Saturday, 30 May 2009

The lure of the show

The organisers at Gardening Scotland must be thrilled to see another beautiful day for their show which opened yesterday and runs over the weekend. I popped along yesterday and found plants spilling out all over the place…


Fun exhibits that attract attention are always popular for the camera. Oops... but be careful with your camera here if you visit... click on the photo it will enlarge and you’ll see why.


Garden Shows are a great place for ideas for your garden no matter what your interest or level. I am always drawn to structures and how they have been made. I also like to see areas that provide shade too as I feel that’s an important consideration with the changes in our weather.



Creative use of space, fun to be in and practical too sounds like a great recipe for a garden… just throw in some veggies and you’re set! Yes, the 'growing your own' message is kicking in now.



Just how creative could you be with a space one metre square? Some gardens used the vertical space too and many had a message to share too... one included the credit crunch. More veggies anyone?



Gardening Scotland have been running this very popular Pallet Garden Challenge for a few years now. It showcases work by amateur garden clubs, horticultural societies and clubs. I am delighted that it now extends to schools and colleges too. I would guess a great deal of discussion goes on over this tiny space which continues with the visitors!

Perhaps a word to the Show though… it gets a bit crowded around these gardens… maybe they could increase the width of the isles for walking through them.


One area ‘The Living Garden’ was created by the Garden for Life Forum. This is a partnership bringing together health, conservation and environmental charities with Scottish Natural Heritage and The Scottish Government.

I’d really recommend a walk around these types of stands at any garden show. I picked up a number of leaflets on encouraging wildlife to the garden and discovered organisations I was unfamiliar with. I enjoyed a good chat or two here and asked a few questions too. I’ll come back to some of these in a future posting with supporting links.



The centre of this space drew visitors in… quite literally. There was a labyrinth garden to inspire your own pathway to discovery. The theme was the ‘Pathway to Health’. Visitors were invited to walk through the garden to experience close up the beauty and diversity of plants which contribute to our health and well-being. I fully support this message.

Ah… but hey what great idea here to find a reuse for these familiar large blue bags! More veggies anyone? This definitely got visitors wandering over to take a look at what was going on here… well done!


Show gardens can sometimes be a bit disappointing to the visitor looking for inspiration and are not always to everyone’s taste. Oh but... I do feel for the designers standing there as we sometimes comment quite bluntly beside them not noticing they are there! They have put in so much time and expense into their gardens, intending to tell a story or to share a message, but when there are crowds around them often we are all guilty of moving on too quickly.

That in mind, I would always suggest you look at a garden from all sides (I always consider this in my own) as there is often ideas you can take home with you. The very small pool in this garden below caught my eye. I liked the natural edges and thought of Liz (fellow garden blogger) who is looking to add water to her garden. Click to enlarge the photo.



How about this, Liz? We’ve seen troughs used for water before but I like the way the gravel was used slopping at each end with deeper water in the middle. This would be great for wildlife to get in and out and depending on size you could have a larger shallow area at one end where birds could bath and drink. That would be nice to watch don’t you think?


At first glance
I loved the wild planting around but in this case taking longer to look at this garden from different angles I changed my mind on it… sorry. Too much going on for me…great idea with the troughs though!



A river of blue pansies flowing under a bridge caught my eye here… and many stood admiring the wonderfully colourful blooms here too! It is great that as gardeners we all have different tastes and appreciation for plants, plantings, colour and design. Sorry… this wasn’t to mine. However, I would never say I was completely set in my ways in the plants I use as I am forever changing things around in my own garden. Ah… but just the same as a new gardener at a show I still go with eyes looking for that ‘wow’ factor albeit a plant or a feature :-D


Imagine a Scottish Pipe Band playing in the sunshine outside the Floral Hall. Music session over and they marched neatly off… while we marched inside! This is always my favourite place at any garden show. This is where I look for inspiration and usually the place I will purchase any plants through seeing them in displays here.



Grand displays just draw you towards them and I appreciate plants here that never make it into my garden or house. I see them for their beauty and the pride that the grower has. All except one that is… I can’t stand Fushia’s! Yep… I do know they are loved by so many too… sorry. How about some very nice veggies instead?



