The RHS CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW takes place next week, plan your trip with our pick of the glossiest things to do …
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the highlight of the global gardening year, where royals, celebrities and media enjoy a dazzling array of designer gardens, masterly makeovers and floristry creations. Running next week, from May 23 – 27, it unofficially signals the start of the summer “season” which includes Royal Ascot, Henley Regatta, Cartier Queen’s Cup and Wimbledon.
Like any major exhibition – knowledge is power and tackling Chelsea requires stamina and a schedule. Take a sun hat, wear comfortable shoes and pace yourself. The show gardens undoubtedly attract the most interest and are always busy; there are eight this year. However, this year, I’m particularly interested in the Fresh Gardens and Artisan Gardens categories. In the latter category, The Poetry Lover’s Garden by Fiona Cadwallader references Samuel Taylor Coleridge, while Sarah Eberle’s Viking Cruises Garden of Inspiration, is inspired by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. www.rhs.org.uk.
If you don’t go to RHS Chelsea, there’s still plenty of inspiration, especially around the chic environs of Knightsbridge, as there are many Chelsea Fringe events (www.chelseafringe.com). Most stores have impressive floral windows; Belgravia in Bloom is one of the many initiatives that create lovely Instagram images while wandering along the King’s Road as well as Motcomb and Elizabeth Streets. Of special mention is Irish floral designer Neill Strain, whose store on West Halkin Street, (next door to Louise Kennedy’s boutique), always impresses. Do pop in and see his Hello Hydrangea! exhibition, which showcases the old varieties and natural mutations of this relatively “new” flower on the scene. Until fifteen years ago there were only four or five common hydrangea varieties, such as the white “Snowball” and “Moulleara” and the pink/blue “Renata.” Neill and his team are on hand to demonstrate styling tips for home and events. www.neillstrain.com.
Check out Matthew Williamson’s re-design of the courtyard garden at Blakes hotel. “I had in mind a chic, uplifting, inspiring space full of colour, pattern and texture,” says Williamson who is celebrating 20 years in the fashion business, and is known for his botanical prints and riotous colours. The garden features a graphic mural, oversized ferns and tropical plants, a flower wall and domed birdcage with soft furnishings from Williamson’s collection for Osborne & Little. www.blakeshotels.com.
Visit the Colefax & Fowler showroom in pretty Pimlico, which is hosting the exhibition A Cut Above, showcasing 20 intricate paper flower collages by artist Pat Albeck, who ingeniously creates these images using very sharp nail scissors. 89 – 91 Pimlico Road, London. www.colefax.com.
Finally, why not celebrate in style with a Chelsea Flower Show Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s? Priced at £82stg per person, the tea includes a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne, floral pastries and a gift on departure. This also gives good people-watching and a chance to enjoy the hotel’s impressive flowers by McQueen. Pass the cucumber sandwiches, please! www.claridges.co.uk.
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