How to grow, show – and win with camel­lias

The Daily Telegraph - Gardening - - Front Page -

Gar­den shows are a se­ri­ous busi­ness in Corn­wall and only the best will do when fam­ily hon­our is at stake, says Tom Peth­er­ick

Last year I proudly doc­u­mented my fam­ily’s ef­forts to cut our teeth in the lo­cal hor­ti­cul­tural shows in Devon, where we live ( Gar­den­ing Au­gust 22 2015). My 14-year-old daugh­ter Rose en­tered classes at Yealmp­ton and Corn­wood, with re­sound­ing suc­cess for her sweet­peas and a bunch of an­nu­als.

As we dis­cov­ered, en­ter­ing shows is a great way to en­cour­age young gar­den­ers. And not only is it fun, it’s easy to do, with many hor­ti­cul­tural and agri­cul­tural shows across the country of­fer­ing classes aimed at young peo­ple.

Early April this year saw the 104th Corn­wall Gar­den So­ci­ety Spring Flower Show held at Bo­con­noc near Lost­with­iel. This is not an easy one. Some of the great wood­land gar­dens of Corn­wall – Tre­goth­nan, Caer­hays, Tre­withen, Ince Cas­tle and Bo­tal­lick – com­pete here ev­ery year. The level of height­ened ten­sion that sur­rounds this show puts it in a dif­fer­ent class.

Last sum­mer was all about home-grown veg and flow­ers. This year we swapped sweet­peas for camel­lias. Yes, they are still flow­ers but the com­pe­ti­tion that awaits in the fore­bod­ing stable yard at Bo­con­noc is in­tim­i­dat­ing.

How­ever, we Peth­er­icks have form in this de­part­ment: at Porth­pean House, the fam­ily home, my mother and great un­cle be­gan plant­ing the gar­den with camel­lias in the Six­ties, and their names are on sev­eral of the cups and tro­phies.

Fam­ily mem­bers en­ter camel­lias from Porth­pean ev­ery

Best in bloom: Rose Peth­er­ick at the Corn­wall Gar­den So­ci­ety Spring Show

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