The 2016 show season for the South of England Agricultural Society gets underway with the Spring Garden & Leisure Show on Bank Holiday Sunday 1 & Monday 2 May at the South of England Showground in Ardingly, West Sussex.

Gardening and plants will be centre stage in the ever-popular Gardening Theatre, where Jean Griffin of BBC Sussex, Surrey and Kent will return as the resident gardening expert for the weekend, chairing another exciting programme of Q&A sessions with a panel of experts.

On Sunday, the panel includes Ian Clemens, a National Vegetable Society Judge who specialises in growing mammoth vegetables, James Cordingley, Head Gardener at Groombridge Place in Kent and Steve Edney, Head Gardener of the Salutation Gardens in Sandwich. Monday’s panel will comprise of Jim Buttress of BBC2’s The Big Allotment Challenge and Peter Holman of London in Bloom and South & South East in Bloom.

This popular pit stop for green-fingered enthusiasts is aimed at the amateur gardener aiming to dispel myths and generate new interests and ideas. Gardening enthusiasts can also enjoy an inspiring plant and nursery area with thousands of plants to choose from and a huge range of gardening equipment to buy.  There is still time to enter the new Floristry Competition too – it’s free and open to both novice and experienced flower arrangers.

Bank holiday family fun is spread across the entire weekend with leisure activities for all ages including the Fur and Feather display; the Crufts Qualifying Open Dog Show; the much loved ‘Mini Sheep Show’ and a fantastic fairground. Under 16’s go free when accompanied by a paying adult.

The Society is also setting challenges at the show this year, so come and test your skills at the new caravan manoeuvring course run by The Caravan Club or try your hand at archery and target shooting. There is also the chance to have a go at FootGolf, the UK’s fastest growing sport, with Tilgate Forest Golf Centre’s 3-Hole FootGolf Course which is suitable for all ages and all sporting abilities.

Visit the Countryside Hub at the Discover the Countryside Area and your little ones can pet some farm animals or have a go at milking Buttercup the cow as well as joining in some fun countryside art activities. Youngsters can also take part in the popular Fluffy Duck Trail.

Other highlights will include the famous South East Regional Alpaca Show where dozens of these fascinating camelids from South America will compete for the coveted first prize.

Mouth-watering menus can be enjoyed in the Norfolk Pavilion Café and there will be many other tasty treats to take home from the tempting food hall as well as hours of shopping including country crafts and clothing, gifts and DIY, home wares, wellies and handbags!

Admission: Under 16s go FREE (when accompanied by a paying adult £10); senior citizens and students over 16 £8.  Save up to 20% with early bird advance ticket discounts at www.seas.org.uk

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