One thing that you learn from visiting a flower show is that every show is different. While Tatton is spacious and Chatsworth set in the grandeur of a stately home, Harrogate is compact, for there is much set into a small space there. Moreover, the time of the year determines the character of the festival. There are Spring and Autumn Harrogate shows, and the Spring one reflects the dominance of flowers over vegetables in the English Spring. As befits an English Spring with its unreliable weather, the show protects the exhibits by holding much display in its ample exhibition halls .But the compact layout of the show has much to commend it, as you can easily walk from one place to another and it is easy to find your way around.
The floral displays are magnificent. This show is an early opportunity for nurseries to display their wares, and the ones that you see are mainly flowers, there being but few vegetables. The vegetables present include herbs,some of which are wonderful specimens of the herb grower's craft. The judging of the displays ranges from gold to bronze, but there is a level known as silver gilt between silver and gold, and above gold there is premier gold, the very best. Sometimes you get an award of best in show, and that is quite an achievement. In the pictures below you see examples of displays that earned premium gold.
What impresses me about the floral displays is that not only are they beautiful, but the precision and skill that has gone into making them as perfect as possible is outstanding. Their makers, in this case all nurseries intent on displaying their skills, work for days to eliminate even the slightest blemish. Blooms are chosen in some cases to all be exactly the same size and laid out with exactly the same number of flowers per pot. It reminds me that it is easier to write about gardens than it is to make a perfect one. But the floral displays inspire the rest of us to achieve higher standards.
You can run into kindred spirits there. In the floral hall Maureen and I met the mayoress and deputy mayoress of Trafford, our local area, there, as these two close friends were taking a well-earned day off from public duties to visit the show. The deputy mayoress is chair of Urmston Allotment and Garden Society, while I am vice chair, so we know each other well. A little later we visited an arboricultural stall and found that one of its staff was an impressive young scientist who had co-authored the article on biochar that I cited in my article on it that some of you recently read on Wizzley, a young lady called Emma Schaffert. We had a chat about, you've guessed it, biochar.Later on I had a good conversation with a lady who was involved in Hemsley Walled Garden in the North-East of England, and we finished up by agreeing that some time in the future I would visit that lovely restoration site. Expect an article,but not for a while yet.