|Warmenhoven - probably Chelsea 2012|
Now last week at the BBC Gardener's World, I was also judging in the Floral Marquee but in a different judging team and found my negative comments on traditional staging were not shared by my fellow judges (to put it mildly!). Amongst our exhibits for judging, we had three stands of fuchsias and we had an experienced fuchsia grower amongst the panel of judges. All three stands of fuchsias were similar, tiered displays (woops corrected my Freudian slip of 'tired') against a backdrop, with a wall of fuchsias from waist height up to about 2.5m (8ft). The following picture is not from that show, nor do I know what nursery this is, but it shows the style of exhibit precisely.
I argued that it was not creative and did not show the character of any of the plants. One of the judges defended the display saying that there were some wonderful show standards at the top of the display. Well - if he'd have thought for moment, that point really emphasized my opinion, as the plants were so closely crushed together that it was impossible to see they were standards!
Fuchsias can be grown and trained in several ways - bush plants, standards on a leg, pyramids and even fans - such wonderful adaptable plants! And then their habit of growth varies from the upright types, to the rounded, spreading and trailing types, beautifully displayed in hanging baskets. Add to all this, (and yes I have rattled on) the obvious fact that the fuchsia is a graceful plant with delicate flowers that should be displayed to display these characteristics. None of this was visible in any of the displays as all were just stuffed with plants. The following picture from the Royal Cornwall Show in 2006 shows that fuchsias can be exhibited in a more innovative way.
Now the fuchsia growers aren't the only ones with their heads in the horticultural sand and the following few pictures will give you an idea of the typical traditional display that is often repeated by growers at each show. In some cases it is so similar that in looking at my pictures, I can't really see the difference! The counter argument, often proffered by the growers is that this is what the public want - well is it? Would you like to see more innovation and different ways of display? I've never done a poll before, but if you have an opinion on this, let me know by casting you vote in the poll at the top of the right margin next to this post. Before you do that, have a look at a few more traditional 'show-stoppers'.
And finally on a more positive and less controversial note, I did like Dibley's stand at the BBC Gardener's World Show. Although the presentation was fairly traditional, it was lifted by a cascade of pale blue Streptocarpus - possibly 'Falling Stars'. I like it!