Prickly row among the floral art

CAROLINE CULOT You could call it Norfolk's war of the roses.That is because there's a rather thorny issue going on between the Norwich Group of Flower Arranging Clubs and the county's horti-cultural society.

CAROLINE CULOT

You could call it Norfolk's war of the roses.

That is because there's a rather thorny issue going on between the Norwich Group of Flower Arranging Clubs and the county's horti-cultural society.

The wrangle concerns the fact that this year, for the first time in nearly half a century, the group did not exhibit at the Royal Norfolk Show. Up to this year, a large tent at the showground staged the group's flower-arranging competition which last year attracted around 80 entries in 11 classes. The event saw a "packed tent" on both days last year with the beautiful floral displays on show to members of the public.

However, this year saw the horticultural society take on a different approach to the event, even changing the name from flower show to gardeners' show. Instead, it held its own flower-arranging competition with fewer classes and taking up much less space. Attend-ance was said to be down.

The situation has ended in anger and disappointment among the group's 2000 flower arrangers.

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And they claim there was nothing to tell the public that the reason for a lower attendance of flower- arrangement classes than usual was not due to the fact they had gone to another show in Telford but because the group had not been invited to join in.

Mary Daykin, chairman of the Norwich Group of Flower Arranging Clubs, said: "For between 45-50 years, the group has, with the horticultural society, been putting on shows but last August I received a phone call from the chairman of the society to say that there was to be some cost cutting - and we were the cost to be cut.

"We were not involved in any of the discussions or privy to any of the meetings. So we did not have anything to do with this year's Royal Norfolk Show - the horticultural society put on its own flower arranging and we decided to do our own show ourselves later this year. We had a terrific show last year, we pulled people through the horticultural society's vegetable competition and the tent was absolutely full both days.

"Our members are just angry that after so long, we have been dismissed."

Gordon Bambridge, show secretary of the Norfolk and Norwich Horticultural Society, said the reason for the changes this year was that due to cost, it had less space at the show than last year.

It held a survey last year on attendance levels and he claimed the group's flower-arranging classes were the least attended out of the event and so came to the decision it was this which had to go.

However, he said if the group could have financed its own tent, the society would have welcomed it.

"They seem to have taken severe umbrage but did they want us to pay for the tent - we couldn't because we didn't have the money. Mary is very upset but our hands were tied - we didn't have the £3000 needed for the tent."

He added that the new-style show had been "fantastically successful" with garden suppliers attending and visitors up by a total of 4000 on last year. He also thought some group members had attended the other show in Telford.

The Norwich Group of Flower Arrangers is staging its own event at the Hewett School in Norwich on Friday October 27 from noon until 5pm and on Saturday October 28 from 10am-4pm with a demonstration in the Hewett theatre from 11am-3pm. All are welcome.