Onions and Dahlias the Size of Your Head

Last Friday I went to Harrogate Autumn Show for the first time. It was NAH's first flower show EVER and I'm happy to report we both had an excellent day. We particularly enjoyed the weigh-in for the heaviest onion class (top picture in the collage courtesy of NAH).

It turned out we witnessed a world beater, weighing in at an eye watering 18 pounds and 1 ounce. The grower of this particular giant was Peter Glazebrook, who's very well known in championship veg growing circles. Unknown to NAH, he was standing next to him at the weigh-in and was briefly glimpsed on the local TV coverage that evening as a result.

Peter Glazebrook swept the board in the six other heaviest/ longest/ biggest categories on offer at the show and thus earned the attention of the national media this week (and across the pond!). On Breakfast News on Monday he revealed his giant onion will be grown on next year to provide seed to add to his own world beating strain. I guess that makes it the world's biggest onion set too ;)

Other exhibits which particularly caught my eye were Robinson's (of Mammoth Onion fame) showing the origins of many vegetables we grow today. This was a different approach to their usual display which I thought worked well and was fascinating. R.V Rogers' display of fruit was exquisite.

Harrogate is also famous for its Dahlia championships and they didn't disappoint this show first timer, especially as some of the blooms were almost as large as the world beating onion and pretty much the size of my head.

On entering the competition area, there are Dahlias as far as the eye can see of every size, shape, colour and form available to the Dahlia world. Some vases displayed a special extra red ticket, which meant they were being considered for the overall championship across all the competition classes.

Every petal on display was perfect, though at one side of the room were blooms which had been discarded during the setting up process. These were deemed as not quite reaching the appropriate standard for exhibition by the competitors and were on offer to show visitors for a £1 a bunch ('select as many as you like madam') with the proceeds going to charity. I thought this was a nice touch.

Other items which caught my eye were the garden borders show gardens put together by local colleges and garden designers. These were around 4 metres in length and showed a lot of variety. I loved the 'cottage garden' display in the Floral Hall, but sadly I've lost my note of the exhibitor (note to self: take a photo of the gold medal award card next time. Update - the show PR people say it was Mires Beck Nursery).

The 'plant of the show' as far as its appearance in lots of trolley carts was concerned was Rudbeckia 'Herbstonne' with its stems reaching skywards at well over 4 feet high. Acers were being carried away in large quantities as well. Seasonal Gladioli and Cyclamen had a strong presence too and I was surprised to find there's a competition category for collections of single Gladiolus florets and well as the usual spray vases.

I'd also wondered before the show (being the possessor of a shiny catalogue beforehand) how the National Daffodil Society was going to exhibit in the autumn and of course should have realised it would be using bulbs - durr, silly me ;)

And finally, bearing in mind his waxwork alter ego at Madame Tussauds requires regular cleaning owing to the amount of lipstick applied to it via numerous fans, I'm rather surprised this stand wasn't inundated with women eager to add Alan Titchmarsh to their party planning ;)

Related post:

  • Come With Me to the World of Giant Veg - my review of a book which tells the story of the people in the UK who grow giant veg. This also has some pics from my first encounter at Malvern Autumn Show, in which I take a picture of Peter Glazebrook without realising it at the time.


  1. I'm constantly in envy of Britain's garden culture, in every sense of the words, now that I think of it. Enjoyed the tour, VP. are you using something new for your photo collages?

  2. Thanks Helen :)

    I've been using Pic Monkey for a few months now - free, no need to register/download and ultra easy/flexible to use.

  3. That cabbage is also pretty impressive! I have the same thought as Lucy. Growing giant veg is a neat curiosity, but how is the taste & texture?

  4. It looked like it was huge fun. I would of loved to have seen the dahlias close up.

  5. Lucy and Petoskystone - I think most of them taste pretty awful or have no flavour and are rather tough in texture. You certainly wouldn't want to eat the yellowed cucumber shown in my last link in this post!

    However, I have a dim memory of the entries in giant leek competitions being used to make a giant stew...

  6. awholeplotoflove - it was a great day. Many of the shows at this time of the year have good dahlia displays. Malvern this weekend for instance. If you get the chance - go!

  7. Ooooooh - some real whoppers there VP! Glad to hear that NAH enjoyed his first ever flower show - there will be no stopping him now. Enjoyed your show report and photos - will have to go one of these days.

  8. Anna - NAH has retaliated by threatening to take me to a Hi-Fi show :o

    I think Harrogate might be one of the nearest shows to you in Cheshire - apart from Tatton, Stockport and possibly Shrewsbury? I must admit I wouldn't have been surprised if your face had popped out from behind the Dahlias :)


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