Flowers Shrewsbury

Iris Murdoch wrote: ‘People from a planet without flowers would think we must be made with joy the whole time to have such things about us.’ Whether or not you come from outer space or somewhere a bit nearer, the enchanting market town of Shrewsbury is a delight for the senses with its colourful displays of flowers. From the daffodils of spring which wind like a golden ribbon along the banks of the Severn and along its roads to the carefully created displays that compete with each other in the Shrewsbury Flower Show. Shrewsbury is a town that is in love with botanic beauty. It should come as little surprise then, that in 2006 and 2014 Shrewsbury won Britain in Bloom. In fact the town has also won Gold in the European Entente Florale Competition and the International Challenge in the Communities in Bloom Competition. The jewel in Shrewsbury’s floral crown must be the Dingle which is situated in The Quarry. The Quarry, which is the main park in the town, was opened in 1719 and covers 29 acres, and at its heart lays the Dingle. In 1879 in a remarkable early piece of reclamation, the Dingle was produced from the remains of a stone quarry. The worked out site was turned into a sunken garden with a water feature, shrubs, alpines and bedding plants; today, of the 300,000 flowers grown for the town’s use 30,000 will end up decorating the Dingle.Shrewsbury-Flower-Show-Dingle
With its love of all things floral you might expect the town to have a flower show and it does. In fact Shrewsbury is home to the world’s longest-running flower show, the show is held during August in The Quarry and the event usually attracts around 60,000 visitors. The show has its origins in the shows and pageants which were initiated in the early 19th century to lure country folk into the town. Such events often became rather rowdy but that did not deter their organisers, and in 1836 The Salop Horticultural Society held a Carnation and Gooseberry Show which was the forerunner to the Shrewsbury Flower Show. A firmer hand was called for, so in 1857 The Shropshire Horticultural Society held the first ‘Flower Show’ in a large marquee in the town centre. The show appeared to hit a glitch in 1878 when the Home Secretary banned such shows. Fortunately, Shrewsbury received a special dispensation and the Flower and Agricultural Society show was held in The Quarry. The show took a while to turn a profit but by 1924 it made enough money for The Shropshire Horticultural Society to buy a castle; Shrewsbury Castle to be precise, which they presented to the town (if you are wondering how much a castle cost at the time it was £2,621). The Shrewsbury Flower Show has run ever since, although it did stop for the duration of both wars and was cancelled after The Quarry was waterlogged in 1970.
Visitors to the event are often bowled over by the beautiful flower arranging displays in The Dingle Marquee which houses the Floral Art Classes. These are the work of highly talented amateurs but exquisite works of floral art remind us of the skill of the professional florists whose talents leave the viewer both inspired and frustrated.