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Fulham Horticultural Society produces yet another crop of great winners

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Image captionImage 1: John Rielly with his winning onions

The power of gardening in bonding communities was on display at Fulham Horticultural Society’s (FHS) autumn show on Saturday (17 September) as green-fingered residents presented this year’s labours.

Summer droughts and torrential flash storms had not deterred H&F’s gardeners, as the show welcomed almost 200 entries from keen exhibitors.

From classic floral displays of scented roses, colourful dahlias and chrysanthemums, to perfectly prepped vegetables and fruit, the show was a celebration of determination.

Visitors packed St Etheldreda’s Church in Fulham Palace Road to take in the bounty of produce on display alongside artistic handicrafts and goodies including jams, chutneys and cakes.

See all the pictures from the FHS autumn show on our Flickr photo gallery.

FHS chairman Eddie Robinson said he was delighted at the range and quality of entries, as new gardeners joined regular faces to showcase their horticultural efforts.

“We had 54 separate people enter the classes at this year’s show, which is testament to the hard work of the organisers,” explained Eddie.

“The number of new entrants has been wonderful, and we were delighted to welcome local people, young and old, who might not have been involved before. The atmosphere was fantastic. Well done to all.”

The local horticultural society is now in its 98th year and keen to welcome more new members to give growing a go, whether in gardens or allotments, or by turning balconies, windowsills or patios into micro-gardens.

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Image caption: Image 2: Ponsiano Bimeny shows his winning dahlias

New entrants

Among new entrants celebrating success was Ponsiano Bimeny, 39, who scooped two first prizes for his stunning dahlias. “I think dahlias are one of the most beautiful flowers, as they have a geometry that gives them a very special architectural quality,” said Ponsiano, an academic at SOAS university, who was attending the show for the first time with wife Rachael, 51, and daughter Jasmine, six.

“I saw them for the first time on holiday in Cornwall and fell in love with them. They are really not difficult to grow and are relatively low-maintenance.”

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Image caption: Image 3: Debut entrant Rosie Pitcher showing her set of cards

Meanwhile, retired Marcya Small ‘couldn’t believe’ she had won first place for her herb collection of sage, lavender, rosemary and lemon balm, after entering the show as a first-timer for the experience.

And while office worker Kevin Mottram, 51, has been tending his allotment in Bishop’s Avenue for the past three years, his own horticultural show debut saw him in the top spot for his fragrant Roald Dahl roses.

“It is a lovely way to connect with the community as everyone has a common purpose,” he said. “It is wonderful to see all the entrants’ different styles, which are a reflection of their personalities and cultures.”

The judges

Judges including Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medal-winning garden designer Will Williams and Geraldine Berridge cast their experienced eyes over the show produce ranging from rhubarb and shallots to handmade birthday cards and photography.

Describing the standard as ‘amazing’, Mr Williams praised competitors for overcoming the adversity of the tough weather conditions.

Another debut entrant, 21-year-old post-graduate university student Rosie Pitcher, impressed the judges with her stunning set of cards and delicate floral embroidery.

Drawings of her favourite flowers – daisies, lavender, forget-me-nots and pansies – adorned the card collection. “I love art and being creative, because I find it relaxing and fun,” she said.

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Image caption: Image 4: Sophie Willows smiles alongside her smiling cookie

Having enjoyed success at last year’s show, seven-year-old schoolgirl Sophie Willows could not resist entering the junior classes again this year. Her enthusiasm paid off, as she was handed two first prizes for her smiling cookie entry and her garden in a recycled box of chocolates.

“I like the way the yellow, purple and green go well together, and I added a rabbit to my garden because I thought it should have an animal in it,” explained Sophie.

Eye-catching

While many of the fruits and vegetables on display were familiar, there were some eye-catching entries that were impossible to ignore. Naz Jaffar’s spectacular trio of calabash specimens – also known as bottle gourd – added a touch of the unexpected, bagging a first place for the first-time entrant.

Hailing from the north of Iraq and also known to the 60-year-old heating engineer as water courgettes, the colossal vegetables are particularly tempting for birds, he said. “I drill a hole in the side and take out the seeds and they attract birds to nest there,” said Naz, who has been an allotment holder for almost 20 years.

Weather challenge

The challenge of the poor weather was a theme among the gardeners with semi-retired horticultural teacher Charles Dowson, 68, pointing out the conditions had affected the size of some of the produce.

The adversity made his success in winning the society’s Toms Memorial Cup for the best exhibit all the sweeter, as the ardent gardener showcased a selection of five vegetables – Maris Bard potatoes, Countess parsnips, Sweet Candle carrots, Mammoth leeks and Black Beauty aubergines.

