I entered my first garden competition last week.
I was given a small booklet to read a while ago from the Gardening Society in Derry who run a Spring Show every year. The show is mainly to highlight the natural beauty of daffodils but thankfully there were other categories, which for me was just as well as I don’t have any daffodils.
I do have a few tulips though so I thought why not?
There were certain stipulations to adhere to. The plants put into the show must have been grown by the entrant or looked after for at least three months before the show. No problems there as I haven’t bought a new plant of bulb for years.
There was a small admission of 30p for every entry but there was prize money to be won. The princely sum of £1, 80p and 50p were up for grabs for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, exciting stuff I hear you say. And you would be right.
Preparations for the show took me three weeks and it included all of the things I have either grown or made over the last three years in my quieter moments. I collected up some old hypertufa pots from the garden which has been covered with moss. I then dug up a tiny fern and potted up some choice tulips that have been nurtured over the last few years and some homemade Japanese moss balls (Kokedama) were also put into the mix. Added to that I cleaned up my self-propagated air plants, wiped the dust off some old driftwood stands to fix the plants onto and I was all set for the show. I was really pleased with the finished items, one of which also included some old rusty letters and a piece of torn cloth.
I took the entries in the evening before. I looked through the brochure at the categories but couldn’t really find any to fit my creations. There were a lot of possibilities, ranging from loads of daffodil classes, miniature, double, colours but like I say, I had no daffs. Then there were craft sections and floral displays and a massive table of silver cups to win, I didn’t realise it was that serious!
There was a fantastic show of colour throughout the hall. Each immaculate, blemish free flower was put into a small tube vase for display.
When I got to the admission desk I asked the group members if they could put my things into categories. It was a bit like turning up to a ski resort with a snowboard, they just didn’t know what to do with rusty letters and old moss, driftwood and concrete.
The organizer was very kind to me and put my work in categories with little or no competition.
The following day was judging day. The judges had a free run of the exhibits before the public were allowed in later in the day (probably something to do with tampering and sabotage, I told you it was exciting stuff) By the time I go through the doors the judges decisions had been written on the small cards in front of the displays.
One of my pieces got put into the arts and crafts section where there was a lot of competition from patchwork quilts, felting, wood turned bowls and crochet clothing, so no prizes there for my rust and driftwood old cloth display.
The other displays were different.
Fern Category: For my fern display mounted in hypertufa I got 2nd place. There were two entrants for this.
Foliage Plant other than Fern Category: I got 1st and 2nd place. I was the only entrant in this category so it was a clean sweep with my air plants stuck on old roots and broken ceramic holder. I didn’t win a silver cup but that’ll give me something to aim for next year.
I’m playing my cards close to my chest for the next Spring Show but I can tell you this, two days after the event I was on a plane to Amsterdam and sifting through all of the fabulous bulbs in the flower markets to find something really special. It sounds a bit obsessive I know, but the weekend break away had been booked since the beginning of the year but I’m not telling the Gardening Society that. I want them to know there’s going to be a big shake up next year. Moss balls and rare bulbs at the ready.