Sweet scent and rows of perfect yellow and white daffodils and narcissi greeted visitors to the 73rd Bere Ferrers Flower Show on Saturday afternoon, writes Sarah Pitt.
The Bere Peninsula is famous for its daffodils, once grown commercially and sent by train to London, now still blooming in hedgerows, gardens and the odd field. Everyone grows daffodils in this part of the world.
Serving the teas during the afternoon was Margaret Willmott, whose great-grandfaher discovered the famous late blooming Double White just up the road at Clamoak Farm. Margaret’s daughter Kerrie Willmott was also one of the organisers and was on the door.
A late cold and wet spring meant that not all blooms were ready in time, and the wind and the rain made it a challenge to select the perfect blooms required. Nonetheless, people rose to the occasion, with more than 400 entries. Sweeping the board, somewhat to her own surprise was Wendy Hicks, who won the ultimate honour of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Banksian Medal for most points in the horticultural section along with a whole collection of other silverware.
‘I am gobsmacked,’ she said. ‘I didn’t think they were any good this year, I really didn’t!’ Altogether, she amassed eight trophies –– including one with another daffodil grower, Colin Street. Together, they won the Bere Ferrers Social Club Bowl for most points in other daffodils. I’ll keep it and you polish it,’ she quipped to Colin as they collected the silver rose bowl.
Clive Charlton, from the organising committee, said: ‘This is our 73rd show and we have a copy of the schedule here today from our first show back in 1949. There is a long tradition of growing flowers in the Tamar Valley, including the Bere peninsula. It started in the nineteenth century and carried on through to the 1970s. There is very little of that now, it is now about people growing for pleasure.’
Kerrie Willmott, who won first and second prizes for her brownies, said the show revealed the sheer variety of daffodils. ‘I think people see a daffodil and think that is all thre is and then they come to a show like this and they realise there are multiple classes of daffodils. Shops only sell a small selection and all these are grown in gardens.’
She said there had been 437 entries in this year’s show, from 47 entrants. ‘It is a little bit down; we are usually up in the 500s or even 600. We are quite pleased with that though. It is just the weather that has put the daffodils off growing.’ People even had a bright splash of colour to take home, as Beth Gay was selling bunches of daffodils, grown at Well Farm, the very last commercial farm on the Bere Peninsula. Here she is helping Michael and Di Channon market their daffodils online. ‘We are the very last commercial daffodil grower in the Tamar Valley,’ she said proudly.
Show trophy winners: RHS Banksian Medal, most points in horticultural section, Wendy Hicks; Daffodil Society Medal, most points in Section 1, Wendy Hicks; Page Challenge Cup, most points in show, Wendy Hicks; Bradford Challenge Bowl, most points in show runner-up, Colin Street; Gazette Challenge Cup, most points large cup daffodils, J Lovie; Bennett Memorial Cup, most points double daffodils, Wendy Hicks; Bere Ferrers Social Club Bowl, most points other daffodils, Colin Street and Wendy Hicks; Frampton Cup, most points in garden produce section, Margaret Willmott; Doris Friend Memorial Bowl, most points in decorative section, M Crout; the HMS Plate, decorative runner up, Rosie Bone; Reg Collom Memorial Cup, most points in domestic section, Wendy Hicks; Domestic Challenge Cup, most points in domestic section, Kerrie Willmott; the Joe Pengelly Cup, most points photographic section, Fiona Maddock, Barbara Grinsted Memorial Plate, best exhibit, trumpet daffodil, M Bersey; Fyffes Munro Cup, best exhibit large cup daffodil, Colin Street; Somers Gibson Cup, best exhibit small cup daffodil, M Bersey; Coronation Cup, best exhibit double daffodil, Wendy Hicks; The Alan and Lucy Langsford Trophy, best exhibit ‘other daffodils, A Lanyon; Bere Ferrers Challenge Cup, best exhibit daffodil collection class, M Bersey; the Elsie Hall Plate, best exhibit in other flowers, Rosie Bone; Marjorie Stratton Rose Bowl, best pot plant in show, R Charlton; the Agnes Jury Cup, best exhibit in decorative section, M Crout; Shriely Wakefield-Smith Memorial Cup, best camellia, Margaret Willmott; the Challenge Cup, most points in novice classes, Sarah Scarlett.