VISITORS to Ambleside’s Summer Flower and Produce Show were delighted with the sheer range of exhibits on display.

There was everything from floral art and woodwork to knitted vegetables and a variety of purple coloured peas which helped feed starving WW1 soldiers.

Frank Jopson, from a family in Torver, survived hunger in the trenches by foraging in nearby fields and discovering a variety of hard little blue peas. Years later, finding some old pea-pods in the bottom of his WW1 kitbag, Frank successfully grew a crop of the peas at home.


Fifty years later, he passed some to Cliff Atkinson, who has been growing them ever since in his Sawrey garden.

Among other unusual vegetable exhibits were Verna Jackson’s knitted display of carrots, leeks and onions, which ended up with a ‘highly commended’ in the handicrafts section. Floral art, pot plants, flower classes and cookery were all well represented.

However, Phyllis Carpenter’s winning entry in the Bakewell tarts class proved too tempting for one cheeky thief who made off with the tarts – complete with plate – much to the astonishment of show organisers.

The absence of a couple of regular exhibitors saw a drop in this year’s entries, but local exhibitors filled the gaps, including strong entries from young enthusiasts including Tom Burke’s in the photography classes. Sibling rivals Alex, nine, and seventeen-year-old sister Courtenay – fourth generation exhibitors from the Jackson family – fought it out for a first in dahlia classes. Alex also swept the board in the viola, pansy and fuschia classes.

Elisabeth Crossland, handicraft demonstrator, fascinated spectators with her delicate life-like cold porcelain flowers, while Dorothy Johnson, creator of spectacular costumes for Ambleside’s Christmas Lights extravaganza, won first for her smocking. Woodworking was well represented by George Brown and Hugh Wright.

The highly prized Westmorland and N. Lancs Federation Blue Ribbon for best exhibit in show went to Tony Lonton for six perfect runner beans, and the President’s Choice Trophy was awarded to Alan Mitchinson for his colourful hanging basket of purple petunias. Other exhibitors excelling included Cliff Atkinson, Leslie Johnson, Anthony Morris, Margaret Milburn, Jean Sowerby and James Park.

Society President and lifetime gardening expert Peter Howarth rated the show as ‘not bad at all’ considering the drop in entries and the variable weather.

The warm, dry sunny weeks of late may have been glorious for some, but gave gardeners less than ideal conditions, with weeks of drought followed by torrential downpours.