New ideas blossom at flower show

Linda Viney strolls around the exhibits at the Harrogate Spring Flower Show looking for new ideas and isn't disappointed...

The Harrogate Spring Flower Show heralds the start of another gardening season and exhibitors do have to be admired for whatever nature throws at them, they always manage to stage wonderful exciting displays and there were thousands of visitors to appreciate their hard work.

The theme for this year's new Innovative Display category was, naturally enough, Yorkshire. The category attracted 18 entries and the winner was Matthewman Sweetpeas of Pontefract with an exhibit based on Liquorice Allsorts, which also, it just so happens, come from Pontefract. The category really did give visitors something extra to enjoy.

Another new adventure this year was the College Design Area, sponsored by Bradstone, with seven horticultural colleges and universities designing and creating a small backyard. Each one had a different family profile covering a wide range of ages and lifestyles. They also had to include seating and space for a wheelie bin - the latter proving quite a challenge but something we all have to cope with. It gave visitors a chance to see that even with a small area the plot can be personal and interesting.

Bishop Burton College picked up the Premier Award, with Craven College and Leeds Metropolitan University close on its heels with Golds. Rose grower Keith Jones had kept his fingers crossed that a new variety of rose he'd cultivated, appropriately called 'Harrogate', would be in flower. Sadly with the snow at Easter, gloomy weather and cold nights the flower did not bloom though that did not deter people from taking an interest and placing orders. The rose will be in its full glory by September, added Mr Jones.

The Floral Art category, however, did blossom giving stunning displays which made me feel quite inadequate with my efforts to arrange shop-bought flowers in a vase at home. Nine new nurseries exhibited at the show including Aldo Air Plants from Belgium with their fascinating selection of tillandsia. Members of the bromeliad family, they are ideal indoor plants for steamy areas like bathrooms as they gather moisture and nutrients from the air and so do not need compost. They are ideal for use in contemporary decorative features because they can be attached to a variety of materials such as cork or wood. The long lasting flower bulbs of amaryllis and alliums certainly had the wow factor with the large display staged by WS Warmenhoven, from Holland.

But closer to home, Slack Top Nurseries, Hebden Bridge, had the finest display of alpines seen for many years. With recycling in vogue at the moment Jamie Goddard Gardens, Harrogate, designed and built a garden made from recycled materials which featured edible plants. Pallets and discarded stone along with jam jar lanterns - ditched drawers pressed into service in the cooking area - while an old watering can hung over a kitchen sink collecting rainwater for washing up. We associate spring with daffodils and tulips and they have their own show within a show.

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This year daffodil entries were stunning but the tulips were down on previous years because of poor weather. Jacques Armand International had an interesting display of historical Murillo tulips in the main Floral Hall. They demonstrated how a great number of tulips have derived over many years from just whitish/pink fragrant variety that were so popular in Victorian times.