So many stunning, perfectly grown plants can be seen at shows that perhaps we wouldn’t see anywhere else…





After the hot colours of the car with marigolds out in the sunshine how about a cool boatful of Agapanthus… very nice! It's great to get so much variety and imagination at Shows.




Ah… wait a minute this has to be the plant for me this year! It is many, many years since I’ve grown a Honeysuckle and never in my present garden. I can't believe it caught my attention!


Yesterday’s plant purchase wasn’t a Heuchera as I suspected it might be although one did catch my eye but I couldn’t see any for sale. Walking by the background trellis to a display of Clematis my eye was drawn to the Honeysuckle ‘Americana’ growing with a deep red Clematis. Yep… that was the one… although out of all the plants in the show including the plant sales outside I still cannot believe I took home a Honeysuckle! I’m sure the bees will appreciate its flowers and the birds any insects that find their way to it!


Other plantings caught my eye like the display below. I have always loved white flowers and am continuing to add very deep reds to my garden now too through flower and foliage. By the increase in plants in this colour being available to but now I am guessing a trend is coming here.



Pale yellows I have more considered and used away from my small but bright sunny front garden. This year I intend bringing some in there which I think could look very interesting. Colour is probably the quickest and most dramatic way to change the look of a garden. I would definitely recommend experimenting with it!


Blue, after green, is probably my most favourite colour in the garden. This began with the gentians many years ago and now continues with the Meconopsis and Brunnera Jack Frost. Gardening Scotland has always had displays that include Meconopsis and cameras are always to be found snapping around them.



Opening day and we did expect to see the odd film crew around although we did intend keeping well away from them! However, just as we passed a wonderful sea of Meconopsis that had sunlight streaming through it from above we spotted one.


We stepped back a bit and then heard a message through the speakers that a book launch about to happen any minute. We put two and two together. The lady started chatting to the camera although with the noise in the room we couldn't make her out from where we were standing.


We then spotted a board with a painting and a table, some paints and a water jar.



Was this the artist? I do wish now we had been close enough to hear what she was saying. I’ve tried searches on the website but to no avail. I’m emailed the press office as I am curious now.

I am wondering now if this is perhaps a family member launching a book by Rodella 'Della' Purves who died last year at age 62. My little bit of research suggest she was a Botanical artist and did paint Meconopsis. I like a good mystery so if anyone knows I would love to hear from you.



The shot above was what I was trying to get before the film camera was spotted! You can so see why an artist would want to paint this flower. I would love to have the skill for that. My drawing hand is well out of practice. Seeing the table with paints beside the plants definitely made me think about it though. Ah… for more hours in the day!


It’s another glorious day here… I hope it’s the same with you. If you’ve been or are going to this show I do hope you enjoy your visit. How about a bit of a challenge for any young children? Could they find the rest of the garden in the photo above? I have had fun setting many photo challenges for my daughters when they were young. It made for a good walk out for us all!


Last weekend through showers of rain I gave my front garden a bit of a makeover. Plants were lifted and moved, pots were emptied, refilled and relocated. More gravel topped up the exisiting mulch necessary to keep weeds down but more importantly to keep the plants from drying out as the sun can bake this part of my garden. Oh… and a new raised bed appeared in a space that little grew in before. A lot was basic maintenance but that’s it for the most of the summer. Just some pottering left to do now. Unfortunately we have limited space for a garden at the front due to parked cars but I do make the most of what I have and do enjoy it.

I’m off now to a shady spot in my back garden… but not to work today as its too warm for me! Perhaps I'll join the guinea pigs with a view across my Meconopsis flowers blowing in the gentle breeze. I’m going to get a coffee and take my daughter’s laptop out and do a bit more garden visiting round all the blogs I haven’t managed to visit recently while I watch and listen to the flurry of birds feeding or finding food for their young. See you soon!

Wishing you all a great weekend! Oh... out of interest... what lures you to a garden show?

All photos above were taken at Gardening Scotland on May 29th 2009.

14 comments:

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

Hi Shirl, It's been a while since I've stopped by and I apologize for that;-( The garden show you attended did have a lot going on...almost too much to take in during one visit. Surely something for everyone there. I hope you'll enjoy your new honeysuckle! I've never had one, myself. Something else I can think about adding to my own garden...
I love the meconopsis, being a 'blue' person, myself! Lovely, indeed! And your photo of the gazing balls reflecting the blue sky with clouds is pretty amazing, too!
Sounds like you are really enjoying your garden now and taking breaks when it's just too warm; I know the feeling...it can sometimes be too cool one day, then too hot the next!
Happy Gardening!

