The 121st Plant and Flower Show opens today at the SSDS Temple Hall in Nairobi’s Westlands. The show, which is organised annually by the Kenya Horticultural Society, runs through Sundays and features displays of everything from roses, orchids and succulents to ferns, fruits, vegetables and flowers.
This morning, a team of judges went through the displays and gave awards in multiple categories.
It is a tradition that is as old as the Horticultural Society itself. While the awards don’t have a cash value, the prestige of having grown an award-winning plant means a lot. Plus, the top award winners receive a silver cup that they get to keep for one year.
“Winning a silver cup is a great source of motivation,” says Paul Mwai, an agricultural consultant who won several silver cups last year for his vegetables. “Winning gives someone added incentive to keep working hard. It’s also gratifying to know experts appreciate what you do.”
Paul says he will bring fruits and herbs to this year’s Plant and Flower Show.
“But no vegetables. Mine are not ready,” he explains, noting the weather has been hard on farmers this past season.
The weather has also been a problem for this year’s show organiser, Darshna Patel.
“We are used to the rains coming in March so that by May, the plants look perfect for display. But as the rains came late, and were preceded by drought, our plants have had a hard time,” she said. Nonetheless, the show is drawing gardeners from Nakuru and Thika. Kenya Orchid Society will also be there as will Nature Kenya whose group, ‘Succulenta East Africa’ is bringing desert plants and flowers.
Other organisations coming to the show include the East African Wildlife Society, Beekeeping Institute, Kenya Floral Arrangement Club and even the Kenya Quilting Guild, hanging some of their quilts.
“The quilts will all reflect a floral theme,” says Darshna who personally has an eye for beauty and has a lovely garden of her own.
“I will bring cut flowers from my trees and shrubs,” she says shortly before the show.
“I can’t say which trees or shrubs because of the rains.”
Darshna has a wide variety of healthy plants on her lush five-acre garden to choose from since she has been an avid student of horticulture since she joined the society 16 years ago.
“Membership entitles someone to visit a different garden every month,” she says.
The society also runs gardening courses once a year.
Darshna has spent the last 20 years cultivating her family’s grounds.
“I never let a day go by without visiting my garden. It gives me peace and keeps me feeling ever-young,” says this woman who looks 20 years younger than she is.