Late April is a great time to remind yourself that spring happens outside of London, and I had the joy of meeting a group of friends in Yorkshire for the Harrogate Flower Show. This is quite a major show, running over 4 days, but it’s not run by the RHS and it has quite different emphases. It does, though, have lots of exhibitors and we enjoyed a full day there, in brilliant sunshine.
First off, we looked at the flower arranging, clearly a major component with several training colleges nearby. There were lots of competition categories, from big set pieces to carefully chosen themes. We admired long-horned cows fashioned from garlands of flowers, and saw a heavy emphasis on arum lilies, which featured on the Best In Show winner, for instance.
By contrast, the show gardens were a very minor element of the event. They were small, commercially-sponsored but not carefully themed, and quite underwhelming. And they had very few people looking at them.
The area for various Societies was dominated by the Daffodil Society Northern Group, where competitors were vying for prizes in nearly 100 categories. The variety of blooms was extraordinary, with a strong emphasis on precision and newly-developed cultivars. Among others, the Yorkshire Bonsai Society was also showing beautiful specimens, as were the National Auricula and Primula Society, the National Dahlia Society, and the West Yorkshire Hardy Plant Society, which won a Premier Gold award for its spectacular display.
We’re always pleased to receive reports from our members’ gardens, particularly when accompanied by photos. This month Annie H wanted us to share her delight with the Rose Cottage ‘Garden Party’ tulips in her front garden.
Nicolas shared this photo with us showing his Daphne bholua in February.
I know we have had posts on euphorbias already, but these plants are such a delight in the month of April that I am adding yet more. The little Euphorbia Chameleon, below, self -seeds happily, but in such a delicate and restrained way that it is welcome everywhere I find it. In addition to this, it politely dies back and allows summer flowering plants to take over.
The Euphorbia below (amygdaloides purpurea) is a stunning contrast with the lime green flower head and the stems which are an intense dark red. It has seeded itself in the gravel path and I’m not entirely sure where it comes from.
In Euphorbia, flowers occur in a head, called the cyathium. Each male or female flower in the cyathium head has only its essential sexual part, in males the stamen and in females the pistil. The flowers do not have sepals, petals or nectar to attract pollinators, although other nonflower parts of the plant have an appearance and nectar glands with similar roles. Euphorbias are the only plants known to have this kind of flower head. It should also be noted that, when the stems are cut, they exude a thick white substance which is extremely irritating to skin.
And, of course, there is the magnificent Euphorbia Mellifera (Honey Spurge) which rightfully deserves its common name and is a delight to be near at this time of year when the scent fills the air. Every garden should have one – it keeps its shape well or can be cut back. Mine originally came from the garden of Jillian Smith, CABAHS ex-Chair, who many remember fondly. Jillian, if you are reading this – thank you!
Thank you to everyone who came to last Sunday’s ‘Bunnies in the Beds’ and open garden at Charlton House. The ‘Follow the Carrots’ signs worked out a treat, and lots of small people arrived at the Peace Garden ready to find the Easter Bunnies and claim their prize. We gave it an International twist this year, after finding out how other countries celebrate Easter. So as well as Bunnies, the children had to find eg a Bilby from Australia, a Witch from Sweden, and some Willow sticks & feathers from Finland. No-one could really miss the kites (Bermuda) and we had a set of beautiful eggs from Ukraine to find too.
Here they come! Queues for the trail, and let the Hunt begin..
The day included a successful plant sale too, and Blackheath Flower Arranging Club joined us for a bit of promotion. Not to mention the Producers Market and Frilly’s cafe open all day.
Thank you everyone, these are wonderful gardens in which to hold an event!
The Pomegranate trees in the Peace Garden at Charlton House have come into fruit very early this year, on April 1st.. and lots of other Spring flowers are opening up, the Walled Gardens are definitely worth a visit. Open Mon-Fri 10-4.
Here is Pat’s Spring garden, the squirrels have left her some tulips then!
This is a selection of colourful plants from Elizabeth’s garden:
Here is Jillian’s garden in the Spring sunshine. She has some new compost bins to die for! The unusual shrub (bottom left) is a bitter orange or Ponceris trifoliata, it has vicious thorns but beautiful flowers.
Hugh has sent in the picture below – he says: This is a “Meyer Lemon” and it is probably 30 years old now. There are 18 lemons on the tree this year which is enough for 36 gin and tonics! The fruit are delicious and the blossom in spring is really very fragrant.
Meyers lemons are not frost hardy so I bring it indoors every winter but this year it has become a bit confused and seems to have ripened over Christmas. As we do not have a conservatory in our new house it has spent the winter in our bike store cupboard. This is not heated but seems to obtain some warmth from the house and it only has obscured glass in the doors.
Sometimes the fruit take over a year before they are ready and often the tree is in flower again before I have picked all the fruit from the previous season.
Every year is different and it has looked like dying a couple of times but this year has truly been a record year. I can well recommend it!
Photos of our 70th Anniversary and 1st Online SPRING SHOW 2020 winners
Our President, Sir Nicolas Bevan says, “I am greatly impressed by the quality of entries to our virtual Spring Show and I congratulate all those who sent in their photographs. At this time of anxiety and sadness our gardens can be a source of consolation and diversion and provide an outlet for our energies. I encourage all our members to carry on gardening and I look forward to the time when we can meet together again.”
The winner of Best in Show photograph is 10A, sent in by Faith. Congratulations! Here it is:
Close runners up were 9F, the tea cup display by Ann H, followed by 4D the stripy camellia by Peter S, and 2D, the white tulips by Anastasia.
We have submitted Faith’s lovely photo to the Horti-Aid Gardening competition being run by the Perennial charity, to be judged by Alan Titchmarsh, Jim Buttress & others.
CABAHS has traditionally helped to support Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice over many years. Usually, we donate two months of our Plant Sales Table proceeds to the Hospice but this year we invited donations through this page, in celebration of successfully holding our first online Spring Show.
The National Garden Scheme has some good tutorials from their Open Garden owners. If you are going to risk planting out sweet peas due to the recent good weather, have a look at this one for some tips.