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Harrogate Spring Flower Show 2016

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I’ve just been to my first ever Harrogate Spring Flower Show and I wanted to share with you a selection of the photos I took.  I decided to go on my own because not many people would be willing to follow me around all day while I take endless photos and obsess over plants!  I actually took a bus trip over because sometimes it’s just easier to let someone else do all the driving.  The venue is easy to find, however, and there is loads of parking available.

The bus trip took four hours but I arrived at Harrogate excited and ready to go! A lady I’d been talking to on the bus kindly showed me where to go so off I went with programme in hand to the first section, which happened to be the show gardens.  My favourite was this old-fashioned garden below.  Although I appreciate modern minimalist gardens, I’m really a cottage-garden girl at heart, and while this didn’t have all of the attributes of the garden of my dreams (i.e. big mixed perennial borders), I thought it was the nicest in the show.

 

 

I was also rather taken with the cloud-pruned shrub in one of the other show gardens.  You can do this in your own garden as long as you are prepared to wait for the plant to grow.  The best subjects are box (Buxus sempiverens), or if you have box blight you can use Ilex crenata (box-leaved holly).

 

Cloud-pruned shrub

Cloud-pruned shrub

 

The show gardens led on to the floral marquee.  Now I’ve never delved into the mystic art of flower arranging, but I was rather taken with it and some of the displays were pretty astounding.  Maybe one day I will try my hand at it – there was certainly plenty of inspiration there for me.

The first section centred on world travel, and I particularly liked the elephant (representing India) and the Parisian display (below).

 

 

There were other arrangements with the themes of music, ballet, butterflies, romance, floral jewellery and hanging arrangements.  Please click on the photos below to enlarge them and see them in more detail.

 

 

One of my favourites was this tea-party themed display:

 

Winner in the floral marquee

Winner in the floral marquee

 

There were several larger displays at the main entrance which must have taken many hours to complete.  The theme was ‘imaginary worlds’ (below).

 

 

Smaller stands depicted ‘special places’ (below).

 

 

To produce a flower arrangement as beautiful as the ones I saw at Harrogate is truly an art.

At the back of the floral marquee there was a whole section for bonsai trees.  It always amazes me what a bit of root-pruning can produce:

 

 

Outside there were loads of stands, but I particularly enjoyed those with an artistic slant, such as this company selling bronze garden sculptures based on the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme (below (top).

 

 

I also quite liked these stylish spherical ‘pods’ (above bottom left) that would be ideal for relaxing in a modern garden.  I also enjoyed watching a lady from Moorcroft pottery painting the typical art nouveau-inspired designs onto pottery (above bottom right).

 

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I really liked the wheat sculpture above, too, and would happily have it in my garden!

My absolute favourite section was, of course, the plant marquee which was packed with trade stands and displays.  It made me wish I had a really big garden and a really big bank account!  To be honest most of the plants were reasonably priced, but it’s like a giant sweetshop and I wanted one of everything!  As we are considering moving house at the moment I had to be very restrained, however. *sob*

 

 

I especially like the stands that display alpine plants, with each plant displayed like a precious jewel amongst the backdrop (middle right and bottom right above).

An impressive stand near the main entrance was covered in Imperial fritillaries (below top) and other spring bulbs, and nearby another stall included the arresting sight of a tower of fragrant Oriental lilies (below)!  I couldn’t resist buying several lily bulbs which I’ve already planted in the garden.  The smell of Oriental lilies is heavenly and I can highly recommend them for adding height and fragrance to a border or tub.

 

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I also bought a double pink/white amaryllis (Hippeastrum) called ‘Nymph’ from a Dutch bulb stall (below).  Most people buy amaryllis to force for traditional Christmas displays, but you can buy and grow them at any time of the year.  You can also keep them going from one year to the next, rather than throw them away as a lot of people do.  I even grew amaryllis seedlings once when I was very young!

 

 

There were impressive displays of carnivorous plants (below top row) and beautiful slections of native orchids (below bottom row).  Both were quite expensive due to their relative rarity in the gardening world and difficulty of propagation.

 

 

 

There were several plants at the show that took my eye so I’ve included several below.  There were also lots of people selling a new pink-flowered Pieris called ‘Passion’.  It was a really nice addition to the Pieris family and I did take a photo but unfortunately it was blurred.  Maybe I can catch it again at Holker Hall Flower Show at the beginning of June?

 

 

There were only a few stands selling veg, but some good ideas.  It’s now all the rage to reuse old pallets and they make ideal raised beds for smaller plots (below top left).  Drainpipes can be used in small spaces for cut and come again lettuce (below top right).  Salad leaves can be decorative too (below bottom left)!  And who wouldn’t want to have a go at growing fruit when you see the delicious results (below bottom right)?

 

 

Daffodils are one of my favourite flowers so I’ve given them their own section here.  My collection has grown by two already this year and that was before I got to the Harrogate Show!  In the floral marquee there was a large area at the back dedicated to the judging of the finest groups and individual blooms.  The Best Single Bloom was awarded to ‘Aircastle’ (bottom right).

 

Harrogate Spring Flower Show 118

 

 

There were also several trade stands in the plant marquee, including Taylor’s Bulbs, who put on an impressive display of daffodils.  Quite a lot of the stands included a few as they are so popular at this time of the year.

 

 

A new introduction to the plant world is the ‘amarine’ – a cross between Nerine bowdenii and Amaryllis belladonna.  Apparently they are hardy down to -10 (below).

 

 

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The tulip displays were pretty impressive too.  My favourite was ‘Parrot Lady’.

 

 

Other favourite plants of mine are the fancy Auricula primroses.  The flowers look slightly unreal because the markings on each petal are so precise.

 

Auricula 'Trafalgar Square'

Auricula ‘Trafalgar Square’


 

It is traditional to display the fancier types in Auricula ‘theatres’ like those above.  There are hardier types called ‘border Auriculas’, but those with more striking markings are usually overwintered in a cool greenhouse to protect their amazing flowers.

 

Phew – that was a long post!  But if you’re like me and you can look at flowers all day I hope it was a treat.  I may have to visit the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show later on in the year!

Kelly.

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