Loving Your Garden in Lockdown? Join in Virtual Chelsea Fringe Henley

Gardens are one of a few things that haven’t been affected by Covid-19 crisis and many are being nurtured more by homeowners than probably ever before because people have more time on their hands in lockdown.  Gardeners will be pleased to know that Henley’s annual horticultural festival, Chelsea Fringe in Henley is still going ahead virtually starting on Saturday, 16 May.

The annual festival which has taken place since 2015 celebrates all things horticultural with a wonderful programme of events that have included garden walks, musical performances and ended with a fabulous floral flotilla on the river.

Co Founders, Jane McFarlane Duckworth and Victoria Newton have been working hard to bring the virtual festival together.  Victoria said, “It has not been easy as we have limited technical resources but we hope what we have put together will mean that everyone can join in with something that sparks their interest.  It is not too late for anyone to offer to host an event of their own too – just get in touch with us.”

The Festival will kick off on Saturday at 11.00am with a short video on the Chelsea Fringe Henley Youtube channel from Jane and Victoria to open the festival and will provide information about all the events taking place throughout next week.

Over the weekend (16-17 May) local artist, Kirsten Jones will be videoing herself creating a new painting ‘Garden Flip Flops’, the latest in her shoe series. The painting will be inspired by the flowers and plants in her garden and her favourite footwear. Watch the video to see the piece as it happens… Kirsten will take ‘virtual visitors’ on a mini tour of the plants and flowers that inspired the piece then show how I developed her sketchbook ideas and finally demonstrate the creation of the painting.

The first event, Bookworms will be on Sunday 17 May at 7pm. This will be the first meeting of a new virtual book club aimed at anyone with an interest in reading about gardens and gardening related writing. They will be discussing Sue Stuart Smith’s new book ‘The Well Gardened Mind’. As it can be difficult to get hold of books at the moment we’re not expecting everyone to have read it by Sunday but there are loads of reviews online that give a really good idea of what it’s about. To join just email Jane88@hotmail.co.uk to be added to the list and you will be sent a Zoom link for the club.

On Tuesday evening (19 May) there will be a garden gong bath streamed live from Alison Russell’s Studio Fields in Wallingford between 7.30-8.30pm. This is a wonderful experience of listening to the soothing and relaxing gong vibrations being played from a gorgeous garden setting.  Follow the link from Chelsea Fringe Henley Facebook page to join the session.

Friday takes us to another wonderful garden setting in Henley for an afternoon of garden poetry produced by the Free Range Poets. This will be accessed via the Youtube channel on Friday 22 May from 2.30pm and will be available to view after that date too.

Other ideas in the pipeline include some garden stories for children and children’s garden yoga.

There will also be interviews with local gardeners discussing their lives in gardening, daily posts on all our social media channels with top gardening ideas and some more in depth videos of local gardens.  Victoria and Jane would love you to share your gardens on their Facebook and Instagram pages tag #chelseafringehenley

Victoria added, “We’d be really happy to hear from more local residents who are happy to show their own gardens – big or small. This is about sharing our enthusiasm for gardening. It is has been really difficult to spread the word about the festival this year but we are hopeful that social media will come to our rescue and everyone who wants to will be able to share in the events. And as well as all our online activities we would like to encourage all local residents to decorate their frontages with something floral to get into the spirit of the Chelsea Fringe.”