The Chelsea Flower Show takes place from 24-28 May and while there is no denying it’s still one of the worlds most prestigious horticultural shows, the sheer number of people attending make it vitally impossible to see anything over the straw hats of the ladies from the home counties showing off their knowledge of Latin plant names – unless you are willing to arrive at 8am and be done by 10.
So in the last couple of years I have watched from the comfort on my sofa with a glass of wine and visited some of the alternative events dotted around the country at the Chelsea Fringe.
A great opportunity to visit some undiscovered locations and see some great initiatives in your own neighbourhood – here are a few that I will be checking out.
Common Thread: A Knitted Landscape, N16
This one is in Stoke Newington (my manor) where the Stoke Newington Common Users Group (SNUG) worked together to bring a badly neglected open space back into the heart of the community. Over the years they have fund-raised for a playground, planted thousands of bulbs, held fun days, film nights and other community activities. In 2014 when Hackney Museum mounted an exhibition on the theme of community, the SNUG knitting group Common Thread made make a 3D knitted and crocheted model of the Common for the exhibition – which is now on permanent display in Stoke Newington Library.
Common Thread are running a series of workshops throughout the Fringe which you can book here.
Pop Farm, – May 21
Explore an innovative community garden in the heart of Brixton, which aims to make gardening more accessible to local people through free educational activities.
You can find out more on the website.
Plants and People: dyeing workshop, E3 – May 21st 10am-3pm
Natural dyeing expert Susie Wareham will guide you through the steps to create your own beautifully dyed textiles, using natural materials and sustainable processes. After a walk around Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park to forage for wild plants and flowers – you will learn how to steam dye in a hands on workshop.
You can book here.
Guerrilla Gardener’s Walking Tour – May 26, 7-8.30pm.
Richard Reynolds conducts his annual walking tour of his guerrilla gardens that bloom in previously neglected public spaces stretching from Lambeth North to Elephant and Castle and tells the stories behind them.
Borough Market: Find & Feast – May 27 11am – 2pm
Join 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 Celia Brooks.
A limited number of free tickets are available for the Walk (11am -12.30pm), so booking is essential