From #kerbcouture to affordable show gardens, April 25-28
Harrogate’s Spring and Autumn Flower Shows are my favourite gardening events of the year and not just because they’re held in the north.
There’s a real spirit of friendliness, terrific plants plus the chance to grab some great horticultural bargains.
Here are the highlights of this year’s spring show:
Show theme: #kerbcouture
When garden design hits a grey wall, graffiti could be the perfect way to add a much-needed floral flourish!
North-east England mural artist Lee Ferry will be transforming the bleakest of back streets with his own brand of garden graffiti.
The show’s theme is #kerbcouture, exploring how the urban environment could be revolutionised by the use of plants.
Lee, based in Stanley, County Durham, will be creating a street mural live during the show.
Show director Nick Smith said: “Nearly every garden has a blank wall, bare fence or awkward corner we are not really sure what to do with, so we wanted to challenge our visitors to think about how art could help to transform a space, whether combined with plants and flowers or as a stand-alone mural.
“Graffiti has traditionally been seen as something illicit and illegal but, used in the right way and, of course, with right permissions, it can really help to transform an urban scene.”
#kerbcouture will feature a street of bloom-bombed buildings and pavements, plus a range of small-scale show gardens challenging designers to think vertically in The Blank Wall Project or make every inch count with Square Yards.
The Tranquillity of Bauhaus – Category: professional, size: 10m x 9m, designer: Hadean-Creation
Reflecting the design principles of the Bauhaus School of Architecture, this garden focuses on a pavilion set within lush planting, including woodland and shade-loving varieties, grasses and native spring flowers. Colours are vivid and varied, with softer shades placed to contrast with the hard, structural dividing walls.
A simple, tranquil garden designed to reflect the limited size of many modern gardens that can still offer respite from busy lives. Planting is naturalistic and primarily green with a splash of colour. A shallow pebbled area provides a hint of water.
A garden to reflect York, with box hedging representing the city’s walls, while flying buttress decorative tree supports and a stained-glass sculpture depict the Minster. Strong colours reflect the cathedral’s windows and the tapestry border offers a mix of culinary and medicinal herbs with medieval and contemporary perennials.
The Shire – Category: Community Spirit, size: 6m x 6m, designer: Horticap Ltd
Fans of the fun gardens created by the educational charity, Horticap, are in for another treat with The Hobbit as inspiration. Famed for their handmade paper mache models and limestone dry walls, visitors will be able to use a special selfie photo area. Don’t miss the cobbled cave complete with wetland planting and Gollum!
Urban Sprawl – Category: professional, size: 7m x 5m, designer: Nicholas Edward Gardens, sponsors: Braithwaite’s Garden Centre; Association of Professional Landscapers; Stone Warehouse; Dennis Blackburn Engineering; Martin Sloan
Designed in response to the pressures of urban development and road construction on green spaces and landmarks, this garden calls for the preservation of green pockets. Planting is mostly native trees and shrubs, with gabions and concrete blocks to reflect urban development and to provide seating.
The Mental Health Garden – category: professional, size: 7m x 5m, designer: Jo Manfredi-Hamer Garden Design, sponsors: Leeds MIND; Johnsons of Whixley; David Harber; Stone Warehouse; Marshalls; 3volution; www.jmhgardendesign.co.uk
Gabions start with dark pebbles to symbolise depression and transform to paler pebbles indicting recovery with counselling and support. A polished stone spherical sculpture, Kernel, forms a culmination of the journey and depicts part of a symbolic semicolon to raise awareness of mental health. Planting is calm, restful and primarily green.
Plant Nursery Pavilion
The Plant Nursery Pavilion hosts dozens of displays by the UK’s top nurseries, one of the features that helped to make the spring show Britain’s best gardening event for readers of Which?Gardening.
Exhibitors offer unrivalled knowledge and rare plants at cut-price show rates. Details of the nurseries attending will be available in the Show Programme, which can be bought in advance for £3.50.
Britain’s biggest and best exhibition of flower arranging and floristry takes place at the spring show, with more than 150 works of art and many large-scale arrangements in the Floral Pavilion.
The theme for the Flower Club competition will focus on the weather, while individual titles include Graffiti, Chain Reaction and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
The floristry section will feature themes including #Urban, Pret A Porter and Upcycled Chic.
Feast! Food Theatre and GROW! Garden Theatre
Look forward to a selection of seasonal dishes from a line up of talented chefs and join experts and watch your gardening knowledge GROW!
- Sue Exley for a masterclass on camassias at 2.30pm on Friday and Sunday.
- Laurence Hobbs returns at 2.30pm on Thursday and Saturday talking about orchids.
- James Smallwood, from W & S Lockyer, will also be talking about auriculas at noon on Thursday.
- Nurseryman Rob Hardy also appears on Thursday.
- Resident GROW! Experts Sarah Hopps, Helen Bainbridge and Martin Fish will be on stage each day. With a guide to getting started with fruit and veg, creating a garden to delight the senses and introducing colour this summer. They will also answer gardening questions every day.
Shopping, kids, food
The show hosts more than 100 garden-related exhibitors with thousands of products. There is a secure creche for plants and products, so you don’t have to carry them around.
Craft-wise, there are more than 70 exhibitors offering everything from teddy bears to handcrafted jewellery. There’s also a Made in Yorkshire marquee.
For the children, Pod is back as he creates a ‘garden in the sky’ and young gardeners can create some fantastic hanging pots at Pod’s pop-up play patch. Fill it with plants provided by Askham Bryan College.
Delight your tastebuds with a wonderful range of specialist food and drink to take home.
To eat on the day, visit one of the restaurants, cafes or food outlets.