One of Yorkshire’s premier horticultural events, Harrogate Spring Flower Show is one of the earliest major flower shows in the UK, attracting around 80,000 visitors to the Great Yorkshire Showground in North Yorkshire each year.
It’s been a couple of years since I last went, and the show was somewhat larger than it had been on my previous visit.
The show gardens are always a visitor favourite. As well as allowing landscapers, gardeners and garden designer to advertise their businesses, they are (sometimes) a chance for visitors to get some planting and garden design ideas for their own gardens at home.
Best in Show went to “A homecoming prayer” built by Northumbrian Landscaping for the 6th Regiment Royal Logistics Corps.
This was the largest show garden ever exhibited at Harrogate and it certainly was very big. The build quality looked excellent. I felt it was a shame that the design was so enclosed all the way round, I think it would have been nice to have been able to view it more clearly from more places without having to peer over the top of the fencing.
Above: “A homecoming prayer” show garden viewed from its viewing point. Atkinsons must have felt smug about the siting of their adverts!
Another gold medal winning entry was the Colour My Garden show garden, featuring water troughs with reflective water, clipped Yew and Box, with softer planting in the foreground. It reminded me of some Chelsea Flower Show gardens from a couple of years back, in a good way.
Above: The Colour My Garden Show Garden
My favourite though was the Out of Yorkshire garden, by Richard Austin. Very different to the Colour My Garden display, this was a naturalistic garden built from York stone, dry stone walls and soft, naturalistic planting including wildflowers and natives. Water flowed through the garden, and the planting continued all around the outside of the dry stone walls. To create something looking so easy-going, and aged in appearance, in such a short space of time takes some real skill and a great eye for design. With naturalistic garden design schemes, you can occasionally overhear onlookers making comments such as “looks a bit untidy to me” or “my garden looks like that before I sort the weeds out”. (I bet it doesn’t…) I’d be surprised if anyone thought anything along those lines with this garden, as it really was extremely attractive.
Above: Out of Yorkshire show garden
Above: Partially constructed walls and loose natural looking planting was really effective in the Out of Yorkshire garden.
Overall, all the show gardens were interesting in one way or another. There didn’t seem to be any particular trends emerging, or even many similarities between the gardens. This was a good thing, as I’m sure that between the gardens there would have been aspects of garden design or certain planting choices that almost anyone could relate to.
It isn’t all garden design and horticulture at the flower show. Floristry is also showcased at Harrogate Spring Flower Show in the Floral Art marquee, and this year’s display had some real wow-factor. The exhibitors ranged from entry level students through to professionals, and there were some stunning displays. These were some of my personal favourites:
Alongside the floristry was a display by Christchurch based artist and costumier Jenny Gillies. She has never exhibited overseas before, so this was quite a booking for Harrogate.
Above: Jenny Gillies’ dresses, along with matching fire extinguishers.
Above: Jenny Gillies’ amazing plant themed dresses.
Above: Which way are you facing by the way?
So, all in all a very pleasant day out. My only gripe was that my fish and chips were too greasy, but there you go. I should have gone for a duck bap, but you know what they say about hindsight.
Garden Designer, West Yorkshire.