I’ve never been to the Chelsea Flower Show – too much pollen, and I’ve always mistrusted people who do weeding for fun – but I do love all the hoopla that surrounds it. It’s one of those quintessentially English things that must really cement foreigners’ opinion of us: ie. completely bonkers, but in a charming, eccentric way. Like 'Fawlty Towers'. If you too love flowers but not all the hard work that goes into producing them, show your appreciation with one of these fun floral fringe events.
Tuck into a Chelsea Flower Afternoon Tea at The Landmark London
Five-star hotel The Landmark London is reinventing its afternoon menu just for Chelsea Flower Show with a selection of delicious (and highly photogenic) floral pastries, such as elderflower custard choux and chocolate and orange blossom macarons. Sip chilled champagne and indulge in bottomless finger sandwiches in the Winter Garden, a vast atrium with soaring glass ceilings and petrified palm trees, from £55 per person. Booking advised.
Pick peonies with Bloom & Wild
Everybody loves peonies. There are millions of the things on Instagram, making them social media’s most beloved flower, but, alas, these voluminous blooms are only in season for a month or so in the UK. You can catch them in all their glory at Bloom & Wild’s pick 'n' mix peony bar, which is popping up in Topshop’s Oxford Circus store from May 29 to June 4. There’s also a programme of floral festival crown workshops; tickets from £22.29 per person.
Make a flower crown at Queen of Hoxton
Go potty over plates at The Potting Shed
If you'd prefer to turn your hand to making something you can eat off rather than prance around in, try The Potting Shed, where ceramic artists Fliff Carr and Matilda Moreton are running intimate workshops making unique floral decorated plates. Classes run all weekend from the gallery at Townhouse Spitalfields and cost just £11.74 per person.
Wake up and smell the cherry blossoms at Sake no Hana
In Japan, whole parties are dedicated to the viewing and appreciation of the fleeting cherry blossom, which appears for just a couple of weeks each year. Fortunately, it lasts a little longer at Sake no Hana, the Hakkasan Group’s Mayfair restaurant, which is adorned with thousands of pretty pink blooms. It’s also serving up a limited edition cherry-themed ‘Sakura’ menu until June 18, which includes a cocktail, soup, a sushi bento box and a choice of main courses for £34 per person.
Say it with flowers at Dalston Curve Garden
Floriography, or the language of flowers, has been around for centuries. Popular with the Victorians, it harks from a time before 90 percent of flowers were purchased in a panic from the nearest corner shop, when people carefully considered the contents of their bouquet and used them to express feelings that couldn’t be spoken aloud. This weekend, artist Emily Tracy will be in residence at the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden to help visitors pick out and construct their own coded bouquets made from beautiful paper flowers (complete with a typewritten translation for the uninitiated!).
Swing by Tom's Kitchen for a flowery lunch
If you’re actually in Chelsea for the Flower Show, stop by Tom’s Kitchen between May 23 and May 29 for a specially designed floral menu of grapefruit-cured Loch Duart salmon with nasturtium, poached chicken and lemon risotto with marigolds and sweetened ricotta with elderflower and rose-poached rhubarb. The whole restaurant will also be decked out head-to-toe with blooms from local florist Lavender Green.
Grab the cream of the crop at Columbia Road flower market
And, if you don’t get paid until the very end of the month, get up early on Sunday morning and head to the Columbia Road flower market to pick up bunches of your favourite blooms for next to nothing. Invite your mates over for brunch when you get back, get in some bubbles and stage an impromptu flower-arranging sesh.