The Royal Horticultural Society have established themselves as the stalwart the flower show organisers. They have shows that start in spring and go right through the year, including the new Chatsworth show in 2017. There are however many shows that happen throughout the year that are independent of the RHS and can provide as much in the way of enjoyment as better known ones. Here is a list of my top 8.
Harrogate Spring Flower Show 20th-23rd April
Harrogate flower show is one of the really early ones, coming just after RHS Cardiff. There are the exceptional show gardens, a plant nursery pavilion, plenty of talks on all topics horticultural and this year the Secret Sheds. These are mini spaces curated by community groups, colleges and other organisations. There are also a vast array of stalls to keep your shopping needs satisfied.
Newark Garden Show 21st-23rd April
The same weekend as Harrogate is the Newark Garden Show touted as ‘The biggest and best garden event in the East Midlands’, this it may well be. There is certainly a lot going on from food stalls to musical entertainment on the Village Green, there’s will even be time to squeeze in some garden related fun with a look around the Grand Floral Display. If you fancy getting a photo with John Challis AKA ‘Boycie’ from Only Fools and Horses then keep an eye out as he’ll be there all weekend to oblige.
Spring Live 6th-7th May
Two weeks later you can join the South of England Agricultural Society at their Spring Live show at the South of England Showground in Ardingly. This is more than just a flower show with plenty of delightful events celebrating all aspects of the outdoors. There will be a large plant fair though so if you’re looking for horticulture you won’t be disappointed. This is one to take the children to as I know that mine get a little tired of just looking at gardens.
Garden Show Ireland 4th-6th May
Jumping across the water now, there is a great show happening in Ireland at Antrim Castle Gardens. With an extensive programme of event from expert talks, demonstration, entertainment and food, this show is not to be missed. It really is jam packed with stuff to do with a whole schedule of events just for the smaller green fingers. There’s actually too much happening here to list in the article so just visit the site and see for yourself.
Blenheim Flower Show 22nd-24th June
This is another big one, in the grand setting of Blenheim Palace. The show gardens will be stunning and this is in addition to the already outstanding grounds of the palace, these are reason enough to visit even without the bonus of the flower show. The Grand Floral Pavilion will be the largest ever this year and will feature over 45 of the best specialist in their fields. This one really will be a spectacle especially with the vast selection of wares that are going to be available there.
The Garden Show at Stansted Park 8th-10th June
This is another family friendly affair with something for everyone. It’s more of an all rounder but from the aspect of a flower show there is an absolutely huge number of plant exhibitors, it will be more of a plant fair that this is as good a reason to go as I can think of. There are also a number of great talks featuring people like Nick Bailey from Gardeners World.
Woburn Abbey Garden Show 23rd-24th June
Woburn abbey is a beautiful setting for another star studded show, if you like to see familiar faces then Adam Frost and Pippa Greenwood with be making an appearance here. With it’s 42 acres of landscaped gardens if you get tired of the plants, the talks and other great entertainment you can always take a good look around. There will be free tours with the Woburn Abbey staff to provide an insight into the workings of the place.
Southport Flower Show 16th-19 August
This is the largest independant flower show in the country, that gives you an idea as to what’s in store. There is of course a Grand Floral Marquee but one that cannot fail to impress, you could even treat yourself to the formal Gala evening event. Or how about the Honey Marquee where there will be a host of all things bee related. And of course there will be some of your favourite celebrities on hand to offer their wisdom with the likes of Charlie Dimmock, Carol Klein and Christine Walkden. Then there’s the arena there there’ll be jousting if that’s your thing, but whatever you’re in to, this is a horticultural day out that shouldn’t be missed.