Notes from a Cottage Garden
In high summer you get that first foretelling of the autumn to come when small green conkers start to form on the horse chestnuts. It depresses some people but I love the turn of the year as I look back on how the garden has done and look forward to the coming year with new plans.
The highlight of my summer has been visits to not one but two major flower shows. In April I went to the Harrogate Spring Flower Show. I can’t understand why I haven’t been before — there is so much to see and learn. Set in the glorious spa town of Harrogate the show site was full of fascinating trade stands and I felt a bit like a child in a sweet shop because you have the opportunity to buy plants and products that you don’t see in local nurseries.
What I found most useful was seeing the top nurseries in the country exhibiting their plants and giving advice on how to choose and care for the best varieties that match your particular needs. One of the nurseries offering box and lavender plants really helped me with my plans for a herb garden. Although they didn’t have enough plants at Harrogate to meet my needs they offered to bring down everything I wanted to the Malvern Spring Festival where they were exhibiting in May.
Harrogate Show was an excellent day out that all my family enjoyed including my three-year-old granddaughter who particularly liked the Viking boat show garden made by Askham Bryan College. And thanks to the kindness of the bonsai tree exhibitors my seven-year-old grandson came home with a tiny Japanese maple — and a new interest.
Malvern in May was another real treat. Set against the backdrop of the Malvern Hills, it has so much to offer that you need to get there really early to be able to take everything in. The show gardens were incredible — there was an Italian garden brimming with rosemary, stone columns, and even white doves; a garden that paid homage to ‘Capability’ Brown with an amazing sunken thatched building; and the most restful garden you can possibly imagine full of naturalised planting. The latter was the Macmillan Legacy Garden and it deservedly won best in show.
I noticed that many of the visitors had fold-up shopping trollies and I soon discovered these were very useful as it was impossible to resist purchasing plants because they were of such high quality. So I found one of the stands selling them and packed everything in — including my box and lavender plants that had travelled down from Yorkshire. The shopping trolley will be out again in September — Harrogate Autumn Show is 16-18 September, Malvern is 24-25 September.