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Flower Power
Jan Turner, Features Writer
Part of the Craven College/ Ripon Walled Garden, Gold Award entry in the Square Yards competition
Urban spaces came under the spotlight at this year’s Harrogate Spring Flower Show which set out to prove the smallest spots and bleakest of places can be transformed into flashes of floral inspiration.

The ‘Chelsea of the North’ event, staged at the Great Yorkshire Showground from April 25 - 28, proved it is just as much of a trendsetter as its southern counterpart. It’s #kerbcouture theme challenged the notion that gardening is restricted to traditional outside spaces with a ‘bloom bombed’ street scene bringing colour and life to what was depicted as an otherwise dreary backwater.

Home Counties branch of NAFAS winning entry in Avenues and Alleyways competition
The streetwise take on horticulture left no stone unturned in proving the barest of walls or trickiest corners can become an oasis of scent and tranquility with a little imagination. The Blank Wall Project gave six virtuoso examples of tackling vertical drops with ingenuity while the Square Yards competition challenged designers to make every inch count in a series of small space garden displays.

Said show director Nick Smith: “The theme this Spring was to demonstrate that an urban environment doesn’t have to be dull and grey and to show how flowers can make a dramatic difference to the smallest of areas if you are creative enough.

“Just about anything, from disused dustbins to old drainpipes can be used as a home for plants or flowers. It doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate but it can make a huge difference to our sense of wellbeing.”

And the ideas were there in droves - from transforming the bottom of a fire escape into a mini-basement courtyard, to guerrilla gardener inspired walls of floral graffiti: nothing, it seems, is beyond the power of flowers.

The ever-popular show gardens provided further inspiration, including one entitled Urban Sprawl, designed in response to the pressures on green spaces in towns and cities, with a garden that called for the preservation of green pockets to keep pace with planning.

Left: Askham Bryan College's First Prize entry in the Blank Wall Project. Right: Rachel Forbe’s Landscape Design depicting a basement courtyard wins Premier Gold in the Square Yards competition.
Keeping with the theme, in the always awe-inspiring floral arts marquee, was the explosively colourful, ‘Graffiti’ entry which was awarded Best in Show for flower arranging. Not far away - in the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (NAFAS) area - and a Gold winning entry in the ‘Avenues and Alleyways’ competition, was a stunning interpretation of the near-celebrity-status London Notting Hill tube station/carnival, represented in hoops of trailing Spring blooms.

And it is colour itself that was at the very heart of this year’s Spring show. Not a particular flower, not a particular theme but bright, uplifting, unadulterated colour.

Said Nick Smith: “Right now, what everyone needs in their life is some brightness and colour, something that cheers everyone up. It has been noticeable how our ‘flower flashing’ along the kerb couture street, for example, really had visitors smiling.

“A lot of the plants on this year’s stands have been all about colour - there are less of the muted, soft coloured blooms we’ve seen of late. Now it’s all about being bright and bold, quite often with slightly old school sunflowers, delphiniums or carnations, but what they offer is a real sense of cheer and joy. The key to the look this summer is to go for a riot of colour and not to hold back!”

The Harrogate Autumn Flower Show will be held at The Great Yorkshire Showground from September 13 - 15 2019.

Flower Power, 29th April 2019, 13:58 PM