14th December 2021

On Tuesday 14th December Orleton and District Gardening Club held its annual AGM at Orleton Village Hall.  The Chairman and Committee were re-elected and the Treasurer gave a favourable financial report.  Usually the formal business of the evening is concluded swiftly so that members can enjoy a shared supper.  However because of Covid the club was unable to do this and instead was pleased to welcome David Griffiths and Maurice Bracher, who judge our annual show, to share some useful showing tips. During the talks a selection of drinks and nibbles was served.

It had been felt that club members were often diffident about entering their plants and produce, feeling that these were not “good enough”.  David, who judges our vegetables and is Chairman of Bodenham Gardening Club, told us that the Village Show is the most important date in that village’s diary, it shows what residents are capable of. This was certainly borne out by the pleasure shown by visitors to ODGC’s August show.  He emphasized that members must not judge their produce at home, they are often too critical and they must read the schedule.  For example a class may indicate a selection of vegetables, these must be uniform in colour and size.  He told members that he picks up each vegetable to inspect for damage and in the case of runner beans to ensure that a bean is not missing inside the pod.

David advised talking to other gardeners in order to improve and although size is not always important, selective breeding in onions for example can increase this dramatically.  Tips for growing vegetables specifically for showing included starting off carrots in the greenhouse in February and protecting against carrot fly with Enviromesh and members were told that courgettes are quite an easy show vegetable for beginners and should be 4 inches long with a flower on the top. Produce grown specifically for showing should be treated differently to that destined for the kitchen, it should be given a prime site and fed well.

He stressed the importance of “having a go” and amused the club by telling us that after a lifetime of not cooking circumstances had forced him to take up cooking and after trial and error had gained a first prize for his jam tarts at his local show!

Maurice Bracher, who has judged ODGC’s cut flower and ornamental classes for many years, also emphasized the importance of reading the schedule.  He starts by eliminating the worst first.  Regarding cut flowers the more flowers out the better the exhibit and that if a member knows the name of a variety it should be put on the label.  The club learned that unfortunately there is no honour among gardeners and that when Maurice started judging an old hand advised him to carry a magnet as some exhibitors of gladioli are not above insinuating extra flowers by attaching them to piano wire which is then threaded through the stem!

Maurice told us that long stems on sweet peas are ideal and that, faced with two sweet pea exhibits with the same quality of flower he would choose the one with the stronger scent

  He also had a tip for the stewards, that if an exhibitor has inadvertently placed an exhibit in the wrong class it can only be moved with permission from the exhibitor.

The club is affiliated to the RHS and must follow its rules.  With regard to this both speakers stressed the importance of reading the schedule and also the importance of not judging exhibits at home.  It is apparent from the excellent plants which are generously donated to the annual Plant Sale that members have great horticultural expertise.  Hopefully more of them will be inspired and encouraged to enter the next August Show.

                                                                                                            Ghislaine Arundale