Chelsea Flower Show: The prettiest floral events across London to visit this season
Traditionally, the arrival of May in the capital means just one thing: the Chelsea Flower Show will soon be upon us. While last year’s event was moved to September due to the pandemic, this year the SW3 staple is back in its rightful spot on the calendar, taking place in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea throughout the last week in May. This spring the capital is set to be filled with a host of floral tributes, from the much-lauded In Bloom festivals in Chelsea and Belgravia to a flower-filled wonderland at London’s most-Instagrammed restaurant and floral exhibitions at some of the city’s top museums and cultural institutions. Here we’ve rounded up the finest floral events to add to your diary this summer.
Chelsea Flower Show
24 – 28 May
Known as the world’s greatest flower show, this week is the highlight of any horticulture lover’s annual calendar. This year the show is set to usher in an even more celebratory mood than usual thanks to the upcoming Platinum Jubilee – the Queen herself is a long-time fan of the Flower Show, having visited more than 50 times during her 70-year reign.
Naturally, there are set to be plenty of floral tributes to Her Majesty, including a bespoke sculptural portrait of the Queen’s instantly recognisable silhouette by renowned florist Simon Lycett (a firm favourite with the Royal Family) and floral crowns by Lucy Vail Floristry adorning the Bullring Gate. Other highlights include a floral-inspired Champagne afternoon tea by The Dorchester and the Fairmont Windsor Park unveiling an exclusive first look at their hotly anticipated luxury treehouse.
Chelsea in Bloom
23 - 28 May
Coinciding with the flower show is Chelsea in Bloom, London’s largest floral festival that sees the Royal Borough’s chicest shops and restaurants adorned with whimsical floral installations. In a further nod to the Queen’s Jubilee this year’s theme is ‘British Icons’, drawing inspiration from the characters, symbols and emblems that make us Great Britain. You can expect floral depictions of some of our most beloved National Treasures, from Mary Poppins to Vivienne Westwood, David Bowie to James Bond, and of course, Her Majesty herself.
Alongside this you’ll find pop-ups taking place throughout the neighbourhood, including one from Diptyque that will see their two-week Sloane Street pop-up shop covered in pink roses (their new flagship UK store will be opening there in October), as well as free rickshaw rides taking place every half hour to explore the local displays.
Dream Garden at Sketch
18 - 30 May
Following on from the unveiling of their glorious new redesign earlier in the year, Sketch will be transformed into the ethereal Dream Garden as the focal point of Mayfair in Bloom. The London bar and restaurant has invited three top florists – JamJar Flowers, Ricky Paul Flowers and Carly Rogers Flowers – to create a series of installations that all respond to the theme of ‘Peace’. Visitors will arrive by walking through a dreamlike blooming passage by JamJar, filled with fresh and dried daisies as a nod to the Sixties peace movement, where the air will be scented with chamomile and sound tracked with tranquil birdsong.
An interlinking daisy chain will guide guests through to a clearing filled with fantastical giant daisies and a rope swing hanging from the ceiling, before moving into the Glade, where Carly Rogers has created an upside-down Mind Meadow suspended in the middle of the room. The installation will evolve every day as the fresh flowers dry, reflecting the change in nature. Finally, cascading down the staircases on either side of the East Bar will be bright floral garlands by Ricky Paul, leading up to the infamous Pod loos, which will be capped off with an enormous colourful peace sign created out of fresh flowers.
When Flowers Dream at Kew Gardens
21 May 2022 – 5 March 2023
As part of Kew’s summer programme, Australian artist Tanya Schultz, who works under the name Pip & Pop, is holding her debut London exhibition to showcase her playful candy-coloured works. Held at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, the otherworldly creations displayed in When Flowers Dream were inspired by mythologies and folklore, exploring themes of wish fulfilment, consumption and seemingly endless abundance. Schultz’s immersive installations are created from a wide array of materials, including sugar, modelling clay and sweets, as well as objects sourced from her travels all over the world.
As well as a range of sculptural works, the exhibition will also include a brand-new installation that has been created in collaboration with Kew’s scientists to explore the idea of a food utopia for the future. The hand-assembled, technicolour installation, which takes the shape of a highly detailed landscape, will be filled with foods that have been identified as neglected or underutilised species, forcing the viewer to rethink the way they consume food and edible plants.