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

What a show...especially all those blue poppies! IM" glad to see that you had such an inspiring and colourful visit.

Midmarsh John said...

Wow Shirl, where did you find the stamina to take all that in? It certainly looks like there is something for everyone there.
Of all your beautiful photos the one which caught my eye was ... the Bonsai trees. Never had one but adore looking at them - real nature in miniature.

Joe said...

Hi Shirl,

Loved the garden show photos. Its great to see what plants other people like in their gardens. I've been to a couple of National Trust gardens on holiday in Norfolk this week, and enjoyed seeing the various flowers there.

The Early Birder said...

Great places to visit for ideas & inspiration. Thanks for taking me round AND my feet don't ache!
I missed out on Chelsea F.S but will go to Hampton Court F.S. You ask why - Well, although it's part of my job, catching up with contacts & hopefully new products / trends, it is also to get ideas & spend a few bob.

keewee said...

Garden shows are a great way to gather ideas to use in our own gardens, and it looks like the one you attended is no exception. Thanks for the wonderful tour.

Liz said...

Shirl, lovely photos and it looks like you had a whale of a time amongst so many plants!

The ponds look great, were they made from old animal troughs - the images won't enlarge for me to get a closer look :(
Is the water pumped around? If not will it not go stale and be undrinkable?

I'd thought of setting up a small pot pond, but I've never been able to find a pot the right shape to be able to create one - I wonder if you just buy any pot and then put plastic in it?? Hmmm

I love the meconopsis, such a beautiful flower! I too am a blue person, I rarely ever go into yellows/oranges/reds, but since a good few of the 'insect friendly' plants are yellow/orange I do give in sometimes :)

shirl said...

Hi again Jan, Jodi, John, Joe, Frank, Keewee and Liz :-)Jan – Nice to see you whenever you are able to pop by – I completely understand how it is :-D Not really, the show wasn’t big enough to warrant two days to see it all and there were only a handful of show gardens too. Still there was a big enough variety in stands, products, plants and displays to suit everyone. Ah yes… I remember, like Jodi, you like the blues. Oh yes, I am really enjoying my garden at the moment although its time for a bit of weeding before my next border revamp! Ah yes, it is glorious here again which is great. I can imagine you get a great deal of sunshine with you and much hotter temps. Thank-you and Happy Gardening to you too! Good luck with your bug hunt :-D

Jodi – Glad you stopped by to see them. I always think of you when I post photos of meconopsis. It certainly was a colourful visit. Inspiring for the garden… perhaps not this time. But it has made me consider drawing again :-D

John – LOL… the power of editing perhaps? Yes, definitely something for everyone. Oh… so glad you picked up on the Bonsai :-) The one in flower was absolutely stunning. I also adore looking at them but I know they are not to everyone’s taste. I had a friend that thought they were the most unnatural plants and loathed them. I have tried growing them where you make a forest out of a conifer on its side with one side of its branches trimmed. I think that’s how it worked. It looked great but I didn’t continue to look after it as I should have. It was fun trying though :-D

Joe – Great, there really is a huge variety at shows and I’d guess most gardeners go as much for the opportunity to buy plants from Nurseries in other parts of the country that they wouldn’t get to. We arrived in the morning just after it opened and many people were seen going straight to the plant sales and the plant crèches had customer’s just 10 mins in!! Shows like this are ideal for new gardeners, for them there is so much to see and get info on from advice with worms to a tool for the garden. I’m certain you would enjoy visiting one. Nice to hear you enjoyed you NT gardens. What a fantastic location you had for your cottage. Looking forward to more postings from your hols – I’m guessing you went to Pensthorpe

Frank – Yes, shows are great for that. Glad I saved your feet so they can walk another day ;-) Ah… Hampton I’ve never been to but would like to visit one day. I thoroughly enjoyed Tatton just a few years after it started – much more in the way of show gardens which I like to see. Gardening Scotland has changed since its first days and the show gardens may be larger in numbers (so they say) but they are smaller and much less substantial than they were. Sadly there was no ‘wow’ factor for me this year but I love atmosphere there so I always return every year. I can imagine you must get a buzz out of your show visits catching up with people and meeting new contacts. Oh yes… you have the excuse for trying out the products :-D

