A pair of flower-bedecked elephants have taken up residence in the heart of Chelsea this week, and there’s a beach, a gin bar and trees wearing multi-coloured legwarmers on Sloane Square. No, you aren’t seeing things; it’s Chelsea in Bloom.
Birds of paradise, vivid anthuriums, palms and a couple of 20-foot-tall parrots have been spotted in the Duke of York Square and at No 11 Cadogan Gardens, and Sarah Chapman and her team are doing the samba in head-dresses topped with sequins, honesty and pampas grasses.
Summer has arrived, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is full flow and with the Rio 2016 Olympic Games just around the corner, carnival has exploded on the streets of Chelsea.
Overnight on Sunday last weekend, the shops, restaurants and hotels in and around Sloane Square and the Duke of York Square transformed themselves with all manner of elaborate and highly colourful carnival-inspired floral displays. For residents and visitors alike, the appearance of the flowers is the first real sign that summer in the city has begun and this year, they’re ready to party.
“It’s my birthday at the end of May and I always make a point of coming to Chelsea to see all the flowers in the shop windows,” says Beatrice Smith.
“You come out of the Tube and suddenly, you realise that there’s something going on,” says Gemma Jones. “There are crazy streamers and tropical flowers everywhere, and a fun atmosphere. Then I saw it was called carnival, and that’s exactly the atmosphere they’ve created.”
“It’s our eleventh year of Chelsea in Bloom this year,” says Hugh Seaborn, Chief Executive of the floral art festival and competition sponsor, Cadogan, “and we’re very excited that not only are thirty-six of Chelsea’s retailers, restaurants and hotels taking part this year, we’re also exhibiting within the Chelsea Flower Show itself for the first time, with a giant peacock by Pinstripes and Peonies in the Floristry area of the Floral Pavilion.”With a pop-up bar provided by The Botanist on the beach – yes, it’s real sand – in Sloane Square, rickshaws to take you in comfort around all the participating floral displays, as well as a host of floral-biased treats and experiences on offer at many of the individual retailers throughout the week, it’s time to squeeze into your sequinned bodysuit and pull on some legwarmers, fix some feathers in your hair (fruit can be optional) and get ready to samba!
Go to www.chelseainbloom.co.uk to find out more, including a tour map, details of attractions and to vote for your favourite display – voting closes at midnight on Thursday 26th May 2016. #chelseainbloom @DOYSQ #RHSChelsea