If you wish to see flowers, fruit or vegetables grown to a fairly high standard and are seeking ideas for your own patch, then visit a garden that is open on a regular basis during the growing season.
Charging an entry fee carries with it the responsibility to achieve a level of horticulture that will appeal to the paying public, not an easy task when there are several acres to maintain, but our top local attractions manage it very well.
If, on the other hand, you are interested in finding produce that has been grown almost to perfection and collected all in one place, look no further than your local show.
There you’ll find huge onions ripened well in advance of autumn, spotless potatoes and long carrots, all showing uniformity, and they’ve been grown by people who’ve spent long hours bringing them to peak condition.
Most keen gardeners grow a few ornamental plants for border display and cut flower arrangements; dahlias, chrysanthemums, gladioli, sweet peas and herbaceous perennials being most popular.
But the show exhibitors take cultivation to a different level, buying the best varieties and leaving nothing to chance in the long run-up to exhibiting their treasures on the special day.
The competition between such growers ensures that the winning standard is high.
Seeing such blooms on display can be inspirational, especially if the exhibit has a cultivar label attached. If not, there is always someone around willing to assist in naming it.
Judging such produce is not onerous, more of a pleasure.
When two, even three, stands have been singled out from several entries in a particular class, it may be a very small point that separates them.
Is there uniformity in every bloom? Are the flowers slightly immature, or conversely, are they fading?
Is the colour correct for that particular cultivar? Are any of the petals wind-damaged or marked by pests? Are the stems straight and strong?
The grower may well have achieved near perfection in raising blooms, but the presentation on a show bench can make or break the entry.
Imagine all the effort for a one-day event, yet every single show throughout our area is organised by people who have the community at heart and will move mountains to keep the tradition alive.
We call them flower shows, but that’s just for convenience and only hints at the content.
Some began life in public houses around two centuries ago as a low-key competitive challenge between local gardeners in a village or town.
Initially they’d highlight a single fruit, vegetable or flower, adding others to the schedule over time.