despite the warm patch in March that has brought forward a lot of the spring flowers we still had a good display. Results when counted and announced was that.Jenny Lancaster won the overall cup.
We have a new committee member, Steve Templeman, the rest of the committee and officers remain unchanged. The Society is financially sound and the membership grew last year despite the restrictions of holding meetings.
First make sure that you read the schedule for exact numbers and display information before selecting the best items for the show bench. Ian worked through our 2022 Show schedule offering advice and remarking on the various vegetables and fruit.
•Tomatoes – check the size, how many on a plate, how to stand them on a plate using little tricks like polo mints to hold them upright and in place. Some growers use sharp sand to place Tomatoes successfully. All entries should be the same size and shape.
•Onions and Shallots should have the tops tied and roots trimmed
•Leeks have their roots washed and left on and the green tops tied with string to keep tidy. •Leave the stem on Garlic.
•Carrots should have the single root left on, be the same length and have 75 mm of green tops trimmed. A variety called Sweet Candle is currently winning all the prizes recently.
•With Beetroot, a judge will often cut a slice out to check the rings go all the way through, you must keep the tap root on.
•For Radish keep the root and stem on and point the same way on a plate.
•A “Top Tip” for keeping runner beans straight is wrapping them in a damp tea towel overnight, the judge will usually pick one bean from the group and snap it to test for freshness.
•Good varieties of Potato to grow for showing are Winston (white) and Kestrel (coloured) a good size would fit in the palm of your hand. Place on the plate with eyes pointing outwards.
•When displaying flowers, make sure you know if the blooms are annuals or perennials as you will be disqualified for having the wrong item in the vase. Most flowers require a long stem to show successfully – especially Sweet Peas and Roses. Most Dahlia heads should be at a 45-degree angle to the stem apart from Pom-Pom which should be upright.
•For Pot Plants the judge will also take into account the outer pot the plant is displayed in so choose carefully.
Our November meeting took place on Thanksgiving Day, we were all happy to be transported to the warmth of Malaysia listening to Stewart Henchie talk about his time working at the Botanic Gardens in Penang.
To reach this island which is about half the size of the Isle of Wight, there are 2 bridges, a ferry and a proposed tunnel bringing thousands of workers and tourists across from the mainland every day. Georgetown is the capital which is twinned with Malacca both having World Heritage status. The garden is owned by the state and has grown in acreage over the years from the forest and surrounding land in a valley to include old quarries which have developed the scope of plants grown there. It is open to the public and free to enter.
Back in 1884, a local Devon man from Barnstaple, Charles Curtis, became the head of what was then called the Waterfall Garden. He was responsible for devising a new plan for the garden, laying out curving pathways and creating zones and areas for exotic planting. A freshwater reservoir was designed by James MacRitchie in 1892 which fed the famous waterfall. Since then, there has been a close working relationship between Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Penang and Singapore botanic gardens with curators having reciprocal arrangements.
The Dipterocarp tropical rainforest area is full of wildlife, Stewart showed many images of tropical snakes, water monitor, exotic kingfisher, millipede, spiders, and monkeys and macaques. The dusky leaf monkey enjoys eating the nectar rich flowers from the shrubs and trees. Any newly planted trees need to be protected for up to 5 years as the young leaves are irresistible to these creatures.
Stewart was asked to be a consultant and bring his expertise from working at Kew to help revitalise the garden. With the help of the many staff, he advised on new tools and machinery to help the gardeners to get the hard labour done more efficiently and effectively. Mechanical Diggers were hired to plant trees at the correct depth, the ponds were cleared of rubbish and replanted with large water lily varieties, the Cacti House was re-established, and the outdoor areas mulched with stone. In other zones, coir, a local resource was used as a mulch under the indigenous tropical planting. An endangered tree, Burmese Aquilaria malaccensis, commonly known as Kayu gaharu grown for its highly prized heartwood which provides valuable incense grows within the garden grounds. The wood is relatively soft for a tree and is easily cut through with a thin saw, some have been cut down by criminal gangs as the incense is worth its weight in gold.
Stewart obviously enjoyed his time out in Malaysia and has many fond memories of friendships made with people of a different culture. We certainly enjoyed hearing about his experience and seeing the many images. He ended his talk saying “Terima Kasih“, Thank You. i