Sitting here writing this in the after glow of winning Gold at Sandringham Flower Show, I reflect on how many times we have been in this situation, believe me I am not trying to sound big-headed, more a reflection on the company, and what we have achieved over the many years we have been in existence, and it all started from an exhibit back in 1912…
A spring show called “The Royal International Horticultural Exhibition” held in Chelsea in 1912, put Allwoods on the map, when they won the coveted medal of “American Floral Society”, for the best Perpetual Carnations in the exhibit, we were the first British Carnation Growers to have ever won it!!! and this was the big start for Allwoods, this was also during the time when Montagu Allwood was in heated discussions with his prior employers who had accused him of dishonesty and stealing from the firm – he used the press to his advantage and when the police turned up to his rooms he told them to find the evidence or leave him in peace. Nothing was ever found and the case was dropped but the publicity that Allwoods got helped get their name well known – not all publicity is bad publicity it would seem.
So in 1912 Allwoods started winning awards at this event in Chelsea, at the time it was reported that this show would fail as it was classed as being “too far out of London” – how times have changed. The following year the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) took over and “The Chelsea Flower Show” was born,
up until 2004 Allwoods had exhibited at nearly every Chelsea Flower Show since it had started and it took the birth of our son Edward to stop us!
Since Allwoods began they have exhibited all over the country – quite a feat in itself
considering the road network wasn’t so good, nor the transport in those days! So all the cut flowers, plants & display material would have to be transported through the Rail network (Oh! how that’s changed!!) Porters would then be on hand to pass the items to a member of the Allwoods team who would then set up the display, and the displays themselves were incredibly impressive and similar in size to the show gardens that are now featured at Chelsea now-a-days. The man-power required to not only oversea the setting up of the display but also the time and effort needed prior to it, the arranging and making ready the transportation both this end from the nursery to the show itself – and they exhibited all around the UK – no wonder they were the biggest Dianthus growers in the world!
And of course they have met Royalty, I particularly like this picture from the Allwoods archive of Montagu Allwood talking to HRH Queen Elizabeth II.
Allwoods took a back-step from exhibiting to start a family, as young children are no longer allowed on site prior to the show opening at some of the larger shows like Chelsea & Hampton Court, which makes setting up the display or getting cover for the kids problematic so it was decided that in 2005 we would be more selective on which shows we would attend and currently favor smaller plant fairs and our annual trip to Sandringham – well who wouldn’t put on a display if you have been invited into the Royal Marquee!!!
Getting ready for a show generally starts with early planning.
Treasured Memories’, which was launched this spring and was bred by us as the centre piece of the display alongside a selection of pink cut flowers and cut carnations like we normally do – but the weather had other plans for us, the excessively hot weather cooked a lot of the flowers and brought many out sooner than we needed so by the end of May we had to make a quick decision to change the display and so it was decided to bring our latest variety that we have bred to the display ‘Allwoods Lemon Drizzle’, which is due to be launched this September, but with some hasty adjustments (mostly bringing on some of the stock plants) we were able for it to make its debut appearance.
Both members of the Royal Family much admired its dainty creamy yellow blooms and low growing foliage and the visitors to the show who saw it have also given us much positive feedback on it.
So there we go, Allwoods have won countless awards, medals and cups – we ourselves have 2 large folders crammed full of awards that we have won since we took over the firm in 1994, and the excitement of seeing that award on the first day of the show never gets old!
Thanks for reading and happy growing