Odd Things Happen at Shows

Many stories, mostly apocryphal, one hopes, are told of those early post war days. Before the Society became affiliated to National Societies such as the Royal Horticultural Society, the National Rose Society and the National Sweet Pea Society they had, perforce, to produce their own rules and regulations because “odd things” can and did happen to exhibits at Flower Shows! It is interesting to browse through the old schedules and see how these rules developed.

By 1947 there appeared a rule that “the committee shall have the power to authorise persons to visit the gardens of exhibitors until three days after the Show”. The story behind this is that at that time there was a class for a “dish of nine tomatoes”. Now to produce nine tomatoes each flawless and identical in colour, shape and size is no mean feat. Nevertheless, the first prize was awarded to the entry of a well known local resident whose horticultural skills were not particularly outstanding and dark suspicions were aroused! It was decided that members of the committee should make a visit of inspection to this exhibitor’s garden to see the plants which had produced such a fine crop of even and perfect fruit. The exhibitor was of course, notified that the inspection was to take place and by the time this committee arrived they found some quite anaemic tomato plants adorned by some excellent tomatoes. Unfortunately, closer inspection revealed that these tomatoes were tied into position by string they were bought tomatoes!

During these same years there is also a story of another local resident who, finding his carrots not up to his expectations, gave way to temptation and went out, bought carrots from a greengrocer in Weston- super-Mare, and entered these as his own produce. According to the old member who tells the story, the judge recognised the particular variety of carrot, it was a cultivar available only to professional growers! Thus was the villain unmasked.

In time, of course, the Society became affiliated to the Royal Horticultural Society and were able to use the thorough rules and regulations of that august body. Affiliation also followed to the National Rose Society and the National Sweet Pea Society.