Things to do in London during Chelsea week

The gardening extravaganza that is the RHS Chelsea Flower Show kicks off in a matter of days. Make the most of your time in London and consider some other horticulturally themed activities. Here's a selection of things we've noticed taking place at the same time that might be worth a visit.


If you’re spending time in London during the week of the Chelsea Flower Show (whether you're attending the show or not), here are some garden-related treats to enjoy.

Chelsea Fringe activities 
This year sees the first-ever Chelsea Fringe Festival, which runs from 19 May – 10 June and aims as show director Tim Richardson puts it, “to burst out of the RHS show ground and spread the excitement and energy that fizzes around Chelsea Flower Show time.” There’s a whole selection of events, exhibitions, installations and community activities take place all over London. Anything goes – as long as it’s about gardens, flowers, edible plants or the landscape. If you're lucky you might catch one of the Pothole Gardener's miniature gardens (see pic). For full details of all events go to


Chelsea's blooming streets 
For the seventh year Chelsea retailers around the Sloane Square vicinity will compete to create the most imaginative and creative display formed with fresh flowers and plants for Chelsea in Bloom. This year’s theme celebrates the Diamond Jubilee and British eccentricity with stunning fresh flower displays lining the streets of the Royal borough. Chelsea in Bloom takes place from 21–26 May and there is a whole host of entertainment, such as a pop up Picnic Park in Sloane Square, music by London’s top buskers and free Rickshaw tours of the area.


Village shopping 
You can easily miss Ebury Street if you tread the established route from Sloane Square Tube Station to the show ground but it’s worth making the short detour to enjoy some inspirational shops along Ebury Street and Pimlico Road set within a village-style setting. Look out for the boutique of award-winning pâtissier and chocolatier William Curley. Buy tasty morsels, or sit down and treat yourself, or consider attending one of the courses they run at weekends. The Daylesford Farmshop and Café is always a delight, focusing on seasonal produce. Marston and Langinger manufacture quality conservatories and orangeries as well as accessories for the garden, lighting and a range of paints. Their shop on Ebury Street can provide inspiration and the opportunity to talk through any ideas you might have. If you’re in need of more sweet treats there’s Peggy Porschen’s boutique bakery selling a range of cupcakes, layer cakes and confections along with artisan teas and coffees.


Botanic Garden delights 
The Chelsea Physic Garden is London’s oldest botanic garden and home to some 5,000 different edible, medicinal and historical plants. AND it’s just a hop, skip and a jump from the Chelsea show ground. During Chelsea Show week the garden is open until 10pm allowing you time to enjoy the garden into the evening and perhaps visit the popular Tangerine Café for a bite to eat (last entry to garden is 8.30pm). As part of your visit make sure you see the newly created Garden of Edible and Useful Plants – opening on 23 May. Inspired by 18th-century potagers, the garden will display a range of plants from forest fruits, superfoods, plants for hygiene, science and arts as well as a compact vineyard and living plant amphitheatre. Entry to garden £9. Tel 020 7349 6458,


Garden designer's tour 
The Garden Museum is hosting a tour with garden designer Robert Myers, winner of a number of Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medals. On 21 May, his tour Behind the Façade of Chelsea Re-developments will visit the Cadogan Estate’s development of Cavalry Square and Duke of York Mews and surroundings. Both the area’s horticultural history and present urban planning and hidden gardens will be considered. Meet at Duke of York Square on the Kings Road at 10.30am. £75. Full details and booking on 020 7401 8869,


Sparkling teatime treat 
How about a visit to The Dorchester for their Rosé Garden Afternoon Tea? This seasonal special, available 20-27 May, celebrates Laurent-Perrier’s 14th consecutive show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show – this year designed by Arne Maynard – and the champagne house’s bicentenary birthday. Your treat includes floral inspired cakes, Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé, floral arrangements by Arne Maynard, enhanced by evocative scents by perfumer Roja Dove and set amid the hotel’s very own version of Arne’s Chelsea show garden.
£54 per person including a glass of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé; 
£49 per person including a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut NV
Five sittings each day: 1.15pm, 2.30pm, 3.15pm, 4.45pm, 5.15pm
For more information or to make a reservation, please contact Restaurant Reservations at The Dorchester on 020 7317 6501,


Gallery visit 
The Saatchi Gallery is located as part of the Duke of York’s HQ on the King’s Road, hosting regular exhibitions of contemporary art, often by new or rarely exhibited artists. This month the gallery is featuring two photographic exhibitions. Out of Focus: Photography with works from 40 artists and also the Google Photography Prize for Students, which exhibits the top ten winning images from this International competition. Admission is free to all exhibitions.


Flowers galore 
Join the Judith Blacklock Flower School for a tour of the New Covent Garden Flower Market on 24 May. The day starts at 8.15am with a tour of the stalls and the opportunity to buy flowers, foliage and flower arranging sundries at wholesale prices. Then it’s back to Judith’s workshop for a demonstration in creating a display. Includes breakfast and finishes by 10.30am – in time to head over to Chelsea to enjoy more floral displays. £85.
Tel 020 7235 6235,


Landscapes in London 
The latest in the ‘Kew at the British Museum’ series of landscapes created in the entrance courtyard to the museum represents North American flora. Travel from the Florida swamps, through the Missouri prairie to the forests of New England and Canada to enjoy plants such as lupins, echinacea and maple as they would be seen in their natural environment. Until 25 November. Tel 020 7323 8299,


David Nash at Kew
Hop on the tube and head to The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew where sculptor David Nash is preparing for his exhibition. The full exhibition opens in June but from April David has been working on site at his wood quarry to create new pieces of work. Visit the quarry to get an idea of how his sculptures come to life or, on 29 May (7pm, £5) he gives a talk about his life and work and the things that have inspired his creativity.
Tel 020 8332 5655,


• Every effort has been made to ensure details are correct for the listed events and activities. However, we recommend that you check individual websites before attending.

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