Autumn Flower, Fruit and Vegetable Display 2021

This was held on Monday 20 September in the Long Gallery of Charlton House. As one of many new members of the Society since meetings were forced to stop by COVID-19, it was my first indoor meeting!

It was a very impressive event with a total of 66 entries and I didn’t envy our guest judge, Joe Woodcock, his task. But Joe made it clear how impressed he was with all the entries, providing an encouraging commentary on the horticultural skills demonstrated, and explained why he selected the winning entry in each class.

The classes and winners were as follows:

1. Vase with single stem of any flowering plant – Viv P

2. Bowl of mixed flowers – Margaret T

3. Five Fuchsia blooms – Ruth Y

4. Ornamental pot plant – Pat K

5. A display of fruit and vegetables – Mandy & Brownie

6. A display of herbs – Ruth Y

7. Floral arrangement in a teacup – Anna L

8a. Potato Competition – Pam D

8b. Sunflower head competition – Annie H

Joe selected as Best in Show Margaret T’s wonderful display of varieties of dahlia in Class 2. Class 7 the Floral Arrangement was selected by popular vote (using buttons) and the Potato Competition was weighed by the trusty scales of Hugh P.

Joe was kind enough to answer a few gardening questions at the end of proceedings, and tea, coffee and biscuits were provided to round off the evening.

We counted 56 attendees. Everyone seemed to enjoy the event and be grateful to be able to meet up in person again. Long may that continue!

Lynda

Now is the quince season…

With apologies to Rod Liddle, writing in The Spectator!

I am sad that my Quince tree (the produce of which gave me the CABAHS “Best in Show” cup once upon a time!) has not managed to bring a single fruit to maturity this year. Squirrels and the dreaded brown rot have taken all.

Quinces were first grown in England by Edward I, the ‘Hammer of the Scots’, a man who would have made short work of Nicola Sturgeon. The fruit resembles a degenerate pear — a pear which has made bad choices in its life. Downy and squat. The tree from which it emerges is a delight, especially in early May when fecund with blossom, which is the time that famous perfume begins to emanate. That perfume stays with you — in the fruit bowl, when you are peeling it and, most of all, while it is being cooked.

Like all good food, the quince requires work, time and an appetite for deferred gratification. It is a beast to prepare. Peel and core a quince and you will find a swede can be sliced through like butter in comparison. The flesh of the quince is fibrously obstinate and the core intractable; be careful with that knife. When you have finished peeling and quartering, set the seeds aside in case someone you really don’t like comes over. They are rich in cyanide. Toast them and say to your adversary they are pumpkin seeds..

Anyway, cook those quarters gently. Either poach in a couple of inches of sugared water, a dash of honey and perhaps a strand of thyme in a saucepan on the stove top, or in a bath of the same in the oven. The recipe instructions vary as to how long you should do this — some suggest 40 minutes. Rubbish. You need at least two hours on a low heat. Only then will the quince reveal its magic — the gradual metamorphosis from a wan, pale yellow to a rich crimson, the anthocyanins doing their work. Add another hour or so if you’re making quince cheese from the pulp and then another six to rest, before straining and cooking again with added sugar. It will set just fine due to its natural load of pectin.

I prefer the quartered fruit to still have a little bite; five or six segments and the reserved cooking juice will transform your apple crumble with a gentle tartness. You can purée the red fruit into an accompaniment for duck, or simply serve as they are, with their gloriously red and sticky cooking juice, topped with cream. Either way, hurry: the quince season is nearly at an end.

Kathy

Autumn Flower, Fruit and Vegetable Display 2017