With summer on the horizon at last, many of us will be turning our attention to our gardens to get them into shape for the long days and brighter evenings ahead.
Whether you are keen to use your outdoor space to grow flowers and foliage, engage in alfresco cookery and dining, or create an adventure playground for the children, you’re guaranteed to get inspiration at this year’s Gardening Scotland.
The country’s most established gardening and outdoor living event takes place from Friday to Sunday at the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston and it promises to feature something for everyone – from flower lovers, to foodies and families.
Gardening Scotland’s Floral Hall is one of the highlights of the three-day event and this year it will be home to hundreds of Europe’s top specialist nurseries and growers – some from as far afield as the Netherlands, and others closer to home. Sponsored by the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, the Floral Hall will welcome 35,000 gardening enthusiasts through its doors with an explosion of scent and colour, thanks to two flying floral displays created with lupins, foxgloves and dahlias in celebration of VisitScotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.
Novice gardeners and experienced ones alike will have the opportunity to learn from the professionals by attending one of the many drop-in participative workshops on subjects such as creating containers on a budget and growing your own cut flowers. There will also be Q&A sessions with Scottish horticultural experts including Jim McColl, Carole Baxter and David Mitchell.
Year after year, the Show Garden Avenue at Gardening Scotland is a must-visit for garden lovers seeking inspiration for their own outdoor spaces, and this year will be no different with eight show gardens on display. A “Hive Jive” garden designed by students from the Edinburgh campus of Scotland’s Rural Colleges will pay homage to the bumblebee, helping to raise awareness of its role in pollinating food crops and flowers.
A prison garden titled “Within these walls – a journey inside” will be designed and created by men from Glenochil prison in Alloa and women from Cornton Vale prison in Stirling. This will showcase the horticultural knowledge and skills of more than 40 inmates, taking visitors on a journey through the life of a prisoner – from the initial dark and lonely days through to the brighter moments of creating friendships and embarking on new endeavours.
Martin Dare, Gardening Scotland’s show organiser, says: “Every year there is huge excitement and anticipation around Gardening Scotland’s show gardens. As well as showcasing some of the finest floral delights that Scotland has to offer, each of the gardens tells its own story and offers a creative outlet for visitors and exhibitors to cherish and enjoy.”
Gardening Scotland offers much more than flowers and foliage, and this year’s show has a real focus on the gastronomic, as well as gardening delights. The Cookery Theatre will host a range of well-known chefs demonstrating delicious and inspiring recipes using the best Scottish produce, and a Living Garden exhibition will demonstrate how you can grow delicious produce, from herbs to fruit and vegetables, for your own kitchen.
Scotland’s outdoor living event also promises to be the perfect family day out. Children under 16 get free entry to Gardening Scotland and there will be plenty of activities to keep them entertained. The dedicated Big Back Garden will play host to Glasgow Science Centre, which will be promoting healthy living in the outdoors, while Gardening Scotland’s charity partner NSPCC Scotland has announced that Mairi Hedderwick will be reading her popular Katie Morag stories in the Storytelling Tipi on Saturday.
The Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society will also have a dedicated children’s area with hands-on activities. From planting seeds to making “grass-heads”, there will be the chance for youngsters to create a keepsake of Gardening Scotland and continue their adventure at home. Little people will also love to get involved with the miniature pallet gardens, bouncy castles, birds of prey, play equipment and face painting.
Martin says: “If you thought that Gardening Scotland was just for seasoned gardeners, then think again. The event is all about embracing your outside space whatever your gardening knowledge or your age. You might wish to go along to a workshop and get your hands dirty with some planting, or you may be on the lookout for the best garden toys or inspiration as to how to make your garden more child-friendly. Whatever you want, whether you are four or 104, Gardening Scotland will provide a truly enjoyable day out.”
For the first time, Gardening Scotland will also host a Ladies Day on Saturday, offering shopping opportunities, a refreshing glass of Pimm’s or prosecco as well as a designer fashion show. Inspired by themes such as “the trendy gardener”, “summer afternoon” and “garden party”, the fashion show will be the ideal chance to relax and unwind during a busy day with high street retailers such as John Lewis, House of Fraser and Debenhams showcasing top trends. It will take place in the Royal Horticultural Society Theatre on Saturday, with the first show running from 11.00am to 11.45am and the second show from 3.45pm to 4.30pm.
Martin says: “This year’s Gardening Scotland event is going to be our biggest and best yet. Scotland’s wider garden tourism industry generates approximately £200 million for the economy, and there’s no question that more and more people are taking an active interest in their gardens, including growing vegetables and embracing their outdoor living spaces.
“This event is not only about gardening though. It is also the perfect day out for foodies, families and everyone who is interested in what our great outdoors has to offer.”
• For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.gardeningscotland.com