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!

I’ve been itching to write about Cardamine pentaphylla ever since I bought it at the Great Dixter Plant Fair some weeks ago (on the Beth Chatto stand).

Now I’ve waxed lyrical a couple of times before about Cardamine quinquefolia (above, and you can also see its leaves on the top left hand corner of the first pic). This Cardamine is much smaller and when discussing my gorgeous new find with Kathleen from the nursery at Great Dixter, she described it as C. quiquefolia on steroids. She’s not wrong there. Comparatively, it’s a whopper.

I love growing C. quinquefolia as its delicate lilac flowers are such a welcome sight in February and March, when many other perennials are still underground and my garden can look a tad bare. And then the leaves completely vanish over summer as if it had never been there. In fact, it’s a great spreader and now grows through a large fern. I cut back the old fern leaves in February, C. quinquefolia does it’s thing, then disappears as the fern starts to unfurl. Perfect.

I was recently over in Belfast, and just outside the city is the wonderful Ballyrobert Gardens and nursery . (The website is impressive too, giving great information on the many tempting plants they sell.) In the gardens, I spotted Cardime heptaphylla ‘Big White’ (similar in stature to C. pentaphylla), lighting up the borders where it grew and couldn’t resist. I think it will look rather gorgeous amongst some Leucojum aestivum next year.

And when I was searching for Cardamines on the Beth Chatto website, I realised that they had a few more species to try out: Caramine glanduligera, pratensis ‘Flore Pleno’ and Cardamine trifolia. More pink and white blooms to enliven the garden in early spring. Hurrah!

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)

%d bloggers like this: