Shropshire Star

Smiles for super Shrewsbury Flower Show finale

[gallery] The success of Shrewsbury Flower Show was measured in smiles as thousands took pleasure in the vast array of entertainment.

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The 127th event to commemorate "The Show That Never Was" was treated to glorious sunshine and the Quarry was alive with the memories of the past and a celebration of the present.

All around were reminders of the Great War which forced the cancellation of the 1914 show.

Gardens were inspired by the Edwardian era, showgoers turned out in period dress and competition classes reflected the theme.

But the mood was one of proud tribute and a celebration of happier times owed to those who fought for important values.

Fireworks seen from Pengwern Boathouse

A poignant display of Post Office memorabilia had people of all ages sending telegrams and reflecting on the war efforts.

Caroline Lewis, who runs Abbey Foregate Post Office in Shrewsbury, displayed a show van, bike and replica post box.

She wanted to celebrate the British Institution's history and engage young people in its future.

  • Red Arrows' bird's eye view of Shrewsbury Flower Show

Over 75,000 men left their jobs at the Post Office to fight in the First World War and of these 12,000 joined the service's own battalion the Post Office Rifles.

"I just think it's hugely important for Shrewsbury, the Post Office, the centenary of World War One and for the community that we are here," said the mother-of-three.

"It is important for me as a business and for the post office to be visible and say to people look what we have to offer."

Mrs Lewis and her husband David sold commemorative stamps and coins from inside the iconic big red van.

Mrs Lewis said: "This is what they call a show van and it's its first time out. It took a while for me to persuade Post Office Limited to let us have it. They take them to the Royal Welsh Show and the Commonwealth Games and if we can prove to the Post Office Ltd that this works there's hope for us to have a van at Shropshire County Show or the Cosford Air Show."

Meanwhile across the park, a colourful tribute to the Great War was awarded best show garden.

Moreton Park Garden and Home near Oswestry scooped best in show for the second year running for their piece entitled Moreton Memories.

The entry was a quintessential English garden with lush herbaceous planting, English roses with a seated area connected by four arched cover pathways.

Paul Farry, a manager and buyer at the garden centre, said: "It's to depict the old English gardens that were neglected because the boys didn't return back from war to look after them."

He said he was "extremely happy" with their win and hoped to be back next year.

A recreation of a trench in the Battle of the Somme made entirely of paper was a real show stopper. The work of Grace Westwood, a Birmingham University student, caught the attention of celebrity gardener Pippa Greenwood who took time to reflect on its emotive message in between giving talks.

"One of the things that interested me was the paper sculpture of the trench," said Pippa. "That girl is so talented and she's only 20. It really stops you in your tracks. It's incredibly emotive. And that shows you the variety of things you've got going on here."

Pippa gave the flower show a rave review after spending all her free time on Friday and Saturday darting between marquees and tents to see everything on offer.

The former Gardeners World presenter said: "The standard of entries in the floral marquees is phenomenal. I've just seen some begonias to die for.

"And what's amazing about this show is you've got such beautiful surroundings.

"The quality of the plants is fantastic and if you're here to buy something for your garden you can see it in full swing and then buy a smaller version.

"It's probably lucky for me to be four hours away because I could quite literally take all the plants home with me if I had the chance.

"I've been doing a talk about veggies and how to stop them getting problems with bugs and beasties," she said. "Then I've had some question and answer sessions. People have been asking me all sorts from how to grow certain types of plants to what's wrong with my tomatoes."

And Pippa was not the only celebrity to praise what they had seen at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.

The star of BBC2 series Proper Pub Food, Tom Kerridge, hailed Shropshire's produce and restaurants as "phenomenal".

And Tom had a helping hand from show exhibitors Alan Ward Furniture of Shrewsbury who came to the rescue with pans for his live cooking slots.

More lovely blooms

It was the first time the Harlescott-based company had displayed at the show - but it was a good job they were there.

Adrian Novick, area manager for Alan Ward said: "One of the organisers came onto the stand and asked if they could have some pans for Tom Kerridge's demonstration. So we gave him some of our ceramic pans to use.

"It's the first time we've had a celebrity use our pans but we were really happy to help out. It was great watching him use them throughout the two days. I think because of him we've sold a lot of pans as he did mention them during his demonstration."

Someone who is no stranger to the Shrewsbury Flower Show is past winner Mike Russell, director of Designs With Nature.

The landscaper and garden designer from Church Stretton won best in show and gold in 2010 and another gold in 2011 for his show gardens. Mr Russell's galaxy themed Star-Gazer's Retreat scooped gold at the Royal Horticultural Flower Show at Tatton Park last July.

And this year he returned with girlfriend Jayne Elliot and his children Christy, 24 and Saffron, 20, who helped him recreate a woodland retreat in his trade stand. Despite taking time out from show gardens this year, Mr Russell used the event to gain inspiration and to network with growers.

He said: "It's quite nice because it's a chance for our previous clients to drop in and have a chat without us having the stress of putting a show garden together. It's a chance to look at other gardens and maybe think about what we are going to do for next year."

Across the quarry, in a woodland retreat of an altogether different kind were Jonathan and Julia Walkey, who make eco-pods in Llansilin, Powys.

"The wood is grown and used within five miles and it's insulated with local lambs wool so it's all locally produced," said Mr Walkey. "A lot of people want them if they've got a piece land and they want somewhere to stay. Or they buy them to rent out for camping holidays," he added.

And at the height of all the action on Saturday afternoon The Red Arrows soared overhead.

All faces were raised to the sky as one of the world's premier aerobatic display teams screeched through the air just after 2pm.

There was barely a cloud in the sky as the hawks jets captivated the audience on the ground.

And the grand finale of stunning fireworks saw the show out with a bang drawing people from across the town to watch the sky lit up with colour.

Bringing the show to a close with a reminder of the significance of the event was the bugle platoon of the Shropshire Army Cadet Force.

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