In some senses, Chorley Flower Show is the ‘new-kid-on-the-block’ having only started three years ago, with 2018 being its fourth show. For seasoned flower show goers and exhibitors, however, it has all the hallmarks of a superb and established show.

The show is held in Astley Park where in its centre sits one of ‘the most exhilarating houses in Lancashire’ according to the historian Simon Jenkins. Although we didn’t manage to get inside due to our pram and buggy, the hall is decked out with magnificent floral arrangements. The walled garden behind is also worthy of a look, containing many vegetables and some delicious looking apples.

Over the years, they have invited a number of well-known gardeners and this year was no exception with Adam Frost and Carol Klein (a Lancashire lass!) in attendance. These do draw people and help to enagage and inspire them to get gardening. Indeed, my ‘non-gardening’ wife enjoyed the talk by Adam in the gardening theatre and even gave me a few tips!

The organisers have invested well and thought hard about what is needed to attract visitors; just as importantly, and it could be argued of more importance, they have also thought about the amateur exhibitor. I have heard many seasoned exhibitors bemoan how bigger shows with amateur sections have begun to ‘forget’ them or make it hard work to get exhibts to and from the tent, for instance. Chorley, however, has worked hard to make showing there a pleasure and this surely is one of the factors which will make it go from strength to strength.

There were many things which made this show encouraging and accessible for the exhibitor:

  • no entry fee for exhibits
  • parking up to the tent when staging
  • good prize money – although no exhibitor shows for money nowadays  but no-one can deny the usefulness for purchasing next year’s seeds and plants!
  • ample staging tables
  • free entry passes into the show once you have staged your exhibits
  • lots of different classes – their schedule can be found here. Maybe try and enter next year?

The show also harbours a number of society shows: the regional show of The National Sweet Pea Society and one of the summer shows of The Rose Society. These events are great shop windows for the various national societies and it was also good to see The National Vegetable Society and The National Begonia Society also having some amazing stands.

One other thing to note about the show is how it seems to have got the price just right. Tickets were £10 per adult and £2 per child (children under 5 are free). They were available to purchase before with a 20% reduction. This is stark contrast to some of the other shows I have attended whose prices are somewhat eye-watering. This all helps to give the show a family feel and encourages people to go. Lee Bailey writes a good review of the show, detailing some of the other aspects of the show which can be found on his blog.

I was pleased to be able to stage a few exhibits in the show; some in the regional Sweet Pea Society Show and others in the Flower, Fruit and Vegetable classes. I was delighted to get a couple of firsts and seconds so adding the icing to the cake!

Well done Chorley on another great show!