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Image caption: Image 5: Naz Jaffar showing his trio of calabash specimens

Fellow gardener Hazel Will, 61, agreed it had been tough to find specimens good enough to exhibit, so she was thrilled with taking home first prize for a marrow that was “hiding under a leaf”, adding the show’s large exhibitor and visitor turnout gave a real buzz to the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, 63-year-old John Rielly, who runs a healthy lifestyle club based at Sands End Arts and Community Centre in Peterborough Road, was delighted at winning prizes for his carrots and onions.

Having shown his huge 5lb 4oz Kelsae onion as part of a display of mammoth vegetables at the Chillifest event the previous weekend at Fulham Palace, John was eager to show visitors just how enormous the variety could grow.

Bittersweet

For FHS show stalwart Stewart Whitten, 70, scooping seven first prizes at the annual event was bittersweet. Having lost his beloved wife Sylvia in July after 50 years of marriage, Stewart was determined to continue his vegetable showing tradition as a tribute to their long and happy life together in the borough.

Daughter Tracy, 43, said: “We are so proud of our dad, because he has continued with his gardening and done really well, considering the circumstances. I think as long as he can move, he’ll be down at the allotment and showing here.”

To find out more about the Fulham Horticultural Society, visit the Fulham Horticultural Society website.

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Image caption: Image 6: Retired social worker Ian Richardson with his photograph 'Weather' showing a rainbow over the West Ken estate

First prize winners – Autumn 2022

Flowers and plants

  • Chrysanthemums, incurved or intermediate, two blooms, one variety – Stewart Whitten
  • Chrysanthemums, incurved or intermediate, one bloom – Stewart Whitten
  • Dahlias, 50-100mm, three blooms – Sue Pitcher
  • Dahlias, 100-150mm, three blooms – Ian Richardson
  • Dahlias, 150-200mm, one bloom – Fulham Palace apprentices
  • Dahlias, single, three blooms – Ponsiano Bimeny
  • Dahlias, mixed, five blooms – Ponsiano Bimeny
  • Roses, two stems any variety – Kevin Mottram
  • Flowers, one kind not specified elsewhere – Fulham Palace apprentices
  • Vase of mixed flowers – Deb Royds

Vegetables and fruits

  • Brussels sprouts – Charles Dowson
  • Leeks, three, top trimmed – Charles Dowson
  • Onions, three, up to 250g – Fulham Palace apprentices
  • Onions, three, over 250g – John Rielly
  • Shallots, nine, under 30mm – Stewart Whitten
  • Shallots, nine, over 30mm – Stewart Whitten
  • Tomatoes, five, cherry – Ian Richardson
  • Tomatoes, five, any other kind – Clare Fuchs
  • Parsnips, three, with 80mm tops – Stewart Whitten
  • Potatoes, five white, one variety – Nick Pitcher
  • Potatoes, five coloured, one variety – Hazel Sharron
  • Carrots, three with 80mm top, stump root – John Rielly
  • Carrots, three with 80mm top, long root – John Rielly
  • Beetroot, three with 80mm top, globe root – Charles Dowson
  • Beetroot, three with 80mm top, long root – Stewart Whitten
  • Marrow, one, not over 300mm – Hazel Will
  • Marrow, one, over 300mm – Bobbie Travis
  • Courgette – Hazel Sharron
  • Beans runner, nine pods – Charles Dowson
  • Beans runner, longest – Stewart Whitten
  • Beans dwarf French, nine pods – Deb Royds
  • Collection of vegetables, five different kinds – Charles Dowson
  • A small vase of fresh mixed herbs – Marcya Small
  • Any other vegetable – Naz Jaffar (Calabash/Bottle gourd)
  • Rhubarb, three sticks trimmed – Charles Dowson
  • Peppers, four – Charles Dowson
  • Cucumber ridge – Peter Tyler
  • Fruit, bunch of grapes – Fulham Palace apprentices
  • Apples – Fulham Palace apprentices
  • Any other fruit – Charles Dowson (melon)

Domestic

  • Jar of jam (stone or soft fruit) – Anthony Shewell (blackberry and apple)
  • Jar of marmalade – Catherine Addison
  • Jar of chutney – Alex Ellerington (green tomato)
  • Carrot cake tray bake – Nicole Coleman
  • Six cupcakes – Hazel Sharron
  • Any other unusual bake – Ros Vesty

Handicraft

  • Photograph of ‘The Weather’ – Ian Richardson
  • Photographs, set of three, ‘Flowers’ – Nicole Coleman
  • Birthday card – Rosie Pitcher
  • Flower made from recycled materials – Rafe Downey, I. Downey, B. Spielberg
  • Floral art – Rosie Pitcher (embroidery)

Junior

  • Smiling cookie – Sophie Willows
  • Garden in a recycled container – Sophie Willows
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Image caption: Image 7: Gardener Hazel Will

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