Chelsea Fringe Festival – the horticultural hotspots

In celebration of the opening of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show on May 22, botanical events are blossoming around the capital. Here’s the pick of the bunch…

Botanical-themed events are blossoming across London in homage to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Botanical-themed events are blossoming across London in homage to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Covent Garden in Bloom From May 19 until June 24, Covent Garden will transform into London’s largest outdoor floral art gallery with events and displays at dozens of the area’s shops and restaurants. Perfumers Atelier Cologne and Miller Harris will be among those staging fragrant window displays, while Hotel Chocolat will be exploring floral flavours and The Ivy Market Grill will be serving “Covent Garden Summer Blush” cocktails with crème de menthe, prosecco, lavender and rosebuds. In addition, Covent Garden Piazza will host Moments of Reflection, a conceptual installation combining mirrors and a living wall of Britain’s favourite spring blooms. Alongside this will be a perfumed herb garden planted with thyme, rosemary and strawberries. coventgarden.london.

Floral-themed afternoon tea at the Bluebird’s café
Floral-themed afternoon tea at the Bluebird’s café
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Floral afternoon tea at Bluebird Bluebird’s café is a welcome stop-off that’s ideally placed for refuelling after a tour of the Chelsea Flower Show itself. From May 23 to 27, it will partner with Portobello Road bakery Pearl & Groove to serve a floral-themed afternoon tea in the venue’s (hopefully) sunny courtyard, complete with gin cocktails by The Botanist. In keeping with the theme of this year’s Flower Show, there’s a nod to the royal wedding, with elderflower and lemon flavours echoing Meghan and Harry’s wedding cake. Those who indulge can also expect poppy-seed and lemon cupcakes, delicately flavoured sandwiches and champagne. £28.50; bluebird-restaurant.co.uk.

The Chelsea Fringe will see various events take place at the Geffrye Museum
The Chelsea Fringe will see various events take place at the Geffrye Museum | Image: The Geffrye, Museum of the Home/Jayne Lloyd OR Mandy Williams
My Cup of Tea hosts a rose-themed workshop at its Soho store
My Cup of Tea hosts a rose-themed workshop at its Soho store

Chelsea Fringe at the Geffrye Museum Market stalls selling herbs and plants, botanical cocktails and living tree sculptures by local artist Meital Tzabari are among the attractions at this event, held in the delightful gardens of the Geffrye Museum from 10am to 6pm on Saturday May 19. There will also be the chance to meet the museum’s head gardener to learn more about its outdoor spaces, which include a herb garden and several historical-style plots (the museum itself is closed for redevelopment until 2020). You can also book a herbal tea-blending masterclass with Hackney Herbal where you’ll learn about the medicinal and culinary properties of various herbs and make a bespoke tea blend to take home. Free entry: geffrye-museum.org.uk. Hackney Herbal masterclass, 11am-1pm, £25; hackneyherbal.com.

A free Botanical Sculpture Trail takes place at Walthamstow Wetlands, Europe’s largest urban wetland, and only 15 minutes from central London
A free Botanical Sculpture Trail takes place at Walthamstow Wetlands, Europe’s largest urban wetland, and only 15 minutes from central London
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Roses: tea tasting and posy making at My Cup of Tea Creative event organiser Backyard London has teamed up with tea specialist My Cup of Tea to host this delectable rose-themed workshop at the latter’s Soho store, which is just next to the Ham Yard Hotel. Attendees will be able to taste and buy a variety of artisan-made rose-scented teas and tisanes and learn about their journey from plant to cup. The Real Flower Company will also be on hand to help make their own posy of English roses to take home. Tickets £30, book via Eventbrite; May 19, 11am-12.30pm; May 22, 7pm-8.30pm; mycupoftea.co.uk.

Botanical Sculpture Trail at Walthamstow Wetlands It’s hard to believe that Walthamstow Wetlands is only 15 minutes from central London – the 211-hectare nature reserve feels like being in open countryside. Recently redeveloped to form Europe’s largest urban wetland, it will have a suitably bucolic theme for the Chelsea Fringe Festival, with artisans from the area using locally sourced materials to create beautiful displays of resident flora and fauna. The trail is free and open every day, but book in for the All Dressed Up in Flowers event on Saturday May 26 from 5.30pm-8pm, when Borrowed Light Floral Studio will be running a workshop where you can make a floral headdress or buttonhole. Tickets £45, book here; walthamstowwetlands.com.

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