Ten things you must see or do at Sandringham Flower Show

Prince Charles meets youngsters at last year's show. Picture: Matthew Usher. Prince Charles meets youngsters at last year's show. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
9:45 AM

Thousands will be heading to Norfolk tomorrow for the Sandringham Flower Show. Here’s our top 10 things to see or do.

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Grab a programme. It’ll help you plan your day and find your way around the showground. Away from the main ring and the royal marquees, there are a host of interesting things happening on the fringes. Your £2 goes straight to local charities, as well. Since 1977, the show has donated more than £500,000 to good causes in and around West Norfolk.

Check out the show gardens. Flower show officials aren’t wrong when they say the standard of sheer horticultural artistry on show is on a par with that seen at Chelsea and other big name shows. These folk start with a blank piece of paper and have to design a garden. Then they get a bare plot of earth and a week to make it happen. Amazing.

Designers and their teams will be on hand to chat about their displays and answer any questions, such as whether you could grow a so-and-so hosta wotsit in your garden in Wimbotsham, so don’t be shy.

Cast your vote in the People’s Choice tent (in between the two sets of show gardens). While TV gardener Chris Beardshaw and his judges decide who wins the silverware, show-goers get the chance to vote for their favourite garden too. Winners of both are announced after lunch.

Did someone say lunch? The main catering marquee is at the end of the showground near the cricket pitch. Owzat for a bite? If you’re a foodie, you’ll be bowled over by the Food and Drink Marquee, where there’ll be organic nibbles, pork pies and poacher cheese to try. Elsewhere, you’ll find everything from home-made fudge to real ales, herby nibbles and even a duck truck.

Duck – that was low... One of the show’s aerial highlights will be the awesome Grace Spitfire. Flown by Carolyn Grace in memory of her late husband, Nick, who spent five years restoring the 1940s war bird, the aircraft is due to scramble at 2.30pm – weather permittting. If the roar of its Merlin engine isn’t enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, Carolyn makes it loop and roll in an awesome display.

Down on terra firma there’s more living heritage on show in the rural crafts marquee, also near the cricket pitch. Run by John Shone, who, with his family is dedicated to keeping many of the old country skills alive, it hosts craftspeople carving, weaving and making things – a great place to pick up a totally one-off, original gift for someone. The Shones – aka Rutland Landscapes – have also built a show garden.

Another true craftsman is Nick Godfrey Cole, who runs Scent with Love – a florist in Hunstanton. His talks and demonstrations have proved so popular at previous shows that he’s doing two to cope with demand this year – catch him in the Horticultural Talks Marquee at 10am and 11.15am.

Also in the talks marquee, there are talks on growing organic veg, garden design and finally, a gardener’s question time (3.30pm) with Chris Beardshaw, Alan Mason, Nick Hamilton and Martyn Davey. Check programmee for full details. Talks are usually well-attended, so get there early.

If the thought of lugging a plant around all day puts you off buying it, there’s a plant creche near the main catering marquee and the loos. You can leave your newly-purchased pride and joy here in the shade, and pick it up when it’s time for home. Many of the plants on displays and gardens are for sale from 4pm, when a bell is rung. Don’t be afraid to ask and haggle – you might just be surprised by what you can pick up.

Lastly, don’t forget your EDP. We’ll have a special show day edition on sale on our stand, between the main arena and the steam fairground, complete with our famous goody bags. Come and say hello.

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