Friday, July 20, 2012

Best Butt Award and a few flower beds!

I'm just back from some rather damp and cloudy days at the Tatton Park Flower Show. It's a great mix of gardens, flowers and mud and open till Sunday! Yes it was muddy but it is amazing at what has been achieved despite the weather and the RHS have done their best to make the showground clean and accessible. I was there to take part in judging the flowerbed competition which has been part of the Tatton Show for many years. The recession has caused a drop in the numbers but there are still 10 brave local authorities that have managed to find the money and incentive to bring an exhibit to the show - no mean achievement during the doom and gloom of recession and an impossible summer.

Smith and Son - Vaulting Ambition - Gold - but not judged alongside the rest as this was a commercial entry

Although the flower beds need to be realistic and capable of growing on in a park, these are flower beds with a difference and most will tell a story of some sort. This year the brief had requested a theme of Olympic sports and amongst the various beds, we have a long jumper, yachtsman,  two archers, a swimming pool, cyclists, kayaker, surfers and golf (it doesn't become an Olympic sport till 2016 so forward thinking!) Standards are very high and as judges we looked carefully at the quality of plants, the design of the displays, their creativity and the difficulty of achieving the end result. We awarded three gold-medals, three silvergilt's, two silvers and two bronze. Some of the exhibitors showed great initiative such as the huge spreading tree produced by Dumfries and Galloway, constructed with a framework and a huge head of the tiny creeping plant Sagina. The three wheeled bicycle with two cyclists, pedalling away from each other from Lancaster added a touch of fun!

Lancaster City - Way of the Roses - Silver Gilt

Frinton in Bloom - Bullseye - Silver Gilt

Darlington - The Long Jumper - Silver Gilt

Dumfries & Galloway - Scotland Home of Golf - Silver

Partington - Bowman of Bucklow - Gold

The winning flowerbed is 'Surfing Jersey' by the Parish of St Helier, although my own personal favourite is the Olympic Breeze  created by Birmingham City Council. (Judges don't always all agree!) This is just filled with detail and the yacht, jetty and seagulls all 3D carpet bedding. As the yacht flies through the water you can imagine the spray created using white antirhinums, nicotiana and blue and white agapanthus - quite dynamic!

Parish of St Helier - Surfing Jersey - Gold & Best in Show

Birmingham - Olympic Breeze - Gold
Another view of Birmingham
How about this for detail - a tiny tuft of moss in the rock - Birmingham again!
Now you might wonder where The Best Butt Award comes in? Inevitably with the theme of sports, there were various figures in the displays. Some are willow sculptures, one is a 2-D silhouette but most are 3-D figures made from carpet bedding. In creating such figures it is often forgotten that by the time the plants have been added and they have grown, the figure will put on a few inches all the way round and a muscled athlete easily becomes the Michelin man! Inevitably we judges had commented on the quality of the various figures but one commented that the "pole vaulter in the display by Smith and Son had the best butt" - it wasn't me - honestly!

The pole vaulter's derriere! - A Gold Award!

The surfer's butt - he's a big lad!

I was tempted to report this at the judges moderation meeting but resisted the urge as the proceedings were being filmed.  I didn't particularly wish to go down to posterity - pun intended - as the judge who had made a bum joke at moderation!


  1. My mum lives 'oop north' and I have always wanted to go to the 'Tatton' show. I will make it one year!

  2. Its a great show - one of the best of the RHS shows.

  3. Shame we had to miss Tatton Park, would have loved to have gone but we have such a backlog of work in our garden we had to give it a miss. Hoping next year we'll be able to go.

    I think those flower beds are such good fun! They are what they are, in your face floral display to give seasonal cheer :)