ONCE they were almost part of the social calendar of any community . . flower shows. But it seems that the tradition of gardeners proudly exhibiting their produce shows to be judged on merit has all but disappeared.
Holidays abroad, smaller gardens and other interests all seem to be reasons why the competitive spirit among gardeners is as dead as last year’s wallflowers.
Gone are the days when almost every club held a produce show and in the Stafford area, the main show of the year was organised by the Borough Horticultural committee and held, appropriately, at the Borough Hall.
So we turn the clock back to 1967 when hundreds of people entered their prize chrysanthemums, dahlias, onions and tomatoes for the two-day show which attracted in excess of 600 entries and more than 2000 visitors.
Winner of the top award – the Borough of Stafford Perpetual Silver Challenge Trophy – was an outsider, Fred Holding of Newcastle under Lyme for gaining most points and also winning cups for his prize chrysanthemums and dahlias.
In the previous year, 61-year-old William Major, of The Rank, at Gnosall won top spot but had to be content with the Holmcroft Allotment Association Cup for collecting most points in the vegetable section.
And George Astles, of Wolverhampton Road, who was tipped to retain his title as “king of the onions” was pipped at the post by Bill Hanson, of Brisbane Road, Stafford, who had cannily crossed two varieties to win top prize.
Another “newcomer” was Violet Pettifer, a member of Brocton Flower Club, who was making her second show attempt and won the Joynes Cup in the flower-arranging novice section.
Despite her age, 11-year-old Lynda Kirkbride was regarded as an old hand in the children's section, first competing as a five-year-old and gaining the R J Bebbington Cup for most points in the children's section.
Sad to say, such shows are now rare events.