Lancashire Life - - GARDENS TO VISIT - WORDS & PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: Linda Viney

The sun brought crowds flock­ing to Victoria Park for this years’ South­port Flower Show, the largest in­de­pen­dent flower show in the UK. This year the face of the BBC’S Gar­den­ers’ World, Monty Don, and Coun­try­file pre­sen­ter Anita Rani toured the show gar­dens be­fore declar­ing it of­fi­cially open. Monty was very im­pressed and de­scribed it as ‘one of the great shows.’

They had the op­por­tu­nity to talk to the de­sign­ers and find out what lay be­hind their dis­plays which in­cluded a de­sign by Jonty Mur­phy us­ing the legs of an old Vic­to­rian ma­rine bridge and an an­chor which was re­claimed from the end of South­port Pier.

Britain’s biggest in­de­pen­dent flower show at­tracts huge

crowds and the ad­mi­ra­tion of BBC celebri­ties

They then heard the emo­tional story of one man’s jour­ney of life beyond the di­ag­no­sis of cancer, in the Macmil­lan Garden de­signed by Ja­son O’don­nell. He was moved to cre­ate it for the char­ity af­ter his fa­ther died from lung cancer last De­cem­ber. The School’s De­sign-a-garden com­pe­ti­tion al­ways re­ceives plenty of en­tries and the two win­ners Sophia Steer from Helmshore Pri­mary, Rossendale, and Misha Kam­ran from Tona­cliffe Pri­mary, Whit­worth, were thrilled to see their de­signs created by ap­pren­tices from My­er­scough Col­lege. Both Schools won £500 Bents Garden and Home voucher while Sophia and Ruth were awarded a cer­tifi­cate and £50.

The theme of this year’s show gave ex­hibitors plenty of scope when de­sign­ing their dis­plays. Fairy­tales from Sleep­ing Beauty, The Jun­gle Book, Dr Doolit­tle and A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream all added to the in­ter­est es­pe­cially for the younger vis­i­tors.

In­mates at HMP Kirkham and HMP Thorn Cross de­signed gar­dens on show in the Grand Floral Mar­quee, the lat­ter awarded The Lady Pilk­ing­ton Trophy for the best ex­hibit de­pict­ing the theme of this year’s show. They had cho­sen ‘Alice in Won­der­land’ giv­ing plenty of scope from The Queen of Hearts to a large chair and Alice her­self.

Floral Art is a pop­u­lar area where you ad­mire the skill of the flower ar­rangers. Pa­tience is ob­vi­ously a virtue as well as the artis­tic skills needed in the plan­ning. Bill Dixon, who has done floral dis­plays for many years and rep­re­sented Eng­land in the World Cham­pi­onships, was this year asked to de­sign one of the smaller show gar­dens. ‘A chal­lenge but as­sisted by my part­ner, re­tired GP Phil Jen­ni­son, we thor­oughly en­joyed it,’ Bill ex­plained.

Flow­ers and gar­dens aren’t the only at­trac­tions – the Cook­ery The­atre saw a se­ries of celebrity chefs, in­clud­ing Victoria Co­p­ley, Si­mon Rim­mer and Great Bri­tish Bake Off star Flo Atkins who gave in­spir­ing de­mon­stra­tions.

The Food Hall gave vis­i­tors to sam­ple everything from pies to bev­er­ages and in the Bee and Honey Mar­quee you could learn about the importance of in­sects.

The Am­a­teur Mar­quee had dis­plays of everything from vegeta­bles to be­go­nias with huge flow­ers.

Over the four days, celebri­ties were on hand of­fer­ing in­spi­ra­tion and ideas as well as an­swer­ing ques­tions. Award win­ning broad­caster Matthew Wil­son also gave tips on cop­ing with the chang­ing cli­mate.

Vis­i­tors en­joyed watch­ing the dis­plays in the Arena from

Ben Pot­ter with his hawks and ea­gles to the sheep dog and duck dis­play by Bob Hogg.

South­port has many awards, the most pres­ti­gious be­ing The Brock­house Gold Chal­lenge Trophy for the best ex­hibit.

It went to J & A Japon­i­cas for their stun­ning dis­play in the Grand Floral Mar­quee. A lo­cal nurs­ery, they spe­cialise in plants of Ja­panese and Chi­nese ori­gin, and their dis­play in­cluded a large pagoda fea­ture rais­ing up to the roof and a wa­ter fea­ture com­plete with mist­ing and colour from dahlias. The Salop­ian Trophy for the best runner-up went to ‘Ev­ery Pic­ture Tells a Story’ with their dis­play of bromeli­ads in a nat­u­ral set­ting with as­so­ci­ated plants.

South­port goes from strength to strength and prepa­ra­tions are al­ready un­der­way for next year’s show which will be the 90th.

BE­LOW: Stephen Pey in his award win­ning garden with Coun­try­file’s Anita Rani

LEFT: Stephen Pey with The Finchett Trophy, The Pon­tins Trophy and The Brian Aughton Memorial Trophy in his award win­ning show garden In­side Out

ABOVE: Monty Don in Vic­to­rian Times show garden de­signed by Jonty Mur­phy

ABOVE: Jonty Mur­phy, Phil Jen­ni­son and Bill Dixon in Chris Tins­ley’s en­try, The Front Garden

TOP: The Na­tional Veg­etable Society dis­play in the ‘So­ci­eties Mar­quee’

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