Spring has most definitely sprung and this year I am trading in my usual ‘Music Festivals’ for Gardening Shows…… And first on the agenda is The Harrogate Flower show, which I will be attending on it’s opening day this Thursday and I am super duper excited.
I have never attended a gardening event before and have no idea what to expect, so I caught up with Harrogate Flower Show a couple of weeks ago and they very kindly answered a few of my questions and I have them here to share with you lovely folk!
1. Having never attended a ‘Flower Show’ before what should I expect from it?
The beauty of our flower show is that there is so much to do and see, you can take away what most appeals to you. So, if you are after gardening advice, we have two live theatres with expert horticultural speakers, regular Gardener’s Q&As, one to one advice from the Institute of Horticulture and 100s of specialist exhibitors. We also have thousands of garden items, ranging from secateurs to sun houses, plus the UK’s top nurseries selling plants for every place. If you are not a keen, hands-on gardener, we have Britain’s biggest exhibition of floral art, cooking demonstrations, handmade crafts, gifts, specialist foods, live band music, and great shopping for home and garden – plus lots of lovely flowers!
2. Some of my followers have said that I am in for a real treat, that Harrogate Spring Flower show is the best, I also see it has been rated by Which? Gardening as the best in Britain too, what makes it the best?
We are the biggest and most prestigious of the UK’s independent (non RHS) flower shows and, as you say, our spring show was rated Britain’s best gardening event by Which? We are widely known as a friendly, practical show for garden lovers, who look forward to sourcing great plants and gardening goods, as well as finding inspiration and ideas to take home from our fantastic show gardens. With stunning floral art, four live theatres, new themed attractions each year, handmade crafts, lovely gifts and specialist regional foods, there is also plenty to offer those who are simply looking for a great day out!
Some 75% of the show is under cover and 90% on hard standing, which means that if the weather is changeable, there is always something to see and enjoy. Our facilities for disabled people are excellent, and there is a big range of catering outlets on site. Children under 16 are free when accompanied by an adult. Parking is also plentiful and free.
3. The spring theme this year is HortCouture, what does that envisage and how did you come up with the theme?
HortCouture explores the age-old relationship between plants, flowers and style, and stretches the boundaries of how we think about homes, gardens and even our wardrobes. We will have a range of attractions across the show, including an exclusive exhibition of fabulous flower-inspired gowns by the New Zealand costumier Jenny Gillies, fantastic floral art tributes to the world’s top fashion houses, Floral Bonnets made with real cars from the region’s floristry students, and a Green Room made entirely with plant and flower furnishings. We also have a special competition for exhibitors, called Give it some Welly, which challenges them to create a planted display using that great garden fashion item – the humble welly.
4. On the subject of couture what is the recommended fashion for attending the flower show, for comfort and glamour?
Whatever our visitors are most comfortable in, taking account of the weather.
5. What would you as show organisers recommend as my ‘must see’ at the show?
Again, it depends on what you are most interested in. The HortCouture exhibitions in the Gardening Hall and the Floral Pavilion look set to be spectacular! We also have Britain’s biggest exhibition by flower arrangers and florists, with over 150 individual works of art. The award-winning plant displays created by our exhibitors in the Plant Pavilion are amazing, and anyone looking for garden inspiration should make sure they take a stroll along The Avenue to admire the show gardens.
6. Gardening & Garden shows have a typical stereotype for the older people only, why should the younger generation attend the event?
More and more young people are now keen gardeners, often because they want to use their outdoor space as an extension to their home for entertaining friends or relaxing, and also because they want to grow their own produce to eat at home. Knowing where your food comes from is a growing (no pun intended) concern for many people and, whether you are just starting out or already an expert, you can learn from the very best at the show. We also have a range of fun, hands-on activities in Pod’s patch for young children, who get free admission with an adult. Our activities are all gardening led and educational to encourage the next generation of gardeners.
7. Being British spring time there’s a chance it could rain, if so would this ruin attending the event?
No not at all, there is still plenty to see and do. 75% of our show is under cover with six massive halls and marquees full of fantastic displays. Most of the site is also on hard standing so no need to squelch around. I have to say, though, the majority of our visitors are seasoned gardeners and just make sure they bring the right clothes!
8. Dining at the show looks like a real treat too, do the menus cater for vegans/veggies and coeliacs?
Yes, any prebooked diners are asked if they have any dietary requirements. There is also a big range of catering outlets, most of which should offer vegetarian and gluten free options. If anyone has concerns, I suggest they contact the caterers, CGC, for advice on 0113 287 6387
9. Why do you love Harrogate Flower Show?
I love the flower show because it has everything you could need to make both a great garden and a great day out. It has just the right mix of the practical and the spectacular, with an unrivalled range of plants, shopping, inspiration and entertainment.
10. If it was your first time attending how would you map out your day to get the best from it?
Personally, I am a plant person so I would head for the Plant Pavilion and plant markets to make sure I got the pick of plants I was looking for, then drop them off at the Plant Crèche so I wouldn’t have to carry them around with me all day! After that, I would take a look at the timetables to see which live demos appealed and where they were taking place, and plan the rest of the day around that. For anyone new to a big event like this, I would always recommend buying a show programme or, at the very least, checking out the showground maps to make sure I didn’t miss anything. We also have a number of members of staff whose role is to answer questions and point people in the right direction.
Thank you so much for answering my questions I think I am even more excited now and I can’t wait to attend the show is think I will definitely be taking your advice and hitting the Plant Pavilion first!
This looks set to be a spectacular day for anyone interested in gardening and GYO. If you’re thinking of attending the Harrogate Spring Flower Show you can find tickets for the event on their website and runs from Thursday 20th to Sunday 23rd April.
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