The Tatton Show 2023

by frankbeswick

Returning to the Tatton Flower Show was a welcome return to a much loved attraction that I missed firstly because of covid and more recently illness

The Tatton Flower Show is a glorious celebration of horticulture, with its show gardens celebrating the horticultural imagination, floral displays and its variety of stalls retailing a rich variety of craft foods, such as pies, cheeses and others, alongside some very classy fabrics and genteel living items such as fabrics, jewellery and scents. The show is set in the lovely park land of Tatton Estate, which is a stately home belonging now to the National Trust, and it is a site which is imbued with a civilized air.

Photo of gladioli taken by Maureen Beswick

Back to the Show

It was a  visit to Tatton with a difference. For several visits I have been a competitor, a member of a team for the National Vegetable Society, displaying vegetables to the general public, but this year the Society had refrained from having an entry. The pandemic has done damage to voluntary societies, for during the period of lockdown some members gave up,got out of the habit of coming or died, and not all have been replaced. My branch is down to small numbers and two of those, myself included, are disabled. But we take a positive view. Tatton is back, and that is cause to rejoice.

The second change, for me, was that I used a wheel chair. I don't usually use one, but as my medical condition involves a loss of balance.I am reluctant to walk among crowds, which can be quite dense at times. A wheel chair was the safest option. It was strange not to be going under my own power, but needs must, and I had the support of my ever-loyal wife, Maureen to push the chair. We were not on grass, as the show uses metal walkways and in the tents and marquees the grass is dry.   

The other problem was the rain, for at  times it was torrential, so the aim was to do your lingering inside the tents. I was well wrapped up with waterproof protection, and on our return home I was only slightly wet, but rain does not prevent enjoyment, it was at worst a minor inconvenience. You get wetter in the shower, so live with it. After all it was in North West England, what else can we expect?

The show was smaller this year than it previously was, but the essential character remains. It has the distinctive atmosphere of a horticultural and cultural event, and I think it is a genteel cultural institution descended from the traditional English country fair. 


Maureen Beswick


Maureen Beswick


Maureen Beswick

The Marquees.

The tent where I worked on show days was not there, as its display had been merged with the Floral marquee, no problem, the marquee is where the grandest displays are held. The marquee was crowded, but the first stall that  we met was a silver gilt winner, one step below gold, a chrysanthemum display.It was a glorious display of colour that made me think about how many different shades there were. The next stand was gladioli. I have a soft spot for gladioli, for at the age of five, when we first got a garden, I helped my father plant gladioli in the front garden. He loved them and until we moved on we maintained a bed of them. Another bed, near the gladioli, was from a grower specializing in cactus and succulents. There is something wonderful about these sturdy plants that can tolerate arid conditions. There was also a display of vegetables, such as carrots and leeks, all grown to perfection, along with several others. This display had  nought to do with the vegetable display in which I took part  in previous years, it was a competition for individual growers run by the Royal Horticultural Society. 

At  the centre of the marquee was one beautiful stall run by a couple who had a string of gold medals to their name earned over years of successful growing, but this year they had no medals. Had they done some dark deed that was being punished?  Far from it. They were recipients of the title, master grower. This position outranks gold medals, and the year's title  holders, chosen before the show, cannot win medals. Instead they have the duty of advising other exhibitors. What an honour.

But we moved on from that marquee to find the Country Living marquee. This is a classy exhibition of high quality craft goods organized by Country iLving magazine, a publication specializing in fine lifestyle products. In previous years Maureen and I had an agreement to do our own shopping here. I went to search for quality wines, while she chose to pore over the scents, beautiful clothes, fabrics and jewellery. I didn't get any wine  this year, but she bought some items of clothing.  We then went on to view some of the show gardens produced by garden designers eager to boost their careers by a gold medal. But the rain was heavy and we went for something to eat. We avoided the rather nice fine dining pop up restaurant and found a temporary wooden shelter   near a take away stall where we got ourselves a drink [tea of course,  we're British] and a bacon, sausage and egg muffin. Very welcome.  Then we set off on my yearly ritual, the hunt for food delicacies to take home. At any show like this I always seek out pies, cheese and hopefully wine, the latter being hardest to obtain. A good cheese is always worth getting wet for. After some searching of the show we  found it. 


