Blaze of colour at autumn flower show

ONE of the nation’s favourite flower shows begins its centenary celebrations today with the launch of an autumn showcase of leading horticulturists.

The Harrogate Autumn Flower Show is celebrating its landmark anniversary this year, with tens of thousands of visitors expected to descend on the Great Yorkshire Showground over the next three days. The show, which has carved out a reputation as Europe’s most prestigious autumn gardening event, will this year feature a series of new classes for giant vegetables including marrows, tomatoes and cucumbers added to the traditional displays of hundreds of fruit and veg exhibits.

Representatives from more than 100 of the country’s leading plant nurseries will be at the showground, and there will be daily demonstrations in the cookery theatre involving 17 of the region’s leading chefs, including Rosemary Shrager, Stephanie Moon and Paul Mackie.

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This year’s show will feature a new competition for up-and-coming trainee chefs from catering colleges in Leeds and Harrogate who will compete in a Ready, Steady, Cook-style challenge. Dozens of gardening organisations will be in the show’s marquee, which will play host to displays of more than 3,500 dahlias, nearly 1,000 chrysanthemums and in excess of 1,000 carnations as well as the biggest ever fuchsia show and the largest exhibition of bonsai outside of Japan.

Show director Martin Fish said: “Our message is that autumn is a terrific time to plant.”

A preview event was held yesterday for this year’s autumn show which is run by the North of England Horticultural Society, a leading gardening charity that was established 100 years ago in January 1911 and is based in the spa town.

The autumn flower show and its sister event, which is staged at the showground in the spring, attract up to 100,000 visitors a year between them.