What a difference a year makes! The weather has been kind to us in spring – finally! Of course the late Easter meant that the Spring show was late too – so most of the daffodils were past their best but a price we were all prepared to pay for some fine weather in April. It was Robert Browning in his poem “Home Thoughts from Abroad” who said:
Oh, to be in England
Now that April ‘s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
This may have been written 140 years ago but it expresses, more than adequately, how things have felt here over the last month.
So where were all the entries for the show then? We had around 130 which was the lowest since records began - well not quite but a pretty tepid response anyway. The previous two years have been around 240. We could blame it on Easter (i.e. everyone has been so busy over Easter they have not had time to think about the show) or the end of the daffodils (which hardly impacts photos, craft, art, domestic). Speaking to Nick Hagon from Biggin Hill, they have experienced a similar dip, and their show was the week-end before Easter.
It is a difficult one, as everyone seems to be so busy now – life is full on, especially if you have a young family, and entering the show takes a fair amount of planning ahead. So what would encourage more entries - please let me know if you have any bright ideas (firstname.lastname@example.org)! If we don’t support events like the Spring Show then they will cease to be.
There were still many high quality entries amongst those that did take the time however, and the competition was fast and furious in a number of areas. Linda Lambert, Dawn Forrester-Groom and Britta Erbes all featured strongly in the house plant classes. The daffodils, as I mentioned above, were nearly over. Some entrants, rumour has it, resorted to putting them in the deep-freeze in an attempt to preserve their perfect forms. 30 minutes after removing from their frozen state however, they had turned to mush! Not a method to recommend then.
I think it safe to say that Bob David pretty well cleaned up in the daffodil and tulip classes. He seemed to be able to get some great quality blooms to hang on for the show – many of the daffodils were of the paler variety, which might be slightly later? The variety of tulips has expanded significantly in recent years – and there were some delightful green and cream ones on display, plus some amazing double-headed daffodils, some of which picked up “Best in Show” for Bob.
Bob David also won the anemone class with some stunning mauve specimens – much larger than any of his rivals – see the picture on the THS web-site. Phil Brett picked up a first with his Camassia (leichtlinii 'Caerulea' I think) – so well worth considering as bulbs to put in for autumn. They grow nice and tall and are happy in woodland or shade. Angela Sawyers’ striking yellow and purple pansies picked up a first too. Phil also won the wallflowers class, and Angela the Polyanthus – so Bob did not have it all his own way! The rhubarb class was as hard fought as ever and, amidst some confusion over how many makes six, Phil Brett won a competitive first with a straight and ruddy set of stalks. To round off the Horticultural section, Phil Brett’s vase of mixed garden flowers won too. The arrangement was so professional that I think Mr Brett should graduate to the novice flower arranging next year – Phil?
The first exhibits that assault your senses as you enter the hall at the show are the flower arrangements – and what a standard they were again. It is not only the technical quality but the level of creativity that goes into them that really shines through. Val Payne managed to show off her tulips in a clog to enhance the Dutch theme in her splendid arrangement. Suzanne Harrison well deserved “Best in Show” for her Bath Time entry – complete with towel and other accessories. Linda Lambert’s spring basket was the very epitome of Robert Browning – or even William Wordsworth – complete with a host of golden daffodils. Suzanne Harrison’s green themed “Easter” came complete with a crown of thorns – very creative and appropriate. It would be great to see a few more novices entering future shows.
Craft entries may have been low in quantity but were definitely high in quality. Suzanne Harrison’s tea cosy was of particular note and Claire Payne’s necklace with matching earrings were worthy of a professional shop window display.
The art entries always amaze me as I can’t string two match-stick men together – I wouldn’t know where to start. To my untutored eye, there were some wonderful entries here – too many to mention but a number of stand outs, some of which are pictured on our web-site. Of particular note were Susan Brown’s tulips in an over-grown garden, Linda Lambert’s window box and Christine Stainer’s monochromatic picture of “Stubby” the heroic dog. Carol Gaskell rounded things off nicely with two serene faces – never my strongpoint!
