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The 2013 Southport Flower Show - photo special

PUBLISHED: 09:52 11 October 2013 | UPDATED: 09:52 11 October 2013

HMP YOI Thorn Cross display reflects the pride of all who take part in the offenders journey to reparation

HMP YOI Thorn Cross display reflects the pride of all who take part in the offenders journey to reparation

Archant

The younger generation led the way at this year's Southport Flower Show, writes Roger Borrell

Southport Flower Show official opener, Carol Vorderman, with Herbie in the 'Forgotten Space' garden by Jeff Rawsthorne of Crosby LandscapesSouthport Flower Show official opener, Carol Vorderman, with Herbie in the 'Forgotten Space' garden by Jeff Rawsthorne of Crosby Landscapes

Nurture seedlings and they will develop into strong, healthy plants – and it works pretty much that way with children, too. A sunny day at Southport Flower Show proved the point.

Take the youngsters at Ashbridge School at Hutton, near Preston. Under the guidance of the hugely enthusiastic Estelle Bryers, they put together a delightful show garden and the judges rewarded them with a Large Gold. It was first for the school and for the show.

The pupils, who are all 11 and under, managed to recreate their school garden in miniature, even down to the hopscotch grid put together with raised beds and attractive plants. It was bounded by a fruiting hedge and they all drew pictures of themselves which were displayed in the garden’s imaginative backdrop. It meant even the children who couldn’t get to the show shared in the glory.

‘We encourage our children to know and see where their food comes from, learn problem-solving through horticulture and have respect for the environment,’ said Estelle, who has been working with the children for just over a year. ‘Our plants are like our children – we want them to grow in height, with vigour and in sophistication.’

The same could said for Natasha Croft, of the Charles Saer Community Primary, Fleetwood, and Sascha Swindells, of Our Lady of Lourdes, Farnworth. They were co-winners of the design a school garden competition sponsored by the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity. They each won £500 for their school and £50 for themselves.

Youngsters also managed to get their hands on some of the big prizes. Rob and Jan Showering and daughter Lucy, aged seven, of R.F. Showering Gardens and Landscaping, at Halsall, won the show’s most-prized trophy for their ‘green with pride, not with envy’ entry.

The judges were unanimous in awarding them the Brockhouse Gold Challenge Trophy for the best exhibit in show. It was presented by the show’s main guest, Carol Vorderman. ‘It’s is the stuff of dreams,’ said Rob. ‘To get best in show is just absolutely brilliant.’ Their garden was dominated by Welsh green slate and was largely made up of natural materials such as woven hazel screens.

The theme of this year’s show was Pride and there were none prouder than partners John Foley and Kate Lawson who picked up two ‘best in show’ cups and a Large Gold for their display of hardy perennials.

The couple run Holden Clough Nursery, the Bolton-by-Bowland garden centre which is sponsoring this year’s Lancashire Life School Garden of the Year competition. It is yet another accolade for Kate and John, who is a former BBC television Young Gardener of the Year.

Apart from Carol Vorderman, who officially opened the show, this year’s four day event attracted the likes of actress Jennie McAlpine and celebrity chef Simon Rimmer. Many of the UK’s top gardeners were also there and this year’s patron was Matthew Wilson, from Channel 4’s Landscape Man.

But there is no doubt that Miss Vorderman was the main attraction and her appearance in a stunning bright yellow outfit did little to deflect attention. She was understandably drawn to the display of sunflowers from Poplar Farm, near Ormskirk, and she also singled out the award winning exhibit put together by inmates and staff at Kirkham Prison.

‘I’ve got so many ideas that I’m going to take away with me from all the different gardens at Southport,’ she said. ‘I love begonias and I’ve seen the most beautiful examples today. This is just a fabulous show.’ There were more than 60,000 visitors at Victoria Park and there is little doubt they would agree with Miss Vorderman. Even the weather was reasonably kind.

Among the throng was Jennie McAlpine, who plays Fiz in Coronation Street. ‘The show is so much bigger than I was expecting,’ she said. ‘There’s some amazing gardens . I couldn’t believe how beautiful they were.

‘But it’s not just about gardening - the food village was incredible and I sampled some gorgeous local produce.’ There were also cookery demonstrations and a book show as well as some thrilling jousting in the centre ring.

Show chairman Tim Timmerman said: ‘There were many facets in the show that widened the appeal and satisfaction of the visitors coming to the show, including many new and different plants and the different entertainment – that is what made it so successful.’

The general manager Ray Roukin felt this year’s effort was one of the best. ‘The feedback has been fantastic. There was a great atmosphere throughout the show and the weather made a big difference.’

And he revealed that with the World Cup taking place in 2014, the theme for next year’s show had already been decided. It’s Brazil. If it’s anything like this year’s show, you’d be nuts to miss it.

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