It’s flower show season. Courier gardening expert John Stoa sorts out his beds from his borders.
Flower shows have played a very important role in most gardeners’ lives.
This is the place where plants can be seen at their best, new landscape design from professionals and colleges is on display and new plants appear so we can try out something different.
The competitive gardener can also compete with others to see who can grow the best plants in the show.
The shows are a meeting place for gardening friends, and now come with a huge range of other entertaining events including food, drink, forestry, art, live bands and dancers.
There are so many plants of every description grown to perfection on display and for sale that it is impossible to leave the show without at least one must have essential plant.
Most shows have a sell off on the last hour of the last day when bargain hunters have a field day, and traders try to reduce their stock as they really do not want to take it all back home.
Even composts, fertiliser, rock dust, hanging baskets and large specimen plants are all there for the taking at hugely reduced costs.
The mass exodus of people and plants leaving at the end of a show with a smile on their face and struggling home with huge plants is a very entertaining sight. My first flower show was in the Dundee Ice Rink over fifty years ago, and I have been going to one or other show ever since. Although I go as a visitor, I have attended many shows as a trader.
I had three years displaying paintings in the art marquee at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, then several years selling a range of plants including saskatoons at Ingliston in Edinburgh and Camperdown Park in Dundee.
Traders are a very friendly and helpful group and friendships are made at every event.
One year at Ingliston I found my onion hoe in constant use ever since, plus a bag of rock dust and a bag of compost made from sheep wool and bracken and Anna got her Peonia Doreen, then the next year at Camperdown I think Anna got the national collection of Heucheras which she just could not resist.
The shows always leave you with great memories of the plants you find, the people you meet and for me one great afternoon at Ingliston was hearing the Red Hot Chilli Pipers playing Snow Patrols Chasing Cars. Fantastic music on a lovely summer’s day.
Camperdown Park hosts our local food and flower show in early September and further afield at Ingliston in Edinburgh Gardening Scotland has a massive show on now from 3rd to 5th June 2016, then in August the Southport Flower show is on from 18th to 21st August 2016.
In the Midlands in rural Malvern the RHS put on a spring festival in May then an autumn show at the end of September at the Three Counties show ground.
For those visiting London a visit to see the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show from 5th to 10th July 2016 is an unmissable experience. Although I attended three shows as a trader, I still had plenty time to see the show as fellow traders looked after my stand as I took a wee break.
However it is the Chelsea Flower Show held at the end of last month that has the most prestige. It is not the biggest show, but held in the highest regard. Exhibiting with the RHS at Chelsea would be most exhibitors dream. Chelsea is where you can see Royals and celebrities from the gardening world as well as entertainers, past and present, and the countries best garden designers will create a modern vision of how a garden can look. As a gardener it is always the use of plants that has the biggest impact for me, but the creative use of hard landscaping, integrating the house into the outdoor environment has been really outstanding.
The Royal family gives great support to this show and look out for Mr Motivator, Twiggy, Dame Judi Dench and Jeremy Paxman and a host of other very famous faces from the world of entertainment.
Wee jobs around the garden
Lift young leek plants grown from seed in an outdoor drill and after a gentle top and tail transplant them into dibbled holes about six inches deep, spacing them six inches apart. Water them in to secure them.