Flower power

Admiring the blooms at Gardening Scotland.

As the pastime of gardening has grown in popularity, so have the number of horticultural and flower shows the length and breadth of the country. With ever more springing up each year, they hold appeal for a wide range of groups.

Whether your group regularly visits flower shows or are newcomers to gardening, the huge choice of events across the UK in 2013 means there’s something for everyone to enjoy. From the world-renowned Chelsea Flower Show to new additions such as the Blenheim Palace Flower Show, here’s a selection for your group.

RHS EVENTS

Over the years, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has built an enviable reputation for staging flower shows. 2013 will be no exception, with a programme of twelve events throughout the year. At all RHS shows, groups of 10 or more receive discounts.

Some of the most popular RHS shows include the RHS Flower Show Cardiff, from 19th to 21st April in Bute Park, which celebrates the riches of spring, with an emphasis on spring flowers and bulbs as well as tips and advice for growing your own produce.

Also celebrating the vitality of spring, the Malvern Spring Gardening Show from 9th to 12th May at Worcestershire’s Three Counties Showground invites visitors to meander around show gardens based on the Tour De France and Dr Who TV series. Later in the year, the Malvern Autumn Show, from 28th to 29th September, is a haven for seasonal food lovers.

Perhaps the best-known RHS event is the Chelsea Flower Show, which in 2013 will bring a flush of colour to London from 21st to 25th May.

With an emphasis on environmental issues and growing your own produce, the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, taking place from 9th to 14th July this year in Surrey, is the largest flower show in the world whilst showcasing the floral majesty of summer in full swing, RHS Flower Show Tatton Park will be staged from 24th to 28th July in the grounds of Tatton Hall in Cheshire. The show celebrates the popular pastime of ‘grow your own’ and showcases a number of gardens inspired by the solar system.

From 5th to 8th September in Surrey, RHS Wisley Flower Show will see over 40 garden designers exhibiting showpieces as well as glorious late-summer displays.

The RHS also runs a number of shows in association with other organisations. These include BBC Gardeners’ World Live! at The NEC in Birmingham in June, which brings a host of the most popular celebrity gardeners and designers together under one roof. Groups can meet the growers at the floral marquees and let your imagination run wild in the ‘grow your own’ garden, show garden displays and RHS Show Features. A 20% discount is offered to groups of 10 or more, with up to six free tickets and a complimentary Recipe Collection & Showguide, usually £10, included. Visitors are also given free entry to the BBC Summer Good Food Show, held at the same time (see page 106), while a Group Organiser Lounge, introduced in 2012, will offer GTOs a place to relax again.

 

GREEN-FINGERED GARDENS

It isn’t only horticultural societies that host flower and gardening shows throughout the UK; many of the country’s garden attractions stage events too.

In the Princess of Wales Conservatory at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew from mid-February to early March, Kew’s Tropical Extravaganza presents a dazzling variety of orchids and tropical flowers. While details for this year’s show are still under wraps, each year the extravaganza explores a different theme. Groups of 10 or more are offered discounts.

Over Mothering Sunday weekend, 8th to 10th March, Hampton Court Palace will host Florimania, with flamboyant floral creations displayed alongside the newly re-created Tudor crown in King Henry VIII’s richy furnished rooms. There will also be flower arranging demonstrations conducted by volunteers from the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (NAFAS).

In Guildford, Surrey, the annual Spring Garden Show at Loseley Park will take place in the stunning setting of the Walled Garden in April, featuring plant sales, garden displays and food stalls. Also at Loseley Park, The Garden Show, from 19th to 21st July, is one of the park’s most popular shows, with specialist nurseries, garden suppliers, designers and artists on hand. Discounted entry is offered to groups of 10 or more people.

From 24th April to 6th May at Pashley Manor Gardens in East Sussex, The Tulip Festival will showcase over 20,000 tulips from 100 varieties in colour-themed areas as well as 2,000 cult tulips in vases, creating a spectacular display.

Capel Manor Gardens in Enfield, Middlesex hosts several events throughout the year, such as the one-day National Pelargonium and Geranium Show on 16th June and the weekend-long British Gladiolus and Gough Park Allotment Show from 10th to 11th August. With a Georgian manor and grounds to explore, the garden’s shows make for great group getaways, revealing not only the variety of flora on display, but the horticultural life of the gardens themselves. Groups of 20 or more receive discounts.

One of Britain’s top historic houses, Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, will launch The Blenheim Palace Flower Show from 21st to 23rd June in 2013. The three-day flower and garden show will feature over 100 floral and gardens exhibitors, a Grand Floral Marquee, 10 garden landscapes presented in a range of themes and plenty more, including food, refreshments and family activities. Discounted entry to the show alone or to the show and palace inclusive is available to groups of 15 people or more.

The Thriplow Daffodil Weekend.

BRITAIN BLOOMS 

There are also a number of regional flower and gardening shows.

In March, the Thriplow Daffodil Weekend in Cambridgeshire is a celebration of spring, with open gardens, crafts, marquees, demonstrations and bell ringing. Discounts are offered to groups of 12 or more.

Giant vegetables feature at the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show.

Another popular event is the Harrogate Spring Flower Show at the end of April, which features more than 260 floral displays in the large floral art marquee. Later in the year, the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show, which takes place from 13th to 15th September in 2013, hosts a major exhibition of flowers and plants grown by specialist gardening groups as well as national vegetable competitions. Discounted advance tickets are offered to groups of 20 or more.

In May, Knebworth House will host the annual Hertfordshire Garden Show, giving budding gardeners the chance to seek out plenty of advice from the 100 or so growers and designers exhibiting at the event, with access to a wide range of exotic and unusual species of plants. Admission to the show is included in the normal entry rate for the house, discounted for groups of 20 or more.

Also in May, the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh will welcome Gardening Scotland. The national gardening show, it is the biggest plant sale in Scotland, with over 400 growers and nurseries taking part. Groups of 10 or more are offered discounts, and given one free ticket for every 10 tickets purchased.

Returning for its 85th year from 15th to 18th August, the Southport Flower Show is the UK’s largest independent flower show. The theme for 2013 is ‘Pride’, with gardeners showcasing their talents. Visitors will see over a million blooms, while garden experts will be on hand to offer guidance. Talks, presentations, displays and music will also help keep the fun in full bloom. Pre-booked groups of 10 or more receive a 10% discount off the price of entry.