10 July 1998

The Kiev connection show lots of panache and floral invention

Quality craftsmanship is a

major feature of the Royal

Highland Agricultural Societys

annual show. Report by

Ann Rogers & Mike Stones

FLORISTS from Kiev in the Ukraine have exhibited at the Royal Highland Show since 1992 as a result of the agricultural and horticultural contacts the RHAS has made in eastern Europe.

This years exhibit took flower show visitors in among the blooms. An impressionistic painting of a flower garden stood on an easel, surrounded by flowers of matching tones which "grew" up around it. Clever construction involved string supporting glass phials filled with flowers and a base of moss with occasional clover leaves.

Lauder College, Dunfermline had a world cup triumph in the flower show. World Cup was the topical theme of its large gold medal winning display promoting flower arranging courses. Oatridge College took a gold award for Design and Build up, an exhibit promoting its landscape construction and horticulture courses.

&#42 Education

When Farmlife called at the Education Centre farm animals – even ducklings – were losing out to ladybirds in the child appeal stakes. The youngsters attention was caught by the specimen dishes of living insects and a display of ladybird artefacts created by school children to help Irene Geoghegan spread the word about the threat to this important creature.

Irene is a scientist with the Scottish Crop Research Institute studying genetically modified plants for their resistence to insects, soil organisms and nematodes, but in the evenings and at weekends she works to discover the effect that parasitic wasps are having upon Scotlands seven spot ladybird population. As well as receiving support from SCRI, her project has received funding from the the Royal Society for a good piece of science and from the British Association Millenium Awards Scheme for helping the public understand research

School children are also helping by collecting ladybirds from different parts of Scotland and sending them to Irene, together with a map reference indicating where they were found, in order that she can trace the spread of the parasitic wasp Dinocampus coccinelae.

&#42 Inside ladybird

This wasp – and each one is a female, she explains – lays a single egg inside the ladybird where its larva develop and eventually kill its host. A single wasp is capable of killing 10,000 ladybirds. Irene is collecting data about interactions between the wasp and its hosts to discover ways of reducing the wasps effect on beneficial ladybirds which, she points out, are worth millions of pounds each year to farmers, growers and gardeners for the way in which they control aphids.

The wasps appear to be on the increase and surviving the winter in greater numbers. In some areas about 70% of ladybirds are already affected by Dinocampus coccinelae but, for some reason yet to be discovered, it seems that while the seven-spot ladybird falls prey to the wasp the two-spot does not.

&#42 Craftwork

"Lifes too short to stuff a tomato," to quote or misquote Shirley Conran – she may well have said

"a mushroom".

But even the author of Superwoman would have had a tough time making some of the exhibitors in the handicrafts section accept her point of view, for the Scottish craftspeople not only made a splendid job of stuffing fruit and vegetables they worked them in crochet first and hand-felted them too.

Entries in 50 classes were on display. Besides the offbeat exhibits which included way-out hats and unique pieces of metal furniture, there was plenty of traditional craftwork on view, notably crooks, sticks, rag rugs, handspun yarn and Shetland lace knitting.

The development of Shetland lace knitting can be traced back to the second quarter of the 19th century and the decrease in the demand for local hand-knitted stockings, caps and gloves Skilled knitters then turned to making luxury goods and two-ply wool handspun from the softest part of the Shetland sheep was knitted into intricately patterned shawls, scarves, underclothes, wraps and childrens wear.

&#42 Handspun

It was a most delicate shawl in natural handspun yarn that took the championship trophy for the most outstanding exhibit in the handcrafts section.This was the work of Elspeth C Leask from Aith, Shetland.

The Scottish Womens Rural Institute also hand a fine display of craftwork in its marquee as did the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and took Young Farmers Diamond Jubilee as the theme for its arts and crafts display competition.

&#42 Games monitor

Elaine Brown was being a games monitor on the first day of the show. Elaine is a home economist with the Meat and Livestock Corporation which featured Cookin for Kids.

Besides giving youngsters a chance to earn themselves goodie bags by cooking button burgers and pizza muffins, she was encouraging them to play meaty board games such as Snakes and Ladders (up the burgers and down the ladders), Snap with monster burgers and spot-the-difference super sausages.

It is all part of the MLCs work to encourage people to include meat as part of a balanced diet. And they aim to get the balance right from the start. As well as working with teachers they work with health professionals – midwives, practice nurses, and health visitors, explains Elaine – with special concern for diet during pregnancy and weaning.

As well as promoting farm holidays to show visitors and carrying out a marketing exercise involving a free draw with super prizes, the Farm Holiday Bureau was aiming to recruit more providers of Scottish farm holidays. Deanna Lindsay (01307-462887) is a FHB director and would be glad to hear from any potential FHB members in Scotland.

This flower show exhibit was created by florists from the Ukraine. It had a fascinating quality whether viewed from close to or from afar.

"Help save our friends from destruction," says Irene Geoghegan who is researching the effect of parasitic wasps on Scotlands seven-spot ladybirds.

A class for "Handmade felt (three dimensional) bowls of fruit or vegetables" was one of 50 in the handicrafts section, including traditional ones like stick making and Shetland lace knitting.

Left: The Cookin for Kids section of the Meat and Livestock Commissions stand was a busy place. Youngsters made burgers and pizza muffins at regular intervals and played meaty games.

Charles Carrick from Thornhill, Stirling, won the Clydesdales championship with Littleward Lucinda. The two-year-old filly went on to win the Queens Cup awarded this year for the best exhibit in the heavy horse section. Mrs I Grigors Highland pony stallion Zephyr of Whitefield (below) was reserve. The champion Shetland was &#42 P Sleigh and sons stallion Wells Highlight.