Maureen Beswick


Do I have an innate pie and cheese  detector? I don't know. But we quickly found a stall retailing craft cheeses. Some cheese stalls sell a range of types of cheese from around the country or further, while others specialize in one kind of cheese, generally local, but in all its varietiies. As this show was in Cheshire, it concentrated on Cheshire cheese, which has several variants, some of which vary according to their texture, while others have specific flavourings. I treated myself to twenty pounds worth of cheese, which for for Americans is more than twenty dollars. The helpful young woman serving on the stall quickly selected the right ones, five cheeses in all. I selected a local cheddar and a cheddar flavoured with pepper, two creamy Cheshire, and a Cheshire flavoured with Irish whiskey and stem ginger. A delightful cheese. 

Next  was the pie stall, four pies for twenty pounds, but a variety. I selected pork pie, pork and apple, pork and black pudding, a kind of relation of the  sausage, but not the long thin, sausage, and broccoli and stilton, a kind of delightful British cheese. All pies were of good quality and have been eaten already. 

The weather was starting to rain again, and as I had been sitting for some time I was beginning to feel cold and despite my waterproof covering slightly damp. Time to cut short our visit. We returned to our car and made our way through the rain sodden landscape On the journey home  I was comfortable and pleased. It was not a long event, but a deeply satisfying  one.   


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The royal Horticultural society

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RHS Encyclopedia Of Plants and Flowers
Updated: 07/27/2023, frankbeswick
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frankbeswick on 08/09/2023

Vegetables are sold off at the show's end if not needed for subsequent events.

DerdriuMarriner on 08/08/2023

The first paragraph to your second subheading, The marquees, includes vegetable references to carrots and leeks.

Would those edibles be only for show or would there be a purchase possibility by admiring attendees?

frankbeswick on 08/08/2023

We may go back to participating and the branch chairwoman has promised me that they will find me a suitable role, despite my illness. She also is disabled, more so than I am, so we tend to support each other. My main role has been communicating with the general public who visit the stalls.

But yes, being a spectator allowed me to see more of the show than I would as a competitor.

WriterArtist on 08/08/2023

The Tatton show looks very colourful with the pictures you have displayed. Chrysanthemum comes in various cultivars and they are all amazing. In India we have button chrysanthemum which look like buttons as they are smaller in size. Gladiolus comes in many colours and they are popular as cut flowers. Bright, vibrant flowers when put into vase in a floral arrangement look impressive. Hope it must be equally exciting to be a spectator instead of a participant.

frankbeswick on 08/03/2023

I once tasted somehing that I did not know was moonshine [potin.] Nevera gain. I don't think that they would be allowed genuine moonshine, and the vendors were simply selling strong whiskey.

DerdriuMarriner on 08/03/2023

I'm getting quite a really entertaining laugh over your wife preferring to stay away from the Irish moonshine stall. That's probably what my reaction would be what with the frightening stories here of moonshinees dying from moonshine and of moonshiners getting punished.

frankbeswick on 08/03/2023

I did not include wines, as it was an oversight. There was not any wine or mead available, and Maureen was not keen on the stall that was selling Irish moonshine, so we did not visit it.

Wine is difficult to obtain at the show as to sell it you need to go through the process of proving to the magistrates that you are a fit and proper person to sell it or any other alcoholic drink.
Non alcoholic wines do not suffer the same constraints.

DerdriuMarriner on 08/02/2023

Your next-to-last subheading, The Marquees, adds wine to the edible list even as it is the "hardest to obtain."

Your last subheading, Edibles, conjures what is drunken, not eaten. It implies that you and your wife included no drinkables among your eatables, correct?

Why is wine so difficult to "obtain"? Would what's available be grape-based or non-grape-based?

frankbeswick on 08/02/2023

We use a variety of breads, white and Brown sliced, French bread at times.

DerdriuMarriner on 08/01/2023

Your mentioning a toasted sandwich leaves me wondering about how bread looks in you and your family's household.

My imagination produces either sliced bread - ugh -- Unitedstatesian style or French and Italian style bread. Would that be correct or something in-between or something else?

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