Sunday, 17 July 2016

Show time! The annual Bibury Flower Show

If you had been standing in my front garden at about 9am yesterday morning, you would have seen a small procession of villagers bearing jars of jam, or vases of flowers, or cakes of one sort or another. as they carefully made their way to the village hall.
For the previous week, those who bake, or preserve, or garden, could be seen in earnest discussion. Snatches of conversation went something like: "Well, I think I've got a couple of cucumbers, but my carrots are a disaster." Or, in the case of the more creative flower arrangers: "Well, I've got an idea, but I'm not sure if it will work."
The Bibury Flower Show, as you can see from the poster below, has been going since 1891. We don't have skittles or "cocoanut" bowling any more (although there was a brass band up at the cricket field yesterday for their fun day), but the levels of skill and artistry, not to mention horticultural and culinary expertise, never fail to amaze me.

2016 has been a challenging year for gardeners in the UK, with a long cool spring, and a cool rainy summer so far. It's been the sort of year that makes me glad I don't grow vegetables, yet the village hall was full of wonderful produce, including the prize-winning trug below, grown by my bee-keeping buddy Alan Franklin (who made the trug as well).

Half the fun of the show is going round seeing who won what. My friend Beverly won first prize for her marmalade, and her partner Andy won first prize for his aerial picture of the village

I didn't win anything for my cut flowers from the garden, because stupidly I'd stuck to a colour scheme, instead of chucking everything that was in flower into a bucket. The point of the class is variety, to see how many different flowers you have available. (Mine is the cream jug in the front row.) However, that's one of the great things about the flower show - you learn from it.

I did win first prize for my foliage-only arrangement (below) so I was very pleased with that.

It costs 20p to enter each class, and classes include photography, handicrafts and a children's section, so there really is a chance for everyone to get involved.
At the end of a week that has been full of horrific news, the show seemed to underline for me the importance of community, of creativity, of maintaining a way of life that is productive and positive.
My next-door neighbour Neil came up with a a great description of Bibury this morning as we were walking our dogs. He said: "It's the sort of place that we thought only existed in our imaginations, in some nostalgic vision of England. But it's real."