Chelsea Fringe – the alternative garden festival – will return for its eighth year, with an eclectic mix of public spectacles, horticultural happenings and community celebrations across London.
Wholly independent, the fringe is an inclusive and open festival of community gardening; a celebration of the rich variety of ways in which people of all backgrounds engage with gardening and plants.
Visitors to the 2019 Chelsea Fringe can expect entertaining events for all ages, including hands-on gardening sessions, art installations, walks, workshops, talks, food tastings, open days, and exhibitions and performances. Its open-access principle means that just about anything goes… as long as it’s interesting and legal!
Many of the fringe events defy categorisation, such as an attempt to break the World Record for the longest daisy chain, in celebration of Mary Quant, on The King’s Road, Chelsea. And Blackstock Triangle Gardeners (Finsbury Park) will hold the fringe’s first dog show, with categories including best horticultural head dress and dog with the waggiest tail.
Elsewhere, Rainbow Grow (Dalston) will be hosting how-to sessions for budding mushroom growers, and OmVed Gardens (Highgate) will devote a full day to an exploration of the hidden kingdom of fungi.
As part of the Urban Tree Festival, historian Dr Peter Coles will lead two mulberry-themed walks: one in St James’ around the perimeter of what, in the 17th century, was James I’s garden of 10,000 mulberry trees, and the second to stalk the history of the mulberry in the Inns of Temple in the City of London.
Meanwhile, Town House Spitalfields will be highlighting the campaign to save the Bethnal Green Mulberry (believed to be the oldest tree in the East End) with a feature window display. Also on a tree theme, visitors to Inner Temple Garden are invited for a day of Tree Climbing and Magical Fairytales, with a performance of Hansel and Gretel by Hobgoblin Theatre Company.
Art is strongly represented at this year’s fringe with a trio of sculptures inspired by the water cycle and local flora at Walthamstow Wetlands, and a recycled bottle garden installation, inspired by Matisse, at Horniman Museum and Gardens.
Highgate’s OmVed Gardens are collaborating with contemporary ceramics gallery Thrown, for an exhibition responding to the natural landscape. And Chelsea Physic Garden will host an exhibition of its botanical art collection, in partnership with the Royal Brompton Hospital, focusing on plants used to treat heart and lung conditions.
Community and volunteer-run gardens play a central role in every fringe. Open days and events this year will feature Stream Walk Community Garden (Whitstable), Bohemia Walled Garden (Hastings), the Calthorpe Project (King’s Cross), Olden Community Garden (Highbury), King Henry’s Walk Garden (Islington), Elkstone Road Garden Oasis (North Kensington), Eden Community Garden (Clapham) and Walworth Garden (Southwark).
Finally, the practical highlights of this year’s fringe will include a demonstration on city beekeeping, a workshop on how to boost your herb collection, a flower-staking workshop and a seed sowing session.
When: 18th – 26th May 2019
Where: Across London and the UK
£: Many events are free
More info: www.chelseafringe.com