THE WISLEY TRIP
I‘d been waiting for the fourteenth of August to come
round for an age. Any dahlia grower who also breeds new seedlings will know that
this was one of the days the RHS invite the NDS to take a gander at the trials
down on Portsmouth Field. Since seeing the long range weather forecast I was
privy to what the next few days were going to bring, “High winds and heavy rain”
that’s what the weather girl Carol Kirkwood had said, as if we hadn’t had
enough. By Monday morning I’d almost given up making the effort, not that I
didn’t want to go, far from it, hadn’t I been waiting weeks. It was a glorious
day and on the strength of that alone I cut. I didn’t have a lot ready except a
miss matched vase of Josie Gott, and three bedding type. This `Knock Back’
business seemed to be proving more of a knock back than I’d reckoned with, but
of course the secret was to get the timing right. When I say miss matched it was
only because a dahlia with a lavender blush to each petal is the hardest thing
to look right. Once the blooms were taking their long deep drink I pulled down
the garage door and left them in the dark. I told my self if Pam and my
son-in-law decide to come to Wisley with Irene and I okay, but if not I’ll wait
until the next Meeting which had been changed from the fourth of September to
the sixth. That night proved to be very rough, although I didn’t know until my
daughter Pam rang to confirm that they were going to chance it, it seemed to be
dieing down a bit, according to Pam. Now being it had been a late decision it
was also going to be a late start, and I couldn’t rush Irene. The first job I
thought I’d get off the list was pack the bedders into a deep container with a
wire mess to hold them upright, and make sure Josie G. was cut to the correct
length for a Wisley vase, so different to a Bikini vase.
This done I hurried Irene along in the gentlest way possible so as I could get ready myself. Then I rang Pam’s place to confirm that I was taking my car, and our Mike was going to drive. Next up petrol, as I backed up the drive to the road I thought I’d better fill her up just in case, and the long run was going to do the engine good, I didn’t know if it would it was only what I’d heard. As I approached the lights adjoining Tesco’s entrance I realised I’d left my wallet in the bedside cabinet’s draw. Nothing more to do but go back for it, as I hurriedly opened the front door I half expect Irene to say “You been quick” but she was to engrossed in getting ready to even know I’d come back. Well I wasn’t going to go down to Tesco’s again that’s for sure, it takes to long to be let out on to the main road, and it will be worse now because it was later. I’ll go to where I used to, before the previous people had been caught taking money from customers accounts when they paid by card. As the guy placed the card in the holder I wondered how people, no matter how hard up, can take from someone else.
By the time I got back I was expecting to see Mike’s car on the driveway, but just as well as Irene was still not ready, by now the clock in the lounge read a quarter past ten, that wouldn’t leave us much time. By half past ten I was panicking, I rang Pam again, and she answered. “I thought you were coming to us dad” she said. I supposed it made sense after all Pam’s new place was on the way to the spur road to Ringwood. So Irene and I left 27 Petersfield Road, and we were on a mission to one of my favourite places.
Mike’s driving was impeccable, I’ve practically sure if he hadn’t married my daughter he could have been a Formula One driver. As I clutched the miss matched vase of Josie Gott I glanced at the Speedo it was just under seventy, and it was handling the wind and rain like a duck handles water. In know time we were on the M3 and approaching Winchester by-pass. Hardly moving I glanced to my right, the car was now going the fastest it had ever been, and Irene wasn’t saying a word, must be Mike’s driving, because know sooner I get to anything resembling speed she would say you’re doing fifty, bless her. Now at this point Mike made a move that probably cost us a quarter of an hour, but he was in charge, and without him I’d still be at home. We turned off at the Woking junction and kept a look out for RHS Wisley. It was like looking for the other side of the Moon. After about ten minutes I could tell Mike wasn’t that impressed with the scenery it was uncanny we must have been on top of this horticultural wonder without a sign in sight. Thank goodness just as we were becoming desperate we saw a sign for Old Woking and the official sign of RHS Wisley.
