Event is a super pick-me-up for gardeners

After two weeks of unsettled weather we just want to get on with gardening.

Saturday, 7th May 2016, 9:30 am
Dibleys Streptocarpus, a favourite indoor plant. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

Well used to dealing with April showers, Thursday saw us heading off to Harrogate Spring Show, prepared for the worst, but enjoying the best. On a day reminiscent of midsummer, 17C degrees I guess, the crowd basked in warmth and smiles.

Fast forward to Tuesday and there was hail, sleet, snow, plus an occasional rattle of thunder. Registering 2C, the car information screen flashed a warning ‘Danger of Ice on road’. It’s worth repeating the age-old advice about not planting out tender plants too early.

Harrogate’s floral art section is very strong each year, and there were stunning arrangements in traditional style, plus the additional aspect of something slightly different.

A class which asked for an interpretation of the title Networking was attracting interest. The exhibit had to be staged on mesh set in a wooden frame that was raised above a reflective surface. It was third prize that caught my eye. This comprised some flowers arranged in ball-shape, but also balls of wool, all connected by needles. Thought provoking yes, but for those brought up with the Hogarth Curve, this trend might take a little getting used to.

Streptocarpus, the cape primrose, is a favourite plant, albeit for indoor use only. In keeping with most popular types, there are seemingly endless new introductions every year, and Dibley’s is the specialist nursery with over 40 years of growing and breeding them.

The most recent introduction, Polka Dot Purple, is a little beauty. It’s easily propagated from leaf cuttings so we are continually adding to a modest collection. Cut leaves into 6cm sections with a sharp knife, slanting at the base, horizontal at the top, ensure they go into the rooting medium the right way up. Cutting down the main central vein to divide the leaf in two, horizontally, results in even more offspring.

Next was one of several stands specialising in dianthus. How can anyone ignore the presence of clove-scented pinks in the garden? They’re very easily propagated from cuttings too. The lady of the house recently potted up a batch of Dianthus Pink Kisses and was searching for more varieties. The present collection includes Haytor White, Gran’s Favourite, Monica Wyatt and Doris.

Then the plugs of Tickled Pink came into view. Highly-fragrant, lavender-coloured flowers according to the label, and the young plants looked sturdy enough. We shall see.

This day at Harrogate Show was good – warm sunshine, plenty of attractions, even wild raptors; buzzards, kestrel and glorious red kites flying low overhead.

This was a great pick-me-up, stirring the enthusiasm as it does, to get out into the garden and enjoy, once we have a settled weather pattern.