Reflections from Harrogate Spring Show 2018

Rather belatedly I report on my reflections of helping to assemble the display for this year’s display. Firstly, we were at a disadvantage at having a larger than normal circular stand. Last autumn we had a 3m circular stand (area 7m2, circumference 9.4m), but this time we had a 3.5m circular stand (area 9.6m2, circumference 11m). That meant we needed a lot of plants!

We decided to build a path feature across the stand and had a central urn underplanted with Beesia calthifolia. There were some choice pieces of old wood which enhanced the planting scheme.

We were able to deliver many of the plants on the Monday evening but the main work took place on Tuesday with an early start @ 8am, working almost non-stop until 6pm. The team completed the central area (about 3m) before the end of the day. What we had not calculated was that in the 6 hours allowed on Wednesday we still had nearly a half of the display to put together, the challenge being to arrange enough plants around the circumference. We over-run but the judges let us finish.

We had over one hundred plant species and Sue Gary, our chairman was kept busy labelling the plants. Despite her endeavours a few were missed before judging, but this was rectified by the time the show opened on Thursday. Pat Inman, our show leader was busy advising on plant placement and rushing off to buy more plants as we didn’t have enough to fill the space.

The weather had not been good in the run-up to the show. We had had a long cold spell followed by a short spell of hot weather. Many of the plants were struggling. Members were very generous in lending plants.

The filling in was slightly easier as the stand was shallow and we again used bark, although the original intention was to use moss. We were loaned a quantity of moss but were not convinced that there would be enough, hence the change in plan. I am a keen walker and used to going over stiles, but getting on and off the stand became more difficult as the day went by. We managed to borrow a step ladder from the Alpine Society, but when they went home early (there were 20 people on the stand placing the pots) it was down to using a chair; being conscious of health and safety, I asked one of the team to hold the chair and lend me a shoulder to steady myself.

We managed to achieve a display that allowed views through the plants from different angles. Rob Hardy, of Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, came by on a couple of occasions and complimented us on our efforts. We followed his advice on placing the labels a little lower in the plants.

The team (Brian, John, Joyce, Pat on Tuesday) and Robbie who stepped in at the last minute on Wednesday, were kept busy. At the last committee meeting we agreed that we needed more help on both days; there is the hard graft of building the display, but the labelling and ‘titivating’ of the plants is also key to our success.

When I left on Wednesday afternoon I was ‘fit to drop’ as were the rest of the team. The team’s efforts were rewarded by being awarded a Silver Gilt, and given the size of the display and the time allowed to assemble it, that was quite an achievement (the group has had previous displays at Chelsea RHS show and had longer to put them together).

When I arrived on Sunday to do my stint at stewarding I was impressed by our display; the plants looked so much better and the overall appearance on approaching the stand made all our efforts worthwhile. Those who came by the stand admired the display and the plants.

Then came the breakdown. The team of five Sue, Peter, Kate, Judy and myself worked hard for 3 hours to disassemble the display, and ensure that the plants were returned to their rightful owners. Lesson learnt: more help required!

Personally, I learn so much about the plants, and enjoy being part of the team. We will be at the Autumn Show this year but with a smaller display.

Jane Orton

Web Manager West Yorkshire Hardy Plant Society Group

Harrogate Spring Show 2018

Harrogate Spring Flower Show is the first big event in the gardening calendar, welcoming the new growing season with a spectacular celebration of the very best in horticulture.

The West Yorkshire Group of the Hardy Plant Society has had a display at the Spring and Autumn Shows for many years and has won many accolades over the years. This year we were awarded a Silver Gilt.

Again we had a circular stand, with a central urn feature and path going across the display. The stand attracted a lot of attention and was much admired.

There were over one hundred different species of spring flowering plants and shrubs.

One of our members, Peter Williams lent us two beautiful plants:

Syneilesis aconitifolia, commonly called shredded umbrella plant, is an herbaceous perennial of the aster family that is native to hillside forest margins and slopes in China, Korea, Japan and eastern Russia. It is one of Peter’s prized plants.

