We get Gardened Up

It’s a long time since I’ve been to a garden show, but I was intrigued by the sound of Sheffield’s brand new Garden Up event. Held in the beautiful surroundings of the Botanical Gardens and full of interesting things, it proved to be well worth a visit.

There were a few show gardens, some highly professional, such as Phil Hirst’s beautifully planted garden promoting the National Gardens Scheme. Others were more homespun, several of them featuring creations made by local school children. The garden by King Edward VII School managed to be both of these things at once – it looked great and turned out to feature an array of nicely crafted objects. My favourites were definitely the milk bottle birds.

Garden Up, Sheffield 2014Garden Up, Sheffield 2014Garden Up, Sheffield 2014Garden Up, Sheffield 2014Garden Up, Sheffield 2014Garden Up, Sheffield 2014

There was a fabulously futuristic… er garden? Or was it architecture? Or an art installation? The Social Media Garden, created by the University of Lincoln was probably all of these. A set of steel panels opened and closed, seemingly at random, revealing planting beneath them. The panels were in fact programmed to respond to keywords featuring on social media channels. The chosen word of the day, rain, was getting a lot of mentions, so the mechanisms driving the panels were kept busy.

Garden Up, Sheffield 2014    Garden Up, Sheffield 2014

The rain obviously had a big effect on the success of day one of Garden Up. The event was pleasant but not packed – which was great for us, but not so good for the exhibitors. I think many people were put off by the torrential rain that had arrived as promised this morning. We decided to give it a go and set off whilst it was still raining, but we were lucky – the rain eased off and a beautiful blue sky put in an appearance. However the rain took its toll on the site. Despite the presence of some matting here and there, the grass underfoot was very, very muddy.

It was worth squelching through a bit of mud though. Once we had seen the show gardens and lingered to listen to some music, we wandered around and had a look at what else was on offer. There were some interesting sculptures and structures on show, plus a couple of small marquees with floral displays and art and craft items. Personal highlights included the display from the Sheffield Orchid Society, James Green’s linocut prints and watching Andrew ‘Stoneface’ Vickers carving a new piece whilst we admired his work. I love Andrew Vickers’ sculptures – I have one of his beautiful stone faces in my garden, it’s gorgeous.

Garden Up, Sheffield 2014Garden Up, Sheffield 2014Garden Up, Sheffield 2014Garden Up, Sheffield 2014Garden Up, Sheffield 2014Garden Up, Sheffield 2014

There were of course lots of stalls selling plants. I went with a definite list in mind, which was just as well, because it would have been very easy to go crazy. We came away with some gorgeous magenta and purpley-blue creeping geraniums, a brash but beautiful heuchera with acid yellow leaves and red veining and a couple of bargain sedums.

Whilst there were plenty of interesting things to see and do, the layout of the event could have been improved. There was no obvious route round and it would have been easy to miss things. In fact, we probably did miss things. Given that the Botanical Gardens has established paths, I’m not sure why the event organisers didn’t arrange the various stands along some of these instead of having everyone walk through the (very soggy) grassed areas. There were some exhibits along the main path, but other paths were largely unused.

Having said that, all in all, we had a very nice time. Garden Up is still on tomorrow, so if you are in Sheffield, you can see for yourself. If not, hopefully Garden Up will return next year – when they might just have better luck with the weather.

Garden Up, Sheffield 2014Garden Up, Sheffield 2014Garden Up, Sheffield 2014Garden Up, Sheffield 2014

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