Harrogate Autumn Flower Show has such a sweet theme

Chef-Chocolatier Ashley McCarthy.  Photo Credit: Andrew McCaren for The Harrogate Flower Show.
Chef-Chocolatier Ashley McCarthy. Photo Credit: Andrew McCaren for The Harrogate Flower Show.

Imagine the perfect garden…then imagine if the spectacular centrepiece was made from real chocolate!

This year’s autumn theme for the Harrogate Flower Show, which starts tomorrow, celebrates plants that have given us pleasure for millennia.

From chocolate and coffee to wine and vines the show will explore the origins of the flora so often said to be naughty, but nice.

Among the Plants of Pleasure displays will be a special chocolate garden, showcasing sumptuous, dark planting on the outside and working towards a rich, gooey centre of real chocolate plants and flowers, complete with a chocolate fountain.

Created by Ripon designer Helen Hays, Harrogate landscaper Nick Fryer and York Chef-Chocolatier Ashley McCarthy, the garden is a playful horticultural tribute to a human obsession with all things cacao that has thrived for thousands of years.

Show Director Nick Smith said: “Many of the things that give us pleasure today stem from plant discoveries made so long ago that we take them for granted.

“We thought it would be both interesting and fun for our visitors to explore the horticultural heritage of some of the plants and their bi-products we love so much.”

The chocolate heart of The Tempered Garden has taken Ashley McCarthy approximately 30 days and 30kg of dark Belgian chocolate to make.

It comprises flowers and plants, but will also include other elements of the Plants of Pleasure theme, such as grapes and vines.

Owner of Ye Old Sun Inn at Colton, near York, Ashley has been working with chocolate for 14 years and specialises in centre piece sculptures.

He said: “Chocolate definitely comes high on the list of guilty pleasures, so to have a whole garden with beautiful flowers on the outside and real chocolate in the centre sounds like many people’s idea of heaven!”

Also new for this year’s show is a special bicentenary tribute to Humphry Repton, the man who invented the term ‘landscape gardener’.

An exhibition called The Great Improver will celebrate Repton’s work, made famous by the ground-breaking, before and after Red Books he created to illustrate his landscape make-overs.

Staged at the Great Yorkshire Showground from September 14 to 16, Harrogate Flower Show is the UK’s premier autumn gardening event.

Tickets for Friday and Saturday will cost £20 on the gate. Tickets for Sunday will cost £18.50 on the gate.Under 16s go free when accompanied by an adult and parking is free.

For more information visit www.flowershow.org.uk or call 01423 546157.