Issued by: Visit York, a part of Make It York
Issue Date: Wednesday 24 April 2019

Bloom! York’s infant horticultural festival will return as a mini festival this summer and organisers are now calling on Yorkshire’s green fingered growers and producers to take part.  Can you grow York’s longest broadbean? Create a vegetable self-portrait? Or bake the most delicious Fat Rascal?

The inaugural Bloom! Festival, the brainchild of Make It York, attracted thousands of visitors last summer and saw the city come alive with floral creations.  This year, a ‘mini’ Bloom! Flower and Produce Festival, will celebrate York’s rich tradition of horticulture, past and present, and celebrate the individuals and communities involved today.

Organisers hope the celebration, 22-23 June in York Minster’s Dean’s Park, will encourage more people to get involved and ultimately encourage more planting across the city. A Flower and Produce Show will test six judges, who will reveal the winning entries in 60 different categories.  Anyone can enter and categories, chosen with a Yorkshire twist, include everything from the best Yorkshire Parkin to best small potted Lupin. 

With a full list of competition categories for children and adults to enter, this will be the focal event for a village fete right in the heart of York.  Local flower farmers, florists, nurseries, specialist growers and anyone interested in taking better care of the natural environment are being invited to take part, including: Edible York, Askham Bryan College and York St Nicholas Fields.  There will be a no plastic message throughout.

In the summer of 2018 the four day festival celebrated 250 years of the Ancient Society of York Florists, the oldest Florists’ Society in the world.  Over 120 events ran over the four days of the festival which engaged with 100 plus businesses.

Ahead of next year’s larger event this year’s mini festival will focus on York’s growers and celebrate existing and budding (no pun intended) gardeners.  To continue the legacy of the Bloom! 2018 festival a second, large-scale festival is already in the planning for 2020, celebrating York’s connections with horticulture.

Paul Whiting, Head of Visit York, a part of Make It York, said: “Although a smaller affair than last year, this weekend event will celebrate the positive impact of gardening and plants on our daily lives.  Supporters of the event established a legacy fund to help us develop the festival and our long term ambitions are to bring planting into the urban realm through introducing plants, flowers and colour into York city centre, both on a temporary and permanent basis.”

Lotte Inch, Festival Director, Make It York, said: “York has a long heritage of growers and there are people across the city nurturing their allotments and taking great pride in what they produce.  We hope Bloom! will encourage more people to get involved in everything from composting, to growing vegetables.”

Under the roof of the York Minster School Marquee, the Flower & Produce Show will run from 12 noon-4pm on Saturday whilst Sunday will offer visitors the chance to buy from local producers at a Plant and Flower Market.  Expect plants and posies from the likes of Askham Bryan College, Flower Power York, iBloom, Botanic and more.

The Dean of York, the Right Reverend Dr Jonathan Frost, said: “We’re delighted to welcome York’s Bloom! Festival to Dean’s Park this year.  As one of the largest areas of green space within the city walls, the park is a much-loved, natural haven in the heart of the city and we hope the setting will inspire people to take part and get growing!”

Alongside the Flower & Produce Show, free events for children and families will include a Bee Story workshop, investigating the importance of bees, Vegetable Self-Portrait Making and Floral Crown Creating. These will be held underneath the trees of Dean’s Park Gardens where bunting and floral decorations will continue the ‘village fete’ theme throughout.   Now is your chance to get involved and anyone who is interested can contact, Lotte Inch, Festival Curator by emailing:   ENDS

Notes to the editor

Bloom! Classes for Entry:

(Presented on a plate of your choice, selected to best show off your baking)

  1. A Victoria Sponge Cake [ Raspberry Jam, Butter Cream, Icing Sugar | 2 x 7/8” tins]
  2. 3 Pieces of Yorkshire Parkin
  3. A Yorkshire Fat Rascal
  4. 3 Gluten Free Brownies
  5. A Vegan Lemon Raspberry Loaf Cake (See recipe at end of document)
  6. A Gin & Tonic Cake
  7. A White Farmhouse Loaf
  8. Two bread rolls – any variety

