Gardens: Sow the seeds of a little inspiration

If the ground's frozen solid and your spring bulbs are proving reluctant to emerge, you might need something to lift your spirits. Gardening shows are a great way to get expert advice, find design inspiration and indulge in a little horticultural retail therapy. Why not start planning your show itinerary for the year with our guide to 2010's top ten gardening events?

Scotland's Gardens Scheme

Various dates, Scotland-wide (0131-226 3714,

There's nothing like visiting other people's gardens to get ideas to take home to your own back yard, and Scotland's Gardens Scheme (SGS) lets you raise money for good causes at the same time. Established in 1931, SGS raises funds by organising the opening of large and small gardens of horticultural interest throughout Scotland to the public. These gardens include Scotland's finest, are mostly privately owned and are usually inaccessible to the public at other times. To start planning your garden visits you'll need to get hold of the "yellow book", which contains full details of all open gardens. It's available from book shops and direct from SGS.

Borders Organic Gardeners Potato Day

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Sunday 7 March, Border Union Showground, Kelso (01289 388501,

Grab yourself some brown paper bags and prepare to fill them with earlies, second earlies and maincrop potatoes. You'll find unusual heritage varieties alongside favourites such as Desiree, Pentland Javelin and Bel de Fontenay. You can buy as many or as few tubers as you like. There will be stalls selling flower and veg seeds, onion and shallot sets as well as other gardening accessories.

Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society Spring Show

27-28 March, Exhibition Hall, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (

The Caley Spring Flower Show is the first big flower show of the year in Scotland and there'll be no shortage of beautiful blooms. Expect to see daffodils, hyacinths and tulips along with alpine and woodland plants, cacti and succulents, bonsai and indoor plants. The prize-winning entries are sure to inspire and a number of nurseries such as Macplants and Binny Plants will have stalls too.

Gardening Scotland

4-6 June, The Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston (0131-333 0965,

For more than a decade, Gardening Scotland has been bringing together top plant growers and talented designers in one show where gardeners can find plenty of inspiration. From Dobbies Floral Hall, home to the biggest plant sale in Scotland, to the Living Garden where experts from more than two dozen environmental organisations come together to give advice, the show offers something for everyone. Also look out for the miniature Pallet Gardens, created by gardening groups and school children, and The Big Back Garden where veg plots jostle for space with swings, slides and other garden games.

BBC Gardeners' World Live

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16-20 June, The NEC, Birmingham (0844 579 3162,

Access to the top gardening celebrities is what makes BBC Gardeners' World Live stand out. TV gardeners appearing at this year's show include Alan Titchmarsh, Monty Don and Toby Buckland. As well as talks and live demonstrations from the experts, you can expect to find a wide selection of show gardens reflecting current trends and design ideas covering a diverse range of themes.

Orchid Festival

7-8 August, Scone Palace, Perth (

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Orchid enthusiasts and keen gardeners will be heading for Scone as the Palace hosts its popular annual Orchid Festival in late summer. The festival will include displays by some of the UK's most prestigious orchid nurseries and suppliers, and plants will be available for purchase during the weekend. As well as enjoying the stunning displays, visitors will be able to listen to talks by experts on the art of orchid growing.

Dundee Flower & Food Festival

3-5 September, Camperdown Park, Dundee (01382 433815,

Flowers and food have proved a winning combination for this Dundee show and, as ever, this year will showcase top Scottish chefs and gardening experts as well as a wide range of prize-winning exhibits. In the Floral Marquee, expect to find spectacular colour and fragrance from the displays of top-class cut flowers along with impressive examples of vegetables and floral art. There's no shortage of seeds, bulbs, plants and garden sundries for sale to help you recreate a little of what you've seen at home.

For a host of exciting new plant products,visit

• This article first appeared in The Scotsman, Saturday February 13, 2010

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