Keewee – Yes, I completely agree. Sometimes you have to look that bit closer to see them but they are definitely there! You are most welcome for the tour – I came home with a few ideas but not necessarily for my own garden :-D

Liz – Thank-you, yes its great what a bit of sunshine can do to give great pics :-) Oh yes I always enjoy the overload of plants at garden shows! Ah… didn’t notice the trough photo wouldn’t enlarge – it’s a pest when that happens. I’ll mail it to you so you can get a better look. Not sure what kind of trough it was and didn’t see water pumped around. Good question re stale, I’d see it more like a bird bath and top it up every so often but I could say for sure if that would keep it drinkable. I guess you could try silicon sealer to plug the hole. Another thought… if you put oxygenating plants in the water that would help the condition of the water. Yes, the meconopsis is a beauty. I know what you mean… I am trying to find colour and insect friendly plants :-D

easygardener said...

These shows are fascinating for a number of reasons but it is lovely if you can find a plant or a bit of garden design that you can possibly use in your own garden. Like you have made a "discovery" all on your own.
Then there is the delight of criticising some of the gardens - can't resist it - though I always look to see if the designer far away :-)

Liz said...

Thanks for the info Shirl, definitely something to consider. I think it was on Gardeners world last Friday where they were using old metal containers as plant troughs e.g an old cattle water trough.

I had a look online last night and found some very nice, funky steel pots (just a shame it's usually reflected in their price!)
I suppose a small storage tub lowered into the ground would work just as well... A few plants in it, some pebbles and hey presto!

Juliet said...

I have Meconopsis envy again ;)

I rather liked the brightly planted car, but I'm afraid I couldn't work out why you had to be careful with your camera there?

ShySongbird said...

Hi Shirl, I really enjoyed walking round the show with you, it looked like a great day out.

The Pallet Garden Challenge took me right back to childhood, when our school used to take part in an exhibition at the town hall. I think it was some sort of arts and crafts thing but we children had to make miniature gardens on trays, I have very fond memories of that!

The blue of the Meconopsis is stunning. What a lot of lovely things you saw and every time you look at your Honeysuckle and smell its sweet scent you will be reminded of the happy time you spent at the show.

shirl said...

Hi again Denise, Liz, Juliet and ShySongbird :-)

Denise – Yes, I know exactly what you mean ;-) Yes, there is always a compulsion to judge theses gardens isn’t there. Yes, I try to keep my comments out of earshot too :-D

Liz – No probs. I’ve still to mail you that pic yet. Ah… I’m still catching up on GW recorded progs so haven’t seen that one yet. I’d guess Toby would have suggested you go to a reclaimed yard. Perhaps, better still if you knew someone, who knew a farmer that had one lying around with no use for it?

Juliet – Oh sorry… I know I’m lucky they have settled in shady spot in my back garden – I daren’t move them now! Yes, the car did make me smile too. It also made others get a fright… there was a sensor somewhere around the bonnet area that when triggered set a couple of sprays of water high above from the bonnet (like for the wipers). It gently sprayed water into the crowd around it. My daughter though it might be triggered by sound and so wanted to clap as we passed by it on our way back to the car park ;-)

ShySongbird – Thanks for joining me! Ah yes… I remember my daughter doing a plate garden at school too. They did have great fun with it adding washing lines, Lego figures etc. It’s lovely when something unexpected brings back fond memories. Oh yes , I can’t agree more, I love that shade of blue. Yes, we all see different things at shows or on visits and it is great to see things from someone else’s eyes. I’ve been enjoying your tours too. As for the honeysuckle it will more remind me of my first garden and the first trellis I ever put up. I still cannot believe out of all the unusual plants I came back with it :-D

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You need to sit down and rest Shirl. You have been a busy girl. I loved that beetle filled with flowers. Too funny. I always admire the blue poppies too since I don't have the climate or soil to grow them. I just admire them from afar. What draws me to the shows?? Well, I love seeing the flower displays. The creative and unusual uses of readily available items is always a plus too.