Brenda Watkinson takes a look at some of the group-friendly gardening events taking place during 2018.Flower shows organised by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) are always popular with groups. First off for the year will be the two-day RHS Early Spring Plant Fair in February and, in April, the RHS Orchid Show & Plant Fair – both these have ‘Late Events’ with a DJ and live music running on the evening prior to the show opening, from 17.00 to 21.00.
Taking place at the RHS Lindley and Lawrence Halls, they make an excellent indoor gardening event for groups visiting London early in the year.
Also in April, the RHS celebrates the best of springtime with inspiring gardens, demonstrations and talks at the RHS Flower Show Cardiff held in the heart of the city in Bute Park at Cardiff Castle. As well as glorious show gardens, there will be lots of floral displays and of course 100 stalls brimming with gardening products and gifts.
And, in May the RHS Malvern Spring Festival’s Show Gardens are a real treat for any visitor. Created by top designers, including RHS Gold Medal Winners, the gardens delight visitors year in and year out. Designers are given a free rein so that they can let their creativity determine the theme of their garden, often yielding spectacular results.
Many of the garden designers will be on hand to answer questions and offer tips to help transform your own garden, whatever you have planned for it. The Malvern Autumn Show also takes place at the same venue, the Three Counties Showground near Malvern in September.
In Derbyshire, following its successful launch last year, the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show will return in June to the grounds of Chatsworth House on the banks of the River Derwent. As well as gorgeous gardens and floral marquees, there will be plenty of shopping opportunities plus Talk Theatres hosting talks and demonstrations. Derbyshire is also well known for its annual Well Dressing programme, which runs from May to September and is unique to the Peak District, and can be combined with a visit to the Show.
Additional RHS shows take place at Chelsea in May and at Hampton Court Palace and Tatton Park, Cheshire in July as well as annual shows at each of the four RHS Gardens.
Regional Flower Shows
Hampton Court Palace, part of the Historic Royal Palaces group, will be staging the annual Florimania in March with the theme ‘Flowers from around the World’, an exploration of the world’s continents in flowers. The beautiful interiors of the palace will be resplendent with vibrant floral displays and sweet scents of spring featuring flowers from each continent, from humble roses to tropical plants and orchids.
Experts from the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies will give demonstrations and provide extra insights for visitors. Florimania is included in the price of palace admission so groups can also explore the magnificent Henry VIII State Apartments, the Baroque Palace of William & Mary and of course the 60 acres of glorious gardens – all included in the admission price.
In late April/early May Pashley Manor’s spectacular Tulip Festival sees this garden, on the border of Sussex and Kent, carpeted with over 30,000 tulips, creating stunning scenes for visitors to enjoy. Tulips are followed by over 100 varieties of roses through June, hundreds of scented lilies, the kitchen garden showcasing an abundance of produce and a blaze of colour provided by hundreds of dazzling dahlias, during the Dahlia Days event in early September. There is also a café with terraced seating area, exhibitions of sculpture and art, and a gift shop.
Arundel Castle in West Sussex will celebrate the 950th anniversary of its initial construction in 2018 with a series of stunning floral displays in the popular walled gardens, as well as its first ever Spring Plant Fair on 29th April, which will showcase a wide range of plants and bulbs grown in Sussex and Kent. Entry is included in the standard ticket price.
Harrogate Spring Flower Show in April welcomes the new season with a spectacular celebration of the very best in horticulture. Held at the Great Yorkshire Showground, it features show gardens, over 100 plant nurseries and the UK’s biggest floral art exhibition.
Taking place in August at Victoria Park Southport, Southport Flower Show is Britain’s biggest independent flower show and has been a success story since 1924. This year’s theme – ‘Once Upon A Time’ – will celebrate the storytellers of gardening as well as featuring the very best in garden design, gourmet foods and entertainment, some of the country’s best known garden gurus from TV and radio will be on hand during the event.
Meanwhile, The Garden Show has three events during the year – at Firle Place Park & Gardens near Lewes in April, Stansted Park, Rowlands Castle in June and Loseley Park near Guildford in July. The shows are relaxed and informal events allowing groups to meet growers and plants people with a passion for gardening, tours of the adjoining stately home can also be booked during the event.