Home Horticultural shows Harrogate Autumn Flower Show preview 2019

Harrogate Autumn Flower Show preview 2019

Nick Brake and his 7.76kg winning onion in the National Onion Championships
Nick Brake and his 7.76kg winning onion in the National Onion Championships 2018

Monster veg and autumn blooms, September 13-15

My favourite show of the year is coming up – Harrogate Autumn Flower Show, held at the Great Yorkshire Showground from September 13-15, with about 1,000 exhibitors taking part.

It’s one of those landmark events in the year that ties up the loose ends of this season but inspires you with hope for the future – and that’s no bad thing in these uncertain times.

It’s the North East’s biggest horticultural show (excluding the Harrogate Spring Flower Show) and it’s well worth the effort of getting there – many exhibitors sell off their end-of-season stock so you’re bound to get a bargain.

Here are this year’s highlights:

This year’s theme – Back to the Future

There will be a floral tribute to Newby Hall, near Ripon, North Yorkshire, and its award-winning gardens. Complete with a moving miniature train, hundreds of plants and flowers will recreate part of Newby’s famous herbaceous borders.

Also on this theme, the lost Golden Acre amusement park of Leeds is celebrating a new life as a beacon of biodiversity.

There will be a display to showcase the park’s transformation into a botanical garden and public space, with a pictorial meadow full of flowers, built by a team from Leeds City Council to depict a section of rediscovered railway, once part of a fairground ride and now a haven for wildlife.

Golden Acre Park opened in 1932 as an American-style attraction with motor launches, rowing boats, miniature railway, open-air swimming pool, helter-skelter and zoo. It closed in 1939 and was bought by the city in 1946.

The feature displays can be found in the Plant Nursery Pavilion.

Giant vegetable and NVS competitions

The North East Horticultural Society’s giant vegetable competition takes place on Friday, September 13 with 16 classes of monster veg, plus the annual world record weigh-in for heavy onions (see some of last year’s entrants above).

Classes include (either longest or heaviest) pumpkin, marrow, parsnip, leek, cabbage, potato, beetroot, carrot, rhubarb, runner bean and cucumber.

There are also novice classes for the longest runner bean, heaviest tomato and longest cucumber.

The National Heavy Onion Championship will include a world record weigh-in (noon, Friday, September 13) to see if champion Tony Glover can be beaten – he set the record in 2014 with a whopper weighing in at 18lb 11oz (8.47 kilos).

The Northern Championships for the National Vegetable Society (NVS) will also be taking place, including classes for onions, carrots, shallots, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, celery, cauliflowers, beetroot and leeks.

NVS members will be on hand with information and advice about the society and growing perfect produce.

Autumn Creative Spaces

The beds or border planting competition has great inspiration for smaller plots and quiet corners (last year’s entrants above), including:

We’ll Meet Again: Commemorating the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II. It combines the Dig for Victory campaign with a Spitfire sculpture surrounded by seasonal perennials, shrubs and poppies for remembrance. Designed by Natasha Golley in partnership with Horticap.

A Celebration of Rewilding: This border is a sign of the changes rangers at Preston Park, near Yarm, are planning by letting nature be in charge. The plants are native to Preston Park, providing flashes of red, orange and black. Designed by Preston Park Museum & Grounds

Fusion of food and flower – a mini allotment in your garden: Combining tasty seasonal produce with pollinator-friendly flowers and herbs, this design could be used in any back garden. Designed by Leeds Allotments Federation

Shades of Autumn: This cottage garden-style border reflects beautiful autumn colours through trees, shrubs and perennials, including Acer, Cornus and Choisya. Designed by Down 2 Earth

Waste Not Want Not: This mini veg border has an abundance of offerings to taste and smell. The charity is keen to reduce waste and the border includes plastic bottle cloches, hanging gutter pipe planters and a fountain made from car parts. Designed by Henshaws Arts and Crafts Centre.

Creating Careers in Creative Spaces: Celebrating the work of the Women’s Farm and Garden Association (WFGA) in supporting potential gardeners taking their first steps on the ladder of a new career in horticulture. Designed by Women’s Farm and Garden Association (WFGA).

Best vase chrysanthemums
Best vase chrysanthemums

Meet the specialists

More than 5,000 blooms make up Britain’s biggest exhibition by specialist gardening groups.

There will be stands and shows from nearly 20 different gardening societies, including The Yorkshire Bonsai Society and the Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers’ annual show.

You can find this spectacular display in the Floral Pavilion.

Premier Gold award to Roualeyn Fuchsias
Premier Gold award to Roualeyn Fuchsias

Plant Nursery Pavilion

Dozens of fabulous displays by the UK’s top nurseries can be seen, just one of the features that makes the shows first and third in the ranking of Britain’s best gardening events for readers of Which? Gardening.

Full details of the nurseries attending will be available in the Show Programme, price £3.50.

Jonathan Moseley's installation
Jonathan Moseley’s installation

Floral Art

Floral Art is set to offer everything… including the kitchen sink! The show includes the flower arranging title ‘All Washed Up’ featuring a sink. A coat of arms, spice cupboard and the end of the rainbow are also challenges set for this year’s competitors.

In the floristry classes, titles call for a ‘Yummy’ bridal design and a ‘Creature’ made from flowers and plant material.

The North East Area of NAFAS will be showing ‘Nature in Action’ for their large-scale display.

‘The Birds and The Bees’ by Acomb Flower Club will be creating the central display, while other clubs focus on woodlands, waterways, garden wildlife and the urban jungle.

FEAST! Food Theatre
FEAST! Food Theatre

Shopping, theatres, children, information

Feast! Food Theatre and Grow Garden Theatre will teach you how to cultivate then cook your harvest.

Don’t miss out on the shopping, with masses of food, crafts, gifts, plants, and Explore with Pod for the children.

Tickets cost £20.50 on the gate for Friday and Saturday and £19 on Sunday (£10.50 after 2pm Sunday only); children under 16 go free. The show is open from 9.30am to 5.30pm Friday and Saturday; 9.30am to 4.30pm on Sunday. Last admission is 4.30pm (3.30pm Sunday).

There is free onsite parking. For more information and details on accessibility, visit www.flowershow.org.uk.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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