My husband ( a beekeeper) recently treated me to a visit to the National Honey Show, which is sort of like going to RHS Chelsea if you are a beekeeper. Apart from an enormous number of jars of honey, there were talks available, and we attended one from Dr Nick Tew on “The role of gardens in supporting Insect Pollinators”. It was a really good talk, with scientific research explained in easy terms.
A few slides stood out for me – for instance, the time period for flowering plants in a garden, compared with a hedgerow or pasture. Most gardeners love to have something in flower all through the year, so although the volume of nectar/pollen in a garden might not be as high as in a meadow or hedgerow in full swing, it is available for a much longer time span. So in fact such a garden is more useful to insects.
There are some downsides to a garden – Nick calls it “horticultural bling”, a lovely phrase which unfortunately can be applied to a few parts of my garden (but luckily not many!)
A version of the talk is on Youtube, the link is below, it’s a good watch.
The Show was held at Sandown Park racecourse, and it was huge. It reminded me of a Horticultural Show in that it not only had classes for honey, but also eg craft and baking classes. The sunflowers shown here are made of wax!
I bought some sparkling mead from one of the stalls, took down a recipe for “Gin & Tonic Honey cake” and bought a couple of seed packets to convert my lawn into a meadow at some point in my dreams. The final stall we visited worried me a little, as it is giving my husband ideas!
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.
Plant of the Year at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show was this unassuming but rather pretty Sedum ‘Atlantis’.
Kathy had a great week volunteering at the Show, and was able to have a quick word with Nick Bailey as he was passing by and remind him he is coming to talk to CABAHS for our November meeting. I don’t suppose it was top of his To Do list that day but he was very kind about it!
I expect everyone has been following the BBC coverage of Chelsea – but they didn’t cover very many of the trade stands and some had really fabulous planting. Here’s a pic to give you all “Urn Envy”…