Sixteen hundred events in eight years…that’s a heck of a lot of horticultural h-excitement.
It’s inspiring! Which is why we’ve invited our friends behind some of these events, together with the volunteers who help make the festival happen, to tell us what the Chelsea Fringe means to them.
Let’s call them our CHELSEA FRINGE CHAMPIONS.
Harriot Lane Fox found out about the Chelsea Fringe when she was putting together a calendar of hot dates in 2012 for the Sunday Telegraph. It sounded such a cool idea she felt a primeval urge to get involved. The festival has run on volunteer power since the beginning. So founder Tim Richardson bit her hand off – or shook it delightedly, at least. And Harriot has been helping people work their project ideas up into peak perfection ever since.
Introduce yourself, Harriot… I’m a journalist so I know what makes a good story and can help our projects. Because that’s what each listing has to be – a mouthwatering short story with a gripping headline to draw visitors in. A couple of years ago I took a six-month vocational diploma in social media marketing and I do that for a living now (running accounts and training smaller businesses). So I manage Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the Chelsea Fringe, collaborating with all our fantastic project organisers. We’re a social army!
What has been your favourite Chelsea Fringe moment? Having my hand shaken by the Duchess of Cornwall on her tour of the Fringe in our first year. Sadly, I wasn’t a selfie addict then (or I wouldn’t have worn a pavement-coloured dress!) and don’t have any record of the great moment. Though Tim, the festival director, might have been a bit embarrassed if I’d pulled out my phone.
Why did you want to get involved in the Fringe? I went to Edinburgh University so the word ‘fringe’ has always meant excitement. But I also wrote about the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for years for The Daily Telegraph – sometimes press day was on my birthday, which was the biggest treat. So the Chelsea Fringe seemed like the perfect combo; horticultural anarchy!
Tell us three words that sum up the Chelsea Fringe for you? The people who’ve done this before me have stolen the best words already. How about… Populist Plant Party?
What’s your top tip for someone taking part in the Fringe for the first time? Don’t leave it until the last minute to sign up. That’s a selfish tip because it gives us more of an adrenalin rush than we need to have projects piling in at the last minute to hit the early-bird deadline. But also the festival is only two months away. I know how much great work we can do with our press team and on social media to get the momentum building. There’s a world out there that wants to know about our projects. Now!
Who is your gardening hero? My mother comes from a family of garden-makers. She created one in London, one in Devon and now a little one in Bath, where she moved a year ago – aged 81. (Mum’s very excited about her new hot composter.) Half the plants in our garden come from her (the other half from my mother-in-law; they had a healthy rivalry, which we might possibly have encouraged!).
What is your guilty pleasure? I can’t have nut butter in the house or I end up eating it by the spoonful. Also, Great British Sewing Bee. Put the two together…WOW!
What do you listen to in your shed? I don’t have a shed but if I did it’d be like a Trappist monastery. I’ve spent more years working at home than in an office and used to need to have BBC Radio 4 on; it made me less aware of being on my own. Now I absolutely love the silence between school drop-off and pick-up. But I do go to sleep listening to cheesy crime fiction.