Chelsea Flower Show Fun

Flower power has taken over London this week and there's plenty of fun to be had even if you haven't got tickets to the show itself.

A Little Bird - Anya
A Little Bird - Simon Lycett Chelsea

Chelsea Flower Show is back in its rightful place in May’s calendar. This year’s theme, ‘a return to the wild’ includes 13 show gardens of which we’re particularly looking forward to seeing RHS Chelsea first-timers, Lulu Urquhart and Adam Hunt’s garden that has won Best in Show.  A Rewilding Britain Landscape features native plants and looks at the role beavers have in the rewilding of Britain – a species that has been recently reintroduced in South East England – and also features a soundscape of bees, beavers, frogs, grasshoppers, crickets and more native wildlife. There are also numerous tributes to the Queen, don’t miss Simon Lycett’s portrait made up of pots of lily of the valley, the Queen’s favourite flower.

This year’s bullring gate has been designed by Lucy Vail Floristry in collaboration with Annoushka Jewellery. Do visit and see the spectacular 6m arch that erupts from two wooden urns with a riot of wild and garden flowers planted in pockets – foxglove, iris, roses and catmint. A tribute to the Queen, the arch is topped with three wicker crowns inspired by Annoushka’s ring collection.

A Little Bird - Lucy Vail
A Little Bird - Chelsea in Bloom
Credit: Dave Bennett

We always enjoy Chelsea in Bloom almost as much as the show itself – with the shop fronts all along the Kings Road and Sloane Street transformed by London’s top florists. This year’s theme is British Icons and includes floral bulldogs, Mini’s and royal guards. There will be complimentary walking tours and rickshaw rides starting from Sloane Square, just go to the Information Point in the centre of the square to book. Cadogan will be maintaining the decorations until the end of the Jubilee Weekend; post your cards and well-wishes to the Queen from the floral post-boxes near Sloane Square.

Chelsea in Bloom inspired the newer Belgravia in Bloom, whose theme is Beautifully British. Don’t miss the Big Ben or the pouring teapot in Eccleston Square designed by Moyses Stevens. Also new to the area is Chelsea Barracks Spring Fair that coincides with the Flower Show and runs over three days 25-27 May. Royal florist Shane Connolly has created a floral installation for the entrances to Mulberry Square and Dove Place and there will be an Artisan Market inside, with independent makers focussed on gardens and gardening. The fair includes a series of £10 talks too. Catch expert tips from The Land Gardeners, Chelsea gold medallist Jo Thompson and award-winning garden designed Manoj Malde. Tickets here.

Chelsea Barracks Gardens
A Little Bird - Pavlova

Lots of restaurants in the area are running Chelsea Flower Show inspired menus. Sip on two delicious new cocktails at Wild by Tart – the Flower Sour with Mirabeau gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon, orange blossom, aquafaba and soda and the Cherry Blossom with Mirabeau gin, maraschino liqueur, Campari and lime. Rabbit on the Kings Road has a Peter Rabbit floral installation outside and a Peter Rabbit-themed set menu within – £34 includes four courses and a gin cocktail. And Ottolenghi’s beautiful Chelsea outpost on Pavillion Road will be serving a new Rose Pavlova for the occasion filled with basil cream, lychee and raspberry.

Shops are getting involved too. Visit Anya’s Village where the Anya Hindmarch’s new Pont Street Garden Centre has just been unveiled. An ode to the 1970’s find garden twine, seed packets and a limited-edition collection that includes picnic hampers, vintage kaftans and watering cans. There are also events you can sign up to – we like the sound of the children’s workshop with London Terrariums. And over at Daylesford, find the new collaboration with Colefax and Fowler. The Quince Garden collection includes table linens, plates and candles.

A Little Bird - Anya Hindmarch
A Little Bird - sunflowers

And if, after that, you’re feeling inspired to tend your own garden we’d like to highlight Sarah Raven, who is donating profits from all sales of sunflower seeds to the Disaster Emergency Committee to support those in Ukraine. The national flower of Ukraine, these would be a good thing to plant this year – choose your varieties here.

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