This spring might have felt like the longest and coldest ever (give or take the one blistering weekend), but to look at the displays at the early flower shows, youíd never know it. Growers have risen to the challenge and have put on beautiful and varied selections to delight the eye and open the wallet.
Harrogate Flower Show at the Great Yorkshire Showground was no exception and the new Pavilions were filled with the sights and scents of spring. From tiny alpines to tall Clematis and orchids to perennials, there was colour everywhere, especially in a large inspirational display called The GREENhouse. Dwarf iris varieties, collections of auriculas and a huge range of alpines are proof that you can have a colourful display of plants no matter how small the space you have available. You can even include tiny varieties of Clematis that will tumble gradually over the sides of a pot and will be smothered in pretty cream-coloured flowers in spring.
Best in Show (Horticultural Trade section) went to a magnificent display of alpine, bog and woodland plants by Kevock Garden Plants of Midlothian, with Premier Gold awards to a wide range of nurseries including Taylors beautiful collection of Narcissus (Below: Upper), Jacques Armand (bulbs), W&S Lockyer (Auriculas) (Below: Lower), Dibleys Nurseries (Streptocarpus and begonias), Taylorís Clematis and Brookfield Plants (Hostas). A total of 24 Premier Golds were awarded, a rise from 19 in 2017. There were 18 Golds, down from 22 in 2027; 19 Silver-Gilt compared to 23 last year; 12 Silvers, down from 13 and 2 Bronze, down from 3 last year so, overall, the standard was very similar considering the weather.
An excellent and informative display by the Rose Society UK took the Best in Show award in the Special Education & Scientific category. This group is newly-founded to replace the Royal National Rose Society, who sadly had to fold in 2017 due to financial difficulties. They are actively seeking new members and can be reached via www.therosesociety.org.uk
Local and regional flower shows are seeing a huge rise in attendance as people lose interest in the big shows. Parking and entry prices tend to be much more realistic, leaving money to spend on plants and sundries at the show. These are also the places to find small nurseries selling varieties of plants that garden centres no longer stock, thanks to mass purchasing by the chain stores.
However, a word of warning in that there are also some unscrupulous sellers who are retailing plants brought in directly from the continent. These may be cheap, but they are weaker (having travelled in straight from a polythene tunnel), have useless information labels and may also bring in pests and diseases that will harm our own home-grown stock.
A local show is an excellent day out and is well worth investigating if there is one near you. Happy shopping!
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