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Chelsea Fringe 2017

Hurrah! It’s the Chelsea Fringe again. This year it’s running from Sat 20th May until Sunday 4th June. There are tons of great events to see/ take part in, all over London and much further afield (Essex, Cirencester, Hastings, Henley, Poland, Italy and Japan!). If you haven’t heard of the Chelsea Fringe before, it’s a quirky horticultural festival, wrapping itself around the Chelsea Flower Show dates, with loads of pop-up events, horticultural happenings and art installations to visit-mostly for free!

I’m kicking off the weekend by heading west to Paddington to see ‘London’s first floating pocket garden’ (above). (Oops, delayed opening. Now open from May 26th.)

I love it that the Fringe takes me to areas I don’t normally explore in the capital, and while out of my manor, I thought I’d have a look at Tord Boontje’s ‘Dawn to Dusk’ rotating chairs on the Thames (next to St. George’s Wharf in SW8), take in an artist led tour at Battersea Power Station (it’s free, but you need to book to join this) and then top it off by heading down to Vegetable Avenue (SW8), to learn how make my own veg-strument. I can then join in the celebratory musical performance along Thessaly Road with London’s Vegetable Orchestra. What a day!

From Battersea to Brixton to Broadgate (in the City), from Bamboo Gardens to the Bloomin’ Jewels exhibition (at Contemporary Applied Arts in Southwark), you’re spoilt for choice.

You also get the chance to visit Wendy Shillam’s wonderful rooftop garden this Saturday 2oth May (near Oxford Circus) and she’ll be holding great day courses on how to grow veg in just 6 inches of soil, with great nutritional tips, on Sunday 21st May and Sunday 4th June (you’ll need to book these).

In past years, visiting Chelsea Fringe events has always been a treat and I can’t wait to see more happenings this year. Here’s a list of the first week’s events,

And there’s plenty more going on until the 4th June (Inner Temple Dog Show above, taking place on Sunday 21st May). Enjoy!

P.S. If you want to join Michelle’s virtual Chelsea Fringe project, you can Tweet a pic of your own garden (or join in via Facebook, Instagram or a blog) with the hashtag #mygardenrightnow

Couldn’t help sharing this wonderful Ferula communis (ornamental Fennel), given to me by Siew Lee Vorley from Great Dixter.  It’s looking wilder every day!

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wendy-shillams-rooftop-shed-and-flowersI first heard about Wendy Shillam’s wonderful rooftop garden via the Chelsea Fringe.  It’s a small, but perfectly formed fruit, veg and flower garden, 5 floors up, and just round the corner from Oxford Circus in the heart of our metropolis.

writing-shed-on-wendy-shillams-rooftopI say perfectly formed, as this bijou veg patch also comes with a fully equipped writing shed,

wendy-shillams-rooftop-mini-greenhouseand a very productive greenhouse.


It’s hugely impressive and utterly delightful.

lettuces-on-wendy-shillams-rooftopEach time I visit, I’m wowed by how much veg Wendy grows in her 6 inch raised beds,

wendy-shillams-rooftop-planting-to-cope-with-windand how, over the years, she’s developed strategies for taming the wind on her rooftop to allow her to grow such a wide variety of plants.

This Spring, Wendy is running a number of workshops on growing year round salad leaves, edibles for a healthy diet, yoghurt making using herbs for flavouring and ‘preserving sweet flavours that are a million miles away from shop-bought cocktails and sugary colas’. Booking is now open, and I’m really looking forward to going on the first workshop in March.Chelsea Fringe Day 2013 Ambler Road London N4And talking of the Chelsea Fringethe website is now open for signing up events if you’d like to participate! This year it runs from 20th May until the 4th June. Our community veg growing project joined in in 2012 and 2013. It’s massively enjoyable to take part,

Anmnarose's fernery in the toilet 3

and also great to see as many as possible of the hundreds of events that pop up each year (fernery in a toilet from 2013 above).

geoff winning 2nd Prize

I can’t wait to see what the Fringe has in store for 2017……(Above-Geoff at the Inner Temple Gardens Dog Show in 2013)

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Jardins Agapanthe alliumsI was completely wowed by Les Jardins Agapanthe at the beginning of June this year. Above are glorious groupings of Allium Globemaster and as the bulb planting season is (just about) still with us, I’m borrowing this idea and have ‘Globemaster’ bulbs waiting to be planted as I type.

Jardins Agapanthe alliums 2

The first thing that really hits you is that all of the gardens are mulched with an light-coloured river sand which gives you the impression that you’re not far from the beach in the South of France, (when you’re actually in Normandy, a little north of Rouen). Très Mediterranean.

Allium cemtary 3 at Jardins Agapanthe

This area looked great from every angle, and seemed like an homage to the first world war cemeteries. Magnificent!

Paving 2 at Jardins Agapanthe

As you follow the twists and turns of the pathways, through gigantic exotic plantings to more intimate shady settings, it felt like taking a masterclass in garden design. It’s ‘Jardins’ in the plural by the way, as there are 2 different gardens, created by garden designer Alexandre Thomas, surrounding two houses, with a small road dividing them. Each garden is artfully divided into a number of smaller gardens, almost like different stage sets and I absolutely loved the drama and theatricality of it all. If you’re ever in Normandy, make sure you visit!

Miscanthus+Persicaria orientalis+Asters+Calmagrostis brachytricha at Jardin Plume september 2011

P.s. And you could also visit Le Jardin Plume (above).

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