Arthur Davies at the Suffolk Show – last season for veteran vegetable exhibitor
Thompson & Morgan’s vegetable ‘show man’, Arthur Davies, will stage his last impressive vegetable display at the Suffolk Show in Ipswich on 29th and 30th May, before hanging up his trowel for good at the end of this show season.
After over four decades of growing and exhibiting vegetables, winning an amazing 164 Gold Medals in the process, Arthur has decided to finally retire and to concentrate on his other pastimes, namely time-keeping at major athletic events and his grandsons’ burgeoning football careers. Arthur doesn’t like to miss any of their games and it appears that football runs in the family. Arthur’s son, Gareth, used to play for Crystal Palace in the Premier League and was also a Wales U21 footballer. Interestingly – and as a complete contrast to gardening, Arthur and his wife, Mary, have been acting as timekeepers in athletics for some years and have officiated at World and European Championships, the World Student Games and Grand Prix meetings.
Arthur’s career as an expert vegetable grower began 42 years ago when he was challenged by the great Percy Thrower, possibly the first TV gardener, to exhibit his vegetables with the professional growers at the Shrewsbury Show after spotting Arthur’s talent in the amateur section. Percy encouraged Arthur to ‘have a go’ in the professional tent and he won a gold medal in the first year. He has gone on to win the ‘Large Gold Medal’ for the next 39 years at the show. Arthur and his wife, Mary have been exhibiting every year since then, covering 5 or 6 shows a year. They have exhibited at more than 170 shows – including RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Royal Caledonian Show, Bristol Flower Show, RHS Malvern Show and Royal Welsh Show – and at many other horticultural events around the world, once even travelling to New Zealand.
Each show display involves a great deal of preparation. Arthur grows over 80 varieties of vegetables himself and carefully schedules his seed sowing timetable to ensure vegetables are at their very best for exhibition at different dates in the year. The produce for each display is carefully lifted, cleaned and packed – a process usually taking 3 days – before being transported to the show site. A setting-up time of around 15 hours follows to make sure that the display is at its best.
On the Thompson & Morgan stand at the Suffolk Show this year, not only will visitors be able to admire Arthur’s vegetable display, but the first 300 children to visit the stand will receive a free packet of T&M’s ‘Butterfly Mix’ seed to sow at home.