Video: Preview the Harrogate Spring Flower Show

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CAREFULLY TENDING to an allotment was once thought of as something of an unfashionable hobby but now harking back to the Dig for Victory spirit of the war years interest has been renewed.

Plenty of preening and planting was underway today as the final touches were being put to the displays at the Harrogate Spring Flower Show where exhibitors have been inspired by the 70th anniversary of VE Day and the army of allotment gardeners who helped to feed the country.

Winston Churchill look-alike Derek Herbert with the flower portrait of the former Prime Minister

Winston Churchill look-alike Derek Herbert with the flower portrait of the former Prime Minister

Sir Winston Churchill lookalike Derek Herbert paid a visit to inspect progress ahead of the show’s opening today, and came face-to-face with a giant floral portrait of himself created for the show from 1,400 carnation stems in shades of red, cream, burgundy and pink.

It has been created by florist Lucy Hutton Smith, from Richmond, who said: “Myself and Libby Rowley Bell, from Thirsk, worked on this. It took us eight hours to do it between us.”

Other VE activities include plant nursery displays based on the victory speech ‘This is Your Hour’ made by Churchill when he was Prime Minister in May 1945.

Complete with dolly tubs, an Anderson shelter and chicken run, the display by the Leeds & District Allotment Gardeners’ Federation, celebrates those gardeners who mobilised to help feed a nation under siege during the conflict.

I think there is an interest today in knowing what you are eating

Phil Gomersall

Phil Gomersall, of the Federation, said: “I think that there is an interest today in knowing what you are eating.”

Nick Smith, show director, said: “It’s interesting how allotments 15 or 20 years ago went out of fashion and now there are waiting lists.

“People are interested in the process of how something is grown.”

He said people led busy, modern lives and gardening could offer the perfect remedy.

Lorraine Hart prepares for the show. Picture by Simon Hulme

Lorraine Hart prepares for the show. Picture by Simon Hulme

“I think people are so busy in their lives they need something where they can get away from it for half-an-hour or whatever,” he said.

Members of The Daffodil Society Northern Group said members had also noticed renewed interest in the pastime.

Chris Bone, from the society, said: “Daffodils seem to be taking off again.”

He said there was interest from young people but he said it was important that societies ensured that growing tips and techniques were passed on to future generations.

Holly Fisher from Askham Bryam College. Picture by Simon Hulme

Holly Fisher from Askham Bryam College. Picture by Simon Hulme

This year’s Harrogate Spring Flower Show, which takes place today, tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday at the Great Yorkshire Showground, in Harrogate, also features a number of other attractions including show gardens along The Avenue and a number of floral displays and exhibitors.

Show gardens include a city rooftop terrace, while another contemporary garden designed by students at Askham Bryan College, in York, is a contemporary garden, designed with a writer in mind.

Students from the college will also be racing against the clock to build a garden in just 60 minutes.

The show’s Floral Art Marquee plays host to a range of demonstrations including presentations by florist and BBC Big Allotment Challenge judge, Jonathan Moseley.

Fellow judge on the BBC show, Jim Buttress, affectionately nicknamed Judge Dread, will team up with Mr Moseley for a talk in the Dig It Garden Theatre today.

Mr Smith said: “There is an unrivalled amount of experience and expertise available from our demonstrators and our exhibitors.”

• The Harrogate Spring Flower Show is the first major event in the gardening calendar.

Harrogate Flower Shows are organised and run by the North of England Horticultural Society, a charity set up over 100 years ago to promote horticulture across the north. Profits from the spring and autumn events are returned to the charity to support a range of community and educational projects.

It features show gardens, displays from a 100 plant nurseries, four live demonstration theatres and over 300 garden shopping, craft, gift, regional food and specialist society stands.

For more information visit the website: www.flowershow.org.uk.

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