Faces of the Ipswich Show: Normy's flower legacy
IT WAS still dark on the first day of the Ipswich Show when Rita Walton went into her Eastern Heights garden to collect her entry into the cut flower competition.
She chose a selection of yellow and orange gerberas, arranged them in individual glass jars and then lined them on the tables beside her competition at the exhibition display pavilion.
The 75-year-old is a self-confessed keen gardener but her involvement with the Ipswich Show started with close friend Denise Podlich's late husband, Norm.
"Denise's husband was chief steward in this section so I used to come and help him and then he was going to show me the finer art of it but he passed away before the next show so I was thrown into it," Rita said.
"Originally I did it for Normy and even though we throw a tantrum every now and then we still do it for Normy, he inspired me.
"I have been a life member for quite a few years. I got very involved when I separated back in 1991.
"We're all friends, there are people who help me all the time. We always have a late night but it's worth it when you see it on show day. It's good to see people come through, especially on the Friday and to see the looks on their faces."
Rita has been the horticulture Chief Steward for six years. "I have always been a gardener. When I was married I had a big garden but now I'm not married I only have a smaller garden," she said.
"I lot of the gerberas and chrysanthemums are mine.
"I just went out in the garden this morning at 5.30 with a torch and went cut cut cut cut cut."
Rita said the horticulture category was not taken lightly and entrants knew they had stiff competition.
"The judges will take the plants down and look into them to make sure there are no bugs or breaks in the leaves. The pots should be clean, you get more points if the pots are clean. It's a serious business," she said.
"On the cut flowers the petals have to be all uniform."