Spring Garden and Leisure Show at Ardingly

More than 155 Alpacas will compete at Spring Garden & Leisure Show
More than 155 Alpacas will compete at Spring Garden & Leisure Show

A bumper gathering of fur and feathered friends will be on display and in competition this weekend.

The Spring Garden and Leisure Show takes place on Sunday (May 4) and the bank holiday Monday (May 5) at the South of England Showground, Ardingly, and thousands of visitors are expected for the two-day event.

Chairman of the show committee Clare Hastings said: “This show offers a unique insight into the countryside and a great day out for all the family.

“Younger visitors can enjoy the fluffy duck trail which will lead them on a journey right around the show to take in sights such as guess the weight of the giant rabbit, the Access the Countryside exhibition featuring cattle, sheep, goats and pig workshops, or the incredibly popular Mini Sheep Show.”

More than 155 alpacas will be competing in the South East Regional Alpaca Show, double the entries of last year and one of the larger shows in the UK, with a new Best of British class showcasing the best UK-bred animals.

A record number of 14 weavers and spinners from Sussex and Kent will be in the Spinners and Weavers marquee where visitors can learn how they turn alpaca fleece into garments such as hats, scarves and ponchos.

For all dog-lovers, the region’s top breeders and more than 700 dogs will compete to qualify for Crufts in the South of England Open Dog Show which forms an integral part of the weekend. The show has received commendation from the Kennel Club, in particular, for the way it offers help and advice to members of the general public.

Thrill-seekers can also enjoy the new Paws in the Park Dogstable Course where visitors and their dogs can compete in a fun and safe obstacle course including a tunnel, gate and jumps, with rosettes awarded to the fastest times of the day.

With dozens of breeds of chicken to choose from at this year’s show, those looking for a taste of the good life can find out all they want to know about back garden chicken keeping.

Vet and poultry expert, Martin Smith and agricultural consultant, Andrew Marshall will give regular live talks about caring for poultry, and enthusiasts are encouraged to go along throughout the weekend and ask their questions.

Green-fingered fans will be inspired with thousands of seasonal plants, shrubs and garden features on display and for sale across the showground.

The latest retro-fashion in gardens, a Victorian-style Stumpery, made from uprooted tree trunks and planted with flowers, will form the horticultural centrepiece for the show.

Top garden experts will 
be on hand to advise people on how to repair their gardens after the wettest winter on record.

BBC gardening expert Jean Griffin and head gardeners from some of the most popular gardens in the south are part of a programme of Q&A sessions, talks and demonstrations.

Steve Edney, head gardener at the Salutation Gardens in Kent, will explain how he is bringing the famous gardens back into bloom after spending much of this winter under 20ft of water.

Martin Duncan, head gardener at Arundel Castle, Tom Brown, head gardener at Parham House, and Peter Holman, chairman of South and South East and London in Bloom, will also join Jean on the panel of experts.

The Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance crew will be operational from the showground during the weekend.

While on the ground it will offer an insight into how the crew works and a rare opportunity to look over a fully-operational helicopter.

Doors open at 9am and close at 5pm. Admission for adults is £10, children £5 and senior citizens and students £8. A family ticket for two adults and two children is available for £25.

For advance ticket discounts and further information visit www.seas.org.uk or call 01444 892700.