Green-fingered gardeners showcased an impressive display of homegrown produce at the Fulham Horticultural Society autumn show at the weekend.
Rainbow-coloured chrysanthemums, dahlias, roses and fuchsias greeted visitors to the annual horticultural show on Saturday (7 September), as hundreds of flowers, vegetables and fruits were a feast for the senses.
The bucolic scene could have been taken straight from a John Constable painting, rather than a central London borough.
Taking over the nave at St Etheldedra’s Church, in Fulham Palace Road, tables of garden produce replaced pews for the afternoon.
Fulham Horticultural Society chairman Eddie Robinson said he had been impressed with the quality and quantity of entries. “We had a record number of entries to this year’s show, which makes for a fabulous display for visitors,” explained Mr Robinson.
“The variety of flowers, vegetables and fruits, as well as homemade produce, has been wonderful. We were delighted to see children as young as four entering the show.
“The horticultural society is a fantastic community resource that has been running for 95 years and we are determined to get to our centenary year. It is great fun and we all enjoy it so much.”
Renowned horticulturalist Andrew Fisher-Tomlin joined domestic judge Geraldine Berridge to cast an expert eye over the entries.
Among those winning big this year were Stewart Whitten, 67, who has been gardening on his Fulham allotment for the past 46 years.
Winning first prize in nine separate categories, Mr Whitten said ultimately ‘it’s all down to the judges’.
“I am at the allotments every day for a few hours and I am happy with how I have got on this year,” he said. “I am really pleased with the chrysanthemums, as the colours came out great.”
Fellow gardener John Rielly, 61, won first prize in ten categories in his third year of entering the show, and said he was particularly pleased with his ‘kelsae’ onions, which won the over 250g category.
“They are very uniform and each weighs about a pound and a quarter (560g) although I have grown the kelsae variety up to 2lb before,” he said.
Charles Dowson, 65, also bagged first prizes in nine categories, focusing on vegetables to impress the judges with his array of perfectly-formed shallots, ripe cherry tomatoes and statuesque leeks.
Mr Dowson scooped the Toms Memorial Cup ‘best in show’ award for his collection of five different vegetables, including Countess parsnips, Picasso potatoes, Hative De Noirt onions, Sweet Candle carrots and Mammoth leeks.
While no one could miss Pedro Garcia’s enormous marrow, which weighed in at a whopping 30lb 8oz (13.8kg), winning the heaviest marrow category. “It is the biggest marrow I have ever grown,” said the 61-year-old. “It took three months to grow it, and I sang La Cucaracha to it every day. I never expected to win.”
Young gardeners were also out in force, with nine-year-old Lulu Bailey, who attends All Saints C of E Primary School, in Bishop’s Avenue, Fulham, picking up the top spot for her beautiful dahlias.
Meanwhile, four-year-old Sophie Willow, of Fulham Prep School, created a vegetable person from a potato and carrots, with a red pepper mouth and red onion hair to win one of the junior classes.
Inspired by Fulham Football Club, Sara Kay designed an eye-catching piece of floral art based on the team’s black and white strip. Orchids, akito white roses, eryngium, fatsia japonica, anthurium clarinervium and willow twigs made up the striking bouquet.
“I love the creative side of things,” explained Mrs Kay. “I always see the fans streaming to the football ground in a stream of black and white, so that is what inspired me.”
And being a first-time entrant in one of the potato categories was no bar to winning for Alex Ellerington. The 48-year-old sound editor for television shows won a coveted first prize for his kestrel potatoes.
“I was so surprised to win as I have never entered this category before,” he said. “This is such a big contrast to my work, sitting in a dark mixing studio. Going to the allotment is just lovely, it is like a little trip to the country.”
According to Abel Hadden, 66, the show is a chance to explore just what can be grown in London. “It is like being in the middle of the country, yet we are in the middle of the city,” he said.
“It is so fabulous to see everything laid out, and everyone’s hard work on display.”
To find out more visit the Fulham Horticultural Society website.
Full list of first prize winners 2019
Flowers and plants
- Chrysanthemums, incurved or intermediate, one bloom – Stewart Whitten
- Chrysanthemums, reflex, one bloom – Stewart Whitten
- Chrysanthemums, three stems – John Rielly
- Dahlias, under 50mm, three blooms – Abel Hadden
- Dahlias, 50-100mm, three blooms – Lulu Bailey
- Dahlias, 100-150mm, three blooms – Joanna Cruddas
- Dahlias, 150-200mm, one bloom – Abel Hadden
- Dahlias, single, three blooms – Ian Richardson
- Dahlias, mixed, five blooms – Sarah Finn
- Roses, two stems any variety – Joanna Cruddas
- Flowers, one kind not specified elsewhere – Joanna Cruddas
- Vase of mixed flowers – Fulham Palace
- Pot plant, cactus or succulent – John Rielly
- Pot plant, flower – Ingleby Jefferson
- Pot plant, foliage – John Rielly
Vegetables and fruits
- Brussels sprouts – Charles Dowson
- Leeks, three, top trimmed – Charles Dowson
- Lettuce, two with root – Ingleby Jefferson
- Onions, three, up to 250g – Charles Dowson
- Onions, three, over 250g – John Rielly
- Shallots, nine, under 30mm – John Rielly
- Shallots, nine, over 30mm – Charles Dowson
- Tomatoes, five, cherry – Charles Dowson
- Tomatoes, five, any other kind – Stewart Whitten
- Celery, two, roots trimmed – Stewart Whitten
- Parsnips, three – Charles Dowson
- Potatoes, five white, one variety – Abel Hadden
- Potatoes, five coloured, one variety – Alex Ellerington
- Potatoes, five white, five coloured – Stewart Whitten
- Carrots, three with 80mm top, stump root – Charles Dowson
- Carrots, three with 80mm top, long root – John Rielly
- Beetroot, three with 80mm top, globe root – Fulham Palace
- Beetroot, three with 80mm top, long root – Stewart Whitten
- Marrow, heaviest – Pedro Garcia
- Marrow, over 300mm – Hazel Will
- Courgette – Rose Cruddas
- Beans runner, nine pods – Charles Dowson
- Beans runner, longest – Stewart Whitten
- Cabbage, two with 50mm stalks – John Rielly
- Collection of vegetables, five different kinds – Charles Dowson
- Fresh mixed herbs – Sarah Morphet
- Cauliflower, 50mm root – Stewart Whitten
- Any other vegetable – Fulham Palace (celeriac)
- Rhubarb – L Farrelly
- Peppers – Stewart Whitten
- Cucumber – L Farrelly
- Fruit, raspberries – Sarah Finn
- Apples – Fulham Palace
- Any other fruit – Nicole Coleman (chilli)
- Jar of jam or jelly – Eddie Robinson
- Jar of pickled vegetables – John Rielly
- Fruit cake – Nicole Coleman
- Pineapple and coconut cake – John Rielly
- Savoury scones – John Rielly and Sarah Morphet
- Item of needlecraft – Ian Jefferson
- Birthday card – Julian Peach
- Handmade hat – Nicole Coleman
- Photograph of ‘The Spirit of the Thames’ – Alex Ellerington
- Sara Kay
- Sophie Willow
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