The Garden Guide
chelsea fringe
flower and garden festival

Chelsea faces gardens

Garden-heads at the Chelsea Flower Show

Outdoor video screen in Shanghai

Balloon 'garden' in Istanbul

Garden pyrotechnics in Paris


History of the Chelsea Fringe Flower and Garden Festival

The Chelsea Fringe Flower and Garden Show Festival ('The Chelsea Fringe')  Modeled on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival  was  proposed in 2005 by the editor of the website, Tom Turner. For ten years he was a neighbour of Robert Kemp, who gave the Edinburgh Fringe its name. The first significant event on the fringe of the Chelsea Flower Show was the 2006 Sloane in Bloom display and competition, held in and around Sloane Square. See 2007 Chelsea Fringe, 2008 Chelsea Fringe. Unfortunately Tom did nothing to promote the Chelsea Fringe Garden Festival. Then, fortunately, Tim Richardson had the idea, separately, and the first real Chelsea Fringe Garden Festival  was planned for 2012. See blog posts:

Laser hologram projection of dancing girls at Canary Wharf Underground station

Chelsea Flower Show Trends 2011 – and the Chelsea Fringe Garden Show

London’s Roman Palace Garden at Cannon Street Station

London is sometimes claimed to be the World's Financial Capital - a claim can that be supported and disputed (London has the most international business; New York has higher volumes, Chicago leads in derivatives; Hong Kong had the largest volume of IPOs in 2007). Still, the Lord Mayor of London announced in 2006 that "We are the international finance and business capital of the world, the world's greatest global financial center, without question". Doubtful, but....

London is the World's Garden Capital

Which city could possibly contest the claim? Rome? Paris? Berlin? Moscow? Washington? Delhi? Beijing? Tokyo? The more capital cities you list, the more evident London's supremacy becomes. London has the world's greatest flower show (Chelsea) and is the capital city with the largest number of garden-mad residents. A famous book (Rasmussen's London, the Unique City, 1934) argued that it is London's love of private gardens which makes the city unique - other capital cities favour apartment blocks. Also, England's climate is suited to an exceptionally wide range of plants. There are flowers throughout the year; it is rarely too cold for gardening; it is rarely warm enough and dry enough to sit still for long in a garden.

But London lacks good gardens to visit receives many enquires of the type: "Which are the best gardens to visit in London?" "When is the best time to visit them?" "What are the opening times?" "Can you help me see gardens?" Our page on London garden visits and tours provides some answers, but most of the gardens are outside London, because most of London's gardens are privately owned. England, however probably has as many gardens open to the public as the rest of Europe combined.

What London needs is a focus event for garden tourists

Chelsea Week is the obvious candidate but the Chelsea Flower Show is always booked solid long before it opens to the public. Most of the tickets go to members of the RHS. Visitors to London have to be very well organised if they are to get a ticket, unless they wish to turn up on the day and pay double the ticket price to a tout outside Sloane Square Underground Station! The Chelsea Fringe was launched to cater for London Garden Visitors. They can visit Chelsea Fringe events and spend their evenings in hotels watching the BBC's TV blanket coverage of the event - usually a full week of 1-hour live broadcasts + another hour of interactive TV. Or they could watch on a giant screen in Trafalgar Square.


International Garden Festival Comparisons

The Chelsea Fringe will be pleased to borrow ideas and make twinning arrangements with international garden events.


Toscana Esclusiva - Cortili E Giardini Aperti

Firenze: an event when private gardens and courtyards in Florence, Italy, are open to the public

Florence Courtyatds and Gardens



Luoyang Peony Fetival

The world's greatest peony festival, in Luoyang, China

Luoyang Peony Festival



Cordoba Patio Festival de los Patios Cordobeses

Cordoba: a floral event and competition when the patios of Cordoba, Spain, are open to the public


Cordoba patios


"Gardeners of the world - unite, you have nothing to lose but your prejudices"


*Coming from the Orkney Islands, Robert Kemp loved scenery and once sent a telegram, then an expensive means of communication, to a neighbour saying 'Isn't it a lovely day!'. His friend telegramed back 'Yes it is!'.

The Chelsea Fringe is sponsored by and ...



Edinburgh Fringe Festival
(See Wikipedia on Edinburgh Fringe)

'Flowers of Scotland' promoting a show as part of the Edinburgh Fringe

Floral display in Edinburgh