It’s always a pleasure to make it to the Harrogate Spring Flower Show and this year was no exception. Set in the expansive Great Yorkshire Showground, the show ran from Thursday 23 April to Sunday 26 April and offered visitors a wealth of things to see and do including food and plant displays, floral exhibits, gorgeous gardens and outdoor entertainment.
There was something for everyone this year for gardening gurus to those new to gardening, wanting to pick up tips and get some inspiring ideas.
Children could also get involved in getting their hands dirty. Learning about the soil and learning where their favourite fruit and vegetables come from.
If you made it to the show you'll have seen the beautifully cultivated crops and maybe picked up a purchase or two for your veg plot or garden.
Here were some of the highlights to look out for at the show;
Durham Flower Festival Show Garden
If you think the Show Gardens are just about pretty flowers, think again. East Durham College created a 4m x 4m plot full of tasty vegetables presented immaculately with a fitting backdrop of Durham catherdral.
See the strawberries grown in grow bags which accelerate the soil temperature for good root growth, and allows for easy transporting. Raised beds, here with sweetcorn, onions and lettuce, achieve the similar effect with the soil and also allow easier access.
And there’s fruit trees too, like apple’ Sunset’, trained as cordons, a method used to stimulate the production of fruit buds and save space.
Specialist societies – Northern Fruit Group
Formed in 1995, the Northern Fruit Group is a membership based group of individuals interested in the growing of fruit. For amateur gardeners interested in fruit but having little knowledge through to professional fruit growers. Membership has grown to more than 300 members.
At the Harrogate Spring Flower Show they demonstrated a range of fruits that gardeners can grow- from currants to top fruit like apples and pears. And check out strawberry 'Toscana'- not only will you get a lovely crop of strawberries in summer, the flowers are deliciously dainty and enchanting too (pictured).
Victory Allotments: Digging for Victory
Including features reminiscent of the war-time 1940s (pictured, top), like an Anderson shelter and dolly tubs, the feature here takes you back in time to when allotments really took hold.
Carrots are one of the vegetables growing in the plot; they were an apt substitute for the familiar commodity of sugar. Their natural sweetness flavoured carrot-flavoured fudge, cake, lollies and even Christmas pudding!
Remember the promo posters of the day about the importance of growing your own crops? This feature really gives a sense of the pressing need for learning to grow food to survive at the time. With involvement from local schools, the show feature has proved a really effective educational tool for getting pupils in sync with their heritage and the importance of growing.
How2 afternoon talks
At 1pm each day Nigel Harrison took to the stage to advise you on fruit and vegetable troubleshooting, and finding solutions for growing crops in a small space, including how to create raised beds and the benefits of them.
At 2pm Malcolm Dickinson from Hooksgreen Herbs shared his expertise on herb-growing. Visitors found out all they needed to know about growing your own food seasoning from growing different varieties of mints, to caring for woody rosemary. And about which herbs grow well in the sun, and which herbs grow equally well in the shade. Once you try, you won’t look back.
A touch of the ornamental
Visitors came to the floral exhibits in the Gardening Halls and saw a rainbow of colour from plants that make ideal cut flowers. Dahlias (pictured)and chrysanthemums are two such flowers that are great to plant in your flowerbeds, your containers as focal points and even on your allotment.
There’s a colour and flower pattern for everyone with these two plants, and they are great for attracting pollinators like bees and hoverflies.
Great crops at the show to try at home
Kale ‘Nero’ - (right) The narrow leaves of this Kale have a heavily savoyed, ‘bubbly' look. It cooks quickly, keeping a rich dark green colour. The leaves have a wonderful flavour and delicate texture.
Strawberry ‘Toscana’ – Large red fruits in summer, preceded by beautiful rich pink/red flowers. Ideal as part of an ornamental bedding display.
Broad bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ – A great broad bean producing attractive white, black-blotched flowers followed by an early harvest of meaty, wholesome beans in spring or early summer.