Picture of Medwyn Williams

Medwyn Williams

Hello. I'm Medwyn Williams – eleven times Gold medal winner at the Chelsea Flower Show, Past Chairman of the Royal Horticultural Society Fruit Vegetable and Herb Committee and President of the National Vegetable Society.

Vegetable Masterclass Weekend


This will be my 19th consecutive Masterclass Weekend for gardening enthusiasts and I have tried to make it as interesting as possible whilst at the same time taxing our brains a little. It’s certainly increasingly difficult to continually get new speakers on varied topics. I am however convinced this weekend will be every bit as good as all the others we have enjoyed in the past.  Although very challenging and time consuming, I have had great fun formulating every weekend over the years and a few of you have even attended all previous 18 weekends.

The cost for the whole weekend this year is £230.00 per person. Should you be bringing a wife/husband or partner, who will not be attending the lectures, the cost will be £165.00 If they intend to be at the weekend  please send a deposit of £80.00 per person with the enclosed booking form, as soon as possible, to guarantee your reservation.

Yours Sincerely


Medwyns of Anglesey


Friday 3rd – Sunday 5th November 2017



Friday 3rd November


16.00 – 18.30 arrive at The Royal Victoria Hotel to check in and relax before dinner.


18.30 – 19.50 A four course evening meal will be served (you may order wine at your table)

20.00 – 21.15 ‘Every Show has a Story’ by Johnny Walker, Holbeach Lincolnshire. Johnny has been involved in bulb growing ever since he was a child. The son of a Dutch bulb grower he picked up his knowledge working with his father from an early age. After leaving college he joined the fledgling bulb co-operative Lingarden where he was responsible for establishing a quality system and keeping the 80+ growers up to date with all the results coming from the Ministry research stations. With growers spread from Cornwall through Somerset, Dorset, Sussex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire and a sister co-operative in Scotland, there was plenty of scope to disseminate information but at the same time to learn. Lingarden started exporting daffodils to Europe (including Holland) and North America and Johnny was responsible for ensuring compliance with all the Phytosanitary requirements of the various countries for the 5000 tonnes of daffodil bulbs that the company exported every year.


In 1986 Johnny got the chance to set up his own mail order company specialising in daffodils and started showing at the RHS and other shows. A steep learning curve followed but he soon acquired the sobriquet ‘the man with the Midas Touch’ because of his habit of bringing home a Gold Medal. This has yielded 32 at Harrogate including 3 Best in Show and 28 at Chelsea with 24 in succession plus others at various other shows.

Walkers Bulbs is now part Taylors Bulbs but Johnny is still very much in charge of the day to day operation of the Company and the showing side


21.15 – 21.30  Question and Answer session.


21.30 – Time to relax after your long journey and perhaps share your gardening experiences with some of the speakers, fellow growers and exhibitors. Why not even enjoy a night cap at the bar before retiring!


Saturday 4th November

8.009.00 Cooked Breakfast.

9.00 – 10.15 ‘Growing for vegetable Collections’ by Marcus Powell, Waddesdon, Aylesbury. Marcus became interested in growing Vegetables and Flowers at the age of 10, helping his father on his allotment. His father then got the showing bug and Marcus helped him exhibit flowers and vegetables at their local shows.


He began exhibiting at NVS level 6 years ago and was fortunate enough to get a red card with his first ever entry for a pair of marrows at the Midland Branch Championships in 2011. From there he managed to win some more red cards and staged his first collection at the National in Harrogate in 2013. Marcus was 5th out of 7 and was chuffed to bits. His first collection win came in 2015 at the Welsh Championships in Carmarthen and from there he went on to win the collection at Malvern. 2016 saw him reach his goal by winning the collection at the National Championships in Carmarthen a feat that he repeated at Malvern later that year as well.


I’ll be covering the seven 20 pointed vegetables that I grow for collections and also a brief summary of the backup 18 point veg.


