Silver success for gooseberry garden

Richard Okill waters the award-winning garden

The Silver Medal certificate

First published in News by

GOOSEBERRY grower Peter Lofthouse is celebrating success for a garden harking back to The First World War.

The Last Great Gathering featured at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park, and won a silver medal for the Mid-Cheshire Gooseberry Association.

The garden showed the gathering and picking of gooseberries, and depicted a typical allotment in 1914 half way through the picking of the fruit.

The garden was designed and created by Peter, from Chelford, who has been a craftsman gardener at Tatton Park for 28 years.

He is a member of the association, and put the garden together with fellow members Chris Jones, Jim Hart, Lee Warhurst and Richard Okill.

Peter entered the garden on behalf of the association, and was very pleased with the silver award from the Royal Horticultural Society.

“People who visited the show loved it, including those who remembered their parents’ gardens, and we had a lot of compliments,” he said.

“One of the aims of the garden was to promote the association, which is seeking to attract some new younger members.”

Peter won three trophies at this year’s Over Peover Gooseberry Show, including the Premier Berry cup, and scooped the prestigious Association Cup.

The garden included a table featuring a gathering box and scales for balancing the berries, and a shed containing tools and equipment you would have expected to see in 1914.

Peter said there were 67 recorded gooseberry shows in 1914, the growing of gooseberries having declined from its heyday in the mid 1800s, when there were more than 170 shows in Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.

“Many gooseberries of that time had names reflecting the influence on society of famous military and naval victories a few years earlier, such as Roaring Lion, Nelson’s Waves, Hero of the Nile and Wellington’s Glory,” he said.

“The First World War ended gooseberry growing, and after the war there were only around 12 shows recorded.”

There was a minor resurgence up to The Second World War, which continued to the late 1950s, when there were only eight shows left in Cheshire and one in Yorkshire, which continue today.

All the bushes in the garden were cultivars grown in 1914, and the vegetables were varieties available in that year.

“Prizes in 1914 were usually a few pence, with the trophies being a copper kettle of a copper pan, unlike the trophies and prizes of today,” added Peter.

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