardens, garden themed art installations, edible bus stops and high roads to herbal cocktail bars and community gardens. There really is something for everyone, and what’s more, most events are free.


I really like the sound of “Mint tea and sympathy” in the gorgeous courtyard garden created for The Idler Academy by Angela Newman. Held over four Saturdays, between May 18th and June 8th from 11-3pm, there’ll be free half hour gardening design advice sessions from a team of talented garden designers, all for the price of a pot of tea. There’s no need to book a session, but do bring along photos of your garden and any ideas you might already have.


81 Westbourne Park Road, London, W2 5QH, Tel 0207 221 5908.  Nearest tubes: Westbourne Park, Royal Oak and Nottting Hill.   Near to Marylebone Travelodge hotel


On the other side of town in East London, The Cocktail Gardener will be conjuring up some deliciously herby cocktails and infusions in the guise of “The Midnight Apothecary” at The Brunel Museum Roof Garden. , Railway Avenue, Rotherhithe, SE16 4LF. A campfire, flowers and fairy lights await you in this enchanted riverside secret garden from 5.30-10.30 over the four Saturdays and Sundays 19th and 26th May from 12.30-5pm. Food will be provided by wild gourmet chefs The Foragers at all events and there’ll also be fun and games for the kids during the day with Hahahopscotch: 45 minute ‘forgivably nostalgic’ play sessions from 2-5pm.


The Brunel Museum Roof Garden, Railway Avenue, Rotherhithe, SE16 4LF, Tel 07917 548475

Nearest tube: Rotherhithe. Near To Docklands and Greenwich Travelodge hotels

The Midnight Apothecary by Eleanor Salter Thorn CF 5

For “Brixton Nights” in South London, landscape designer Deborah Nagan will be opening her garden for evening visits Tuesday & Wednesdays from 6.30pm on May 21st & 22nd, May 28th & 29th & June 4th & 5th.  There’ll be refreshments, birds and a candlelit gardening bookshop in the shed. Sounds intriguing! Tickets will go for £3.50 at the door or book in advance from Proceeds to the National Gardening Scheme.


225a Brixton Road, SW9 6LW

Nearest tubes: Oval and Stockwell. Near to London Vauxhall Travelodge Hotel

Adobe Photoshop PDF

And talking of refreshments, neighbours from our community front garden veg growing project ( will be welcoming the public to our street again with a mega “Cake Sunday” on June 2nd between 2 and 4pm. There’ll be oodles of tea and homemade cakes plus a number of small happenings and installations in the vicinity. You’ll be able to marvel at our topiary herd of elephants and see its creator, Tim Bushe, give a topiary demonstration, join in with seed bomb making and visit a botanical art exhibition by Ged Wells in our local greengrocers. The afternoon will be topped off with the “Can you dig it” duo singing gardening themed songs in one of our front gardens, and visitors will be able to follow on with a free hour long urban “Foraging Walk” at The Islington Ecology centre, just five minutes away.

The Midnight Apothecary by Kim Lightbody CF 1-1

191 Drayton Park London N5 1PH, Tel 020 7527 4374

Nearest tubes: Arsenal and Finsbury Park. Near to Kings Cross and Euston Travelodge Hotels


Have a look at where you’ll see over a hundred exciting events in London wrapped around the Chelsea Flower show. You’ll find the website populated by a large range of happenings, all powered by people with a huge passion for horticulture.


Naomi Schillinger gardens in London, growing fruit, veg and flowers. She enthusiastically blogs about  her horticultural endeavours at Naomi also organises a community veg growing project, which inspired her recently published book: Veg Street, Grow you own community.

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