John Towning from Nottingham gives us his thoughts on growing and showing. He produced some stunning pots of violettas at the annual show as well as some good exhibits of show varieties.
"I am writing these notes on the evening of the first day of August, after a scorching day sitting in the shade of my silver birch and every now and then glancing at my modest collection of exhibition violas and pansies, and the rest of my collection of bedders in the border.
"It was a chance reading of Rodney Fuller's book that aroused my interest in violettas, which I had never seen before. I ordered six plants from Bouts Cottage Nursery! From these I was able to strike a number of cuttings, which eventually got potted up into a mix of 5 parts JI2, 5 parts general potting compost and 3 parts grit. This is the same mix that I use for Pinks. These plants were meant to go out into the borders, but with one thing and another they remained in their pots come winter.
"I spotted a note in the Bouts catalogue about the society and decided it would be a good thing to join. I borrowed a copy of show videos from the Society library and sat down to watch them with a copy of the schedule, which was most interesting. Class 25 caught my eye as it calls for a pot of violettas. So I continued to pot on my plants. While attending the AGM I was able to obtain a small stock of show varieties. I had started to get a little ambitious.
"All of the plants were potted into the mix that I have already mentioned. The pots were moved in and out of the greenhouse according to the dictates of the weather. None of my plants went into the ground until after the show, I just kept potting them on until my violettas ended up in 9 inch pots.
"Show day soon arrived; I had already spoken to the secretary who said he could supply tubes and boards. So I decided to show some exhibition blooms, and managed to stage in all of the novice classes as well as my six pots of violettas. I thought that the pots looked very respectable, they had been deadheaded every day for a week, the foliage lifted and all dead leaves removed and some fresh compost put ino place. Staging simply meant putting the pots onto the bench. Some of my cut blooms had been picked several days prior to the show, some liked it, some did not.
"During judging there was time for lunch and a chat, but on re-entering the hall I was delighted that I had got the red card in class 25, as well as getting into the cards in the novice section. These notes have been written in the hope that they may encourage some other novices to grow and show. I do hope that this is so, for to say that there is nothing to it would be wrong, but it is not as hard as it may seem. The thing to do is make a start, have a go. From my experience help is to be had in bagfulls from committee members and exhibitors alike. I cannot thank enough the people who helped me at the show, a more friendly society you are not likely to meet. I have not been a member 12 months so it cannot be that hard. Happy Growing".
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