If you didn't get tickets to Chelsea, enjoy the Fringe instead!

Gardening news this week will concentrate on the 99th RHS Chelsea Flower Show, so prepare to see endless coverage of the 16 show gardens competing for much-prized medals; alongside the lively reporting of Britain's gardening media, who will walk you through the show, interviewing the winners and much more. But don’t expect to get a ticket to see the spoils for yourself because Chelsea sold out months ago. This is the gardening event of the year and attracts visitors from all over the world - Chelsea is to gardening, what Ascot is to horse racing – a major event in the British social calendar. (I'm returning to Chelsea for the first time in six years and will be featuring the show gardens here later in the week).
Hammersmith's busy Hogarth roundabout has been turned into a flower meadow
But if you haven’t got tickets, don’t fret because this year sees the launch of Chelsea Fringe, brainchild of Daily Telegraph columnist, Tim Richardson, which offers a cocktail of unusual and quirky events around the capital that are open to all. And although you may not get to rub shoulders with the rich and famous, you’ll still have the chance to ogle eye-catching and original gardening sights, without worrying about losing your friends in the crowd.
Pothole Gardener at work in East London - master of miniature installations
The Fringe is offering plenty of quirky entertainment all over London, from the antics of the Pothole Gardener, who places miniature garden installations in unexpected places, to larger projects like the Floating Forest at Portobello Dock - 600 floating discs in the water outside the restaurant - one of many bars and restaurants with special themes and gardens prepared for the Fringe; walking tours with well-known characters like Richard Reynolds, the original "Guerilla Gardener"; and even a touch of garden artistry added to shopping areas including Chiswick High Street. Full listings are available on the Chelsea Fringe website.
And if you were planning on visiting RHS Chelsea for a little garden retail therapy, you can even find a range of fringe events here too as Chelsea in Bloom offers stunning window dressing displays around the area for the seventh consecutive year. Retailers including Cartier (above), Cath Kidston and L.K. Bennett and Tiffany, to name just a few, who are offering wonderful window displays, with a floral theme to entice customers into their shops during the show. 

**Do check individual websites for details before visiting any of the Fringe events, in case there are changes to the programmes. All photographs except Memories of Chelsea - 2006 are provided by the participants in the fringe schemes or sourced from the internet.


  1. The Fringe promises to be fabulous. I have managed to get tickets after a few years of absence and am soo excited to be going this year - Enjoy the show!


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