Shrewsbury Flower Show 2014 Review

By guest blogger Laura Noszlopy

This weekend’s Horticultural Society’s Shrewsbury Flower Show was blessed with sunshine, crowds and the wide range of excellent plant, product and charity stalls, horticultural and culinary demonstrations, entertainments and displays that the show’s regular visitors expect. 

The 127th show had a special significance, commemorating the centenary of the 1914 “show that never was,” which was cancelled due to the start of the First World War. The Great War theme was marked by 1914 fancy dress contest, and a striking art installation by Grace Westwood: a life-sized replica of a wartime trench made entirely from brown paper.

The new president of the show, the Reverend Canon Mark Oakley, Chancellor of St Pauls, carried through this theme in his address, taking us from the 1914 “show that never was” to the 2014 “show that really is”.

The Quarry bandstand hosted the Band of the Mercian Regiment, the Royal Signals Northern Band, the Band of the Royal Anglian Regiment, the Band of the Yorkshire Volunteers, Shrewsbury Male Voice Choir and the RAF Shawbury Military Wives Choir, and several marching bands played a medley of traditional and popular melodies into the evening before the traditional finale of spectacular pyrotechnics from Kimbolton Fireworks.

The growers’ tents are one of the traditional highlights of the show. It is always good to see the beekeepers and the wonderful things they make with honey and wax. The expertly-grown entries to the fruit and vegetable competition impress more novice gardeners – this year’s gargantuan winning marrow was a sight to behold and the leeks were taller than some of the people who came to see them. The children’s craft competitions are also a fine way to engage the community – there are contests for “garden in a shoe”, “fruit jewellery” and “seed collage” to name just a few.

And gardeners come from all around, of course, to buy new plants from the many specialist plants sellers, including some prize-winners in the growers’ tents. The food tents are another annual treat, showcasing producers of yummy food, condiments and drinks from around the UK.

In addition to the array of specialist horticultural and foodie stalls and displays, two celebrity chefs—Tom Kerridge (of the two Michelin-starred Hand and Flowers pub in Marlow) and Marcus Bean (winner of C4’s “Iron Chef” competition, along with a bonus appearance from upcoming local chefs Chris Burt and Robert Swift)—drew the crowds, demonstrating their skills with local produce.

The Opera Boys (Friday night) and Red Hot Chilli Pipers (Saturday) offered excellent musical entertainment, and the children’s area was also busy and fun with circus acts, kids’ gardening workshops, face-painting and music. For the first time this year, Katie’s Kitchen offered a free one-hour crèche session for children aged 4-11 so parents could go for a grown-up wander around.

In the main field, Mr Alexander’s Travelling Show and Jack Teller's Carnival Of Edwardian Delights both rolled into town and each gave fantastic and hilarious vintage performances that delighted audiences throughout the day.

And the wind and rain held off until the crowds went home: perfect weather for an English gardener’s weekend.

Photo by Jonathan Kinnear Photography

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