Sight for poor eyes

SUE SKINNER TV gardener Chris Beardshaw will have an additional duty at the Sandringham Flower Show this year – unveiling a new rose.

SUE SKINNER

When the first Sandringham Flower Show was staged to great acclaim in 1866, there was a cash surplus of £57 after the prize money had been paid out.

One of the good causes to benefit from a donation, of the princely sum of £5, was the Norwich Institute for the Blind, later to become the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind.

The charity is marking its bicentenary in 2005 with the launch of a new rose, Fragrant Vision, and will receive 10pc of the proceeds of every sale.

Chris Beardshaw and representatives from Peter Beales Roses and the association will join forces to perform the ceremony in the horticultural talks marquee today at 1pm.

Association chairman John Child said: "We opened our doors on October 14, 1805, the week before Nelson was killed at Trafalgar, so that puts it in historical context."

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The charity has a stall at Sandringham every year display-ing equipment and selling goods and crafts made predominantly by blind and partially-sighted people.

"The main reason is to make sure that people are aware that there is help available," explained Mr Child. "We usually pick up four or five people who want some help or their relatives want some help.

"We thoroughly enjoy it and our staff enjoy it. It's a lovely day out, people are very friendly and it's very relaxed."

The rose, a red shrub variety and highly-scented, is now available from the Attleborough nursery, where it was bred by marketing director Amanda Beales, daughter of Peter Beales, the founder and chairman of the business.

Breeding roses is a long, complicated and expensive process. Fragrant Vision was trialled for seven years before it is ready to go on sale, which is about average, and 95pc of potential new specimens do not make the grade.

"We have to know the rose inside out before we market it," explained Miss Beales. "You get some that throw back to something you really don't want, like disease or a tendency to be malformed, so they are rogued out straight away and removed.

"Others, although they are nice roses, might just be average roses and obviously we want the best.

"Generally, our roses are introduced for the first time at the Chelsea Flower Show, sometimes at Hampton Court."

Peter Beales Roses, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, will display about 80 roses on the company's stand at Sandringham, which is one of the stops on the royal walkabout.

Mr Beales, 69, had conversations over many years with the Queen Mother, arguably the show's most enthusiastic patron, and would show her new varieties.

One of them was Royal Smile, in honour of her twinkling smile, while another, Clarence House, was produced for her 100th birthday.

"In the conversations I had with her she displayed quite a good knowledge of roses and, of course, I was able to put forward a planting scheme for her garden at Royal Lodge, Windsor," he said.

"Every year she came we showed her a new variety."

Mr Beales has had a stand at Sandringham since 1970 and regards it as one of the company's most important events of the year.

"It's very special, especially as there's always been in my experience one of the royals visiting," he said.

"There's a relaxed attitude towards Sandringham from the committee, the judges and everyone taking part.

"It's a friendly show; it's like a village fete on a larger scale and we all know each other."

Fragrant Vision is available from Peter Beales Roses, London Road, Attleborough, Norfolk, NR17 1AY. Tel 01953 454707 or visit the website, www.classicroses.co.uk

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