First-ever RHS Urban Show to take place in Manchester this month

It’ll be a paradise for plant-lovers

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 5th April 2024

A plant paradise will be created at Depot Mayfield in Manchester this month when the inaugural RHS Urban Show takes over. 

The huge event – the charity’s first large-scale indoor show – has been created to celebrate the growing urban gardening movement.

Whether you’re cramming a tropical jungle onto your balcony or trying to bring a little plant life into your home, the RHS Urban Show will have exhibits that will educate and inspire you. 

You can learn the secrets to growing happy houseplants, see vertical structures for awkward urban spaces, and explore a seven-garden vision for a greener city. 

There’ll even be a horticultural exhibit celebrating the heyday of Manchester’s Hacienda days. 


The RHS Urban Show wants to answer the question of ‘what is urban gardening’ through this huge event, which will run between Thursday 18 and Sunday 21 April. 

Major exhibits will be filling the gigantic industrial space at Depot Mayfield, like the RHS City Spaces: Cloudscape, by Manchester’s Cloud Gardener Jason Williams, which will challenge local authorities and developers to think and envision greener towns and cities. 


It will bring together four balconies, each facing north, south, east and west, plus a north-facing shaded patio, an urban farm, and a communal garden. 

Created in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University’s Rise programme and Notcutts Garden Centre, RHS City Spaces: Cloudscape will showcase how to bring plants into your space, regardless of needs, microclimate, or budget. 

Williams said: “The concept as a whole is an ambitious blueprint of how we can bring a city together. These are not show gardens, they are learning exhibits designed to teach residents, local authorities, retail and developers how we can all improve to make our towns and cities greener.”


Four-time RHS Chelsea Flower Show medal-winners GrowTropicals will be explaining which houseplants – including rare and exotic ones – are best suited to which home environment. 

They’ll group dozens of plants together, from shade-loving plants who’ll be happy in north-facing rooms, to those who love a bit of humidity, to the sun-worshippers begging for a sunny windowsill. 

Midlands-based designer Amanda Grimes’ exhibit Pop Culture Planting: Punk Rockery, the New Wave and 24-Hour Party Planting, will be a two-part installation set over three years, showing a design at the time of planting, one year on and two years on. 

Her aim is to give new and inexperienced gardeners the confidence and inspiration to ‘just go for it’ by showing visitors what they can expect as a garden develops naturally over time, even with poor soil or rubble.

She said: “Punk Rockery hits Manchester in the same way the Sex Pistols did in June 1976, though possibly with less swearing and a bigger audience. 


“That now-legendary gig was the spark that lit the touch paper of the whole Manchester New Wave music scene which included the Buzzcocks, Joy Division/New Order, The Fall, Magazine, The Smiths and Factory Records, and went on to inspire so many more. 

“The installation is named in honour of all that creativity which was, and still is, uniquely Mancunian.

“24-Hour Party Planting is a celebration of Manchester’s thriving nightlife, restaurant and entertainment scene. 

Garden designer Tom Wilkes-Rios dusts between leaves of succulents on his balcony garden 'The Blue Garden', during build-up of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022, Thursday May 19, 2022. The show returns for the first time in spring for three years and opens to the public May 24...RHS / Luke MacGregor
Garden designer Tom Wilkes-Rios dusts between leaves of succulents on his balcony garden ‘The Blue Garden’. Credit: RHS / Luke MacGregor

“It references the Happy Mondays’ track of the same name, and with it the hedonistic days of the Hacienda. It traces that legacy through to 2024 and the incredibly diverse, vibrant and endlessly creative energy of the Gay Village, Northern Quarter, Salford and beyond.”

The RHS Urban Show, sponsored by Mad About Land, also debuts ‘content cubes’ for gardeners with small spaces.


That includes RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2023’s People’s Choice and gold medal-winner Conal McGuire’s Urban Shade, which utilises modular ‘grow frames’ offering a flexible solution for growing in awkward urban spaces.

As well as all the exhibits to explore, there’ll be a programme of talks that will run through everything from cut flowers to juggling plant life with work and family life. 

RHS-run workshops where you can make your own terrarium will be taking place, and you can join a free guided tour of the neighbouring Mayfield Park. 

And you can browse through a variety of indoor and outdoor plants that you can take home with you, with pots, macrame, and even a new clothing range by Mad About Land for sale too. 

Lex Falleyn, show manager for the RHS Urban Show, said: “Urban Gardening is diverse and dynamic and the inaugural RHS Urban Show is an exciting opportunity to explore the important role gardening plays in greening up cities.


“We’ve chosen to work with a wide range of gardeners, from award-winning designers to community groups to enthusiasts who juggle gardening with day-to-day life. We hope this will bring a balance of relevant yet realistic advice to get people growing.”

The RHS Urban Show will take place at Depot Mayfield between Thursday 18 and Sunday 21 April. You can buy tickets here

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Featured image: Supplied