24 July 1998

Fruity surprise at the flower show preview

Two farming organisations were among the exhibitors

at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, taking

advantage of the events popularity to publicise members

produce. Ann Rogers went to the preview

THE strawberry-painted nymphet was a bit of a surprise to the Womens Food and Farming Union members working on WFU Projectlines contract to produce and man the Jewels of Summer garden for National Summer Fruits.

Wearing carefully applied paint and a G-string, the nymphet was a late contribution by National Summer Fruits partner in the promotion, Elmlea, producers of an alternative to cream which has buttermilk products among its ingredients.

Her role was to lure the photographers on press day and she certainly succeeded. They materialised as soon as she appeared and it was not the champagne that attracted them. They were too intent on their work to worry about that.

National Summer Fruits is an organisation dedicated to promoting all British soft and stone fruits. It represents growers who provide about 80% of all the soft and stone fruit sold in the supermarkets. This was the first time the organisation had exhibited at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and its garden was planted with strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries, blackberries, raspberries, red, black and white currants, plum and cherry.

Hertfordshire WFU member Tina Osborne who had designed and created it with her smallholder/landscape gardener husband and his staff, had planned to present a traditional fruit garden but had been obliged by the shows organisers, the Royal Horticultural Society, to incorporate plenty of flowers. Her choice included salvias, phormium and nasturtiums.

An estimated 30,000 visitors went through the garden during the course of the show, many of them ready with questions to ask. "We didnt stop talking," said Joan Cremer of WFU Projectline. Visitors also tasted samples and took away recipe leaflets*.

&#42 NFUpresence

The NFU was another organisation making its Hampton Court debut. "We have exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show for 20 years," said Penny Riley of UK Horticulture which represents the industry at key events around the country. "This year we thought wed try Hampton Court and the Gardeners World shows too."

Penny is a florist who trained in Holland and is now based at her fathers nurseries at Hailsham, East Sussex. She and her team were still arranging produce on their corner display in Floral Marquee 7 when Farmlife found them. The exhibit was designed by Chris Jones and incorporated the frame of a greenhouse and shiny metal heating duct sections, while the florists worked a variety of arrangements showing fruit, flowers, vegetables and plants to their best advantage.

There was no shortage of materials as NFU members from around the country had provided home-grown produce to display at the worlds biggest flower show and promote British horticulture to its wide audience.

&#42 Home surprises

"People are surprised at what we can grow here," said Penny as the display included aubergines from Humberside, chillies, garlic and sweet corn from the Isle of Wight and celeriac and chicory from Lincolnshire. The shows judges were impressed too and gave this exhibit a gold award.

*For a free copy of The Jewels of Summer leaflet with recipe ideas for British fruits write to National Summer Fruits Ltd, Crundalls, Gedges Hill, Matfield, Kent TN12 7EA