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R A Scamp Daffodils at Cardiff Show

R A Scamp Daffodils at Cardiff Show (copyright Ian Curley)

I’ve lived in south Wales for nearly six years now but today was my first visit to the RHS show in Cardiff. It’s the first of the outdoor shows, kicking off the gardening calendar and for the last two years has been the culmination of National Gardening Week.

I think in the past I’ve been put off by the timing of the show. Held in April it does suffer from the vagaries of the weather. I have a friend who has visited for the last few years and needed her winter down-filled coat one year and was in a summery dress the following year. Having said that with our changing climate you could probably say that about August. I did think it was about time I supported my local show though. I recently read that the Edible Garden Show, normally held near Coventry, is now moving to a new home in London and think it’s a pity that everything gravitates towards the capital. I’ve also been hunkered down in my study and/or greenhouse for the last few weeks working on my book and growing my plants as the deadline looms ever closer, so felt like I deserved a day out. So with that in mind Cardiff beckoned.

The Sea Spring Seeds Stand - inspirational veg growing

The Sea Spring Seeds Stand – inspirational veg growing (copyright Ian Curley)

The show is set in Bute Park, the grounds of Cardiff Castle, in the city centre.  It’s smaller than other RHS shows and more compact but these weren’t negatives by any means. You need stamina for the other shows, particularly if you’re on a plant buying mission. My day at Cardiff was a much more relaxed and leisurely experience. That’s not to say I didn’t come armed with a shopping list. Thanks to the RHS’s great website I had already had a look through the nurseries that would be participating, so I had an idea about what I’d be looking for. Staddon Farm Nurseries and their Primula sieboldii collection was too hard to resist particularly in light of my new found primula plant addiction. There was a visit to Sea Spring Seeds’ stand. I had seen their stunning collection of colourful chillies at the Abergavenny Food Festival last year and having run out of space to germinate any more seeds I made a bee-line for their young plants. I plumped for Hungarian Hot Wax. A paltry 6,000 on the scoville heatness scale but then both Wellyman and I are wusses when it comes to spicy food.

Wheelbarrow garden competition

Wheelbarrow garden competition (copyright Ian Curley)

I loved that there were quite a few school groups there, wandering around, having a look at the show gardens and the floral marquees. Some of them had entered the wheelbarrow garden competition that was on display near the entrance to the showground. An inspired idea with some brilliantly inventive designs, lets hope it inspires some budding gardeners for the future.

Considering the prolonged cold start to the year and, up until very recently, the lack of anything remotely spring-like it was amazing that the nurseries in the marquees put on such a stunning show. I think my favourite had to be R A Scamp Daffodils from Falmouth in Cornwall.

'Up-cycle' show garden

‘Up-cycle’ show garden (copyright Ian Curley)

Perhaps the weakest element of this event were the show gardens. They were small and some lacking in any great design or even plants in some cases. Having said that I loved the colours and ideas behind Wade and Nicol Landscape’s ‘Up-cycle’ garden. Wellyman has already been tasked with making some wooden pallet seats for the garden this year.

The weather is looking settled for the weekend so if you fancy a spot of gardening indulgence pop along to Cardiff, you won’t be disappointed.

For more details about RHS Cardiff Show

On the theme of RHS shows, would you like the chance to win tickets to this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. The clothing company Jacques Vert contacted me to say that they are running a competition and would I mention it on my blog. This isn’t an endorsement for them and I don’t receive anything for this but I thought it could be a great opportunity for you to be in with the chance of winning tickets. The prize is two tickets to RHS Chelsea Show for Friday 24th May 2013. Travel and accommodation are NOT included. The closing date is midnight Tuesday 7th May and the winner will be notified by email by 9th May. You need to be over 18 to enter. If you fancy giving it a go you can enter at the Jacques Vert blog.   Good Luck!