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There may be a rather large RHS flower show taking place in the neighbourhood this May, but this year’s Chelsea Fringe is coming up roses…

Robert Bradford, Flower Poodle, 2016 (Courtesy the artist and Rebecca Hossack Gallery)

Robert Bradford, Flower Poodle, 2016 (Courtesy the artist and Rebecca Hossack Gallery)

The 2016 Chelsea Fringe, the alternative garden festival, has plenty of quirky delights of the floral variety to keep gardeners (and non-gardeners) alike in the pink. Art, design, poetry, music, science and food with a horticultural focus will come together for three weeks of events from 21 May – 12 June across London, the UK and four international locations.

The festival expands beyond SW3 to every London quarter, the far corners of the UK including the Isle of Mull in Scotland, Monmouth in Wales, Margate, Leeds, Bristol and Henley-on-Thames in England, and internationally to Sweden, Poland, Italy and Australia.

Emerging themes for the 2016 Fringe include: health and well-being – the essential benefits of medicinal plants and gardening in battling depression and other health issues; wild food is the new street food – urban food foraging and how to spot edible plants and flowers in a city’s green spaces; a history of guerilla gardening – the importance of green spaces in urban planning and public spaces; domestic farming – how to use your garden space for small-scale food production; and the more decorative art of flower arranging – from how to make posies & table centerpieces to a floating flotilla on the Thames.

Covent Garden Flower Market (Image courtesy the Chelsea Fringe)

Covent Garden Flower Market (Image courtesy the Chelsea Fringe)

A few highlights from the festival include:

Heywood and Condie’s Greenhouse – horticultural installation artists Heywood & Condie have created a piece of sculptural architecture on the forecourt of Royal British Society of Sculptors consisting of a greenhouse constructed from discarded 18th and 19th stained glass. The Christian imagery has been dismantled and reused to present a world of chimeras, mythical creatures and folkloric hybrids. 25 May until September. FREE.

Borough Market: Find and Feast – Join urban forager, Ceri Buckmaster, on a wild food walk around Southwark and discover how to identify seasonal plants and flowers in some unexpected locations, then finish the morning at the demonstration kitchen in Borough Market and learn how to cook delicious recipes using them with chef and food blogger Celia Brooks. 27 May, 11am-2.30pm. FREE.

Perfume in Georgian Londoneast London Antique emporium, Townhouse, present a series of talks by renowned horticulturist, Stephen Nelson, focusing on the English garden and its direct link to perfume over the past four centuries. 31 May,  3-4pm. FREE.

Prescribing gardens and gardening for mental health and well-being – the British Medical Association Mind Garden presents a lecture series on medicinal plants and their health benefits. 26 May, 2 June, 9 June, 4.30 – 6.30pm. FREE.

Behind the Wall – New Covent Garden Flower Market are offering free tours behind the scenes of the UK’s largest flower market. Visitors will get to see what inspires London’s florists and learn about the market’s history. 21 May, 7 – 8.30pm, FREE.

Floral Flotilla – A fabulous show of a range of river craft covered in variety of floral displays will moor up adjacent to Mill House in Henley-on Thames. Visitors on foot can enjoy a picnic on the bank accompanied by live music by local musicians. 21 May, 11am-3pm. FREE.

For full details and all visitor information, visit www.chelseafringe.com

 

 

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