It's Harrogate Flower Show-time

Even the sun came out for this year's Harrogate Autumn Flower Show

Following one of the wettest summers on record, Harrogate Autumn Flower Show was a welcome spirit-lifter on the gardening calendar.

The sun shone and visitors were treated to displays of horticultural wonderment. Gasps of amazement could be heard reverberating round the Flower Hall as the onions were weighed in to find the heaviest one. Although no records were broken, Peter Glazebrook's 14lbs 11oz giant was a credit to him.

He was just one of the many specialists on hand with advice on 'growing your own', which is very much to the forefront of people's minds because of the current credit crunch. Experts-in-the-making from East Morton Church of England Primary School inspired the plot by Gardens of Design of Bingley, which created a lot of interest at the show.

Head teacher Louise Dale explained: 'The children love growing vegetables and they also learn how to prepare and cook them at school, giving them a totally hands on approach.'

In contrast, Reflections of Autumn by Denis Matthews was very much an adult's garden with a strong bias towards the plants, evoking the mood of the season. It showed everything is still very much alive with structured evergreens and rich, changing colours of autumn.

The garden would fit into a small courtyard or add an extra 'room' to a larger garden. Denis has been showing for 15 years but this garden was the largest he had created. As a mark of respect to his father, who recently died, he included an acer from his dad's garden.

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Another interesting plant was a loropetalum chinense Fire Dance, a semi-evergreen with a weeping habit.

The British Fuchsia Society celebrates its 70th anniversary this year and to mark the occasion a Fuchsia Festival was held in the Specialist Societies Marquee with 16 groups taking part. Barnsley Fuchsia and Geranium Society decorated a florist's cart to mark its own silver anniversary. The colourful, blowsy displays from the dahlias and chrysanthemums were a joy in the specialists' marquee, which had been extended to the size of a football pitch this year.

The range of size, colour and detail of these flowers never ceases to astound. Watercolourist Sandra Cooper joined the throngs to create another of her flower portraits. Self-taught, she has her own distinct style of interpretation. She was among many craftspeople showing their wares.

For those gardeners who are against peat products, a compost made out of wool and bracken attracted a great deal of interest. And there was plenty to choose from when it came to plants as the outside nurseries proved to be a great marketplace.

In the main flower hall, specialists offered advice to keen amateurs - they want their plants to survive and thrive in exactly the right conditions. And most visitors left weighed down with ideas and numerous purchases from bulbs to large specimen trees.

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