  • – 10.30 Question and Answer session

10.30 – 10.45  Coffee / Tea Break

10.45 – 12.00  ‘Growing with Coco Coir’  by Gareth Hopcroft, SHEFFIELD  Gareth will explain what coco coir is and how best to use it for growing vegetables for exhibition. He will also talk about his experiences so far with growing big onions in coco coir under lights and in a controlled environment (grow tent) as well as in polytunnels. The content of the talk will cover –

  1. What coir is and how it’s manufactured for horticultural applications
  2. The physical and chemical characteristics of coir
  3. The importance of fertigation with coir
  4. Making and using nutrient solutions for fertigation
  5. Beneficial substrate amendments and nutritional additives for coir
  6. Practical examples of using coir with show vegetables in polytunnels (picture led slide show)
  7. His experiences of growing with coir
  8. How and why he has been growing indoors under lights
  9. Recent advances in horticultural lighting.

Gareth has 12 years experience in the Hydroponics industry advising amateur growers and working on a variety of projects in product development of fertilisers and substrates with manufacturers. Commercial hydroponics experience with NFT lettuce and micro-green growers. Technical editor and writer at Urban Garden Magazine 2010-2012. Now working as a consultant and managing his own company focusing on his brand Ecothrive. Gareth introduced ‘Charge’ a couple of years ago and that product is now being used regularly by many top exhibitors.

12.00 – 12.15 Question and Answer session

12.15 – 14.15  A buffet lunch after which you have an opportunity to take a walk around the grounds of the Royal Victoria Hotel or perhaps a walk down to the Snowdon Mountain Railway in the village of Llanberis.


14.15 – 15.30  ‘Allotment Gardening Month by Month’ John Bebbington, 43 BROOKLYN STREET, Crewe, John and Coral find enough time to devote to their hobby around full time jobs. John has been a keen gardener for many years and Coral is always “On Call” to help out when needed. They also encourage their grandson Ayden who takes after his grandad and is a keen gardener and show winner in the Junior classes.


John had been a qualified judge for about 12 years and both John and Coral have been active members of the NVS for the past 20 years or more. They grow a wide variety of veg and are always keen to try something new on the allotment. John and Coral grow for home as well as show and their rule is that whatever they grow they eat (apart from the giant cabbages).


John and Coral have had many successes on the show bench as well as making an appearance with Monty Don on a feature about their allotment from RHS Tatton Show in 2015 to promote vegetable growing and showing. Their vegetables are grown on an allotment as they don’t have a garden at home only a greenhouse and growing room (back bedroom). During their talk John and Coral will give an insight into growing on an allotment and the problems that can arise from that.


15.30 – 15.45  Question and Answer session.

15.45 – 16.00  Coffee / Tea Break


16.00 – 17.15  ‘20 years of Showing Vegetables, Flowers…..and Cakes! By Simon Smith, LOUGHBOROUGH, LEICESTERSHIRE.

Having always loved competitive hobbies growing up, Simon reluctantly had to give up playing football and match fishing when he got married and his 3 daughters came along.  Moving to a new house with a much larger garden in 1991 he started to produce vegetables to help feed the family, but whilst visiting a local show by chance one afternoon he discovered that a work colleague was the show champion and as a result Simon became hooked on showing, developing a particular passion for long carrots and parsnips.


For 12 years he concentrated on local shows, mainly vegetables, but also growing dahlias, fuchsias, cacti and fruit, picking up many coveted red cards. He also tried his hand at a variety of cakes having decided on the eve of one particular show that his produce wasn’t quite up to scratch and he desperately needed to branch out into the domestic section to pick up extra points. This hasn’t always gone well!


Joining the NVS and being a regular participant on their website forum, Simon soon came to realise that not all growers were reluctant to divulge their secrets, something he had found frustrating at local level showing. Eventually he took the plunge and started showing at NVS Branch and National Shows, and by improving bit by bit with the help of several mentors, all top NVS growers, he managed to get into the tickets with some regularity. Simon believes showing should be fun at all times, and would never question a judge’s decision no matter what.


