Yesterday Today | Bathurst Horticultural Society Flower Show 1910

BLOOMING LOVELY: The Bathurst Horticultural Society Flower Show in November 1910 featured more than 460 entries. Pictured is the prize chrysanthemum.

BLOOMING LOVELY: The Bathurst Horticultural Society Flower Show in November 1910 featured more than 460 entries. Pictured is the prize chrysanthemum.

Our photo this week is of the prize chrysanthemum in November 1910 at the Bathurst Horticultural Society Flower Show.

This event was usually held in mid-April and November each year. The first show was in 1905. The floral event was most commonly held in the School of Arts Hall over one or two days, which also took in the evening program and viewing. There were numerous sections in which Bathurst residents could enter.

The cut flowers section included dahlias and chrysanthemums - and, in the latter class, it always attracted some very choice blooms. Another popular section was the table decorations.

Each year, another feature of the show was a display of decorative work in a non-competitive exhibit. In 1909, it was delivered by the establishment of Searl and Son in Sydney. Judges were invited from outside the area and, in 1909, it was done by Mr F.N. Ward, head gardener at Cranbrook, the residence of the State Governor of NSW.

In late October 1910, Bathurst residents were pre-warned that the Bathurst Horticultural Society was holding another flower show. The society’s membership had increased, and that indicated the promise of increased entries.

Horticulturists who had not previously competed had promised to exhibit and, together with the arrangements made by the energetic secretary, Mr F.B. Hayward, a successful function was expected. Members’ tickets were procurable from Mr Hayward, who had also engaged a special female vocalist to perform in the evening.

“The spring show in connection with the Horticultural Association will be officially opened to-morrow at three o’clock by Dr. Machattie, a well-known rose grower,” the local newspaper reported the day before. “The entries in the various sections were exceptionally numerous and the exhibition promises to be one of the most successful yet held.”

On the first day, November 2, 1910, the School of Arts building was opened at 5am to allow people to place their entries. Assistants were on hand to help out. Mr Hayward showed exhibitors where to place their flower and pot plant entries. There were 466 entries, while the membership of the society had risen to 252.

The plants exhibited by the children of Bathurst’s public schools were, considering the difficulty of getting the average healthy urchin to settle down to a quiet hobby, astonishingly good. Judging from what they had already accomplished, big things were confidently expected of them in the future. A feature of the show was the success of the small growers, this being emphasised by Dr Machattie in his opening address.

“In order to bring flowers to perfection, it is not necessary to be a professional floriculturist nor to have big grounds, and a proportionate banking account at one’s command,” the judge said in his address. “Some of the best blooms displayed were the product of the labours of amateurs in restricted areas.

“The first prize for the best garden was taken by a citizen who has but a small bit of ground. That little plot is, however, a picture. Flowers were amongst the joys of life in which we all can share, rich and poor alike. May its present prosperity be doubled and quadrupled as time goes on is the worst harm we wish it.” He commended the efforts of the society to beautify Bathurst.

The judge stated that roses were the loveliest and most fragrant of all the treasures of a British garden and that sweet peas, of which there were an abundance that year, were of all the colours of an oriental rainbow, and as healthy as cultivation could make them.

The champion rose, which was astonishingly fragrant, was awarded to Mr J. McPhillamy. The children’s decorated table was won by Miss L. Kable, who displayed a wonderful taste in her arrangement of “delicately tinted sweet peas, maiden hair fern and light grasses”.

Alan McRae is with the Bathurst District Historical Society