There are some days that stand out in your memory, and July 27th 2017 was one of them. It was a day when everyone I met was pleasant. I was in Cheshire at the Tatton Flower Show, in the marquee for national plant societies and plant heritage, which provides stalls for certain organizations that specialize in specific plants. My role was as usual to spend a day as front of house for the National Vegetable Society, Manchester Branch,which won its thirteenth consecutive gold medal that week. It was my second team gold medal with them [third overall.] My job was to meet the public and talk about horticulture. To be fair to all members, show days are rationed, and I could only have one of them, but we all accept that the whole team must have a go at the show.
Look at the picture below and you see a section of our gold medal winning display of vegetables. A great deal of love, commitment and skill went into that. I am not one of the growing team, for that is selected from elite growers who have earned their position; my role was mainly in construction of the stand and the display. I am not a senior member of the team. In fact, it was only last year that I was invited to take part and must slowly step onwards, learning display skills from experienced people.Already I have learned much about displays, and as visuals are not my best point, the experience has been valuable. But the society uses its members' skills, and they want me as a communicator.
What struck me was the sheer niceness of the people that I met.All were appreciative of the beauty of the display, but while men tend to give congratulations, women are more effusive, saying how lovely the display is, but British males are known for their sangfroid. Many visitors said how well-deserved the gold medal was. I met a lady who turned out to be a head gardener at a private manor house in the South of England, whose owners come only for the summer, as they spend winter in warmer climes. I think that she was here on business, buying plants for the manor garden.We had a good conversation about women in gardening and I told her about my Wizzley article on the first women professional gardeners. Hopefully this has found Wizzley a new reader.
Children and people in wheelchairs also came, and I am always glad that the wheel-chair bound can enjoy a good day out. I ensure that they can get as close to the stall as possible. Children usually want to know about the giant vegetables, so I spent some time explaining to them how to grow extra-long carrots. Their interest is a year on year matter, it will be the same next year. But some people come to us to ask about gardening problems. I can solve most, but occasionally, as happens in Horticulture, advice from other team members is useful. On woman was puzzled by a carrot grown in a tube that had spiraled round the tube. This baffled us until we realized that the growing tip must have been twisted!