My report of the Show is tempered with ambivalence. From the point of view of exhibits on the bench the Show may be judged a success. However, if it be upon the number of visitors through the door I should not come to the same conclusion. Our move from Uplands to Harborne was without doubt a good idea, however, we need more people to view the Show; every visitor is a potential member! This begs the question "Is it time to move again?"
We might also think about the timing of the Show as most exhibitors agreed that their blooms had been better in June, and that in the heat of late July it was difficult to flower the plants well. Two topics for the A.G.M.!
Well now let us concentrate upon the good things. Exhibits in every class and some new exhibitors are reasons for optimism. George Soesan brought a few exhibits for the first time, and if more members could manage this our shows would really be worth talking about. The other first timers were John and Ann Stringe from Lancashire, new to violas and pansies, but not new to showing. They put up some creditable exhibits that would have got in the cards in the open classes; and as John took the Novice Trophy I am sure that he will do exactly that next year. I write this with some confidence as Ian Pickup from Bristol, last years top novice, along with his wife Sue, came back and managed to show blooms good enough for a red card. Pat Tipping and Stephen Leigh both added to the Show with creditable displays. However, it was Fred Owen who once again proved himself the premier grower, taking the Robb Trophy for most points.
I admit a soft spot for Show Pansies, the original Florists Pansy, and it was good to see a number of entries in these classes, once again it was Fred Owen who lifted the Mantle Trophy, also adding the Clack Cup for baskets and the Society Bronze Medal. The show is of course made by those who bring whatever they have got, big or small, we should be the poorer if we did not have the support of the likes of John and Janette Warmer and Christopher Leigh. Indeed Christopher went home with his first ever trophy - Tom Pitts Teapot - which is now awarded in a memorial class which calls for 6 blooms of 'Maggie Mott' and 'Rowan Hood' in any combination. These were Tom's favourite varieties.
Tom Mantle once again came to judge, unfortunately his eyesight precludes him from driving; I am surprised as he was as diligent and knowledgeable as ever and quite capable of spotting a poor bloom.
Exhibitors and such visitors as we did have were well fed and watered due to the sterling work of the ladies in the kitchen. I must admit disappointment at the fact that so few members attended. Although one gentleman arrived from Surrey on his motorcycle, introduced himself as a member keen on violettas. I do not have a name, and do apologise, but I have penned a small article on violettas by way of amends. If only a few more members could manage to get to the Show it would make it more of an event, especially as it is one of the few chances for viola growers to meet. Perhaps next year a few more will attend, with or without exhibits, all are welcome. I should finish upon a positive note and will do so by saying that there was plenty of good bloom on show and our new exhibitors are doing their bit to ensure the future of Florists Violas and Pansies.
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