The photographic entries were thin but there were some lovely images – and this really is a section where everyone can have a go. Take a little time to crop the picture nicely and use photo-shop or Windows Photo Gallery (free) to get the contrast and colours right (it only takes a minute or two). Start thinking about the autumn classes now – classes are “In the summertime”, “Beasts or mini-beasts” and “In memoriam”. The Juniors (under 17) is “Our Garden” – so start waving your camera about now in preparation! Included in the Spring Show were Britta Erbes’ great party shot, Christine Jackson’s girl in a cardigan, and Gracie Horton in the garden (might work for autumn too Gracie!). The Junior class was very high standard and won by Ellie Butt with a shot of her Wendy house, with Billy Butt’s “cat in a bag” (not as cruel as it sounds) close behind.
The Domestic section was high chockablock with quality again, with the judge full of praise for the flavours in the marmalade (won by Stuart Payne), and Chutney (Nicola Reeves). Nicola Reeves had worked hard in the kitchen to enter most of the classes – especially considering how testing some of the recipes were! Her savoury loaf / bread was an excellent flavour (according to the judge – as I wasn’t allowed a try), and the profiteroles looked great – shame the cream would not have been at it’s freshest by the end of the show. The men’s class was as hard fought as ever – Ian Longley winning with the best flapjacks – only just pipping Stuart Payne and Gerald South into joint second place. The chocolate and ale cake was another challenging recipe but, in a somewhat controversial refereeing decision (which required a slow motion replay), everyone was docked a point for not slicing it – you must follow the recipe to the letter apparently!
The children’s classes showed some real artistic promise, as well as some sibling rivalry to spice things up. Zach Horton (aged 3) did very well with excellent collages of Thomas the Tank Engine and fair-trade wrappers. Nathan Reeves showed future promise for the domestic section with his very tasty fair-trade chocolate fingers. The 8-11 age group seemed very keen on making chocolate fingers, and Samuel Reeves won out (packed with flavour), just beating Billy Butt into second. Charlotte Gadd and Callum Horton were joint third – well done all of you. There were some very creative sports bag and t-shirt designs for Tatsfield school and this class was won by Billy Butt, with Callum Horton and Heather Evans as runners up.
The 12-16 age group portraits of famous people were all instantly recognisable and very high quality with Eleanor Evans (Gandhi), Gracie Horton (Mo Farah), and Ellie Butt (Amanda Holden) all doing a wonderful job. The same three dominated the chocolate finger entries with Eleanor Evans winning out. Ellie and Billy Butt both showed great promise with their bulbs in a pot – a shame neither had flowered yet but that will come! The junior flower arranging was wonderfully colourful and amusing, and of a genuinely high standard. Well done to all entrants who obviously spent a great deal of time and thought on their entries – Callum Horton emerged the winner, just ahead of Ellie Butt and Gracie Horton.
The whole occasion – especially the colours and warmth of feeling were a welcome reminder that spring really is here. Roger Pearce, who was a key member of the committee for more years than anyone can remember, ably presented the prizes, and many thanks Roger for your contribution on the day, and over the years! The trophy winners at another very successful and enjoyable Spring Show were:
Colegate Challenge Cup (Horticulture) Bob David
Derek Weller Cup (Best Daffodil Exhibit) Bob David
Peter Hallam Trophy (Juniors) Ellie Butt
Theobald Cup (Crafts) Suzanne Harrison
Lambert Art Trophy (Art) Linda Lambert
Tatol Trophy (Best individual artwork) Christine Stainer
Tom Rushen Cup (Domestic) Nicola Reeves
Sue Warren Trophy (Flower Arranging) Suzanne Harrison
Emily Streets Cup (Best Individual Flower Arrangement) Suzanne Harrison
Ray Collins Trophy (Photography) Christine Jackson
Congratulations to all who helped make the show possible.