A Guide to the Chelsea Fringe


A Guide to the Chelsea Fringe

Returning for a fifth year, the Chelsea Fringe kicks off this Saturday (21 May 2016), celebrating everything great about horticulture. Taking place across four different nations this year (UK, Poland, Italy and Australia), the Fringe helps to inspire gardeners of all ages and skill levels to take to their gardens and public spaces, to create something truly spectacular.

Lasting for two weeks, the Chelsea Fringe features an incredible array of different events and exhibitions – showcasing the skills of individuals, families, groups and communities. With no sponsorships, corporate brands or medals on offer; the Chelsea Fringe is a pure, unadulterated celebration of everything gardening. As their mantra states: it’s all about the gardeners, not the gardens.

With no rules or regulations attached to the event, the Chelsea Fringe has been developed to offer complete freedom to green-fingered individuals across the globe. Entirely independent from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Chelsea Fringe is less about technical horticulture perfection and more about learning and having fun. This freedom is best exemplified by the spectacles which have cropped up around the world, spilling out of Chelsea and the UK, and crossing to the opposite end of the planet.

Both professionals and enthusiastic amateurs actively participate in the Chelsea Fringe, creating installations, events, exhibits and interactive experiences for keen gardening fans to enjoy. With the cost of entering a project to Chelsea Fringe starting at just £25 – participation is open to everyone.

A History of the Chelsea Fringe

The Chelsea Fringe was created by gardening writer, Tim Richardson, as an alternative to the Chelsea Flower Show and devised to celebrate gardening around the world and the growing guerilla gardening scene. Not restricted to growing and displaying plants, the festival also looks to encourage links between gardening and art, literature, music, cookery, history and ecology – demonstrating how central horticulture is to every aspect of life.

Based on the Edinburgh Fringe festival, almost anything will be considered for entry as long as it is on-topic, legal and interesting. This has led to some incredibly weird, wild and wonderful entries – and these look set to only grow more outlandish as every year passes. This approach has bred incredible growth in popularity – from the first festival which attracted 100 entries to the subsequent events boasting hundreds of entries all around the world.

The Chelsea Fringe has become a popular fixture of the gardening calendar, despite remaining fiercely independent of organisational, corporate or civic patronage.

2016 Highlights

Here are a handful of the exhibitions we’re most excited about seeing during the 2016 Chelsea Fringe.

Popfarm, Brixton – A community garden devised to help inspire a love of gardening amongst inner city Londoners. Making gardening more accessible to local people using educational activities, training sessions and edible samples; Popfarm is great for families and gardening newbies of all ages.

The Grand Bristol Honeycomb Bee Hotel – Providing the most luxurious surroundings for bees with a taste for the finer things in life, The Grand Bristol Honeycomb Bee Hotel has been commissioned complete with the finest interiors and food. Sure to delight bee visitors this spring time, the hotel offers cavity nesting for solitary bees.

Into the Wind, Italy – Perhaps the Italian entry which has most fascinated us at Capital Gardens is Into the Wind – a simple garden complete with elements and features shaped by the wind. As the direction and strength of the breeze changes, the garden’s aesthetic and character will shift dramatically – creating unique spectacles every day.

Take a View, Leeds Castle – Putting a unique spin on the beautifully ornate Leeds Castle, the Take a View exhibition will install floral frames throughout the building and the grounds. Visitors have a chance to strike a pose and take a selfie within the beautiful frames – the perfect keepsake after exploring this 900-year-old castle.

Topiary on the Thames – One for the more experienced gardeners out there looking to try their hand at one of the more difficult gardening aspects – topiary. Led by expert topiarist, Jake Hobson, as he hosts a master class in Fulham on the banks of the Thames. The event includes a demonstration of his skills, an in-depth talk and a book-signing session.

If you’ve been inspired by the Chelsea Fringe to get active in the garden, Capital Gardens stocks everything you need to get started. For more information, visit one of our three sites listed on our homepage, or call our dedicated team on 0208 348 5054.

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