Showing off the summer

Our Summer Show this year was remarkable. Not just because of the quality of the flowers and vegetables or the elegance of the flower arranging, but because all of these were still in play despite it being one of the most peculiar gardening seasons for weather. From the Beast from the East to the July heatwave and drought, it’s not been the easiest time for gardeners.

You’d never know it, looking at the beauties produced by our entrants.

Not a hint of a caterpillar!

The day starts with people bringing in their produce, veg, flowers and arrangements. There’s a bit of tidying:

a few last minute tweaks, and then exhibitors are thrown out of the Hall (gently) and the judging begins. Before the show opens to the public – which includes the exhibitors, all keen to see how they have done – there’s a moment of peace for the judges and stewards, a chance to catch up and have a look around the other sections.

It’s also the time when the various sales stalls are organised – the charity (Arc Nôa), produce and plant stalls.

The plant stall – the first year we have devoted a table specifically to plants – was popular, and we are planning a plant and produce sale next May. Watch this space!

Here are some more photographs from the day. Looking forward to next year already!




Summer show, 2017

Every year it seems that the summer show can’t get more colourful or more inspiring, and every year it does. There were some beautiful blooms,

like this hydrangea (which won best in show for its section, unsurprisingly), some perfect vegetables, amazing flower arrangements, amd mouthwatering cakes, bakes, pickles, jams, wines, fruit spirits…

It was, yet again, impressive just how so many of the entrants in the vegetable, fruit and flowers classes had achieved such good results given the rather peculiar weather we’ve been having.

But it’s still worth entering, even if you think your geranium or dahlia or marrow or garlic is not up to scratch – you might just be expecting impossible levels of perfection. The only thing we would prefer not to see is wildlife – caterpillars, basically, though slugs are also unwelcome. And, of course, there’s always the produce table to tempt!

Here’s a gallery from the day; just click on an image for a slideshow. Huge thanks to everyone who made the day such as success, and congratulations to all the entrants!

Summer Show, 2016

It’s been a very strange gardening year, and it’s continuing to be rather odd – so it was somewhat surprising that the show looked every bit as spectacular as usual last week. Or maybe it shouldn’t have been so surprising: we have some very talented gardeners in the area, after all.

This year we had a new layout in the Hall, which was much appreciated. The appreciation started as we were setting up, when we realised just how cramped some things had become. Much more space!

setting up

It also was much better for the flowers, enabling everyone to get up close and personal to some wonderful things – and it was better for the judge and the steward in that section, as they no longer had to reach over plants and vases, or kneel down to get an adequate view. As usual, the hydrangeas were magnificent.


The vegetables and fruit were in the middle of the room as usual, and – as usual – there were some stunning exhibits. These gorgeous onions not only won their category, they also won best in show for the fruit and vegetable section.


Then there’s the flower arranging. We had slightly fewer entries, but the standard was just as high.


The produce section is always popular, covering as it does everything from marmalade to wine and pickle to (this year) treacle tart. The judge was so blown away by the standard of the jams that he left a special note:

jam appreciation

and let’s not forget the crafts, where some competitors continued the floral theme:

flowers embroidery

A lovely show, and a lovely afternoon – even if we did emerge into rainy conditions worthy of October.

produce and flowers

Huge thanks to everyone who helped, especially to Bryan and Anita who are retiring as show organisers this year, to all the judges and stewards, to everyone who helped set up the night before, to the advertisers whose contributions helped pay for the programme – and, above all, to every single person who entered and visited our 2016 Summer Show.

Here’s a gallery of the day. Just click on an image for the usual slideshow.

How to win at the summer show…

Or, indeed, any show. We can’t promise anything, mind!

After the judging of our Summer Show was complete, all the stewards took some time to talk to the judges they’d been accompanying and ask for some hints, tips and comments. The main comment was how wonderful everything looked, followed up very promptly by surprise that we had managed such a good show, particularly of vegetables, in such a difficult season.

veg display

It was impressive, but there are still some tips that can help. They apply to all of us, but they’re really useful for anyone who has never entered anything before. One thing, which was particularly relevant this year, was that it is always worth entering. Even if you think your courgettes are a bit poor, everyone else’s may be equally poor – or maybe worse. Give it a go anyway. Right, now for the hints and tips.

(And all the photos here are to show the fun of the show, not to illustrate any problems, incidentally.)

The major tip, from all the judges, and for all entrants whether they’d been doing it for years or not, was this: read the schedule.

