ISSUE 21  |  City Mouse

London Calling: Peep Shows, Gin Lovers, and Wildlings at the Chelsea Fringe

May 27, 2014 4:00 PM

BY Kendra Wilson

Anyone who follows British gardeners on Twitter will know that they are generous and a bit of a laugh. So it is with the Chelsea Fringe festival: instead of sulking about missing out on tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show, garden appreciators host a parallel event and–quite possibly–have a better time. Some highlights of the Chelsea Fringe, now in its third year:

Above: Leeds Castle, Kent is moated, all the way around. The perfect setting then for a floating English garden, arranged by the castle florist and punted about all day. Image via the Leeds Castle blog.

The Chelsea Fringe has been running concurrently with the Chelsea Flower Show as well as Chelsea in Bloom, in which local retailers dress up their shops in a floral competition. Events run until June 9, some every weekend, some every day and some are one-offs. Visit Chelsea Fringe for more details.

Above: Last year the lawyers and gardeners of the Inner Temple put on a dog show and the hound of a judge won the prize for “dog most like his owner.” On 1 June this year, a lengthy scroll of paper will be unfurled in front of the Long Border for The Long Draw, in the celebrated Inner Temple gardens in central London. Head Gardener Andrea Brunsendorf likes a full border so there will be plenty to record, including the buildings or “inns” all around the parameter. Photograph by Kendra Wilson.

Above: Photographer Paul Debois is exhibiting his pictures of “wildlings,” such as the Oxalis corniculata (Above L) and Achillea growing out of the asphalt of a disused tennis court. With commentary from Alys Fowler, Where the Wild Things Grow is on at the Oh! Gallery, Bethnal Green, for the duration of the fringe festival.

Above: The Flower Peep Show, a blacked out shepherd’s hut, reminiscent of a Victorian Auricula Theater. Lights, buttons, and some secrecy contribute to a suitably eccentric event at Petersham Nurseries. Performances last for five minutes and are ongoing until June 9. Photograph via The Teddington Gardener blog.

Above: Nathan Cable of The Gin Garden, will be popping up at The Chelsea Physic Garden on June 7, from 4 to 8 pm. This event is available to anybody with garden entry, but booking in advance is essential for the whole day package. This involves in-depth “botanical related activities for gin lovers,” including a tour of Sipsmith’s London Dry Gin distillary, just down the river in Hammersmith. Image via The Gin Garden.

The Walled Nursery in Kent is also participating in the Fringe. Before visiting, see: The English Gardener: One of the Finest Examples of a Walled Garden in the Land

Curious about the Chelsea Flower Show? See The Greatest Flower Show on Earth: A Chelsea Primer.