Sandy’s Garden ... Gardening Scotland 2014

Sandy Simpson
Sandy Simpson

“At Gardening Scotland 2014 the plants are the stars of the show.”

“The New Hopetoun Gardens Floral Hall will be packed to the rafters with irresistible flowers of all kinds. The nurseries and growers who make this the biggest plant fair in Scotland include leading names from all over the UK, many of them rushing straight from the Chelsea Flower Show to sell the newest introductions, rare species, reliably hardy shrubs, perennials and alpines to gardeners in Scotland.”

In this lyrical vein the writers of the leaflet promoting Gardening Scotland 2014 introduce their readers to the delights of the Floral Hall at Gardening Scotland, sponsored this year by New Hopetoun Gardens, overegging the pudding just a bit with the reference to ‘packed to the rafters’ with flowers of all kinds. At least, I have yet to see any flower in attendance at this annual event which could seriously rival the beanstalk which Jack climbs up annually in pantomime. But yes, there will be a plethora of floral displays to delight the eye and the nose, although, sadly, the days of Polmont Horticultural Society’s display garden seem to have come to an end, the inevitable fate of all good things.

But, although this one goody is missing, there are many goodies to attract the gardener and his or her friends and tempt them to part with hard cash. There’s a food fair … Food Fayre, as the organisers spell it … where a variety of small, specialist producers sell their tasty preserves, pies and gourmet produce. There’s a feature called the Big Back Garden, where one can get close to honeybees, to raptors and to moths … although I, for one, will be quite content if my personal back garden remains free of eagles, owls and hawks!

And then there is the advice which is available from teams of experts; and this advice comes without further charge once the admission money has been handed over. The Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society … the ‘Caley’ … will have a prominent display stand in the Floral Hall where there are always members on hand to answer almost any question which a gardener might ask. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the Caley’s sister south of the border, will be offering a series of talks in the RHS Theatre with question and answer sessions on a variety of topics. And there will be opportunities to ask questions of the members manning the specialist society stands and the staff on sales stands throughout Gardening Scotland and to receive good advice mainly untainted by commercial motivation.

You want more? Well, listen to Dougal Philip of New Hopetoun Gardens: “You can grow herbs in your own herb garden, in your flowerbeds, in pots and containers and even on a sunny windowsill indoors.” And Dougal, together with Lesley Watson … yes, she of The Beechgrove Garden … will be on hand just outside the Floral Hall with a brilliant display of culinary and decorative herbs and all the advice you need to make them grow beautifully.

And I haven’t as much as mentioned the show gardens, a dozen masterly creations by some of the top garden designers and builders to delight the eye and fill any gardener with enough good ideas to see him or her through the summer and well into next year! Some of the gardens are being created on behalf of a variety of good causes; and all of them will be filled with inspirational ideas and fantastic plants. All these delights are to be found at Gardening Scotland 2014, which is open this Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Royal Highland Centre Edinburgh between 10.00 and 5.00 and costs £17.00 on Friday and £15.00 at the weekend.