If you’re looking for inspiration, colour, or just a lovely day out, there are plenty of flower shows and other horticultural events to mark on your calendar this year.
Here’s a look at some of the best and brightest gardening shows and festivals on the line-up for 2020…
To mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth, four main RHS gardens, Wisley, Rosemoor, Harlow Carr and Hyde Hall, have planted enough bulbs to make each spring garden a sight to behold.
Meanwhile, in Buckinghamshire, Cliveden is staging its daffodil spectacular The Gilded Gardens (Feb 29-May 1) for the second year.
Inspired by the 24-carat gilded golden gates on the Sounding chamber and the hundreds of thousands of daffodils across the estate, you’ll be able to see narcissi springing up throughout March and April and rolling displays of rarer, pot-grown varieties will be on show in the Ferneries. For details visit nationaltrust.org.uk.
If you’re in Dublin, don’t miss Bloom (May 28-June 1), a show spanning 70 acres of Phoenix Park, with show gardens and other attractions based on other successful shows such as Chelsea and Hampton Court.
Launched in 2007 by Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board), Bloom has numerous highly creative gardens and plant displays which are used to inspire and excite the public about gardening and garden design.
The show gardens, created by some of Ireland’s top garden designers, are the heart and soul of the five-day festival which not only focuses on flowers but also on the best food Ireland has to offer. For details visit bloominthepark.com.
This year, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is celebrating its 350th birthday with a year of community celebrations. Don’t miss the exhibition Think Plastic (Jan 31-Apr 26), which brings together local artists and scientists to explore the possibilities of transferring sustainable, recyclable and environmentally-responsible plastics from the laboratory into craft and arts productions.
Garden party and giant veg
The Malvern Shows (Spring Festival, May 7-10; Autumn Show, Sep 26-27) in Worcester should be on every gardener’s calendar. The RHS Malvern Spring Festival celebrates its 35th anniversary this year with a new feature, Music At Malvern, with two spectacular evenings of performances featuring the 54-piece English Symphony Orchestra led by Lesley Garrett, performing a special VE Day commemorative concert on May 8.
The following night, Radio 2’s Jo Whiley will be hosting the Gardeners’ Party as she plays music throughout the decades, chosen by the show’s special guests. This will be along with the show’s stellar lineup of experts, including Alan Titchmarsh, Carol Klein, Joe Swift, Jonathan Moseley and the new show ambassador, Chris Beardshaw.
In the autumn show, grow-your-own fans shouldn’t miss the ever-popular popular CANNA UK National Giant Vegetables Championship, top quality plant specialists in the Floral Marquee and a throwback to Forties and Fifties Britain in the Vintage Village. For details visit rhs.org.uk.
The Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate (Jul 14-16), an iconic three-day event and one of the biggest agricultural shows in the English calendar, features spectacular nursery displays, including several RHS Gold medal-winning exhibitors from far and wide. This year the show will be welcoming back floral designer and celebrity florist Jonathan Moseley, who will be appearing daily on the Garden stage, creating some fantastic displays. For details visit greatyorkshireshow.co.uk.
It’s considered the most elite gardening show on the calendar, and this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show is targeting the challenges of our changing climate. Gardens will highlight the future of cities in the face of climate emergency, while there will also be a slant on sustainable materials and growing methods adopted by the world’s leading garden designers and growers. Running from May 19-23, for details visit rhs.org.uk.
TV expert advice
BBC Gardeners’ World Live at Birmingham’s NEC (Jun 18-21) may be a more commercial show than some of its rivals, but it packs a punch with its top-notch TV gardening experts, including Monty Don and Alan Titchmarsh, who’ll be offering advice in the GW Live theatre during the show.
Visitors can admire a range of innovative show gardens and bag a bargain from the many plants and accessories outlets. Less for the specialist, more for the practical gardener, you can bag yourself some bargain plants and get advice on how to grow them too. For details visit bbcgardenersworldlive.com.
If you want to see a riot of colour, book your ticket for the Wisley Flower Show at the RHS flagship garden (Sep 8-13), where you will see an array of spectacular blooms, feast your eyes on the National Dahlia Society Show and browse the offerings from more than 50 specialist nurseries selling a range of horticultural goodies.
Learn how to make gorgeous flower arrangements from the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies and enjoy talks and demonstrations in an Expert Zone. For details visit rhs.org.uk.
Kew’s 25th annual Orchid Festival (Feb 8-Mar 8) will for the first time celebrate the incredible wildlife and vibrant culture of Indonesia – an archipelago of more than 17,504 islands, including Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, Papua and Bali. Indonesia’s landscape is as diverse as the flora and fauna that inhabit it, from tropical rainforests to spectacular volcanoes.
The festival features an immersive journey through the different zones of the glasshouse, where visitors will find spectacularly beautiful orchid displays which each represent an aspect of Indonesian wildlife and culture. For details visit kew.org.
The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Garden Festival (July 7-12) rebranded itself as a ‘Garden Festival’ in 2019 and remains high on the list of go-tos among gardeners for its royal setting, show gardens, floral marquees and trade stands, to buy everything from artisan goods to basic tools.
From contemporary to traditional, its show gardens will be awash with ideas on how to revitalise green spaces, while plants people, celebrities and foodies will be making guest appearances. For details visit rhs.org.uk.
Brighten up your day with a visit to the RHS Flower Show Cardiff (Apr 17-19) to see thousands of beautiful spring bulbs. This year, the show is celebrating its 15th anniversary and to mark the occasion some 15 exhibitors that have had a presence at every show will be there.
The event will also tie in with the Visit Wales theme, the Year of Outdoors. Health and wellbeing will be much promoted at the show, displaying the benefits of of being outside and connecting with the natural world. For details visit rhs.org.uk.