There’s an excitable buzz in the air as you walk down the King’s Road during the week of RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Shop fronts are dressed in extravagant floral displays to compete in the annual Chelsea in Bloom competition. Local restaurants and bars add botanical-themed dishes, bespoke cocktails and champagne afternoon teas to their menus – Chelsea Kiss Chase anyone? And there’s the Chelsea Fringe Festival running alongside the show with its incredible programme of events celebrating the joy of plants and gardening.
Whether you’re lucky enough to have an RHS Chelsea ticket or not, it’s well worth taking a stroll around to take in the atmosphere and get involved in some of the events listed below.
Chelsea in Bloom
Back for its 13th year, the floral art show Chelsea in Bloom has taken inspiration from the Royal Wedding and the 60’s/70’s cultural revolution with a theme of ‘Summer of Love for this year’s event. The show, produced by the Cadogan Estate in association with the Royal Horticultural Society will transform the streets of Chelsea into a floral extravaganza from the 21-26 May. Retailers such as The White Company, Hugo Boss and department store Peter Jones will compete for the coveted Chelsea in Bloom awards by dressing their shop fronts in stunning floral displays to reflect the theme in their own unique style.
As well as beautiful shop fronts, Chelsea in Bloom encourage retailers to run floral-themed events throughout the week. We’re tempted by the flower arranging workshop at Boden on Wed 22 May, 7-8.30pm (tickets £30) and the Jo Malone London posy masterclass with florist Thomas Bloom, which takes place on the 23 May between 4-8pm. Visit the website chelseainbloom.co.uk to find out more.
Clifton Nurseries pop-up at Peter Jones
If you love houseplants and you’re in the market for one, or two, this is an event for you. London-based garden centre Clifton Nurseries is opening a pop-up shop at Peter Jones department store on Sloane Square. Open every day until the 30th May, the nursery will be selling a collection of houseplants, including cacti, succulents, ferns, orchids, anthuriums and other indoor plants, ranging from firm favourites to the unusual. The pop-up will also pay homage to the Chelsea Flower Show with a mini show garden located just inside the entrance to the King’s Road store. clifton.co.uk.
Papier display at Anthropologie Gallery
Anthropologie’s Gallery located just inside the King’s Road store often has fun and creative exhibitions running during the Chelsea Flower Show. Back in 2016, Rachel Nettles of Cabbage & Nettles had an exhibition of her textile plants and vegetables. This year Papier has designed a wild meadow of flowers made entirely of paper featuring the brand’s collection of notebook and sketchbook covers. The gallery is open from 10 – 31 May with events taking place in the Anthropologie store in collaboration with Papier’s artists and designers. 139 King’s Road, Chelsea SW3 4PW
The Ivy Chelsea Garden
To celebrate RHS Chelsea Flower Show and mark the brand’s 30th anniversary year, The Ivy Chelsea Garden has joined forces with London florist Jenny Packham to create a show-stopping external installation that will cover the restaurant’s entire façade. Passers by will enjoy a spectacular sight of white and yellow blooms – English roses, peonies and mimosa – transition from white, to cream to yellow.
The restaurant has also added to bespoke, floral cocktails to their menu. Summer Berry Cooler, which is non-alcoholic, and The Queen Bee. The installation runs from 14 May – 1 July. The Ivy Garden, 197 King’s Road, London, SW3 5ED. 020 3301 0300, theivychelseagarden.com.
Chelsea Physic Garden in 10 objects
Chelsea Physic Garden is just around the corner from the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Its history spans five centuries and on Wednesday 23 May, the garden will bring this impressive history to life with ‘The History of Chelsea Physic Garden in 10 Objects’. The interactive day will bring together herbarium specimens, books, artefacts and more to tell the story of the garden and visitors can listen to indoor presentations and a garden walk. Tickets cost £88 and include all materials, refreshments and lunch. 9.30am-4pm, 66 Royal Hospital Road, London, SW3 4HS. chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk
Rose cone ice-cream
The weather forecast is predicting warmth and sunshine for Chelsea week. If you want a tasty treat to cool off after a long afternoon in the sun, head over to gelateria Amorino and order an Amorino Rose. Mix-and-match flavours, from tiramisu to blueberry cheesecake, to create your very own gelato flower, available in three sizes classic, small or large. 67A King’s Road, London SW3 4NT. amorino.com
The Chelsea Fringe
Back for another year, the Chelsea Fringe Festival has a huge programme of events celebrating the joy of plants and gardening. New this year, is ‘Covent Garden in Bloom’, where from 19 May – 24 June, the area will become London’s biggest floral art gallery. Over 40 of Covent Garden’s familiar brands are joining in with the event, including Bailey Nelson who has partnered with floral artists WORM to create a cloud of flowers, and Petersham Nurseries, who are hosting a masterclass on creating the ultimate floral arrangement on the 30 May. All details can be found on the Chelsea Fringe website and you can see our pick of the festival’s events here.
There isn’t really a more British way to celebrate RHS Chelsea Flower Show than a floral-themed afternoon tea. Two have caught our eye.
The Dorchester’s Champagne Afternoon Tea
Inspired by the botanical delights of RHS Chelsea Flower Show, this special afternoon tea is taken within The Promenade at the Dorchester (pictured above). It’s a floral twist on their traditional Champagne tea and visitors can enjoy beautifully made pastries, scones and sandwiches and a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne. £70 per person. dorchestercollection.com
The Garden Tea
A collaboration between The Chelsea Physic Garden and the Four Seasons Hotel at Park Lane, this afternoon tea experience begins with a tasting of the original hot chocolate recipe brought back by Sir Hans Sloane, Chelsea Physic Garden’s primary benefactor. The tea itself follows a traditional serving of sandwiches, pastries scones and jams and some of the ingredients used have been grown at the Garden in Chelsea. Highlights include the Beehive pastry, a delicious combination of oats, honey, blueberry and almonds. £55 including a glass of Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne. fourseasons.com