‘To promote and develop the science, art and practice of horticulture with specific reference to conditions within the north of England, and to promote and facilitate co-operation between horticultural organisations’
The North of England Horticultural Society was established in January 1911.
The purpose of the new society was to promote horticulture in the north of England, providing a top class showcase for plants and produce grown in the colder northern climate.
The charity staged its first successful show in 1920, with the Old Winter Gardens in Harrogate chosen as a central location for visitors from across the north of England. From then on, all meetings and shows were held in Harrogate and the charity quickly became associated with the town.
Due to the continued success of the events, the charity moved operations to Harrogate’s famous Valley Gardens in 1934, the location of the spring show for over 60 years.
Whilst shows were suspended during the Second World War, the society’s activities were limited to the publication and promotion of fee ‘Dig for Victory’ materials to households throughout the north of England. Events resumed in 1947, with HRH Princess Mary, Princess Royal, taking a keen interest in the work of the society, becoming its Patron in 1950.
The charity continued to widen its appeal, staging its first ‘Flower Academy’ in Harrogate in 1953. Three years later the event was incorporated into the spring show and became the forerunner for what is now the biggest exhibition of flower arranging and floristry in Britain.
In 1976, the society introduced an entirely new concept. The National Dahlia Society and the National Chrysanthemum Society, along with seven other gardening societies came together to hold ‘shows within a show’, under the title of the Great Autumn Flower Show. Staged in Harrogate’s Exhibition Halls, the success of the event was such that, in 1995, the event relocated to the town’s Great Yorkshire Showground. The success of the move paved the way for the spring show to follow two years later.
Since their early days as small provincial produce shows, the NEHS Harrogate Flower Shows have grown to become major national events in the gardening calendar.
Conscious of the need to stay relevant to a 21st century audience, in 2021 the society announced the relocation of the Autumn show to Newby Hall & Gardens, near Ripon. This became the first national gardening event to offer visitors a unique two days in one, with all of their favourite show features, plus access to a fabulous stately home and gardens.