I started working as Events Manager at RHS Garden Harlow Carr in October 2015, and on my first day (it may have even been in the first hour), I was gently informed that the garden would be running its first flower show in 2016… cue much googling of ‘flower shows’… ah yes, ‘RHS Chelsea Flower Show’…
Now, I have to confess I had never been to a flower show before, and, while being an experienced events manager, I began to feel slightly nervous by the fabulous images filling my screen, and I was compelled to get started straight away.
The team and I were keen that the event should showcase the best of our garden, so it takes place in and around the beautiful beds and borders, and along the Streamside we have installed an intriguing sculpture trail.
Another unique element of Harlow Carr is the relationship we have with Yorkshire’s famous tea room ‘Bettys’; who have pulled together additional pop-up catering, serving Pimm's, fabulous ‘fat rascals’ and delicious sandwiches, so there really will be a local flavour to the show. In planning the event we were keen to add a theatrical element, and visitors will be able to soak up live music and see giant sculpted flowers within the backdrop of the garden for some perfect photo opportunities.
For our Talks and Demonstrations Tent we have called on the expertise of Martin Fish, RHS Garden Advisor (and local gardening superstar) to help us plan a diverse and exciting timetable. Martin will be joined by TV florist Jonathan Moseley, specialist nurseries and our own RHS staff to entertain and inform.
We have also ensured that the show enables us to shout about our outreach work do, and the team will be here with some of our community partners showcasing their projects. The National Gardens Scheme (NGS) will be at the show and Sir Gary Verity from Welcome to Yorkshire will be opening the show with RHS Director General Sue Biggs.
I will have several lasting memories of planning this show; mainly that it has united the team here at Harlow Carr and everyone has been so supportive, from the apprentices in the garden team getting the pots ready, to our turf expert, Kevin, ensuring the lawns are ‘tent and show ready’, to the retail team stocking the Plant Centre high and the maintenance team even giving the garden clock a paint! We really will be showing off the very best of the teams and what they do throughout this weekend.
My final thought is that I had the opportunity to visit Chelsea this year for the first time and experience a flower show first hand, so my only hope is that our show goes a little way to making our visitors feel as I did, that the RHS and the people who work for it really are inspiring and our events share the very best in gardening so that people can discover ‘health and happiness’ in horticulture!