MORE entries than usual came flooding in to Ambleside’s Summer Flower Show and Craft Fair.

It left the organisers in the big marquee hunting for extra tables for the bumper entry of home-grown flowers, fruit and vegetables, wines, eggs, cookery and crafts.

Show president Peter Howarth predicted there could be even greater numbers of exhibitors in the next few years to make local shows ever more popular.

Ambleside’s Summer Show returned to the rugby ground after six years in other venues, and the quality of entries impressed both visitors and judges. Homemade wine judge Edwin Booth, chairman of the Booths supermarket chain, said the selection of wines ranging from gorse to hawthorn was not only the most diverse but also the best batch he had ever tasted.

But overall it was not an easy year for vegetable or flower growers, with a six month drought giving way to weeks of rain. However, every cloud has a silver lining, and damp, shade-tolerant shrubs such as hydrangea flourished happily under the summer’s grey skies, with colourful vivid yellow and scarlet begonias, ruby red dahlias and deep purple buddleia.

Previous competitors who had not shown for a few years made a welcome return, competing with first-time gardeners and experienced stalwarts including Ronnie Holmes of Natland, Clifford Atkinson from Langdale and wine-maker par excellence, Betty Taylor.

A perfect trio of small dahlias from David Johnson, Coniston, earned him the Blue Ribbon for best exhibit in the show. Although floral display classes showed a drop in WI and club entries, the men-only floral class entitled “big boys’ toys” gave ingenious Luke Todd the chance to incorporate a military tank into his entry, while elsewhere everything from the humble dog bowl to a teapot provided a host of unusual containers and displays.

“This show is all about having plenty of imagination and good presentation, and it’s often the simplest of ideas that are the most effective”, Lakes Parish Council Chairman and long-standing show supporter Leslie Johnson said. “What comes out more clearly than anything at Ambleside is the incredible amount of imagination, persistence and dedication that people have.”

Junior entrants included fourth-generation exhibitor Courtney Jackson and her prize-winning fuschia with younger brother Alex. The children’s classes were very well supported, as were handicrafts, woodwork and photography.

With over 50 people waiting to start work on their new allotments in Ambleside alone, the potential for new exhibitors is exciting the local societies: “It could be a bright future for our show with such a real enthusiasm for allotments in Ambleside, Windermere, Kendal and all around,” Mr Howarth said. “As a society it would be a wonderful thing to liaise with them, and get allotment holders right on stream with display and presentation skills – we’re looking forward to their first entries very much.”