Review of The Leeds Flower Show 2014

LEEDS HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY CELEBRATES 150 YEARS!

On Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd August 2014 at The Grammar School at Leeds we celebrated our 150th Anniversary of Leeds Flower Show. If like me you were not around at the time – here is a very brief history:

1864 As reported in Leeds Mercury on Wednesday 22 June 1864 the first exhibition of flowers and fruits was held in the Drill Room and Parade Ground which was built originally for the use of Leeds Volunteer Rifles. These facilities were provided to the public for enjoyment and to encourage a taste for the cultivation of plants and flowers and so Leeds Show was born. It was a reported as ‘a beautiful show and a tremendous success with 2,500 visitors on the first day’ – £72 was taken at the door ~ a lot of money is those days. Apart from the two World War years ‘Leeds Flower Show’ has continued. Some of you may well remember this, as I do on Soldier’s Field at Roundhay where we worked side by side with Leeds Leisure Services for many years. The Show was held in huge marquees and attracted thousands of visitors over the two days. For financial reasons this liaison had to end and we have ‘gone it alone’ ever since.

Leeds flower show showcased flowers that are used in fragrances – fragrance is a multi billion pound industry with uses in perfumes, cosmetics, toiletries and more recently even e-liquid flavours. The combination of natural fragrances along with synthetically generated fragrances has evolved from its early days. Naturally occurring fragrances are healthier and often more soothing.

2014 To make this anniversary special a replica marquee was set out in the same way as that first show back in 1864 with displays of plants, flowers, vegetables and fruits which were fashionable in that era – a snapshot of horticultural history. This was beautifully done by Elizabeth Bidgood and a team of volunteers who worked hard over a year contacting specialised growers with knowledge of heritage plants – it turned out to be one if the highlights of the Show .

The 150th Anniversary held at The Grammar School at Leeds was housed in two large halls and theatre foyer, over 400 classes of Yorkshire’s very best, including flowers, floral art, vegetables, fruit, domestic produce. Displays of magnificent entries of pot plants, sweet peas, geraniums, lilies, begonias, roses filled the senses with delightful aroma and wonderful colour. Live demonstrations of quilting, spinning, lace making were in action. How good to see that these old crafts are still popular. Photography, art pottery, were on display. Children had their chance to compete in a handwriting competition, edible monsters and a Scarecrow made from recycled material. Radio Leeds with Tim Crowther and Joe Maiden (Garden Guru) did their Sunday morning ‘Weekend in the Garden’ Show live from the Grammar School ~ the fans listening at home came flocking to see this and the gate takings went up. We were fortunate to have a display from Leeds Model Railway ~ staging old Headingley Leeds which proved an entertaining attraction.

We were fortunate to obtain sponsorship from Skoda U.K./D.M.Keith Ltd this year and four of their best selling cars were on display. An escape for the men while the ladies enjoyed the Floral Art demonstration and Cookery demonstration. With lots of interesting Traders selling plants, garden ornaments, woodcraft, jewellery, Yorkshire cheeses and Dales ice cream. We are 90% under cover and are renowned for the Schools’ wonderful food serving hot breakfasts, cooked / or salad lunches /afternoon teas all at reasonable prices . Further details on www. leedshs.org.uk.

Pat Dixon. Hon General Secretary LHS