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York theme for Askham Bryan’s Spring Flower Show Garden

Date: 24th April 2019

An inspirational garden reflecting the significance and huge impact of York Minster on the city and beyond is being created by Askham Bryan College for next week’s Harrogate Spring Flower Show. (Thurs 25 – Sunday 28th April) at the Great Yorkshire Showground.

Entitled “In sight of the Minster”, staff and students are hard at work building the 6m x 6m garden depicting key aspects of the iconic building and, in an imaginative twist, it is envisaged that the garden will have a lasting impact as it will be built three times in three different locations until it finally has its “forever home”.  The garden is one of the Show Gardens at the event.

Once the Harrogate event is over, the garden will be dismantled and re-created in York’s Coppergate where it will remain for the city’s Bloom! Festival in June.  The garden will then move to its permanent home following a competition in which community groups and organisations can apply for the garden to be theirs.

Jess Herbert, Head of Horticulture at Askham Bryan College said: “Most gardens built for shows are seldom enjoyed beyond the event. We want this garden to have a lasting impact, and in effect we will be re-cycling it so that ultimately it has an on-going community benefit. The idea is to have a garden with a totally different dimension so that as well as celebrating the importance of such a historic building, it underlines the value of creating a lasting legacy which can be enjoyed by many – gardeners and non-gardeners alike.”

Askham Bryan is renowned for its horticultural courses and, as well as staff, students from across the college’s horticultural department are involved in the garden build, which is being project managed by Grounds Manager Kevin Shepherd. It was Kevin who had the original idea for the garden.

Yew hedging,  a familiar sight in many churchyards, is being used to represent York’s famous walls while decorative tree supports reflect the Minster’s flying buttresses. An arched window frame planted with strong colours represents the vibrancy of the Minster’s windows. A tapestry border includes a mix of culinary and medicinal herbs with medieval and contemporary perennials all showing the cathedral’s journey through the ages.

Sponsorship has been generously provided by Yorganics, Marshalls, Bloom!, Jewsons, and British Steel.

Elsewhere floristry students from the college are also hard at work preparing for the event. The students are building a large scale exhibit in the “Album Cover” category, and are taking Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ as their inspiration. 

Individual students are competing in the following categories: ‘Pret a Porter’ – design a floral garment – Lindsay Wright and Hannah Shelbourn (Level 4 Higher Diploma in Floristry): ‘Design an arrangement for an Opticians shop’ -  Rose Nesham and Sara Winlow – (Level 2); ‘Design an arrangement in a container made from recycled materials’ – Liz Leatherbarrow (Level 3) Laura Newby, June Kelly & Julie Boothman (Level 2); and  ‘Design a hand tied bouquet to be thrown at a band performing at open air event‘ – Leonie Allardice (Level 2).


In addition, four groups of Royal Horticultural Society Level 2 and Level 3 students from the college have designed, built and planted four vertical gardens to illustrate that a lack of space can still look special.  Each wall is themed, for example, wildlife-friendly; plants for an ever-changing climate; edible growing and medicinal plants.  Wherever possible recycled materials have been used and all plants have been propagated within the college grounds or sourced locally.

For more information about horticultural courses at Askham Bryan College please see and for more information regarding how to apply to be the “forever home” of the Minster Garden please email is:

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Askham Bryan College,
Askham Bryan,
YO23 3FR
01904 772277