Founder Tim Richardson calls the Chelsea Fringe "a massive collaborative community art project... It's fabulous because we neither commission nor curate, we just take what comes our way, as long as it's on topic and interesting."
This is the third Chelsea Fringe - it began last Saturday and will run for three weeks, at different venues and settings across London. It's a thrilling mix of public spectacles, horticultural happenings, walks, talks and community celebrations and is about harnessing and spreading some of the excitement and energy that fizzes around gardens and gardening at this time of year, especially around Chelsea Flower Show, which not everybody can get to see….
The Fringe is independent of the show although does have its support, and gives people who don't go to the show a chance to get involved in everything from grassroots community garden projects to avant-garde installations. What qualifies? Anything that's interesting and legal, says Tim, and is on the subject of gardens, flowers, veg-growing or the landscape. Anyone can enter, from professionals to enthusiasts - the full programme is on www.chelseafringe.com.
CLIFTON NURSERIES' PROVENCAL RETREAT - AT ST PANCRAS INTL
Commuters will be able to breathe the fresh French countryside right through May, because Clifton Nurseries have created a pop-up Chelsea Fringe garden slap bang in the middle of St Pancras station. Appropriately, the garden is provencal and inspired by the landscape paintings of Monet and Renoir… so you don't have to actually get on the train to the South of France, you can just smell the roses, lavender, jasmine and rosemary, set out in front of a stunning backdrop of rolling French hillsides, feeling the crunch of gravel underfoot
Find it upstairs next to Searcy's Champagne Bar… there is a Clifton bike outside!
HIDDEN GARDEN ART SHOW
Come and see the smallest outdoor sculpture gallery in the UK… only open a few weekends each year. The private garden in Hampstead is lushly planted and a perfect backdrop for a wide collection of artwork that is chosen to complement and enhance gardens without dominating the space - which is what so many sculptures do. All the pieces are durable and are able to withstand British weather conditions and are made by local craftsmen and artists who work individually.
Maureen Michaelson Gallery, 17 Belsize Lane, Hampstead NW3, on this Sat and Sun, 2-6pm
Take a look at a new - and very stylish! - type of beehive at the buzzy Chelsea Physic Garden: an urban living space, designed by man, but from the perspective of the honeybee. The Bees Beside Us exhibition will show work inspired by the study of honeybees, and wild-bee nest architecture that merges the fields of art, science and nature. The work aims to promote an increasing awareness of the fragility of bees, their importance to civilisation and what must be done to ensure their wellbeing in the city, respecting Albert Einstein's ethos: 'No more bees, no more Man.'
On now until 17 June
TINY TAXONOMY IN BELGRAVE SQUARE
The installation shows the diverse foliage size of plants, ranging from dwarf cushions and compact mounds to succulent rosettes and grassy fronds…Each plant, rock, artifact and specimen has been collected by the designer, Canadian landscape architect Rosetta Sarah Elkin, lecturer at Harvard's Graduate School of Design… showing how international Chelsea Fringe has become. Plants were provided, bizarrely, by Highgate Cemetery.
On now until 17 June, 1-5pm only
STILL LIFE OF FLOWERS, CHELSEA FRINGE STYLE
Acclaimed photographer Dan Tobin Smith's exhibition Still Life With Flowers is inspired by Dutch still life paintings of the 17th and 18th centuries. The angular raw steel sculptures are filled with flowers and mirror shapes and patterns created by the original paintings. Tobin Smith deconstructs the more familiar images, breaking them down into geometric shapes, creating spaces for colour and texture. Limited edition prints are available to buy.
The Storeroom at L'Entrepot, 230 Dalston Lane, Hackney, now until May 27
THE TRAVEL GARDEN
If you walk along Buckingham Palace Road to get to Victoria station on your daily commute, keep your eyes peeled for the Oldfield Partners Travel Garden, created by Lucy Adams and inspired by the local station. Weathered suitcases and carryalls, all in a pile, are used as funky containers to hold all kinds of colourful bedding…
130 Buckingham Palace Rd SW1, 20 May-27 May
FROM POT TO POTION
Explore 50 different varietes of plants from calendula, a traditional wound healer, to cleavers, a powerful lymphatic weed that helps detoxify, and discover how to convert them into remedies that can be stored and used. A medical herbalist, Christina Fattori, and gardener Chris Ireson, have transformed a serene 80ft garden in the middle of London, originally designed for meditation, into a traditional English medicinal garden.
Tours are between 9am and 2pm and workshops 2pm to 4pm, May 31 - 7 June 7, 91a Shirland Road, Maida Vale W9
A magical orchard of heritage pear trees has sprung up at Chiswick Library. Navigate your way round the secret mini-maze, brownse in the mysterious little outdoor library, book your bugs into the insect hotel, hunt out the clues in the treasure trail… and of course, visit the library and take out some books. The idea is to present the local library as a potentially threatened endangered species, just like some plants are in danger of becoming extinct.
Chiswick Library, on until May 27, 11am-5pm, 1 Dukes Ave, W4
GIANT TEA BOWLS
Nothing much to say about this except the Geffrye Museum, to tie in with Chelsea Fringe, will have a display of madcap tea bowls planted with tea-themed plants to celebrate the history of tea in English homes! And of course the herb garden and period gardens will be at their peak...
On now until June 8, the gardens at Geffrye Museum, Kingsland Rd E2