(Presented in a clear jar with lid and label tied around neck of jar indicating contents)

  1. One Jar of Blackcurrant Jam
  2. One Jar of Strawberry Jam
  3. One Jar of Gooseberry Jam
  4. One Jar of Marmalade (any variety)
  5. One Jar of Lemon Curd
  6. One Jar of Chutney (any variety)
  7. One Jar of Chilli Jam

Flower Arranging

  1. An arrangement of wild flowers in a vase. Any foliage, for effect. No accessories.
  2. A vase of mixed herbs (grown from seed)
  3. A small summer arrangement in a dish or bowl. Height must not exceed 125mm from table.
  4. A Buttonhole
  5. A Terrarium (Height must not exceed 120mm)


  1. Three Roses
  2. Three Peonies
  3. An Allium
  4. A Vase of Mixed Sweet Peas
  5. A Vase of Cornflowers
  6. A Small Potted Geranium
  7. A Small Potted Lupin
  8. A Potted Viola
  9. A Single Cactus

Fruit & Vegetables

  1. Four White New Potatoes (washed)
  2. Five Pods of Peas
  3. Five Pods of Broad Beans
  4. One Lettuce – Any Variety
  5. Three courgettes (with or without flowers)
  6. A bunch of six spring onions
  7. Six radishes with tops
  8. A small bowl of Gooseberries (c.10 berries)
  9. A small bowl of Strawberries (c. 6 berries)
  10. Three Stalks of Rhubarb
  11. Two Small Stalks of Redcurrants

Fun & Silly Classes. Open to all ages

  1. The Longest Weed
  2. The Longest Broad Bean
  3. The Ugliest Vegetable
  4. The Vegetable most like an animal or person

Crafty Classes Adults  (Aged 16+)

  1. Vegetable Self Portrait
  2. Painting / Drawing of your / a garden (Size A3 maximum)
  3. Black and White Photograph: Nature Theme (animals, plants, gardens etc)
  4. Colour Photograph: Urban Nature

Junior Classes – Ages 11-16

  1. A Jam Jar of Flowers
  2. A Jam Jar of Mixed Herbs (grown by yourself from seed)
  3. Drawing / Painting of your Garden
  4. Colour Photograph: Urban Nature
  5. Vegetable Self Portrait
  6. A plate of 2 homemade buns, decorated to your choosing

Kids Classes – Ages up to 10

  1. A miniature Garden on a Plate
  2. A Jam Jar of Mixed Herbs (grown by yourself from seed)
  3. Drawing / Painting of your Garden
  4. Vegetable Self Portrait
  5. A plate of 2 homemade buns, decorated to your choosing.
  6. Dads* & Kids do baking class! Chocolate Sponge Cake with Chocolate Filling & Icing (*Uncles, Grandparents, Family Friends included in this category!)

The Bee Story Workshop with Florence - will be investigating the importance of bees and other pollinators. Create your own bee, flower and honeycomb hexagon, and leave one behind to be part of our big-scale collage! Free event, Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 June, 11am – 1pm & 2- 4pm. All ages welcome.

Fruit & Vegetable Portraits with Mim – create your own edible work of art in this free workshop on Saturday 22 June 10.30am – 12pm. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. (Places are limited so please arrive early to avoid disappointment)

Fruit & Vegetable Sculptures with Mim – take inspiration from the buildings, trees and the lofty Minster nearby and create your own eco-friendly, compostable sculptures with land artist Mim Robson. Free event. Saturday 22 June 2 – 3.30pm. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. (Places are limited so please arrive early to avoid disappointment)

Drop-in Mandala Making Workshop with Mim – Come and create your own temporary work of art from the found petals and leaves in the park. Free event. Sunday 23 June. Drop in from 12.30 – 4pm. Open to all ages. Adults too.

Pilates in the Park – by York Pilates People. Suitable for all levels. Please bring a mat or blanket to work on. Sunday 23 June. 11am – 12pm.  Ages 16 + only. Tickets:  £5. Please book in advance. (Booking opens 1 June 2019).