Almost every class included something which didn’t match the schedule’s specification, whether that was presenting seven tomatoes instead of six, having a flower arrangement that was too big, a courgette that was too small, baking which had involved more than the two eggs specified or too big a tin, or a jar of preserves without a date on the label. And it’s a maximum of two entries per class, as well – it’s a popular show, so we need to make room for everyone to have a go if they wish.

It’s a shame when good things can’t be judged because they don’t conform to the schedule. So…

Check and double check. If you’re entering a flower arrangement like this wonderful one,

show 2

does it measure what it should, both height and width? And you should include the stand or plate in your measurements, too; they apply to the whole thing, not just the flowers and foliage. The stewards will go out of their way to help, but sometimes the measurements are just too far out.

The next universal point was display.

This doesn’t just apply to the flower arrangers, or indeed to the flowers in general. But if you are entering a vase of flowers or even herbs, like those in the ‘mixed flowers in a jam jar’ class (schedule says ‘max 2 lb jar, maximum of 15 stems’, note), or these ‘six named herbs in a 1 lb jam jar’ (note the ‘named’),

named herbs

don’t just make sure what you enter conforms to the schedule, but make sure it looks good too. A clear arrangement in which the individual items can be seen is better than a cluttered one. Tip? Use oasis or kitchen roll in the vase, or sellotape the neck of the vase in a grid to hold the stems in place.

(And as a health and safety tip, please make sure your vase is stable. This may mean weighting it, if necessary, with marbles or glass beads. An overturned vase and a judge with wet trousers does not a prizewinner make… oh, and please try and remove any additional wildlife, whether that’s caterpillars on geraniums or earwigs in dahlias. Unlike one driven-to-desperation garden club in North Yorkshire, we do not have a class for slugs.)

Ahem. Next point: uniformity.

This doesn’t just apply to vegetables, but to any class where you enter a multiple of something, whether that’s dahlias, bread rolls or shallots. Try and make your selected specimens match as closely as possible.

show 4

The middle ones at the back won (they were beautiful shallots, but they also match beautifully). Second was the plate to the left of the winner, and third was the one at the right.

This also leads on to another important point: displaying vegetables.

It’s not always obvious to the novice, but there are some things which don’t take long and which make a lot of difference when entering the vegetable classes:

  • Wash your vegetables carefully and present them as cleanly as possible – check out those potatoes at the top of the first photo in this post. There should not be any visible soil on your entries.
  • Trim roots of onions and shallots neatly; use stands for onions if appropriate, and bind the tops. Display shallots on sand.
  • Leave the flowers on courgettes; if that’s not possible, be very careful when trimming.
  • Put a damp kitchen towel over your vegetables; the steward will remove them before judging and it keep them fresh.
  • Don’t forget to check underneath marrows – they can often be rather scarred.
  • Display is really essential with soft fruit – it can make all the difference.
  • And if you’re entering something like an artichoke, cut a long enough stalk to make it obvious it didn’t come from Waitrose and display it well, standing up in this case:

show 5

Finally, remember to make sure your card is with your exhibit – the stewards can do a certain amount of guesswork and/or trying to recall who put what where, but there’s always something which is absolutely beautiful but which lacks its label. It can’t win if we don’t know who grew or arranged or baked or bottled or cooked whatever it is. And give yourself plenty of time.

That was ‘finally’? No, finally, finally: remember to stick to the schedule!

With huge thanks to all our judges, stewards and organisers – and roll on next year.

The big day!

Wednesday, 12 August (otherwise known as yesterday) saw the annual Summer Show in the village hall, and it was still spectacular in defiance of one of the most peculiar growing seasons in recent years. But it didn’t seem to have bothered the local gardeners overmuch, judging by the display they put on – even in the first section, that devoted to vegetables and fruit, the one where there should have been a distinct lack of entries.

vegetable surprise

We’ve all been complaining about poor potatoes, rotting onions and courgettes, and tomatoes which are failing to ripen, but you would never have guessed that there had been problems. In fact, the judge for this section specifically commented on it – he said how wonderful the selection was, and that other shows had been very poor in comparison!

We had more entries for flower arranging than we usually do, as well – and the arrangements  looked quite spectacular (especially the one with the biggest leaf in the world – no comment).


