Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Garden Show Ireland

Saturday saw the Gaults head off to their first ever visit to the Hillsborough Garden Show (shame on us, I know!). It all started off a little bit oddly - we were directed to and parked at the old Maze prison, not somewhere I ever thought I would visit. That's for sure! But it all made sense, fear not, no evil dictator was using the show as a ruse to imprison those of us who love to grow plants, it was merely a very clever park and ride system and the site is huge so it was nice to see it used for a peaceful reason. I mean really you can't get more peaceful than a bunch of paying customers wanting to go spend time looking at pretty flowers ;)
Part that hasn't been demolished is in the background
I'd never been to Hillsborough Castle's Gardens before - this is secret territory to me, reserved for the Queen etc. On arrival I was so pleasantly surprised, there were lots of pleasant people, loads of plants, a Jazz band, a champagne tent, food stalls and lots of promise. The walled garden was a delight, I loved the old out buildings, greenhouses huge ancient tree, espaliered pears and row of Scarecrows.

The floral tent was small but some set ups were truly lovely and inspring. My love for Hucheracas is now fully fledged and we are getting some for the garden. Just look how gorgeous they are with white or the fun mix of purple and orange/yellow :)
We're also thinking of a small water feature - eek! I love it.

This garden ticked most of my boxes - I love 'The Hobbit' but still, there was something just so small and lacking in it, space is not abundant I guess. Nevertheless I would have this in my back garden :) Though the child that didn't know what a typewriter was - you can keep her, I felt so ancient and decrepit around her, ahahaha

This show garden was my favourite, still small but the rill and criss crossing path are a delight. However, the more I look at it the more twee it appears and I HATE foxgloves but still - the idea is lovely.....

The other show gardens were at the most, umm disappointing. Particularly the Biodiversity one (sorry) - it was so undeveloped as a concept and looked frankly pitiful - in no way would it encourage anyone to try and replicate the look and thus the fabulous idea behind it all is lost. I am almost too upset to put this photo up but here goes.....

There were craft stalls but again, just like the one I was at as a Trader myself, it was superfluous and we weren't in the mood for such things, no matter the quality. God, it makes me feel terrible to say that, truly awful as I know the feeling of people ignoring you and all your effort but as a customer, no, it wasn't appropriate. Apart from the sweeties  and flavoured nuts- they went down a treat with most people, including Andrew :)

These stalls were appropriate though, very much so! Local organic fruit and veg boxes, Armagh Cider and Apple juice made in entirety from tree to bottle on site by a family! (we came home with 3 bottles) and lots of jams and chutneys.

I did enjoy myself and the ultimate highlight had to be the goats and chickens.
tiny Kid - just bigger than a bucket
Super tiny chick hiding under Mommy

Low points were many. As well as the ones already mentioned there was a whole row of small Titanic themed gardens which to be fair,  were done by children, large areas of the sites flower beds being empty and the interpretive dancers (I am a tree so tall, I am an allotment....). I'm obviously just not cultured enough.

So I had hoped to be really inspired and maybe even get a maximum/minimum thermometer but instead I'm left with the memory of the good organisation and the good manners of everyone there - so it was kind of odd. I doubt I will be back.


  1. You got cider! Yay! :) The day was not all lost.

  2. It's a shame that it didn't live up to expectations. I find that bigger is often not better with shows like this.
    You must have a water feature as it's something that all gardens and plots should have!
    Flighty xx

  3. Sounds similar to the show we went to near us. I also seem to remember seeing a hobbit garden at Gardeners' World Live once. I only see the show gardens as living pictures as most wouldn't replicate into a real garden setting for all sorts of reasons.

  4. Oh, I'm sorry, was hoping you would enjoy looking and come home with ideas. A water feature is a Very Good Idea.

  5. I designed and built a show garden last year - 'one 4 the journey...' in association with Aware Defeat Depression. I got a lot of personal satisfaction out of building it. I find that the show is more like a giant garden fete rather than a garden show. The public enjoy it but this year in particular I heard a lot of disappointed rumblings about the lack of show gardens in particular. The clue is in the name I would have thought - garden show'

  6. Mo and Steve - LOVE your comment, always looking on the bright side :)

    Flighty - the more I think about it the more disappointed I feel. But yes we do need a water feature in the garden - not allowed any at the allotments :( boo hiss

    Sue - oh have you watched any of Chelsea this year? I think that show spoils everything for me, I love the gardens there this year, especially the small ones.

    Diana - oh oh, second person to think a water feature is a good idea, we may have to get on to this :)

    Ian - a most hearty welcome! I am (slightly) associated with Aware too - they have recommended my Allotmentherapy essay to people, good people trying to give much needed support. HECK YES, I would have thought the name was in the title too, but you are so right, it was like a fete and that is not what I paid for :( In fact, in Hillsborough on that same day there was a fete and a craft fair/auction - probably just as garden focused. *rolls eyes*

  7. We have a largeish garden show here in Seattle every year. And at a time, February, when flower are a delight. Unfortunately, all the show garden tend to be so overblown that most people couldn't afford them. I've, sadly, given up on going.

  8. Interesting comments about the kind of trade stalls at a garden show. Sometimes it feels like the organizers want to make as much money as possible from traders regardeless of what kind of show it is.

  9. I've done this before -- the visit doesn't live up to expectations. You get all excited and then, deflated.
    At least the goats and the chickens entertained. Was that before or after the cider?

    On the other hand, I really enjoyed the pictures you shared. As usual, you have a wonderful "eye" for the details, even if they are hard to find.

  10. WOW! Really Nice Pics collection i love it.
    Thank you for post.

    Garden Centre Chilton


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