SHOVELS poised. Hoes at the ready. Pruning shears set to snip. As for weedkiller, that’s definitely surplus to requirements.
After all, this is the showcase Scottish gardening event of the year and weeds, wilting wallflowers and overgrown foliage are not invited.
Months of careful planning, primping and preening have reached a climax with the pick of the best flowers, the most stunning showpiece gardens and the prettiest shrubs finally in position as, for the next three days, the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh is transformed into a garden wonderland.
More than 30,000 visitors are expected to make their way to Gardening Scotland 2012 from tomorrow. There, they will savour the efforts of some of the country’s most talented gardeners — from students to established experts — and pick up helpful tips to make their own fingers a little bit greener.
More than 400 exhibitors will take part in the show, with everything from gardening tools and specialised equipment to garden furnishings, outdoor sculptures and even sunrooms on display.
For keen gardeners, the event is a once-a-year chance to buy stunning plants straight from the people who grow them, with specialist growers who nurture unusual and rare specimens rubbing shoulders with big-name nurseries in the New Hopetoun Gardens Floral Hall.
But, of course, it’s the show gardens that are bound to create the biggest buzz. This year, there will be a total of 13 gardens, each individually striking, each with a unique message to deliver and each vying for a coveted show Gold Medal.
Perhaps the most poignant is the peaceful Macmillan Cancer Support show garden. Called Legacy, it’s a luscious woodland garden dominated by a warm and welcoming yurt intended as a safe haven from the illness and place of comfort.
To reach it, visitors head through woodland and across dark water — a reminder of the challenging journey patients must make.
Its most unusual feature is a seven-metre moss-covered stretch of wall, removed bit by bit from Lanrick Estate in Perthshire and then rebuilt at the showground by stone dyker Jason Hoffman.
Clare Daly, from Macmillan’s Westerhaven Cancer Information and Support Service in Wester Hailes, has been helping with the finishing touches to the garden. She says she hopes it will persuade visitors to consider supporting the charity’s work.
“I hope it encourages people to think about the legacy they will leave behind and to consider whether part of that legacy could be to help fund the work of Macmillan,” she says.
“I know from working at Westerhaven that a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming and being able to turn to local services for information or emotional support can make a huge difference to cancer patients, their friends and their family.”
While the Macmillan garden encourages visitors to pause and reflect, other gardens are much lighter in theme. Caulders Garden Centre’s entry, A Railway in Your Garden, features a Thomas the Tank train — a definite hit with three-year-old visitor Louis MacDonald yesterday — and another, The Bee Garden, created by The West of Scotland Dry Stone Walling Association, shows the relationship between bees and humans. Show manager Jim Jermyn says there is something for everyone.
He says: “We expect that more than 30,000 will visit the show this year and we have got a great event lined up for them.
“Amongst the exhibitors are 17 Chelsea [Flower Show] medal winners and we also have lots of specialist Scottish nurseries who don’t show anywhere else.
“We’ve got lots of experts who will be able to give gardeners invaluable advice and there are lots of activities for children, too.
“In total, there will be 13 spectacular show gardens showcasing the best of garden design talent.”
SPROUT AND ABOUT
Gardening Scotland 2012 will take place from tomorrow until Sunday at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston.
Tickets cost £16 for Friday, and £14 for Saturday or Sunday. Children under 16 go free.
The show will open on Friday and Saturday from 10am until 6pm and on Sunday from 10am until 5pm.
Parking is available at the showground for visitors with cars.
Lothian Buses will provide a dedicated bus service to and from Edinburgh city centre. The number 98 will pick up from South St David Street (Jenners), Lothian Road (opposite the Caledonian Hotel), Haymarket Terrace (west of Haymarket station), and a further 31 stops en-route.
For more information on the show, call Gardening Scotland on 0131-333 0965 or visit the website at www. gardeningscotland.com