Home Horticultural shows Harrogate Autumn Flower Show 2019 review and results

Harrogate Autumn Flower Show 2019 review and results

Insert your joke here... cauliflower Boris
Insert your joke here... cauliflower Boris

Last Autumn show in Harrogate goes out with a bang

If you’re betting man or woman, you can usually expect a torrential shower or two whether at Harrogate’s Spring or Autumn Shows – but this one was wall-to-wall sun!

The ice-cream vans were making a fortune on the first day of the three-day run and it rounded off the last show at the Great Yorkshire Showground – the autumn event moves to Newby Hall next year.

I did feel a sense of sadness at the news of the show’s relocation (read more about it here). It will still have Harrogate in the title, despite being 17 miles away.

One of the great joys of the Harrogate shows is for people like me without their own transport, it’s easy to get to. However, apparently a shuttle bus will still run from Harrogate town centre and parking will be free.

Anyhow, back to the present and what happened this year…

Giant vegetables and results

The Gardening Hall at noon on Friday is the place to be, with the National Onion Society Championship weigh-in – but no world records this year.

The monster vegetables are always a big draw (quite literally), although there were fewer exhibits overall in the various competitions – maybe something to do with the poor and variable conditions throughout the country.

Despite Friday 13th gremlins leading to a scales malfunction before winning the biggest pumpkins and marrows, an engineer saved the day.

  • Richard Mann’s winning giant pumpkin weighed 291.7kg.
  • Newcomer Craig Pearson, from Mansfield, won the heavy cabbage class with a specimen weighing in at 27.4kg.
  • Mansfield couple Laura Litchfield and Chris Marriott carried off the prizes for the heaviest carrot (3.835kg) and beetroot (17.84kg).
  • Graham Barratt’s winning giant cucumber was 920mm long.
  • Craig Pearson won the giant cabbage class, weighing in at 27.4kg.
The Newby Hall installation
The Newby Hall installation

Plant Pavilion and outdoor stalls

The Plant Nursery Pavilion is always one of my favourites – that’s where you’ll find the specialist nurseries, their displays and some real plant bargains.

The stalls are a great place to find late summer and autumn perennials to brighten up your borders, plus an astonishing choice of spring bulbs.

My pocket money this year was spent on late interest perennials – Echinacea Cheyenne Spirit (4 for £10), purple-blue Aster Barbados (Island Series) 3 for £10 and Persicaria microcephala Red Dragon, 3 for £10.

Floral Pavilion

The Floral Pavilion hosts the country’s biggest exhibition by specialist gardening groups, NAFAS (National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies) and the highlight, more than 5,000 autumn blooms, including chrysanthemums and dahlias – they never disappoint.

Installation and Creative Spaces results

Pickering nursery RV Roger took Best in Show for the second year running for plant nursery exhibits, with a display of more than 230 different types of apple, pear, quince and other fruits.

Best in Show for Special Educational/Scientific exhibits went to Hoyland Plant Centre.

The lost pleasure park of Leeds, Golden Acre Park, won top marks and a Premier Gold Award in this year’s Creative Spaces beds and borders competition.

Down the bog! Wacks Wicked Plants, Scampston: A unique border paying tribute to the fascinating world of carnivorous plants – PREMIER GOLD.

Shades of Autumn, Down 2 Earth, Sawdon: Cottage garden-style border – GOLD.

Fusion of food and flower: Leeds Allotments Federation, growing in a limited space – GOLD.

Creating Careers in Creative Spaces, WFGA, Tetbury: Celebrating the work of the WFGA in supporting new gardeners – GOLD.

We’ll Meet Again, Natasha Golley with Horticap: Commemorating the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II – GOLD.

Nature Reclaimed: Chopsticks, Northallerton, A peaceful wildlife garden created for vulnerable adults – SILVER GILT.

Waste Not Want Not: Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre, Knaresborough’s mini veg border – SILVER GILT.

A Celebration of Rewilding, Preston Park Museum, Eaglescliffe: This border is a sign of the changes Rangers are planning by letting nature take the driving seat – SILVER.

Pickering nursery RV Roger took Best in Show with their fruit display
Pickering nursery RV Roger took Best in Show with their fruit display

Top tips if you haven’t been before

  1. Avoid the main indoor eating venues at peak time, as you won’t get a seat. Go for the cooked breakfast at the Yorkshire Cafe as soon as you arrive, then top up mid-afternoon.
  2. Don’t forget the essentials: waterproofs, sunglasses and comfortable, flat shoes (no heels) – even a small tube of sun-tan cream.
  3. You can get cashback if you go mad from the information point in the Gardening Hall for a small purchase (the hessian bags are handy).
  4. The nurseries and companies attending had the usual offers – you can make your entrance fee back in savings. Don’t take a chance and go back later of a plant or product, as it might be gone.
  5. Use the plant creches run by the charity Perennial, so you don’t have to carry stuff around with you all day.

The show is open from 9.30am to 5.30pm on Saturday; 4.30pm Sunday. Last admission is 4.30pm (3.30pm Sunday).

Tickets for Saturday cost £20.50 on the gate, £19 on Sunday. Under 16s free when accompanied by an adult. Visit www.flowershow.org.uk for more information.

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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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