Also on offer over the weekend, will be an amazing opportunity to try your hand at some circus skills, with Circus Skills York. Grab a hula-hoop or a diablo, and give it a go. 

Did you know?

  • York has the oldest florists’ society in the world
  • York once housed the world famous James Backhouse plant nurseries (1815-1955)
  • The herbaceous lupine, Lupinus polyphyllus, arrived in Britain from North
  • America in the 1820s, brought over by David Douglas. Almost a century later, George Russell, a horticulturist from York, started to breed the (later famous) Russell hybrids (Lupinus X russellii hort)
  • Growing in a courtyard garden in the Physics Department at the University of York, is a grafted cutting from an ancient apple tree which still survives in Newton's garden at Woolsthorpe Manor, his birthplace in Lincolnshire. This is the tree from which it is reputed that Newton saw an apple fall in the late summer of 1666 and which caused him to speculate upon the nature of gravitation. The tree was given to us the University of York by Kew Gardens in 1976.
  • York’s Museum Gardens is home to more than 4,500 plants and trees
  • York has over 39 allotment gardens with more than 1250 separate plots
  • York is surrounded by some of the UK’s finest stately homes and gardens, such as Castle Howard, Beningbrough Hall and Burnby Hall and Gardens
  • The Manor House is situated two miles south of York in the beautifully preserved village of Heslington.   It is the home of George Smith, the internationally famous flower arrangement artist/horticulturalist and Brian Withill.   Built in the mid-eighteenth century, it was converted from an old farmstead in 1947 by the fifth Baron Deramore and his wife Nina, who lived there until 1968.  The Manor House garden is open the Month of June by prior appointment through the National Gardens Scheme and privately to garden tours and specialisthorticultual groups
  • Sand Hutton, near York, is the base of the Government’s Plant Health Agency
  • York’s Askham Bryan College has one of the best horticulture departments in Britain
  • Goddard’s - This hidden little gem was once the gardens of Noel Goddard Terry, who was part of the famous York chocolate making family.  The gardens are designed by George Dillistone, and offer beautiful yew-hedged garden rooms, a bowling green, wilderness gardens and plants for every season. The tranquil gardens are a haven for wildlife and are home to one of the few British colonies of midwife toads.
  • Frederick Rowntree designed Rowntree Park as a memorial to the workers of the Rowntree factory who fought in the First World War. It occupies 30 acres on the south bank of the River Ouse, designed around a large lake, with grassland, trees and colourful flowerbeds. The park also offers children’s play areas and sporting facilities such as bowling, tennis courts and a basketball court.
  • With the city walls forming one border, the River Ouse and the Abbey ruins forming two others, York Museum Gardens occupies an idyllic location. The land was originally granted to the Benedictine monks in 1088 on which to build the Abbey of St Mary, and its Early English and Romanesque ruins still dominate the garden.
  • Treemendous York is aiming to plant 50,000 trees in the greater York area
  • York Minster Rose is is a lovely floribunda rose bred to raise money for York Minster. It has beautiful creamy/white blooms tinged with amber.

Make It York aims to:

  • To continue the legacy of the Bloom! 2018 festival by organising a second, large-scale festival in 2020 which celebrates York’s connections with horticulture.
  • To deliver a series of garden projects in 2019, including the development of a new permanent ‘legacy’ garden within the city centre.
  • To organise and support events, projects and installations throughout 2019 and 2020, with a horticultural theme at their core.

About Make It York
Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally - as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business.  The company’s remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, festivals and events, business support and inward investment.

Visit York is a part of Make It York and is the leisure tourism brand
Under the brand Visit York, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure visitor and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York.

Key tourism facts:
6.9 million visitors annually, £564 million total visitor spend, supporting 19,000 jobs

For further information please contact:
Kay Hyde – Head of PR and Communications – Visit York
Direct Line: 01904 554451
Mobile: 07506 048852

Katie Parsons – Senior Communications Executive – Visit York
Direct Line: 01904 554436

Lotte Inch
Lotte Inch Gallery, Bootham
Tel: 01904 848660