The Alternative Chelsea Flower Show

As the annual madness of the Chelsea Flower Show approaches, I wanted to give a shout out to the alternative Chelsea Show. This is the first year of the Chelsea Fringe and it looks set to be a fantastic celebration of all things green throughout our fair city.

Most events seem to be running (or displayed, etc. ) from the weekend before the RHS Show, Saturday 19th May until Sunday 10th June 2012.

Projects as diverse as The Wish Trees of Chelsea devised by landscape architect, Kendra Inman, has invited local school children to submit their wishes which will be tagged into the treetops to greet visitors as they approach the RHS Show.

Edible Bus Stops are also another fabulous idea. The first one on Landor Road near Lambeth Hospital was such a success they are rolling out another three. These aim to bring gardening to the masses. Co-founder Makaela Gilchrist says, “Hopefully the Chelsea Fringe will promote how inclusive gardening can be. Too many gardening events are exclusive, which in my mind is coda for keeping the riff raff out. But why? Surely we could all benefit from gardening.”

There is also a place for art within the gardening fringe festival which is evident in The London Fieldworks submission for The Secret Garden Project – Spontaneous City which is an ecologically sound bird box conurbation designed to reflect the residences within the area, mainly Georgian terraces and twentieth century social housing. Designed to grow with the trees, they are so far attracting insects, although the birds are yet to move in.

This delightful installation can be found in Duncan Terrace Gardens in Angel, high in the bower of a Tree of Heaven, the Ailanthus altissima – guided walks and talks to this and other hidden gems will be taking place daily throughout the festival. For a full programme visit http://www.chelseafringe.com/calendar/

So if you happen to be in London over the next few weeks, why not take the time to enjoy some mainly free, fringe benefits.

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