Belgravia in Bloom
23 – 29 May
Alongside Chelsea, the nearby neighbourhood of Belgravia will also be having a floral spruce up in honour of the annual Flower Show. Some of the area’s finest local florists, including Royal Warrant holders Moyses Stevens and Neill Strain, will be producing intricate floral sculptures to be displayed across SW1. As part of this year’s ‘Beautifully British’ theme (another one created to chime with the Jubilee), you’ll find giant teacups and teapots pouring tea in Eccleston Yards, a floral Big Ben in Halkin Arcade and a giant 50p piece featuring the Queen’s silhouette on Elizabeth Street.
Plenty of the local businesses and restaurants will be getting in on the act, too. The renowned Judith Blacklock Flower School will be creating a traditional Maypole, decorated with colourful ribbons and seasonal flowers, as well as partnering with Corte Molino Prosecco to create a collection of sparkling celebratory drinks; meanwhile, Peggy Porschen will be creating special floral-themed cakes and there’ll be DIY biscuit icing workshops at Biscuiteers.
British Flowers Week exhibition at the Garden Museum
9 – 13 June
If there’s one place that knows a thing or two about hosting floral-themed exhibitions, it’s the Garden Museum. Their latest show is being held in honour of British Flowers Week, in partnership with New Covent Garden Market, and has been designed to unite florists, flower growers and horticultural fans alike in a celebration of British-grown flowers.
Five of the country’s top florists – Frida Kim, Harriet Parry, Kate Wren Flowers, McQueens Flowers and Wagner Kreusch – will be creating show-stopping floral installations and sculptures to turn the museum into a five-day immersive wonderland filled with heavenly scented British blooms. Responding to the theme ‘The Future’, the floral creations will explore floristry’s impact on the environment and will use eco-friendly materials and methods as well as seasonal, sustainably-sourced, British-grown flowers.
The School of Garden Inspiration at Petersham Nurseries
16 May – 24 October
The bucolic haven that is Petersham Nurseries in Richmond is harnessing its green-fingered expertise to deliver a new series of classes and workshops as part of their latest initiative, the School of Garden Inspiration. Devised by their Director of Horticulture Thomas Broom-Hughes, the events have been created for both veteran and novice gardeners, with the hope of inspiring creativity and promoting a more sustainable approach to gardening and floristry.
First up is their Celebration of Roses class on 16 May, an entire day devoted to this quintessential British bloom. Guests will learn the joys of arranging and table styling before setting up their own tablescapes with homegrown roses, followed by an afternoon dedicated to crafting rose-inspired dishes, such as rose harissa and rose jam. Another highlight is A Celebration of British Flowers on 7 June, launched to coincide with British Flowers Week. During this session you’ll learn how to arrange your own bouquet in the signature wild Petersham style, using British flowers from local growers as well as stems and foliage grown on-site at the Nurseries.
Chelsea Barracks Spring Fair
25 - 27 May
Situated just across the road from the site of the Chelsea Flower Show, this year Chelsea Barracks is joining in the celebrations by hosting its own Spring Fair, designed to champion British craftsmanship and design. In a nod to their famous floral neighbours, they’ll be hosting their own mini Barracks in Bloom initiative, with installations by florist Shane Connolly adoring the entrances on Mulberry Square and Dove Place, inspired by the site’s Victorian history.
There’ll also be a series of Best of British Garden Seminars hosted by renowned garden designer (and Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist) Jo Thompson, which will bring together gardening experts and design talents for panel talks on everything from soil sustainability and designing small gardens to the medicinal properties of herbs. Alongside that you’ll find an Artisans’ Market curated by The Beautiful and Useful Craft Fair, which will showcase independent makers and sustainable artisan crafts such as ceramic pots and naturally-inspired gardening accessories.
Superbloom at the Tower of London
1 June – 18 September
Floral displays don’t get much more regal than the epic Superbloom installation planned at the Tower of London this summer. Designed as part of the Queen’s official Jubilee celebrations across the capital, the mediaeval moat surrounding the historic tower will be sown with 20 million wildflower seeds to create an explosion of colour, where visitors can weave through a majestic field of blooms.
The installation is accompanied by a specially commissioned soundscape by contemporary Scottish composer Erland Cooper called ‘Music for Growing Flowers’, which has been designed to enhance the installation’s emotional impact while softening the noises of the city. Alongside the ethereal soundscape you’ll also find a series of sculptural elements, as well as the Tower’s Bowling Green being turned into a ‘Queen’s Garden’, inspired by the Queen’s 1953 coronation gown by famed British couturier Sir Norman Hartnell and featuring a combination of meadow flowers, topiary and summer-flowering perennials, bulbs and ornamental grasses.