Now I’d been told by Sharon McDonald to go passed the main entrance and exit, and turn into a concrete road a little further on. This we accomplished and as the bumpy road finished I saw a couple of blokes coming out of a green prefabricated build (most of the stuffs painted in a darkish green here) I asked them if they could direct me to were the Executive Committee were holding their meeting, and the tall one told me to go through the double doors on the brick building next door and ask at reception. I left the others in the car and hurried along the corridor, I’d been here before I thought. “Excuse me could you tell me where I can set up some dahlias for the Executive Committee to take a look at?” The lady behind the desk looked at me and then her watch, and hurried out to where I stood. “You’ve come to far you want the exhibition hall, never mind look, you see the arch way with the foliage over it” she pointed through the window to the left, and I nodded. “We’re running a bit late I’m afraid, there were no signs through Woking” she didn’t seem to think it mattered, and muttered something about it would be alright. I rushed back to the car and Mike was still in the spot where I’d left him. “Mike let me get the flowers out and you park the car” Pam took the Josie Gott’s off me, and I carried the box with the three lots of bedders in it. The lady in reception told us all over again just where we had to make for and we were off. That is apart from poor Irene, because it was raining hard by now and we’d left the umbrellas in the car. I shouted back to her “We won’t be long sit on one of those seats and read a brochure” We must have looked a comical spectacle as we trudged up hill in the rain. As we neared the next set of building we passed a young fella talking to another, and as he stopped talking and turned to walk in the same direction as us I asked him if he knew where we had to set up. He told us to follow him, if I could have only walked as fast.
By the time we’d almost completed our marathon I was exhausted, and Pam told Mike to take the box off of me, which he did, and I give a sigh of relief to be free of it. The young man pointed to an insignificant door and we all tumbled in to be confronted by a large table and the Executive Committee. Thank God Graham Carey stood up and shook my hand because it broke the ice immediately, I saw faces from the various NDS publications I’d read, and realised that those I didn’t know were RHS members. I remember asking Dave Kent if he’d received my late subscription payment, before being escorted round to a table where Sharon had my vases ready, as I placed each set of flowers into the now tepid water I could hear the meeting going on behind me, and by the time I finished it must have been quarter past one. I wished them all good day, and after finding out they’d already eaten I suggested to Sharon that would put them in a good mood to view my flowers. The flowers they were about to view were Josie Gott a miniature Ball/Decorative, and three bedding type called Littledown Calypso and Waltz, and a bright orange beauty called Spanish Conquest which has darkish leaves to set off the flowers.
|Littledown Calypso.||Littledown Waltz.|
|Spanish Conquest.||Josie Gott.|
We made our way back to the administration block in
front of the lily lake, and as I pushed the door open and saw Irene I could tell
she was pleased we were back. After thanking reception for her help we retraced
our steps back to the car, I for one was pleased to sit down. I heard Pam
telling Irene we’d better stop for a bite to eat, as the generous offer of
something to eat by Sharon McDonald was ignored in our haste to start our
journey home. With no vase to support I found myself nodding off on more than
one occasion, but forced my senses to keep my eyes open and firmly fixed on the
road ahead, and like every other trip the homeward journey seemed shorter than
our battle a few hours earlier although the rain kept falling.
After breakfast the following day I checked my emails, and wedged firmly between about a dozen others sure enough the one I had hoped for had arrived.
Apologies for not writing sooner.
Many thanks for bringing some lovely flowers with you on Tuesday. There is a letter in the post to let you know that the Dahlia Committee were very pleased with all of them and you will be hearing from Sue at some point to ask if you have enough material to include them all in the Trials next year. Congratulations! I hope that makes up for the horrid journey that you had?
We had a look at the flowers in the press today and they all look as though they will make good specimens, so thank you for agreeing to that. Unfortunately, by the time we got around to photographing your flowers the light here was appalling. I was wondering whether you might have any good pictures of your four dahlias that you would be willing for us to use.
Thanks again, I look forward to seeing you on the 6th, if not at Shepton Mallett, Johnny said that you would probably be coming up again then?
It is at times like these that it all becomes worth while, four more in the RHS trials and two more chances to show off the new seedlings at the Southern National at Shepton Mallet, and Wisley once more on the 6th September when the RHS and NDS officials meet yet again. The Johnny that Sharon was talking about was a youngish chap who is based a BBC TV Bristol, he’d already been down to see me because I have a couple of double Orchid dahlias in the trials already, but at that time it was just an interview and he hadn’t reckoned on filming anything in my garden, but evidently the powers to be had altered their mind and he was coming back with a crew on September 4th that’s gonna be some busy week.