September 2022

The much-anticipated rain in early September, after the interminably long dry summer, threatened to spoil the annual Horticultural Show and Fete but fortunately the weather was fine on the day. It was very pleasing to see a good number of entries again this year, considering the difficult growing season. The main marquee was very colourful with good displays of fruit and vegetables, flowers, cakes, preserves and handicrafts. The children’s classes were well represented, with some wonderful creations. Well done to everyone who entered. We are very keen to continue to hold this traditional show and acknowledge the support of Sawston residents. It will be held again on Saturday 2nd September 2023. 

This year’s trophies were presented by our Patron, the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, Jennifer Crompton:

  • Trustees Trophy (most points in fruit and vegetable classes): Mrs K Wells
  • Garden News Trophy (best exhibit in fruit and vegetable section): Mrs K Wells
  • Frank Matthews Trophy (best exhibit in domestic classes): Helena Marsh
  • Mary Challis Trophy (best floral exhibit): Rodney Peck
  • WI Trophy (best handicraft exhibit): Judy Saunders
  • Sue Reeve Trophy (best exhibit in 8–12 age group): Sophie Macfarlane
  • John Falkner Trophy (best exhibit in 7-and-under age): Jessica Kent
  • Chair’s Trophy (family with most points in show): Mr & Mrs Wells
  • Norman Carver Trophy (best exhibit in Show): Judy Saunders

Congratulations to all the winners. Mrs K Wells swept the board in the fruit and vegetable section, winning both trophies, and the Wells family also recorded the highest number of points in the show. Very well done to them. Judy Saunders deserves special mention for again winning the best handicraft exhibit and the best in show – for the third year running – proving she’s no one-hit wonder! Our congratulations also go to Sophie Macfarlane and Jessica Kent for again producing the best exhibits in the 8–12 years and 7-and-under age groups. 

Some of our regular stallholders were unable to attend the show so we were very pleased to welcome some newcomers: Tina Bone (fine arts), Liz Taylor (The Silver Bird jewellery) and local artist Fran Godwood. Many thanks to Sawston Steel Band for providing live music through the afternoon and to the many organisations and individuals who attended the show, including the Royal British Legion, Wool’n’Tea handicrafts, Pippa’s Cards, Morsbags, Timebank and Eleanor Clapp (who brought her spinning wheel). Andy Jackson’s produce auction always attracts a lot of attention and provided some good entertainment to round off the afternoon. 

Work has resumed on our new garden building following final approval from the local planning department. A rainwater soakaway has been installed and construction of the roof is in progress. The immediate aim is to get the building watertight before winter sets in and then continue with interior works. Once the roof is on, scaffolding can be removed and we should be able to reuse the main gate again to enter the garden. 

Visitors to the Horticultural Show will have noticed the new block-paving path leading to the main gate. This has been installed to improve access for disabled visitors, mobility scooters and pushchairs. Sawston Fun Run made a generous contribution to the cost of this work, which we gratefully acknowledge. 

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Exhibition in Challis House proved very popular and was consequently extended to the end of September. The purple bunting at the front of the house was removed out of respect to the Queen. The exhibition won’t be taken down immediately so can still be viewed, for the foreseeable future, during normal museum opening times 10 am to 12 noon on Tuesdays. 

The last event of the season is our popular Spooky Saturday Hallowe’en event on Saturday 29th October from 10am to noon. We look forward to seeing you there. 

The dry summer has taken its toll in the garden. Many herbaceous perennials and annual bedding plants did not thrive, leaving empty spaces in the main beds. These will be replaced by dividing large clumps and infilling where necessary. The lawns have recovered remarkably quickly following recent heavy rainfall and we will have to resume mowing. Plant highlights in September are undoubtedly the Marvel of Peru (or four o’clock plant), Mirabilis jalapa and the Crinum or swamp lily Crinum moorei that welcomes you as you enter the Garden. Mirabilis jalapa grows along the main path from house, with multi-coloured tubular flowers that open early morning and late afternoon. Do have a close look at this when you pass. It readily self-seeds from its large black seeds that germinate in the spring and can also over-winter in milder conditions due to its deep swollen roots. A good doer, as Monty Don would say. We have seed available if you want to try some in your own gardens – just ask! 

Dahlias and penstemons will continue to flower up to the first frosts, with asters, sedums and cyclamens going through to November. There is always plenty to look at. Although many leaves have dried up and dropped early due to the dry conditions, most trees should still develop good autumn colours. 

Despite the lack of rain, our apples have produced bumper crops, especially Cox’s, Worcester Pearmain, Discovery and Bramleys. We aim to produce some apple juice this year. If you have any surplus apples, please consider donating them for juicing.
Mike Redshaw
Published in the October–November 2022 Sawston Scene