Serial prize-winning grower Stewart Whitten is once again king of the crops after lifting the Cobb Cup for gaining the most points at Fulham Horticultural Society’s annual show.
Stewart, 72, who has been growing produce for 53 years, entered 23 separate categories at Saturday’s (9 September) well-attended event in St Ethelreda’s church hall in Fulham Palace Road. A list of the first prize winners is below.
It was the gardening society’s 99th show, with produce coming from back gardens, allotments, balconies and even window boxes.
After being presented with the trophy, Stewart was asked if there was anything he didn’t enjoy growing. “Weeds,” he replied, with a cheeky grin.
It has been a challenging growing season for Fulham’s green-fingered brigade, with a cool summer followed by sweltering temperatures. But despite the hit-and-miss weather, the church hall tables still groaned with produce.
FHS chairman Eddie Robinson said he was delighted with the high standard. “We had 42 separate people enter the classes at this year’s show, which is testament to the hard work of the organisers,” he said. “The quality of entries was fantastic and the turnout of visitors impressive.”
Judges Will Williams and Max Parker-Smith assessed the main entries, with Geraldine Berridge covering the domestic categories (including one particularly volcanic chilli liqueur).
Charles Dowson won all the classes he entered, especially the category of vegetable collection which secured him the Best in Show award. Nicole Coleman won prizes for her white potatoes and cherry tomatoes – two of the hardest-fought categories – and lifted the Rose Cup for her stunning blooms.
Another keenly contested class was ‘any other vegetable’, which was won by first-time entrant Margarita Morales, with her beautiful Pantana. The strands of this unusual pumpkin are used in the Balearic Islands to make cabell d’àngel (literally angel’s hair); stringy orange threads which are cooked with sugar to make a sweet filling, rolled inside dough.
Her prize-winning decorative or recycled object was the most powerful entry ever seen at the society’s annual show – a tomb dedicated to the victims of domestic violence. Created in the style of a traditional cottage, it represented the pain which is often hidden beneath the surface.
Adrian Norman won best courgette with his extremely knobbly Italian Rugola variety, made even rarer by being conjoined (with two courgettes in one).
Most points in domestic classes were won by the youngest ever show winner, Sophie Willows, age eight. She was surprised, but delighted, to be presented with her cup.
Arabella Wells-Thorpe was commended by judge Geraldine Berridge for her vegetable/man/woman/animal entry, entitled ‘Corn Lady Walking Cauliflower Poodle’. Arabella’s mother, Chamila Wells-Thorpe, won the vineyard trophy for her perfect red grapes.
Anthony Shewell took first prize for his loquat fruit liqueur, using his great aunt’s secret recipe. He has been making his own beers and wines since his teenage years, and has recently started working with spirits.
On the Fulham Meadow allotments, people bring him their grapes from any vines to be turned into a wide variety of wines. He was pipped at the post with his flower, tomato and potato entries, but laughed that he was pleased to have won "for something I do know how to do"!
Louise Corser was also pleased to have succeeded with her knitted cowl (apparently no longer called a snood), made with Shetland wool using a traditional Fair Isle pattern. Is she planning to enter again? “Absolutely,” she insisted. “It’s really fun.”
Plans are already underway for the Fulham Horticultural Society’s 100th anniversary show next year. To find out more, visit the Fulham Horticultural Society website.
First prize winners – Autumn show 2023
Flowers and plants
- Chrysanthemums, incurved or intermediate, one bloom – Stewart Whitten
- Chrysanthemums, reflex 1 bloom – Stewart Whitten
- Chrysanthemums, 3 stems– Stewart Whitten
- Dahlias, 50-100mm, three blooms – Ian Richardson
- Dahlias, 100-150mm, three blooms – Sally Welham
- Dahlias, single, three blooms – Kevin Mottram
- Dahlias, mixed, five blooms – Sophie McLean
- Roses, two stems any variety – Nicole Coleman
- Flowers, one kind not specified elsewhere – Nicole Coleman
- Vase of mixed flowers – Deb Royds
- Pot Plant, cactus or succulent - Alex Ellerington
Vegetables and fruits
- Onions, three, up to 250g – Stewart Whitten
- Onions, three, over 250g – John Rielly
- Shallots, nine, under 30mm – Stewart Whitten
- Shallots, nine, over 30mm – Charles Dowson
- Tomatoes, five, cherry – Nicole Coleman
- Tomatoes, five, any other kind – Ingelby Jefferson
- Parsnips, three, with 80mm tops – Stewart Whitten
- Potatoes, five white, one variety – Nicole Coleman
- Potatoes, five coloured, one variety – Karen Adams
- Carrots, three with 80mm top, stump root – Charles Dowson
- Beetroot, three with 80mm top, globe root – Charles Dowson
- Marrow, one, not over 300mm – Hazel Will
- Marrow, one, over 300mm – Bobbie Travis
- Courgette – Adrian Norman
- Beans runner, nine pods – Charles Dowson
- Beans runner, longest – Stewart Whitten
- Beans dwarf French, nine pods – Stewart Whitten
- Collection of vegetables, five different kinds – Charles Dowson
- A small vase of fresh mixed herbs – Ingelby Jefferson
- Any other vegetable – Margarita Morales (pantana)
- Rhubarb, three sticks trimmed – Stewart Whitten
- Peppers, four – Stewart Whitten
- Cucumber, any other variety – Charles Dowson
- Fruit, bunch of grapes – Chamila Wells-Thorpe
- Apples – Sarah Willows
- Any other fruit – Charles Dowson (melon)
- Jar of preserve – Catherine Addison
- Jar of chutney – Ingelby Jefferson
- Chocolate Biscuit Cake – Nicole Coleman
- Any other unusual bake – Sarah Morphet (ginger cake)
- Bottle of Fruit Liqueur- Anthony Shewell (loquat)
- Photograph of ‘Animal Portrait’ – Lorna Vestey
- Set of 3 hand made greeting cards - Nicole Coleman – Rosie Pitcher
- A knitted Item – Louise Corser (cowl)
- A decrorative or useful recycled object - Margarita Morales
- Garden in a standard seed tray – Sophie Willows
- Portrait of flowering plants – Sophie Willows
- Vegetable man/woman/animal - Arabella Wells-Thorpe
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