Posts Tagged ‘Chelsea Fringe’

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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Anmnarose's WC Garden in Peckham

Anna Rose Hughes’ converted toilet in Peckham is a master class in how to get the most out of a skinny space, where the width of most of the garden is not much more than a corridor.

Planting @ WC @Vangaurd Cout by Anna Rose Hughes 3

The raised beds allow you to get up close and personal with the choice planting (above Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’ and Geum ‘Tangerine Dream’),

WC @Vangaurd Cout by Anna Rose Hughes

and whatever angle you view it from, this tiny garden has masses of interest.

WC @Vangaurd Cout by Anna Rose Hughes 3

On her website, Anna Rose has thoughtfully provided a planting list and an exquisite short film, (about a minute and a half) of how this garden came together. No mean feat.

Anmnarose's fernery in the toilet 3

On the way in, sinks have been artfully converted into a fernery and this weekend  (15th and 16th June 2013) there’ll be an exhibition in this space: The Nomadic Reading Room, featuring artists’ books and printed ephemera. In fact, Vanguard Court is packed full of artist studios (including Robert Cooper’s fab ceramics) that will be opening their doors, along with the garden, both Saturday and Sunday between 10am and 5pm. Certainly worth a visit. (Vanguard Court is at 36-38 Peckham Road, Camberwell, SE5 8QT-it’s a small turning off the main road and the newly converted toilet is at the rear of the yard.)

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fter the fire 2

For me ‘Best in Show’ this year was the ‘After the fire’ garden in the Fresh Gardens category. There have been discussions, kicked off by Christopher Bradly-Hole, about the fairness of having such a term, as how can you compare gardens whose briefs are so different?  ‘Best in Show’ for me is simply the garden that excites me most and moves me and whose inspirational ideas and design will stay in my head for years to come.

I just loved the sculptural quality of this garden,

fter the fire 3

where the burnt gnarly sticks and the floppy Acacia dealbata trees and seedlings gave a loose and airy feel to the whole design,

After the fire Chelsea 2013

while it was grounded by mounds of myrtle, tree heathers (Erica arborea), lavenders, thyme and Asphodelus fistolosus (the perennial above with lovely delicate white flowers-seeds available from Chiltern Seeds). Designer James Basson of Scape Design lives and works in the South of France and his garden is based on how areas regenerate themselves after forest fires. Seeds were collected in the S. of France from some of the grasses and grown on for the show by Kelways, who also sourced and grew the rest of the plants for this garden. Dedication that really paid off.

Chris Beardshaw's exuberant planting at The Chelsea Flowers show 2013

I never really got the chance  to have a good look at Chris Beardshaw’s garden, as every time I wandered by, the area was roped off for filming. But snatched glimpses did reveal exuberant planting and joyful use of colour and textures.

Fruit and veg on Adam Frost's Homebase garden

Adam Frost’s garden for Homebase didn’t have the same high-octane appeal, but I loved seeing fruit and veg amongst the perennials. You could even pick enough rhubarb for a crumble without destroying the design!

Pleached Field Maple (Acer campestre) trees on the Brewin Dolphin garden

These pleached Field Maples (Acer campestre) were truly arresting on the Brewin Dolphin garden, where the Robert Myers concentrated on using native plants.

Quercus fastigiata ‘Koster’ on Ulf Nordfjell's Chelsea Garden 2013

And I loved these upright oaks (Quercus fastigiata ‘Koster’) in the Ulf Nordfjell garden too. Perfect for a small London Garden in need of a bit of height and drama!

Rosa Princess Anne on David Austin's stand

I always come away from Chelsea, and Hampton Court for that matter, feeling slightly overwhelmed and sure that I’ve missed a chunk of the show. This year I didn’t get to explore the floral marquee as much as I’d have liked to, but still, plenty of plants really caught my eye. This blousey double rose, Princess Anne from David Austin, is a gorgeous repeat flowerer,

Gertrude Jekyll and Tuscany superb roses

and the combo of Gertrude Jekyll and Tuscany Superb was also rather sumptuous. I was discussing my increasing interest in roses with another gardener after the show, and he said it was because I was getting older-and I think he may be right! Not quite sure why this is though-am I yearning to recreate some faux bucolic bliss or am I need of more colour and scent as the years fly by or is it just that my tastes are becoming more traditional (and conservative) ?

Maianthemum flexuosum from Crug Farm plants at Chelsea 2013

And my final pic of the post is of this lovely shade loving Maianthemum aff. flexuosum from Crug Farm plants. Know the perfect spot for this plant already.

If you’re having Chelsea withdrawal symptoms, don’t panic! There’s plenty more to see from The Chelsea Fringe which continues until June 9th. Here’s a list of great events happening this week all over London. And come and join us this Sunday 2nd June for tea and cake (and loads more) in Finsbury Park.

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