Barbara Erwin, from Hillsborough, chair of the Horticulture Forum NI, and UFU president Ivor Ferguson looking at stock flowers on display at Balmoral Show. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

The sun shone brightly over the four days, to celebrate the 150th  anniversary of the RUAS Balmoral Show, held for the sixth year at Balmoral Park on the former Long Kesh prison site. The crowds flocked in, enjoying the good weather after such a long, wet and dreary winter.

This was the second year that Healthy Horticulture featured at the show and the Horticulture Forum N I members teamed up with Ulster in Bloom and  the Colleges of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) to create a new experience for visitors.  The marquee was decked out with raised beds demonstrating how flowers and vegetables are grown. The various Horticulture sectors put on brilliant displays of strawberries, Bramley apples, foliage and flowers together with potted plants and mushrooms, which were picked for inclusion in the cookery demonstrations.  ‘The Mighty Spud’ celebrated the importance of potatoes in a balanced diet and the exterior was decorated by imaginative landscaping. Over 10,000 people visited the marquee, talked to growers and watched floral demonstrations.

Vice Chair of the Horticultural Forum
Hamilton Loney with his wife Vivenne, Armagh
and John Witchell on the Armagh Bramley Apple
at Balmoral Show

Adjacent to the marquee was a mobile food kitchen where demonstrations of recipes using locally grown vegetables and fruit took place.  The producers participated by explaining how the ingredients are grown. Samples were provided for tasting by the audience, who relaxed on large beanbags and seats in the sunshine.  This helped to highlight the importance and quality of locally produced food.

UFU president Ivor Ferguson and Denise Gray, Draperstown, picking chestnut mushrooms on the Northway Mushrooms stand at Balmoral Show. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

From 3pm on Saturday the flowers and potted plants were all sold to raise funds for the charity Perennial ,The Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Society. A local grower had provided bramley apples, which were also sold for the charity throughout the four days. We are delighted to have raised over £1100 for this worthy cause.