And, of course, there’s the bear. He’s not a prop; he was a competition – guess the name of the bear and take him home. We can say ‘he’ now with confidence, because his name was revealed as Sydney, and the person who named him confirmed that he was, indeed, a boy Sydney and not a girl of the same name (just in case anyone wasn’t there for the draw).

But it’s not just about veg, guessing the name of a teddy and transporting unfeasibly huge leaves to the hall without damaging them. It’s also about flowers, produce, cookery and crafts. The flowers were stunning, especially the beautiful fuchsia which won best in that section and which, unfortunately, was impossible to photograph. That’s a shame, because the judge described it as ‘pretty much perfect’ – huge congratulations. And the produce and the rest – aaaaappetizing. And that includes the crafts (lovely sewing, as you’d expect from a village with not just one quilting group but two).

First, since they were particularly impressive given the conditions, here’s a selection of the vegetables. Just click on an image for a slideshow.

Now for the flowers and, something we’ve not concentrated on particularly in the past (apologies), the flower arranging.

What a lovely day, and a huge thank you to everyone who helped – and especially to Bryan and Anita, who are the show organisers and who do such a fantastic job. Thank you to the judges, the stewards, the competition and raffle organisers, the committee, all the exhibitors and all our appreciative visitors. Thank you!

(And if you’re wondering about entering next year – please do. In the next post there’ll be some extremely useful tips and hints, wheedled out of the judges as they enjoyed their lunch. Interestingly there was a common theme… wait and see what it was!)

What a summer show!

The end of August sees the Garden Club’s summer show in the village hall. Every year it is different, because the weather presents us with different opportunities and challenges, and every year it’s the same – because it is always an impressive display of talent.

The day starts with the exhibitors arriving, carrying impressive flower arrangements or intimidating cabbages across the road and into the hall. Then there’s the display stage:

setting up

as people try and persuade tomatoes to stand upright, onions to balance on their stands and dahlias to stay exactly where they should, facing the front – and the judges.

Then comes the moment of truth, as all the exhibitors have to leave and the hall is left to the stewards and the judges. It suddenly goes very quiet, and there’s a brief moment as everyone gets organised when you can bend down and appreciate some of the miniature flower arrangements without worrying about blocking the view of other people…

snail shell arrangement

For a while, all that can be heard are footsteps – the footsteps of the judges walking slowly and carefully around their various sections. Murmuring begins as the judges pass on their views to the stewards, who add the sounds of writing, filling in their forms. And then it becomes less quiet as the judging finishes: prize cards are being written out and chatting begins.

And then, at 2pm, the doors are opened and people can come in and see how they’ve done or just marvel at the sheer range of produce and flowers and arrangements and crafts and tomatoes and blackberry whisky and bread and cakes and…

Click on an image for a slideshow:

And why not enter next year, if you didn’t this time? Go on, got for it!

Press Release – Summer show August 2013

On 14th August the club held a very successful summer show with an increase of exhibits and visitors were greeted with a variety of items on display.

Chairman Tony Bowers thanked the organisers Anita and Bryan Gatehouse for staging the event, to the committee and helpers, judges, exhibitors, sponsors, photographer Mr Erfyl Lloyd Davies, hall committee and visitors. He also announced that a number of people had joined the club on the day and a warm welcome is wished to them.

The main trophies were presented by the club President Guy Lloyd who won the L&L Building Company Shield for the best vegetable or fruit exhibit.

Special prize winners were :- DF Dowsett Shield for the highest number of points in fruit and vegetables, repeat winner Emlyn Owens; Presidents Shield for the highest number of points for flower and pot plants  winner Anthia Owens; Marjorie Lloyd Rose Bowl for the best flower or pot plant exhibit Bill Gaskell; EH Sergeant Cup highest floral art points Dinah Pickard; Enid Jones Memorial Cup highest number of produce and wine points repeating his 2012 success Keith Barber;  Jean Vickers Memorial Trophy highest number of photography points Roy Hopkins; Marian Lloyd Salver highest number of craft points winner Wendy Smith; Emlyn Owens Trophy for the best handicraft exhibit Sheila Hopkins; Dyffryn and Talybont Gardening Club Cup for the highest number of cookery points Bryan Gatehouse.

A comprehensive list of prize winners is below.


If anyone would like to see the awards in a larger format it is available as a google document click here

Congratulations to all prize winners and we next meet in Dyffryn church hall at 7pm on 9th September when local man Alan Gaydon will talk on “Ceramics in the garden.” Competition a small garden figure

Sian Ward

Press Officer