Five fab flower shows

Michael Perry suggests five fabulous, but lesser known flower shows for you to visit.

I am sure just about everyone knows about the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, don’t we? We’re lucky to have it broadcast on the BBC each year, and we can sit back and soak up the plants, gardens and the atmosphere, without getting muddled up in the crowds.

So which other flower shows are out there, and are they quieter, more accessible and cheaper to enter than the London-based Chelsea show? 

I’ve had a lot of fun putting together this list of 5 lesser-known shows, all of which are well worth the trip. I’ve chosen them from every corner of the UK, so hopefully you’ll be able to give one of them a visit.

RHS Urban Garden Show

RHS Urban Garden Show:

The Urban Garden show was a bold move by the RHS to appeal to the newer demographics that have started to form the next generation of plant lovers. And, I have to say, they have absolutely pulled it off. The whole show had a fresh feel, with a cohesive blend of plants, crafts and vegan food.

The Urban Garden Show is held in the Lawrence Hall in Westminster, and can be paired with a great day out in London. The show is inspiring to anyone, whether they are full-on gardeners, making the most of a balcony or patio, or considering their first houseplant purchase.

11 July (Late Event): 6pm–10pm – all tickets £5
12–13 July: 12 noon–9pm – free entry, no ticket required
Location: RHS Lawrence Hall, London

The Flower Fringe

The Flower Fringe:

Until now, the Flower Fringe has been a well-kept secret. Nestled in the wilds of Sussex, in the grounds of Knepp Castle, this fair is quirky England at its very best, and a hunting ground for plantaholics too. There isn’t just flowers to be seen though, you can also enjoy lots of music, dancing and singing. You can also expect to learn more about wildlife, bees, insects, birds and bats! 

Tickets are a snip at just £6.50 each, and are a quid less if you arrive in a classic car, for which there’s a special car park. Vintage wear is also encouraged.

3-4 June: 10.30am – 5pm
Entry: £6.50 adults, children under 14 £1.00 and children under 4 free.
Location: Knepp Castle, West Sussex

Sandringham Flower Show

Sandringham Flower Show:

For one day only, you can enjoy a flower show in the most regal surroundings,.In it’s 135th year despite the fact you may not have heard of it, the Sandringham Flower Show is well worth a day trip.

With the most sumptuous backdrop of Sandringham Park, it’ll be no surprise to you that a Royal Patron usually attends. Leading nurseries from the region are proud to exhibit at the show, and there’s a great country show feel with crafts, a military band and a main arena with events. Gardeners are well catered for thanks to a Gardeners’ Forum, where top TV gardener Chris Beardshaw is on hand to give advice on everything from your willow to your wisteria.

All profits from the show go to local charities.

26 July: 9am – 6pm
Entry: £10.00 adults, children 16 and under free.
Location: Sandringham Park, Norfolk

Malvern Show

Malvern Show:

Some might refer to this as ‘The Chelsea Flower Show of the West’, thanks to its mouthwatering location at the foothills of the Malverns. Organisers are staying tight-lipped about what the highlights of the autumn show will be, but you can be assured there’ll be a colour from late-flowerers and plenty of harvests on display.

The Malvern Autumn show is home to the UK National Giant Vegetables Competition, so you can expect everything to get a bit ‘carry on’. It’s also the last RHS show of the season, so you may notice nursery owners relaxing a little, as they’ll soon be able to put their feet up. Go along and give them some support.

23 – 24 September: 9am – 6pm
Entry: TBC
Location: Three Counties Showground, Worcestershire

GROW London- The Contemporary Garden Fair

GROW London- The Contemporary Garden Fair:

This one really is a garden show with a difference. You’ll marvel at the quality and innovation of the goods on display- think contemporary bird tables (yes, there is such a thing!) and lots of alliums.

Having spent two years settling into it’s home in Hampstead Heath, the show this year moves to Kensington Olympia and becomes part of the House & Garden Festival, giving even better value if you’re planning a trip.

If you’re a gardening purist, then this may not be the show for you. But, if you want to see what’ trendy for outdoor spaces, you’ll absolutely lap it up.

21 – 24 June: 10am – 5pm
Entry: on the door: £20 adults, children 13-16 £10.00 and children under 12 free (advance tickets also available)
Location: Olympia London

RHS Urban Garden Show
The Flower Fringe
Sandringham Flower Show
Malvern Show
GROW London- The Contemporary Garden Fair