Southport Flower Show 2014: part 1

southport show 2

Last weekend I was back in the UK to attend the Southport Flower Show. As part of the Garden Roadshow team we used to attend Southport every year but there had been a gap of a couple of years while they tried something new. But we were back with a vengeance this year. In fact I think I have been working at the show most years since 1989 – longer than I care to think about.

The Southport Flower Show has always been one of the most important of the gardening year with great efforts from amateur growers and specialist societies as well as nurseries. But it is not just a garden show and there is lots to see even if you are not a keen gardener with an arena with displays as varied as motorcycle stunt displays, birds of prey and performing dogs.

I will give some glimpses of the show over the next few days but first, the reason I was there – the roadshow. Every day we answer questions from the audience and give various talks in between. The type of questions we get always varies according to the time of year and also what day it is. That sounds a strange thing to say but we rarely get camellia questions at Southport because other things are on people’s minds in August. And it is likely that people that attend on the first days are keen gardeners so the questions tend to be very varied but on Sunday, when the the bell rings at 4pm and the nurseries sell off their stands, the questions tend to be more lawns and weeds.

Over the years there have been more and more questions about fruit and veg and it was no surprise to find that fruit questions dominated the days at Southport. With the rise in interest in growing your own a few years ago, people are just discovering the problems and the subject of the show was, without doubt, plums. It was impossible to avoid descending into ‘carry on’ humour when the question involved drooping plums, wrinkled plums, tiny plums or the poor man who had grubs in his plums.

Every day there is a guest celeb at the show and most joined us to give a talk on our ‘stage’ and a Q&A session. On the first day it was Matthew Wilson (of Radio 4’s GQT) and on Friday the lovely Carol Klein. On Saturday it was Christine Walkden’s turn and on Sunday Sir Roddy Llewellyn. We also had Eric Knowles use the stage, talking about Moorcroft pottery with which he is involved.

Martin Fish, who hosts the Roadshow and is usually given the important job of mingling with the crowds to get the questions and give a goody bag to anyone that asks a question, gave talks on hanging baskets. Martin always complains that he is not allowed on stage and we usually say it is because he is so good at handing out the goody bags

Martin Fish, who hosts the Roadshow and is usually given the important job of mingling with the crowds to get the questions and give a goody bag to anyone that asks a question, gave talks on hanging baskets. Martin always complains that he is not allowed on stage and we usually say it is because he is so good at handing out the goody bags

Steve Ott is the Editor of Kitchen Garden. The three of us go back a long way and get on so well.  Like Steve I was once on Garden News. Steve gave a talk on growing veg in containers

Steve Ott is the Editor of Kitchen Garden. The three of us go back a long way and get on so well. Like Steve I was once on Garden News. Steve gave a talk on growing veg in containers

Carol Klein was, as ever, a great hit with the visitors and kept them all enthralled with her talk

Carol Klein was, as ever, a great hit with the visitors and kept them all enthralled with her talk

This is a close as we let Martin get to the stage!

This is a close as we let Martin get to the stage!

We all seem to be having a great time. (thanks to Rachel from CK Jones roses for getting to grips with my camera for these shots. More of Rachel tomorrow.

We all seem to be having a great time. (thanks to Rachel from CK Jones roses for getting to grips with my camera for these shots. More of Rachel tomorrow.)

... and the audience seem happy enough too

… and the audience seem happy enough too

Christine Walkden lives in Essex but is really a local lass and entertained and educated the audience in her usual 'no holds barred' way

Christine Walkden lives in Essex but is really a local lass and entertained and educated the audience in her usual ‘no holds barred’ way

Eric Knowles telling us all about Moorcroft. I have always loved Moorcroft and it seemed rude not to buy a piece at last. So I chose the piece in the pic, partly because the design is 'Green Iris' and partly because it was one of the cheapest! The prices at the show were very very good so if you like Moorcroft it would be worth going next year

Eric Knowles telling us all about Moorcroft. I have always loved Moorcroft and it seemed rude not to buy a piece at last. So I chose the piece in the pic, partly because the design is ‘Green Iris’ and partly because it was one of the cheapest! The prices at the show were very very good so if you like Moorcroft it would be worth going next year. Eric Knowles was such a lovely man too.

Tomorrow – new roses from CK Jones

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2 Comments on “Southport Flower Show 2014: part 1”

  1. joy
    August 21, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    that was great . did Christine used to do a tv show ? I really liked to watch someone called chritine

    • thebikinggardener
      August 21, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

      Yes Christine had her own programme and is also the garden expert on the One Show 🙂

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