Paeonia japonica came into flower during the show. Peter sourced the seed from Japan.

Alan Wilson, another of our members lent us this magnificent example of Convallaria majalis ‘Variegata’, (variegated Lily of the Valley).

Kate van Heel our membership secretary lent us Wulfenia carinthiaca. This is a  seldom-seen rock garden plant, native to the Albanian Alps.

Pat Inman our secretary and Harrogate Show leader, contributed the beautiful Helleborus ‘Penny’s Pink.

Lastly, our chairman Sue Gray contributed the lovely Anemone pavonia.

Apologies for the blurred images but my camera struggles with shades of red, as confirmed by Peter Williams who won 1st prize in the HPS photographic competition last year (2017). Click here for the winning image,

To read more about building the display please read my blog. Click here for the link.

West Yorks. HPS Evening Garden Visits 2018

From 7.00pm unless otherwise stated

FRIDAY MAY 4TH  From 6.30pm 

Andrew & Angela Durance, The Old Post Office, Kettlesing HG3 2LB ( to the left of The Queen’s Head heading uphill) Turn up drive & park beyond outbuildings)


*****THURSDAY***** JUNE 14

Jo & Tony Pickering, Ridgefield Cottage Nursery,  Forest Moor Rd., Knaresborough HG5 8JP  Turn up drive bear right  parking ahead.



Pat & John Hunter, Springfield, Bent Lane, Sutton-in-Craven BD20 7AL


Leeds to Sutton Directions.

From the ring road take the A657 to Shipley, follow signs through to Bingley and Keighley (A650) taking the dual carriageway (second exit) at the first large roundabout.

Once at Keighley follow signs to Skipton (A629), again dual carriageway, at the roundabout signed Addingham to the right and Steeton H  A&E to the left, turn left.

Going uphill turn right at the traffic lights (B6265), continue past Airedale hospital, and down the hill passing the Eastburn Inn on the left.

Just over I mile from the traffic lights there is a road to the left, signposted Sutton (small sign) but labelled Sutton Lane (on large curved stone wall as you turn). Follow this road through Sutton to a crossroads in front of the Bull public house, approx..3/4 mile. Take the road up the left side of the pub – Ash Grove. In a few hundred yards at the T junction turn right.  50 yards on – at the crossroads, roadside parking is available in 3 directions. The garden is to the left and 200 yards. There will be some signage from here.

Once on foot on Bent Lane, carry on until you run out of tarmac, do not go through the large stone gate stoops, once on the unmade surface, we are the first drive on the right, after a large oak tree.



Sarah & Pete Crowson, Home Farm, Carlton Lane, East Carlton, LS19 7BG.  Please park in village, don’t turn down Carlton Lane.




Epimediums and friends by Sally Gregson of Mill Cottage Plants, Somerset. 13 April 2018

There was a very full hall for Sally’s talk, 4 ½ years after a previous visit when her talk was about her other plant love, hydrangeas.

As she had brought some plants from her nursery, (click here for link to nursery website), members had to be called away from the plants to enable her talk to start.

Sally, who has recently written a book on Epimediums, has obviously done a lot of research. The talk was illustrated with pictures of Epimediums and the major players in their introductions and hybridising.

There were plenty of pointers on the cultivation of the different varieties. They are essentially a deciduous woodland plant which gives a clue to their ideal place in the garden. This works for Sally, as she can plant them under her Hydrangeas! The older varieties, she suggests, should have their leaves sheared in February to show off the new seasons flowers.

The grandifloras from Japan are acid lovers and deciduous. They grow well in pots for those of us with high pH. Two other cultivation tips, split after flowering and replant with plenty of leafmould in the bottom of the planting hole.

The definitive reference collection is in the Ghent Botanic Garden.

The vote of thanks was given by Peter Williams.

Report submitted by Pat Hunter

Page image: Epimedium x perralchicum ‘Frohnleiten’ (Image courtesy of HPS image library)