Harrogate Flower Show celebrates a century of shows as up to 20,000 prepare to attend

For decades, it has been a showcase for the beloved British past-time of gardening.

1920s flapper girls Jessica Fordham and Fiona Fisk celebrate '100 years not out' as Spring Essentials marks 'a century of shows' at Harrogate

Now the organisers of the Harrogate Flower Show are celebrating “a century of shows”, after last year’s event had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The North of England Horticultural Society is holding its Spring Essentials show from Thursday next week, the first major gardening show to take place in 2021 and one of only a handful due to be staged in the UK this year.

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Set in the grounds of the Great Yorkshire Showground, Spring Essentials will be different from the traditional Harrogate Spring Flower Show, usually one of the biggest events in the North’s horticultural calendar, with just a third of the normal number of visitors expected over four days.

Harrogate Spring Flower Show 2018 - judge James Akers judging the daffodils Picture: Simon Hulme

Show director Nick Smith said there was a huge pent-up demand for gardening, with many people seeking to make the most of their outdoor space.

He said there are many more “leisure” gardeners “who enjoy their garden, want to make a nice environment and have interesting plants to go into it”.

He added: “If the last year has taught us anything, it is the value of being outdoors and the benefits of gardening for people of all generations and backgrounds.” But the number of visitors will be well down this year.

Mr Smith said: “We’d normally have up to 60,000 people over the four days, and we’re only bringing up to 20,000, so it means people can stay apart, stay safe and it makes it a much more relaxed experience – different but more relaxed.

“We are all aware that things aren’t normal still, there’s still a great difference in what we would normally do, that’s why the show this year is not a normal flower show.”

The five show gardens include a design by Faith Douglas, the part-time curator of Thorp Perrow Arboretum, in North Yorkshire, who teaches people about reconnecting with nature through forest bathing.

Another of the showgardens is by Lisa Norton, of Harrogate Garden Design, featuring a “biophilic” design, a concept used in the building industry which seeks to connect the occupant to the natural environment.

There will be 40 plant nurseries from across the country, exhibiting a host of plants from camassias to mandevillas – climbing perennials, normally at home in the tropical woodlands of Central and South America.

A packed programme of live outdoor events includes daily demonstrations by celebrity floral designer Jonathan Moseley and plot-to-plate recipes from television chef Stephanie Moon.

Mr Smith said: “Our charity was set up in 1911 to promote the benefits of horticulture across the North.

“Thanks to the incredible and continuing support of all our visitors, exhibitors, suppliers and colleagues we are able to celebrate a century of shows that have inspired, enthused and entertained gardeners for generations.”

There will be no ticket sales at the gate. They must be purchased in advance via the website.

Tickets for Spring Essentials cost £15 for adults, while children aged under 16 will be able to gain free admission when they are accompanied by an adult, and parking is free.