Potting Sheds, Flowers And Scarecrows
by Robert Veitch
We get the green-fingered facts on a perennial Scaynes Hill favourite, the Flower Show and Plant Sale.
When I met Dianne Elliott, Joint Secretary, along with Angela Hicks, of the ‘Scaynes Hill Flower Show and Plant Sale’, I found someone in good spirits and enthusiastic about the upcoming event on the 1st July.
The seeds of the show were sown back in the Silver Jubilee year of 1977. Apparently the Vicar of the time asked local residents Eileen and Peter Pratt to “get something going for the village.” As members of a gardening association in Haywards Heath, Eileen and Peter duly obliged. Their brainchild germinated, blossomed and flowered to such an extent that 39 years later it’s still going strong. An ‘Eileen and Peter Pratt Trophy’ is awarded each year to remember them.
Dianne has been involved since 1992, when the show was held in the village hall on Church Road and constituted both a spring and autumn show. These days the event takes over the Millennium Village Centre and two shows have been consolidated into one, running from 2-4pm.
Dianne pointed out every house in the village receives a hand delivered schedule. Last year there were 260 entries in total, which is quite remarkable in a village populated with around 1,000 souls.
There are several classes open for entry; flowers, vegetables, fruit, floral art, handicrafts, cookery, amateur photography, amateur art and juniors. All produce needs to be grown in the entrant’s garden. Over the years trophies have been donated for each class, including the ‘Conservation Trophy’ for the overall winner of the show.
Juniors under 13 have the opportunity to enter in groups, to build a scarecrow and compete for the ‘Cricket Club Trophy.’ Dianne reminisced, “all the scarecrows are relocated to Scaynes Hill Cricket Club after the show, where they colonise the boundary, hopefully scaring the deer and crows away.” Giggling, she continued, “In the past some scarecrows have been stripped naked after donors wanted their best clothes back! We’ve introduced a ‘no clothing returned’ policy as a result.”
Entry costs are 30p (20p for juniors) per category. Digging through her notes Dianne discovered in 1978 the equivalent was 5p (and 3p). There’s prize money of 30p (1st), 25p (2nd), 20p (3rd) and £1 for the best in class. “But it’s not about the prize money,” Dianne noted, “it’s for residents to be part of their community, a sociable event, an opportunity to learn and share tips.”
Our time almost up, Dianne reflected poignantly. “You don’t realise how much you’re appreciated until a show is cancelled, which has happened once or twice.” With a decent long-range weather forecast for June the residents of Scaynes Hill can look ahead to another successful day, celebrating with the very best their gardens can produce.
The Scaynes Hill Flower Show and Plant Sale
Location: Scaynes Hill Millennium Village Centre, Lewes Road, RH17 7PG
Date: 1st July, 2-4pm