I went to the Gardening Scotland Show at Ingleston on Friday 3rd June, largely because I thought it might be a Scottish version of the Chelsea Flower show. I’d failed to order tickets in time for Chelsea this year and last year I had a cat-related disaster (don’t ask!) that stopped me using my very expensive tickets, so I was determined to get to a Flower Show in 2016 one way or other. And the Gardening Scotland show was certainly dedicated to flowers, with lots of stalls selling plants, all in spectacular bloom. I knew some of the stalls from previous events (such as CC Plants) but others were new to me, and many were specialists, like Corachie Clematis. More specialities were to be found inside the main venue (where it was nice and cool) with huge displays of bonzai, rock-garden plants, and chrysanthemums, to name but a few. You could also buy plants at many of these displays and about half the visitors seemed to be there with plant-buying in mind since they’d arrived with boxes on wheels which they quickly filled with plants and trundled around. But for those who hadn’t come prepared with a box on wheels, there were plant ‘creches’ where you could leave stuff until you were ready to go.
Amazingly, there were also displays of vegetables looking as if they were growing in soil. Having just dug up and very carefully transplanted a chard, only for it to immediately wilt, I was seriously impressed! How do they not only get them to grow and fruit for the beginning of June, but dig them up, transport them to Ingleston and display them looking perfect? However, fascinating though the veg displays were, the emphasis of the Gardening Scotland Show was very much on flowers rather than veg and fruit. Other than that, there were a lot of similarities to the Dundee Food and Flower Festival; heaps of stalls selling garden-related stuff (and unrelated), a food section selling anything from pies to gin, and various special interest stalls, eg, a bird of prey rescue centre, wood compost manufacturers and a bat conservation society. The various bee-keeping stalls kept my husband happy while I went off in search of an ice-cream. There were quite a few entertainments to watch/listen to, including a pipe band, and both gardening and food-related demonstrations and talks.
There were also outdoor display gardens, which I was hoping would be like the Chelsea Flower show gardens, but they were all quite small and rather disappointing. It was getting hot and busy by then so maybe my attention span was flagging. So I rather whizzed through them and gave only a cursory glance at the many school-kid planted micro-gardens, and didn’t bother with the craft marquee. I left after about 3 hours although, with dedication and stamina, there really was enough to keep one entertained all day (10 – 5 pm). But I would definitely recommend taking your own picnic.
Will I go back next year? Probably. Although I didn’t enjoy being stuck in the usual Edinburgh traffic jam on the way there, or missing a turn on the way back and getting lost, the show itself was pretty interesting and enjoyable, especially since the weather was good. But it might have been less fun if it had been raining since most stuff was outside. In the end I came away not having bought any plants at all, although I did succumb to a lightweight folding wheelbarrow. I picked up a lot of leaflets and even a free copy of ‘Scottish Gardener’ which I hadn’t come across before. So it wasn’t a wasted trip, but next year I’m definitely going to Chelsea!