Harlow Carr Flower Show - behind the scenes

Harlow Carr’s second annual flower show promises to be a three-day floral feast. Events manager Amy Croxton explains what goes into making it a success

Flower show teamThere are several event highlights in Harlow Carr’s calendar, but the most important has to be our annual Flower Show (23- 25 June 2017). This year will be its second year and with that comes an even greater anticipation and expectation, which in turn leads to a rather anxious events manager!

Planning a show – even though it isn’t on the scale of Chelsea or Chatsworth - involves a huge number of elements, from music and parking to catering and health and safety, and can be a minefield of checklists, coffee, emails, calls, panic, more coffee and – I have to confess – on occasion, wine! However, as a result of all of that forward planning, I am confident this year’s show will entertain, engage and excite even the more reluctant gardener.

We are all going into year two with a better understanding of the event, what we hope to offer and what people can expect. Now we're in our second year, it's great  know the nurseries and traders so much better; they have become an extension of my working family. I love seeing them throughout the year at other shows and events to say hi and find out how their year is going.

Top nurseries

The garden in summerThe greatest pressure I feel is ensuring lots of visitors come to see these great nurseries and of course take home a plant or two. These people are craftsmen and women and specialists in their trades and I have such admiration for them. I don’t think people fully appreciate what the show season involves, how hard it is and how much stamina is required to get through it, and yet I know they will arrive for their time at Harlow Carr with a van full of the very best plants and products and with smiles on their faces, despite many of them already having Cardiff, Malvern, Chelsea and Chatsworth shows under their belts.

We have expanded the show this year and have more than 40 wonderful exhibitors. The logistics of ensuring each nursery and trade stand can set up, re-stock and pack away safely and efficiently requires something of a military operation as 40 exhibitors arrive during a 20-hour window, all of whom need help from the Harlow Carr team to bring them on and off site using buggies and trailers. No mean feat.

Boot Camp

Moving swiftly on from military analogy to actuality…this year we’re drafting in real soldiers from the 6th Regiment of the Royal Logistics Corps who are working with us on operation ‘Boot Camp’ - an RHS community outreach project that has involved local schoolchildren decorating and planting up old army boots. Hundreds of the boots will be on display throughout the show for visitors to enjoy. There will also be a military wives choir on hand to entertain the crowds.

I dare say our soldiers will be available for photos with ‘Lady Primula’ a roaming character who will be opening the show dressed in real Harlow Carr primulas, those beautiful dolly-mixture flowers that adorn the Streamside as this time of year.

Talks and demos

I am also really pleased that we have planned a great timetable of talks and demonstrations, starting with Tracy Foster, designer of the Welcome to Yorkshire Chelsea garden, as well as garden writer and broadcaster Martin Fish, florist Jonathan Moseley and our own team of experts.

There are so many people working on the show and I couldn’t do it without the support of the Harlow Carr staff and volunteers; I know we will deliver a first-class event to showcase the very best in gardening and of course the best of RHS Garden Harlow Carr. Please come and see us over the weekend, hopefully marvel at the seamless organisation, and please, please, do an obligatory sun dance!

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.