Thousands welcome Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to Sandringham Flower Show
PUBLISHED: 16:31 24 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:09 25 July 2019
Thousands of people packed the grounds of Sandringham House to welcome Prince Charles and Camilla to the annual flower show.
The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall were greeted by five-year-old Dulce Bonser from Norwich, who handed Camilla a posy of pink roses, which matched her floral dress.
Watching from the wings Cynthia Reeve, Dulce's aunt and wife of show chairman David Reeve, said her niece had "done her proud".
The royals toured various exhibitors' tents and show displays, including gold medal winner Peter Beales Roses, from Attleborough.
Prince Charles was particularly taken by the nursery's new rose collection "Timeless" and put in an order ahead of its release in August.
As the sun beat down on the 20,000-plus crowds, royal enthusiast Linda Boughton from Wisbech offered the glowing Duke a damp flannel to mop his brow.
He gratefully accepted, before handing the flannel back to Ms Boughton, who said she would "cherish" the souvenir.
The Duchess went on the hunt for souvenirs of her own, picking up some slabs of ginger cake and a pair of crochet owls from the WI tent.
Dressed in a mint green silk gown and nude heels, the royal shielded herself from the 30c sun with a cream parasol, normally reserved for visits abroad, joking with members that she should have bought a fan as she signed their visitor book.
As the Royal couple were ushered towards the gardens exhibit, the Duke stopped to admire a photo book created by lifelong fan Sheila Clark, from Glasgow, showcasing her own snaps of Dumfries House in Ayrshire, Scotland.
She said: "I started coming to the show in the '80s and plan my holidays around being here. I love seeing Charles and Camilla, they are simply fabulous."
Inside the garden tent, the pair admired the gold medal entry by Paul Welford of Norfolk-based Thistlefield nursery, featuring a hobbit house and wooden slide.
Admiring the garden from the viewing platform the Duke joked that he would "probably get stuck" if he attempted to exit via the slide, and opted for the stairs.
They then made their way down the central avenue to the Sandringham Association of Royal Warrant Holders, where they were gifted three kilos of strawberries grown in Tunstead.
Temperatures of 30C and above meant the annual show was very busy early on, but organisers said it had been another success with thousands enjoying the chance to grab a bargain, listen to music from the bandstand and watch displays in the main arena, as well as the annual cricket match.
Despite the scorching weather, droves of hungry visitors rushed to support local food and drink producers.
The Pie and Cheese man, Simon Marrison, has bought his gourmet pies and sausage rolls so the show for the past five years, and said: "We are staggered by how well we've done, considering the heat. The show is always fantastic. This is our fifth year and we are already looking forward to next."
Amidst the array of spectacular garden displays, two in particular caught the attention of the judges.
Bircham Trees and Landscapes in Hunstanton and Woodgate Nursery in Aylsham were awarded joint first place in the Eastern Daily Press Best in Show Trophy, impressing the judges with their quirky entries.
A journey to mindfulness was the theme for Bircham Trees and Landscapes' Japanese style garden, inspired by a family friend's battle with anxiety.
Designer Matthew Johnston said: "We saw first hand how anxiety can affect people and the rehabilitation that can be achieved through gardening. The rocky, cobbled area which crosses a bridge into the tranquil back section represents that process."
Next door, Woodgate Nursery created a real life, chocolate box perfect garden with a twist.
Designers Kevin Myhill and Theresa Rogers, from Aylsham, said the entry was based on a picture they found on a biscuit tin, with quirky additions such as giant metal ants and knitted pigeons.
Mr Myhill said taking part in the show had been a pleasure and that gardeners had been sharing plants and ideas throughout the four day set up period.
He added: "It's a big family affair, everyone helps each other."