Celeb Carol Vorderman’s praise for Ribble Valley flower experts

Holden Clough Nursery's John Foley and his partner Kate with Carol Vorderman at Southport Flower Show
Holden Clough Nursery's John Foley and his partner Kate with Carol Vorderman at Southport Flower Show

Holden Clough Nursery has enjoyed record breaking success at Southport Flower Show, where one of the first to congratulate owner John Foley and his partner Kate was television celebrity Carol Vorderman.

She presented the delightful couple with a coveted Large Gold Medal as well as two of the prestigious horticultural show’s main trophies, saying she couldn’t believe how such a young couple could win so many awards.

The nursery has displayed at Southport flower show since the 1920s but has never before come home so laden with medals.

It had created a vibrant display of hardy northern perennials which included John’s speciality Crocosmias, along with other summer flowering perennials such as Phlox, Monardas, Achilleas and many other plants, all of which had been grown at the nursery in Holden, near Bolton-by-Bowland.

Carol Vorderman presented John and Kate with their prizes and, having spent time admiring the display, commented: “The planting just works, the plants all look like they have been growing here for years and to have so much interest and colour in their display is just incredible.

“At a time when there isn’t much young interest in gardening, its great to see a young couple doing so well’!

The judges’ feedback on the stand concluded it was faultless and John – winner of the inaugural BBC Young Gardener competition – said: “It’s great after doing all these shows for so many years with my father to feel like we have finally cracked it and to come home with so many awards.”

The two trophies were awarded for extra merit. They were the Challenge Trophy for the “finest display of Hardy Plants in the show”, and an impressive shield for the “most imaginative display in the show”.

It was the second year running that Holden Clough has won the Challenge Trophy, but winnin the shield was a first.

John said: “It came down to the style of planting on our display that won us this award.

“We broke up the height, putting shorter plants amongst the taller self-supporting plants, allowing visitors to see every plant in its own right rather than them all being banked up en masse. It proved to be very effective!”

Now back at the nursery the team is busy potting ready for the shows next year, and with this spring seeing the opening of the nursery’s newly built tea room, “The Garden Kitchen”, it has been non-stop ever since.

Next on the horizon for the green-fingered couple is the Harrogate Show, and after winning there last year the pressure is on to keep the gold run going.

l John Foley writes a full page of gardening advice and tips in The Valley section of this newspaper every other week. Don’t miss it in next Thursday’s edition of The Clitheroe Advertiser and Times.