This light-hearted talk is the story of his journey from village to National level exhibiting, of some of the characters he has encountered along the way and some of the cakes that Mary Berry would probably have flung out of the marquee!!


17.15 – 17.30  Question and Answer session.


17.30 – 18.15  Time to relax and do your own thing before your evening meal, you may even feel the need to enjoy a drink at the bar!


18.15 – 19.30  You can now indulge yourself in a four course evening meal. (you may order your wine at the table from the Victoria’s reasonably priced selection)


19.30 – 20.45  ‘Growing Onions for Exhibition’  by Adrian Read, Northallerton, North Yorkshire.  Alan started gardening when he was about 10 years old following in the footsteps of his dad who was a farmer in the Yorkshire dales. They produced all their own vegetables as the local shop was 5 miles away.


Alan followed his father’s footsteps and went into farming but kept his interest in Horticulture growing onions and leeks in a polytunnel he purchased when he was 25 years old. Within 3 years he had onions up to world record size as well as quality specimens fit to display at the Harrogate Kelso festival. He joined the NVS 30 years ago and has become involved at regional and local level for the past 16 years. He has been the chairman of his NVS local District Association as well as being on the committee of the NVS Northern Branch.


For many years, Alan has taken on the role of organising displays at various shows such as Harrogate Spring Flower Show and the Great Yorkshire show, two of his main shows now. Through his initiative his team has won 31 gold medals in this time with 21 consecutive in the last 9 years. Alan is a National Judge and enjoys judging at the highest level, he is also a NPLS (National Pot leek Society Judge). He worked for 30 years for North Yorkshire County Council as a Care Manager retiring from the position in 2016.


20.45 – 21.00  Question and Answer session.

21.00 – Entertainment by Howard Hughes a Magician and a member of the Magic Circle

Sunday 5th November

8.00 – 9.00 Cooked breakfast


9.00 – 9.15 Photo call, bring your camera along and take a group photo as a memento of the occasion.

9.15 – 10.45  ‘Growing Blanch leeks for Exhibition’  by Alistair Gray, Breeching, Angus,   When Alistair started growing over forty years ago he had a very good neighbour called Jock Wilson who got him started growing and showing chrysanthemums which he really loved. He was a good mentor. As they went around the shows together he could see all the quality vegetables on the benches and that was it, he decided this was what he wanted to strive for. Oh dear me what a challenge that was. Not so many of the veg growers to help him back then. Thankfully by now, throughout the NVS, there are a lot of good growers who are more than willing to share their knowledge.

Alistair persevered, working away quietly and gained the confidence of some of the local growers who helped him along. Very soon he began winning at the shows and was persuaded to take part in the Scottish Branch Championships at Ayr. That was probably the first time that I met up with Alistair and he was over the moon winning the Blanch Leek and Stump Carrot classes. A decision was then made to go to the National Championships at Southport, again with great success, after that he was totally hooked.

Alistair admits he’s very lucky to have Mary, his wife, who is very supportive and critical in a good way.  They have made many wonderful friends over the years, sadly some are no longer with us but not forgotten.


10.45 – 11.00 Question and Answer session.

11.00 – 11.15 Coffee / Tea Break


11.15 – 12.30 ‘Gardeners Question time with the Speakers’. A roundup of the weekend.  It doesn’t matter how well you listened to the talks, there’s always that gardening problem or question that you forgot to ask that may be still bothering you.  It allows you the opportunity to ask the speakers further questions on vegetable growing that may not even be related to any subject discussed during the seminar – why not challenge them with a problem that’s been a source of worry to you for so long.

12.30 – Traditional Welsh Sunday Lunch before departing.

*Will all speakers note that the time limit allowed will have to be adhered to and will only vary to suit circumstances outside my control*

The 2018 Seminar will be held from the 3rd to the 5th November.



Growing Parsnips

25th July 2007 I am often asked what is the best method of growing both long carrots and parsnips for the show

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1 thought on “Vegetable Masterclass Weekend

  1. Medwyn , Looks a good line up this year .Looking forward to it .

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