How to grow, show – and win with camellias
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