Hackney's Chelsea Fringe Festival

The alternative gardening festival returns this weekend with many events taking place in Hackney

DESCRIBED as the 'quirky sister’ to the more formal Chelsea Flower Show, the Chelsea Fringe is now in its fourth year. This spring, it takes in themes as varied as Matisse-inspired floral cocktails and a cemetery for houseplants. It has strayed far from its West London roots too.

Since the festival was founded with the dual principles of breaking boundaries and celebrating community and guerrilla gardening, it’s perhaps not surprising that Hackney’s home-grown horticulturalists are well represented in this year’s programme. Here’s what’s going on in our neighbourhood between 16 May and 7 June.

Horticultural Clapton Walk

Free. 11.30am-1pm, 16 May

Julia Lafferty leads this walk which will explore Clapton’s unique horticultural heritage, beginning at the beautifully landscaped Springfield Park and ending at the 21st century garden recently opened at Sutton House. Book in advance

Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, E8

Free. 16 May-7 June

This year’s Dalston Flower Show looks to be the best yet, with activities including a show for children on 23 May, a half term programme of fun, and a festival devoted to ‘Bees, Butterflies and Blooms’ on 16 and 17 May.



Wilton Estate Community Garden

Dig, Eat and Dye, Free. 12noon-4pm, 16 May

Celebrate the expansion of Wilton Estate Tenants & Residents Association Garden at the 'Dig, Eat and Dye' family fun day. Showcasing what can be achieved on a small inner city housing estate with community growing plots, allotment beds, herb gardens and individual gardens. Fun activities are set to include natural dyeing, how to ‘grow a ball of string’ with Cordwainers Grow, food from Morningside Cafe, a drum circle and bouncy castle, as well as plants to buy, cake to eat, and tea to drink.

The Geffrye Museum

£3. 11am, 12noon, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm on 20 and 26 May, 3 and 6 June

During the fringe festival, tours of the museum’s restored almshouse will give an introduction to the Geffrye gardens as well as a glimpse into the lives of London’s poor and elderly in former times.

Horticultural Hackney Walk

Free. 2pm-3.45pm, 30 May

Local historian Margaret Willes, from the Hackney Society, leads this exploration into Hoxton’s horticultural past. Her tour, starting at the Geffrye Museum, will retrace the footsteps of gardeners and nurserymen from Shoreditch and Hoxton, from Tudor times to the present day. Booking essential

The Poppy Estate, E5

11am-7pm, 6 June 

The Clapton estate’s 50 community growing plots will be open to the public for the day, not to mention its 250 fruit trees and bushes, herb beds, wild flower railings, green groves and bee habitat. There will be tours at 12noon and 4pm, free drinks, snacks and music and a wealth of inspiration for making green space a catalyst for change.

Music To Grow Your Garden By

12noon-12.40pm, 6 June

Madrigals, part-songs and modern favourites are promised at this event to raise the spirits of the Geffrye garden plants, as well as those escaping the office for an early lunch break.

Culpepers Herbal Remedy

£13. 2pm-4pm, 6 June

Join Margaret Willes for a fascinating talk at the Geffrye Museum about herbalist, botanist and radical apothecary Nicholas Culpeper. Then, create your own historic remedies and natural cosmetics. Book in advance.