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Harrogate Autumn Flower Show 2016 review

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Dahlias Harrogate
Developing a new appreciation for dahlias at Harrogate Autumn Flower Show 2016

Monster veg come up trumps again

Marrows and onions
Marrows and onions line up for the weigh in

Sorry RHS, forget Chelsea – the Autumn Flower Show at Harrogate knocks it into a cocked hat (as does the spring event).

It may not have the glamour or the high-class show gardens but these are my five top reasons for going:

  • Value for money;
  • Ability to buy plants and goods at end-of-season bargain prices;
  • Monster veg;
  • A new plant hall;
  • For northerners, it’s doable in a day.
Mandy
Someone thought it would be funny to stand me here…

OK, the weather was shocking this morning (torrential rain), but the beauty of Harrogate is that big chunks of it are undercover, so even if everyone dashes inside, it’s not too packed.

The new Plant Pavilion is a great improvement, with displays and plant sales from nearly 100 of the country’s leading nurseries.

The layout is also different this year, so it’s well worth investing in a programme so you don’t miss anything.

Trail of the lonesome pine – sorted!

Buying plants from the experts is one of the main reasons I go, this time coming away with three autumn-flowering Gentian Shot Silk from County Durham’s Harperley Hall Farm Nurseries.

After being so inspired by the Mathematics Garden at Chelsea this year, I’d been looking out for a suitably gnarled (but small) pine tree to be the centrepiece of a winter revamp. I’d searched everywhere online, but the Stonecrop Nurseries stand came up trumps, with its choice of trees and shrubs – I’m now the proud owner of a grafted Pinus strobus radiata, with cones that look like they’ve been doused in icing sugar. Sounds a bit steep at £69, but I’ve looked long enough to know I got a good deal and lots of help from Lindsay. For more information, visit www.stonecropnurseries.co.uk.

I also bought three Echeveria for £10 from Armlee Nurseries, for more details visit www.armleenurseries.co.uk.

Monster veg and flowers

Of course, that perennial favourite, the monster veg exhibits, didn’t fail to disappoint, although the winning pumpkin was mysteriously missing when we were looking around the show benches!

The flower show was as startling as ever, with one of the winning dahlia pairs being the appropriately named Gateshead Festival.

Any downsides?

Don’t expect the show gardens on Green Lane to be up to RHS Chelsea standard – that’s not the point, and it’s easier to get ideas that will work in your garden without daft concepts.

There can be quite a walk from parking to the entrance, but there is a shuttle bus.

And for non-gardeners…

There’s plenty for the rest of the family to do, with lots of children’s entertainments, and the fabulous Food Marquee and Yorkshire crafts and gifts.

Entrance on Saturday costs £17.50, £16 on Sunday, especially for the plant sell-off on Sunday afternoon and is well worth the trip to the Great Yorkshire Showground – for details, visit www.flowershow.org.uk/show-info.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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