The RHS Garden Harlow Carr column with Liz Thwaite

Harlow Carrs first flower show attracted 12,000 visitors.
Harlow Carrs first flower show attracted 12,000 visitors.
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Preparations for our second annual flower show are in full swing. The nurseries and trade stands are booked, the marquees are ordered, the park and ride service is in place and the show guides are printed.

It all sounds so simple when I write it down, but the reality is that a huge amount of forward planning goes into making the show a success, led by our fabulous events team who head up this military operation!

Candelabra-type primula planted on Streamside.

Candelabra-type primula planted on Streamside.

Planning a show – while it isn’t the scale of Chelsea or Chatsworth – involves a huge number of elements, from music to parking, catering to health and safety, and can be a minefield of checklists, coffee, emails, calls, panic and more coffee.

We are all going into year two with a better understanding of the event, what we hope to offer and what people can expect.

We now know the nurseries and traders so much better, which really helps. These people are craftsmen and women and specialist in their trades and you have to admire the stamina they clearly possess to make it through show season intact!

Despite many of them already having Cardiff, Malvern, Chelsea and Chatsworth shows under their belts, I know they’ll arrive at Harlow Carr with a van full of the very best plants and products and with smiles on their faces.

The logistics of ensuring each nursery and trade stand can set up, re-stock and pack away safely and efficiently is no mean feat, with 40 exhibitors arriving during a 20 hour window, all of whom need help from the Harlow Carr team to bring them on and off site using buggies and trailers.

Fingers crossed it all goes to plan.

Moving swiftly on from military analogy to actuality… this year we’re drafting in real soldiers from the 6 Regiment of the Royal Logistics Corp who are working with us on operation ‘Boot Camp’ – an RHS community outreach project which has involved local school children decorating and planting up old army boots.

Hundreds of the planted boots will be on display throughout the show for visitors to enjoy.

I dare say our soldiers will be available for photos with ‘Lady Primula’ a roaming character who will be opening the show dressed in real Harlow Carr primulas, those beautiful dolly-mixture flowers that adorn the Streamside as this time of year.

We’re also really pleased we have planned a great timetable of talks and demonstrations starting with Tracy Foster, designer of the silver medal winning Welcome to Yorkshire Chelsea garden and our very own ‘Hedgehog Street’ garden, as well as garden writer and broadcaster Martin Fish, florist Jonathan Moseley and our own team of experts.

As a result of all of that forward planning, I’m confident this year’s show will entertain, engage and excite even the most reluctant of gardeners. Please come and see us over the weekend, hopefully marvel at the seamless organisation, and please, please, do an obligatory sun dance!

RHS Garden Harlow Carr Flower Show runs from Friday 23 June – Sunday 25 June.

Visit www.rhs.org.uk/harlowcarr for full details including a free park and ride service from Harrogate Rugby Club on Rudding Lane.