Sandringham blooms again

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall leaving the Sandringham Flower Show. Picture: Ian Bu

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall leaving the Sandringham Flower Show. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

It’s hard to imagine summer without one of Norfolk’s best-loved outdoor events – whatever the weather.

Come the last Wednesday in July, thousands pack into the Royal Estate for the Sandringham Flower Show. While it has grown to become one of the biggest one-day events of its kind, the glorious sprawl of marquees and stalls has kept many of the quaint traditions which make it unique.

While the gates open around 8.30am, the main marquees remain closed until its Royal patrons Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have looked over the exhibits. Afterwards, the couple tour the showground, greeting exhibitors and well-wishers who line the route of their lengthy walkabout.

Not even the rain – which tipped down for most of the day – put off the crowds last year. Show officials said the fact that so many turned out showed just how much people love the event.

One of the most popular exhibits are the show gardens, which must be built from scratch in less than a week. Top designers and nurseries compete for the prestigious Eastern Daily Press Best in Show trophy, which is judged by TV gardeners Chris Beardshaw and Alan Mason.

Show treasurer Helen Walch says: “We are delighted to have so many show gardens this year, including some by very old friends of the show like Rutland Landscapes and Shadow Jewers-Hall. We are also very pleased that Nick Hamilton from Barnsdale Gardens will be joining us again this year, completing our panel of garden experts of Chris Beardshaw, Alan Mason and Martyn Davey from Easton and Otley College.”

In the Royal Marquee, the EDP – sister newspaper to the EDP Norfolk magazine- has sponsored a special garden by the award-winning Sue Huckle of Posh Plants topiary, plants and shrubs hire or buy business in East Tuddenham, and John Farley, founder of aggregates company Aggbag in Norwich and chairman of the Norfolk Construction Training Group.

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The design of the garden – called In Tune With Nature – has been inspired by the Sistema Foundation, which has recently opened a centre in Norwich. El Sistema, which began in Venezuela, has encouraged children all over the world to play music together. Not only the project has discovered some talented young musicians but it has also given them self confidence and raised their educational achievements and aspirations.

A special musical piece called Rainstorm, written for the garden by composer Steve Copley, will be played by young people from Sistema in Norwich in the background, amid the gnarled oak, gunnera leaves and pool.

Sue comments: “It is going to be like no other garden that has been there before. Rather than looking at the show garden from the other side of a rope, everyone will be able to walk through this one.”

As ever there will be an enormous range of stands and stalls, selling just about every imaginable accessory for the keen gardener and all the latest in outdoor living, such as garden furniture.

For the first time, this year there will be a display on how to make your garden tortoise-friendly by the Norfolk Tortoise Club, who will also be bringing along some of their pets.

Arena entertainment will include the Imps Motorcycle Display Team and the return of the Grace Spitfire (weather permitting).

Charities on the Royal route this year will be Leonard Cheshire Disability (Park House Hotel) and the Norfolk Hospice as they push to raise funds to kit out the rooms in their new building.

And then there are the plants . . . Plants of every shape and size are on sale, while many exhibits can also be bought after the bell is rung at 4pm. For those intent on buying this year’s must-have green addition to their plots, there is even a creche, where purchases can be kept safe and secure until home time.

“We are hoping that after last year’s rather soggy day, the weather will be with us this year,” says Helen. “As always there is a very full day’s worth of things to do and see at this year’s show, and with all the show’s profits going to local charities and good causes, we hope to be as busy as ever.”

Great day out

This year’s Sandringham Flower Show show is being held on Wednesday, July 30. Gates open at 8.30am. Admission is £10 adults, children under-16 free. Ticket price includes entry to the show, Sandringham Gardens, Sandringham Museum and Sandringham Church.

Parking is free and accessed via the West Newton entrance to the estate, which is sign-posted from the A148 and A149.

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