Who needs Chelsea Flower Show? Here’s how to have a bloomin’ great summer in East London

Upcoming bank holiday? Check. Heatwave? Check. Summer’s finally here so what better time to plan some outdoorsy-ness? If you aren’t rubbing shoulders with royalty at this week’s Chelsea Flower Show, fear not – there are plenty of ways that you can enjoy London in bloom, and you don’t even need to leave the East End…

Chelsea Fringe is a festival of flowers, gardens and gardening running from 20 May until 4 June. Rather more inclusive – and entirely independent of – the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the Fringe is about allowing people to express themselves through gardening. There are a range of activities on offer including talks, walks and experiences. Here are a few top picks:


These shoes are made for planting

Wilton Estate Community Garden, London Fields

Thurs 1 June 12.00pm – 4pm | Free

Bring along your favourite old shoes and find out how to give them a new life by planting them with seeds. You can even learn how to hang them on the wall. There will be games, crafts and a raffle too!

Folk and flowers

Oxford House Theatre, Derbyshire Street, Bethnal Green

Fri 2 June 7.30pm – 9pm | £9

An evening of traditional and contemporary folk music to celebrate gardens, landscape and nature. This popular event is now in its third year.

A garden in a teacup

Town House, Spitalfields

Sat 3 June 11.30am – 1pm | £15 including materials, tea and cake

Explore the power of natural ingredients in this herbal tea tasting workshop and learn about the benefits to your health and wellbeing. Materials and refreshments are included.


If you fancy having a nosey around other people’s gardens (who doesn’t?) to get some inspiration, private and secret gardens across London will be open to the public on 17 and 18 June as part of Open Garden Squares Weekend. Gardens range from the historic to the experimental and some will play home to craft stalls, music and refreshments. Local highlights include St Peter’s Church in Bethnal Green, Cordwainers Garden, and Cranbrook Community Food Garden.

And if you’ve got green fingers, check out these garden centres and shops and create your own masterpiece:


Growing concerns

Wick Lane, Hackney Wick

An independent garden centre on the edge of Victoria Park, selling reasonably-priced plants and pots. There’s even a small coffee bar and ice creams for sale in the summer.


North 1 Garden Centre

Englefield Rd, Dalston Junction

It’s not hard to see how this place has twice been declared the best boutique garden centre at the Garden Retail Awards. Though not the cheapest, visiting N1 is truly an experience. There’s a good range of indoor and outdoor plants, pots, garden furniture and gifts.


The Garden Shop

Columbia Road

Despite its Ronseal-esque name, there isn’t a tin of “one coat” in sight in this lovely little shop, and there are as many bits and bobs for inside the home as for the garden. Alongside planters and lanterns, they also sell seeds and organic compost so you can start your own windowsill herb garden or turn your living room into a tropical rainforest.



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