After being forced to cancel last year for the first time since the Second World War, this year’s Chelsea Flower Show feels extra special. Instead of pastel hues and spring blooms, revel in ochre and fiery tones, fruiting plants and crunchy autumn leaves as the world-renowned event returns to the Royal Hospital from 21-26 September, and celebratory satellite events pop up across the neighbourhood.
Chelsea in Bloom, across Chelsea
In celebration of the Chelsea Flower Show, the retailers of Chelsea dress up their storefronts each year with whimsical and imaginative floral installations, which are every bit as impressive as the main event. This year’s theme is Extraordinary Voyages, inspired by Around the World in 80 Days, the classic adventure novel by Jules Verne. Undoubtedly one of the most uplifting events in London, immerse yourself in floral installations galore, which stretch from Sloane Street down the King’s Road, as well as Pavilion Road and Duke of York Square.
20-25 September, chelseainbloom.co.uk
Afternoon tea at No.16, South Kensington
Hidden in the heart of South Kensington, No.16 is a boutique Firmdale hotel with eclectic, sumptuous interiors by Kit Kemp. A colourful Flower Show-themed afternoon tea serves lychee and rose macarons, apple and elderflower choux buns and tangy mango and jasmine tartlets, as well as sweet chocolate and cherry cakes in pretty flower pots and Rathfinny English sparkling wine. Afternoon tea is served in the gorgeous, light-filled orangery or the secluded, tree-filled private garden.
£50 per person, 16 Sumner Place, South Kensington, London SW7 3EG, firmdalehotels.com
Mayfair hosts its own mini flower show every year in tandem with the main event in Chelsea. Sketch goes all in for this, transforming its already impressive dining spaces with verdant installations. This year's theme is 'a walk through the wild side', featuring six immersive displays. Travel through a typically British woodland, created by Carly Rogers Flowers, which stretches from the hallway, through the reception and up the central staircase. The renowned bathroom pods are also receiving a surrealist makeover, with a cascading floral waterfall.
9 Conduit Street, London W1S 2XG, sketch.london
AMAFFI Perfume House, Sloane Street
AMAFFI Perfume House has reopened its Sloane Street boutique this month. The Swiss perfumer is known for its ultra-luxurious fragrances, including a powerful elixir with a £7,000 price tag. At AMAFFI, gilded perfume bottles are displayed like fine jewels behind glass vitrines, perfectly at home between gleaming marble fixtures and crystal chandeliers. Fragrances are entirely free of synthetics, as well as water – meaning that each one is potently packed with long-lasting, natural ingredients. I suspect that there are just as many rare rose petals in AMAFFI's hypnotic June Night perfume (£2,500) as there are at Chelsea Flower Show itself.
8 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9LE, amaffi.com
Rabbit, King's Road
Owned by the Gladwin brothers, Rabbit on the King's Road participates in Chelsea in Bloom every year, showcasing magnificent displays inside and outside the restaurant. The sister site to The Shed in Notting Hill, it specialises in hearty British dishes, with produce arriving fresh from the family’s Sussex farm. This year, visitors can enjoy a bespoke menu created in partnership with Hendrick's gin. Tuck into comforting dishes including mushroom marmite eclair, mushroom croquettes and wild boar ragu, surrounded by vibrant floral displays.
£28 for four courses and a welcome cocktail, 172 King's Road, London SW3 4UP, rabbit-restaurant.com
Boodles, Sloane Street
This year marks Boodles' inaugural Chelsea Flower Show display, created by designer Thomas Hoblyn. In celebration, the fine jeweller has expanded its much-loved Secret Garden collection of botanical motifs, fashioned with diamonds and bright gemstones. A pair of drop earrings draw inspiration from a delicate snowdrop, while showstopping cocktail rings are like a miniature bouquet for your finger. View the entire collection at the Sloane Street boutique, which is also hosting evening events throughout the week.
6 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9LE, boodles.com
Daphnes and The Ivy Chelsea Garden
Richard Caring holds the crown for the most decorative restaurants in London, including Scott’s and The Ivy Chelsea Garden. The restaurant group goes all out during the Chelsea Flower Show, with floral displays, special menus and colourful, limited-edition cocktails. At Daphnes in South Kensington, events stylist and tablescaping expert Fiona Leahy is creating an autumn installation for the outdoor terrace. The Ivy Chelsea Garden is set to be festooned with seasonal leaves and branches, designed to resemble an enchanted forest. There is also a special cocktail menu in collaboration with Perrier-Jouët Champagne and live entertainment throughout the week.
JamJar Flowers: flower pressing workshops
JamJar Flowers is once again crafting a marvellous display at the Chelsea Flower Show Bullring Gate Entrance, supported by Thyme in Gloucestershire. To celebrate, the florist is also running flower pressing workshops from its south London studio near Kennington. Learn how to select and prepare flowers for pressing, before working with pre-pressed flowers and a variety of handmade papers to create an original artwork of your own.
22 September, 6-8pm, £125, jamjaredit.co.uk
Floral Couture Concierge at Harrods
If all of these flowers have put you in the mood for a new bouquet, head to the new Floral Couture Concierge at Harrods. Located on the lower ground floor, florist Neill Strain and his team cater for needs big and small, from a bespoke bouquet to a complete home dressing. The current autumn arrangements celebrate the best of the season, with vivid purple head phalaenopsis orchids and plump red viburnum berries.
Away x Sage Flowers
To mark the return of the Chelsea Flower Show, lifestyle and travel brand Away has teamed up with Peckham-based florist Sage to turn its Seven Dials boutique into a floral wonderland. Sage founders Iona and Romy have decked out Away's storefront in a bounty of seasonal blooms – but you'll have to be quick to catch it. The installation will be in place for one week only.
9 Earlham Street, London, WC2H 9LL, awaytravel.com