Most gardeners felt pinch of heavy rains that destroyed some of their plants
We hear so many sad stories about how much damage human beings have done to nature.
Yet one way people could have gained a bit of hope in Mother Nature’s restorative powers was to attend the Kenya Horticultural Society (KHS) 120th Flower and Plant Show at the SSDS Temple in Nairobi’s Westlands last weekend.
The show was organised by KHS’s Nairobi branch (there are eight branches countrywide) and it ran for two days.
But the combination of floral and plant exhibitions, [designed by both amateurs and professionals gardeners] as well as plant-related sales tables filled the huge exhibition hall.
The sales items, including everything from organic fertiliser and orchids to garden furniture and wide variety of potted plants, were all wisely located at the back of the hall.
Wise because once someone had a look at all the award-winning displays of nature’s most elegant organic creations, he or she would most likely want to go home and get to work on beautifying their own garden.
Or at least find ground where they could start planting their own seeds, cuttings and bulbs just to have a small slice of the same beauty that the 30 odd show exhibitors had nurtured into looking so healthy, happy and colourful.
‘‘There were only two gold awards given this year,’’ says show chairperson Balinder Ahluwalia, clearly impressed with the high standards of excellence and beauty that all nine judges had shown as they chose the winners in a wide array of categories.
“One went to the Kenya Orchid Society for its ‘Balcony Garden’ display,” says Ms Ahluwalia, noting that her own district’s display in the same category came in second with a silver and the Thika district entry won a bronze.
“The other gold went to George Barua for his ‘container-grown plants. The judges says his plants were literally ‘flawless’,” says Mrs Ahluwalia who’s in training to one day become a judge herself.
“You have to take a [written] exam,” says Asif Chaudhry, one of the judges and the owner of the JK Forests in Parklands.
“It takes knowing lots of the names of plants, as well as knowing to which species and genus they belong,” he says.
But no matter how healthy, ‘flawless’, delicate and colourful someone’s plant may be, there are still fine points that the judges consider which a gardener might overlook.
For instance, Nannette Sole’s displays were all about succulents and she won first and second prizes in the ‘amateur’ category.
Celia Hardy won the first prize for her succulents but in the ‘professionals’ class.
“I came in second for my ‘fountain’ [of succulents] because I hadn’t read the fine print that says only one container per entry.
"I technically had two since I’d cemented my bird feeder to my planter to create the fountain effect,” says Nannette who had created a lovely double decker effect and with no less than 40 succulents beautifully arranged in her fountain.
Ironically, her other entry in the same category, featuring 24 echeveria (succulents) won the first prize.
It was less dramatic than the fountain. But the way she’d arranged her echeveria plants looked like a three dimensional painting.
Of her award-winning display, she says she had carefully considered the placement, size, height and colour of every plant. She says the process was “like painting a picture,” producing what was almost like an abstract expressionist painting.
There were many other categories of award winners in the show: everything from herbs, fruits and vegetables to climbing plants and cut flowering trees and shrubs.
There were children’s prizes; and awards were also given to representatives of the Kenya Floral Arrangement Club like Geeta Shah who was highly commended for arranging of a cut flowering fuchsia.
But as lovely as this year’s Plant and Flower Show was, many participants complained that the rains, and especially the sleet that came down in the last three months had done immense damage to their delicate plants.
A number of KHS members who normally exhibit absented themselves this year because so much of their acreage had been destroyed, they wouldn’t have had their best plants to show this year.
Nonetheless, the most intrepid gardeners, be they professional or amateur, tried by all means to protect their flowers from inclement weather.
It’s a real credit that this year’s award-winning gardeners managed, in spite of the rains, to still produce and present exceptional examples of Nature in her beautiful best.
All photos taken by the author