Countdown to the giant veg show – September 15-17
Far from winding down in early autumn, Harrogate Autumn Flower Show is a great place for inspiration and buying end-of-season bargains – and my favourite show.
Plant nursery displays, live expert demonstrations and keenly-priced plants, sundries, food, and gifts, is topped off by the famous giant vegetable competition.
Take home practical ideas and inspiration from street scene gardens, and ‘message in a garden’ Community Spirit plots.
The Floral Pavilion hosts the country’s biggest exhibition by specialist gardening groups, with more than 5,000 autumn blooms, including chrysanths and dahlias.
In the Plant Nursery Pavilion are dozens of displays by the UK’s top nurseries – there’s a full list in the show programme, which can be bought in advance for £3.50.
Top chefs in the Feast! Cookery Theatre share ideas for transforming home-grown produce into family meals. The How2 Demonstrations offer practical advice on gardening techniques or join the Kitchen Garden Live team for talks.
For help and advice, visit the Dig It Garden Theatre in the new Plant Pavilion, or the Garden Advice Bureau.
Giant vegetable show
The North of England Horticultural Society giant vegetable competition in The Gardening Hall is a real crowd puller and there are three new classes for novice growers this year – heaviest tomato, heaviest marrow, and longest runner bean.
They are open to anyone who has not won a prize at a regional or national event. There are 13 expert classes for the heaviest and the longest, including pumpkin, marrow, parsnip, leek, cabbage, potato, beetroot, carrot, rhubarb, runner bean, and cucumber.
The National Heavy Onion Championship, sponsored by Kitchen Garden, will include a world record weigh-in at noon on Friday. The current champion is Tony Glover, from Birmingham, who set the record in 2014 with a 18lb 11oz (8.47 kilos) monster.
The closing date for entries is Saturday, September 9. For details, visit www.flowershow.org.uk.
Big ideas small spaces
Border gardens return with designers and landscapers showcasing their ideas for turning that troublesome corner into a real treasure, inspired by the colours, sights, and smells of continents across the globe.
- Sommat for nowt: Harrogate’s allotment holders have shared their secrets for creating practical uses for unwanted objects. Find them on Facebook @HarrogateandDistrictAllotmentFederation.
Journey of Discovery, Horticap Ltd: Inspired by the charity’s 33-year journey since its inception in 1984, it featuring a large wooden boat laden with plant discoveries from around the world, with colourful papier mache fish made by students.
- No Fly Zone, Wacks Wicked Plants: We go to North America to see a border of carnivorous Sarracenia purpurea ssp purpurea – purple pitchers.
- Due East, Matt Haddon Gardens Ltd, sponsor Colour Your Garden: A trip to the Orient with a planting scheme designed for slightly acidic soil in light shade, in greens, reds, yellows, and blacks.
- Across the Prairie, Jo Manfredi-Hamer Garden Design & JH Garden Design, sponsor Nordgreen Nurseries, Anna and The Willow: Inspired by the North American prairies, a border for an exposed and sunny site with lush grasses and vivid autumn colours.
- A Little Peace, Austin’s Gardens, sponsor Colour Your Garden: Late flowering perennials and grasses weave and combine to create a peaceful oasis.
Postcards from the Hedge
A new exhibition tracing the ancestry of popular plants forms the centrepiece for this year’s autumn theme, Postcards from the Hedge.
Find out how camellias came from China and imagine what life would be like if Henry Wickham had not travelled to Brazil and collected seeds from Hevea brasiliensis, the rubber tree.
Less welcome invaders, once revered as exotic additions to borders, are now public enemies – giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and Rhododendron ponticum.
In the Plant Nursery Pavilion, there’s a celebration of the intrepid plant hunter – Raiders of the Lost Parks.
National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (NAFAS) clubs will be creating their interpretations of the postcard phrase Wish You Were Here, with the North East Area depicting the Caribbean for their central display.
Thailand, India, South Africa and Spain will also be represented among the large-scale flower arrangements. Individual classes for flower arrangers will include Going up in the World, Buttons & Bows, Fruit Fusion and Palms & Paradise, while florists will focus on Paradise Found and Club Tropicana.
Tickets and how to get there
The show is organised by the North of England Horticultural Society and is held at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG2 8NZ. Parking is free. Follow the signs as you approach the showground and stewards will direct you to the correct area. Visit www.flowershow.org.uk or call 01423 546157 for more information.
Tickets: Buy online or by calling the ticket line on 01423 546157 (8.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday).
Friday and Saturday: £18 on the gate, £15.50 when bought by Tuesday, September 5. Sunday: £16.50 on the gate, £14 in advance. Under 16s free when accompanied by an adult. Student tickets can be bought at the gate for £9.50 only with a valid student photo ID card.