More on the Royal Horticultural Society Visit from Mad …

Royal Horticultural Society Judges in the garden

Judges and LRSP Gardeners in the Garden

Last week we were visited by the ‘judges’ for our entry into the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ scheme. Matt Wakefield, Horticultural Development Officer for Fareham Borough Council, and Joanne Crockford from Ferring Nurseries, came along to inspect our work. Our ‘dear leader’ Elspeth was away on holiday and so a core group of us bravely decided to represent her in meeting the judges and showing them our gardens. Pulses quickened as we awaited the arrival of the RHS judges, even though we had everything looking as spick and span as possible. Mercifully the rain decided to abate for a while. We had no reason to be so nervous. Both Matt and Jo were exceptionally friendly and approachable.
They were full of praise for Elspeth’s written entry to the RHS, which they described as ‘most comprehensive’ and were more than happy with the ‘Grant Tracking’ budget spreadsheet we’d recently put together to reflect income and expenditure in the past year.
As for the actual gardens, the judges were highly complimentary. They were delighted by Diane’s novel idea to cover the top of canes with empty snail shells – an effective measure against eye-poking injuries!
kitchen waste bucket

examining the bucket

They also admired our composting area and were interested in our communal composting efforts – especially intrigued by the little white caddy which ‘Harvest’ gave out to each of us to collect kitchen waste. They has also noticed our planters at Preston Circus and were enthusiastic about our gradual move into the wider communal area. From what they said we learned that we are not the run-of-the-mill community gardeners, but have a quirky ‘edge’ that typifies Brighton. They really did seem to be impressed by every aspect, and – apart from recommending that we weed the whole station concourse, which we duly did that afternoon – were hard-pressed to find areas that needed attention.
rhs judges on London Road platform

Judges on the Platform

The following day, Southern Water, who are major sponsors of Britain in Bloom, sent along Chris Collins, the gardener from ‘Blue Peter’, to appear in some promotional shots at our garden site. Paul Bigsby from Southern Rail was there to meet not just Chris but also the photographer, the PR person, Andy Shaddick from Southern Water and Nick Turrell from Talisman Communications. Add to this those of our members who were able to attend for the shoot and you can imagine we made quite a crowd around the gated vegetable plot. The photographer got several shots with his state of the art camera and we’re hoping to get a copy of them in due course. Chris Collins from Blue Peter was delighted to be involved as he used to go to Falmer School and his mother was a mature student at Sussex, so he knew the station very well from personal experience.
The only downside for us was the fact that Elspeth – who had put so much work into submitting our application to the RHS – was unable to share the extraordinary two days with us.

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