The best thing about a well run flower show is that you will often find hidden gems located on your doorstep.
As Dormouse's Head Gardener wanders the pavilions, stalls and gardens, clutching Little D's hand (for the Head Gardener is also Little D's father) he finds two gems in the shape of Rebekah's Vegetable Seeds and Toon Herbs (TEL: 01733 766102). In both cases this is the first outing for these two suppliers at Southport and they don't disappoint. Our Head Gardener doesn't just buy seed but stops to talk with them. The truth be told he chews their ears off as they stand patiently, sagely and nod, then nod again and then sympathise with the fact that no matter what he tries to do he will never grow French Beans at Pig Row. This is brought home by the wonderful woman running the Rebekah's stand, she tells him blunt that French Beans just won't cut the muster on top of a hillside when by August autumn isn't just creeping but battering down the door with a ram. They nod together and rather than this being the end of the conversation, the woman at Rebekah's suggests a cunning alternative, peas and runner beans. They go through several varieties, testing the hardiness and the downright toughness that they bean exude in the face of nature. The old variety Painted Lady is suggested and our Head Gardener swoons with excitement, it is the first bean he grew as a child and he can't help but smile as Little D takes possession of a brown paper packet of Painted Lady seeds.
At Toons the enthusiasm and tips for growing come thick and fast as does the buying of herbs. The Head Gardener tells us that he'll just nip back and buy a French Tarragon, he'll only be a minute. Warning bells sound after fifteen minutes and just as we are preparing to push back through the crowds he appears with several fragrant bags brimming with herbs, a Morrocan Mint, a new Lemon Balm and a myriad of other herbs that he just couldn't resist. He can't resist telling us the top tip the stand's owner shared with him as they gossiped about weather and the merits of some mints. The Head Gardener is jumping up and down with glee, he tells us that it will stop any future losses of thyme, rosemary and sage. Toons have told him to forget planting his herbs direct into our hillside ground. Again the old adage of too high and too exposed comes into play. Toons have shared a very good tip that he wants to pass onto all gardeners getting ready for winter, to plant your herbs in plastic pots and then sink the pots them into the ground and come another winter like the last two, lift up your herb garden and pop against a sheltered wall.
Toons and Rebekah's are his new two best friends and more importantly the Head Gardener says what we all think at some shows, at last people who tell you what to do, where and when without wrapping it up in maybes.