The day at the Parham 'Grow Your Own' Show on the 12th August will live long in the memories of those stalwart members of the committee who helped create the wonderful award winning display for COGS.
Weeks of planning and preparation, an early start on the day, the hard work of packing the transporting vehicles, the unloading and setting up of the stand culminated in an exceptional, informative and attractive exhibition which drew a constant stream of visitors, many of whom asked for help and advice with their own gardening problems. Some of us found that we were rather challenged when it came to commenting on some of the more profound points raised. Perhaps another time we should have 'I am not Monty Don' embroidered on the COGS official apron but it was touching to behold the faith shown in our expertise The most challenging question of all, from a very earnest lady, concerned the nutrients in the soil which determine the growth of individual weeds. Apparently by studying the kinds of weeds growing in a plot one can determine the composition of the soil there. Perhaps this should become a COGS research topic!
Sale of our plants was slow at the start but by some canny reductions and well honed sales techniques, we were able to make £36 for funds. Not bad, as that was not our primary purpose for the day.
As the day wore on a kind of informal rota system evolved so helpers could slip away to browse the other exhibits, the fantastic interior of Parham House and the productive, well tended walled garden, supervised by the Head Gardener Tom Brown. The romance and beauty of the setting, bathed in sunny warmth, added to the enjoyment of the day, as did the llamas, the hens, the allotment society display, the other horticultural society stalls, the garden centres stalls, and last but not least the IOW Garlic Farm, who doggedly appear at every show in the south east. It was indeed a bonus to be able to stock up with elephant garlic.There were also talks given by local gardening experts, and members were able to attend some of these.
This slipping away from time to time was not, however, without its hazards. Sadly one inexperienced helper had not listened carefully to instructions and was mortified to learn that she had sold a jar of raspberry jam, WHICH WAS NOT FOR SALE, being one of only two precious jars that had been painstakingly produced the previous day. The loss of their jam was deeply felt but graciously forgiven, and perhaps forgotten, in the excitement and wonder of the arrival of Mr J Barnard and Tom Brown, bearing aloft a gleaming trophy.
The trophy, given by Lady Emma Barnard, was for the best Horticultural Society display in the Show and the thrill of winning it really made our day. Members gained an inkling of what it must be like to win gold at the Olympics. I do not know how many of us knew we were actually competing for anything, but that does not detract from the achievement, the joyful surprise giving added value to an already wonderful, unforgettable day out.

Report by Susan Sinnett-Jones