a prize-winning late crop of blooms.
There is a pleasantly wild sense of a last fling about the Great Autumn Show. You feel you have to make the most of each flower. It is unlikely that you will be able to bury your nose in sweet peas again this year. Or capture the smell of the old-fashioned roses that Peter Beales will be exhibiting.
And this year, my hero William Robinson, of Forton, in Lancashire, will be back after an unprecedented absence last year. Mr Robinson's vegetables are the only things at the show that can give the dahlias a run for their money. Anything with 'Mammoth' in its name is likely to have originated at his seed company in Forton. You may have heard of his Supreme Quality Mammoth Improved onion, which, fed and nurtured as a champion ought to be, can develop pectorals the like of which you may never see again.
This year, the Robinsons are bringing a new bean to the show, a climbing French bean called 'Kingston Gold', with pods the colour of butter. They have always been a good source of supply for unusual beans. 'Rob Roy' is one of theirs, with pods of cream splashed with red, and they also developed a similar variety, 'Rob Splash', which has cream pods speckled with purple. Their stand, with tomatoes spilling out in brilliant rivers, leeks lined up like militiamen, is a masterpiece of showmanship.
There are quieter pleasures, too: autumn crocus, cyclamen and a wide range of other autumn-flowering bulbs from Jacques Amand and Rupert Bowlby. Mr Bowlby puts on the kind of stand you wish you could transport, lock, stock and colchicum, to your own patch. He has the beautifully chequered Colchicum agrippinum, for instance, which I have been watching for anxiously in my garden over the past week. The flowers zoom out of the ground in a most spectacular way, the leaves following much later. Fortunately, you can buy at the Great Autumn Show. If my colchicums haven't put in an appearance by next week, I will be heading towards Mr Bowlby's stand. I hope to meet you there.Reuse content