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


Please find below the details of my 16th Master Class Weekend held at Llanberis at the Royal Victoria Hotel.  For further details contact me by email or phone. For those who attended last year, details are in the post.

Medwyns of Anglesey


Friday 8th – Sunday 10th November 2013



Friday 8th  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  ‘Organic Barnsdale’ by Nick Hamilton from Barnsdale Gardens, Oakham Rutland.   Nick’s talk is to be in two parts, the first will about the Gardens at Barnsdale and how the garden was formed as well as the Television series for Gardeners World that were filmed from there with his father Geoff. The second part will be about how they grow organic vegetables at Barnsdale.

Nick Hamilton’s passion for gardening really took off when, aged 9, his father purchased a derelict garden centre in Kettering. Up until then he was restricted to his own vegetable plot in the garden at home, but this gave him the opportunity to broaden his interest and he worked with his dad at weekends and during school holidays. He trained at Writtle College and took a National Diploma course in commercial horticulture.  Nick returned to Barnsdale to work full time with his father, who later that year purchased a piece of land adjacent to the Barnsdale television garden. This land formed the nursery and ultimately part of Barnsdale Gardens and Nick worked closely with Geoff in the family business.

Nick took over the running of Barnsdale Gardens when Geoff died in 1996 and has continued to develop it into the inspirational garden that it is today, which is not only a credit to a great man but to Nick as well. The progress of the Gardens is, as with most domestic gardens, an ongoing process with new gardens and new features gradually being added. The Gardens are now home to 39 individual gardens and features to keep visitors occupied for hours. They include a Japanese, seaside, children’s, cottage, vegetable and a reclaimed garden, just to name but a few! To maximise the great educational potential of the Gardens, Nick also runs a range of very successful courses. Operated very much “in house”, but enhanced with the addition of well known gardening experts. As well as hosting many of the courses at Barnsdale, Nick is also in great demand for guided tours of the Gardens, as well as travelling the length and breadth of the country giving daytime and evening talks to groups.

21.15 – 21.30  Question and Answer session.

 21.30 – Time to relax after your long journey; 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 9th  November

8.00 –  9.00  Cooked Breakfast

 9.00 – 10.15   ‘Growing Shallots for Exhibition’ by David Thornton, Ockbrook, Derby.  David is well known to most of you having given a talk here on two previous occasions. David is Secretary of the National Vegetable Society as well as being a top exhibitor with numerous top awards at National level. Over the past few years David has certainly been the one to follow on the show bench regarding Large Exhibition Shallots having won the NVS Championships three times as well as at the RHS Autumn Show where he has also won many times in succession.

David will bring with him a dish of shallots and will cover every aspect of growing them from planting the bulbs to harvesting and storing them. Pickling shallots will also be covered as will the control of Pests and diseases.  David has actually discovered a potentially new pest this year and he will explain fully about that during his talk. The talk will be through a Power Point presentation.

10.15 – 10.30  Question and Answer session

10.30 – 10.45  Coffee / Tea Break

 10.45 – 12.00  ‘Grow for the Kitchen : Vegetables from a small garden’  by Richard Bailey, Wallington, Surrey.  Do you have a small garden? And want to grow more veg.?  Richard will talk about getting optimum yield from a limited space with year round crops. He will discuss intercropping and best use of space, growing in containers and reducing pests and disease by growing a wide range of crops. Or try integrated gardening.

Richard has been a Fruit and vegetable grower for 50 years – to save money with four children and a modest salary as a lecturer in university adult education! An N.V.S. member (Gold Medal holder) for some 30 years, National Editor for 14 years and now Chairman of the Surrey D.A. Longstanding member of the R.H.S. Fruit, Vegetable and Herb Committee and a  Judge at R.H.S. fruit and vegetable competitions.

Other horticultural interests include alpines and bulbs and Richard has travelled to Greece, Israel and Turkey to collect plants and will be going to Lebanon in March to study Cyclamen libanoticum. Awarded honorary membership of The Cyclamen Society in 1994.

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  ‘Biological Systems’  by Anthony James Girard. Haven’t we all wished at some point in our gardening hobby that we could have a predator to kill off all our bugs that cause us so much problems.  Tony will talk about the whole plant health regime based on Bio Control as well as an overview of the Industry which inevitably trickles through eventually to the amateur grower.

Tony, a native of the Channel Islands, was immersed in horticulture and agriculture with the family business from the very beginning but he left the Islands to experience a bigger world. Horticultural qualifications were gained in Hertfordshire with specialization in Glasshouse cropping, followed by the MHort while with ICI Plant Protection Ltd. He then went on to study Management and Business. A period in Gardens and Landscapes was overtaken by a lure back to Glasshouse cropping, as Assistant Manager for two years, on the then largest holding of 9 hectares on the Essex coast.

The next 30 years were spent managing the expansion of a Sussex based large scale tomato producer, Van Heyningen Brothers Ltd (VHB), to 72 hectares. This was across various locations in the UK and abroad. He was instrumental in pioneering the growing of crops in “grow bags” over these geographical areas. He also developed the pot herb business in the UK, the product of which is now very familiar in all supermarkets.

His interest for Bio control commenced in the early seventies and was a key factor in the production of a very wide range of crops. Indeed he was the first Koppert Biological Systems customer in the UK in 1971. In 2002 Tony became an independent consultant. He joined Koppert as Director UK in 2006 (poacher turned gamekeeper!).

Koppert Biological Systems operate a world-wide service supporting the production of crops with little or no use of harmful chemicals. All parts of the plant and its requirements are catered for including the surrounding environment. Pollination requirements are taken care of by the supply of bumble bees which are native to the UK. Tony’s Horticultural interests, although principally commercial, covers all aspects from food production, gardens and landscapes, flowers, trees and shrubs, mushrooms and rhubarb, not forgetting the green grass of lawns and sports turf.

He belongs to a number of organisations within the industry such as The Institute of Horticulture (IoH) was a founding Fellow (FIoH) and served as Chair for the South East Region and later as National President, Society of Chemical Industries (SCI) Horticulture Group and serves as Vice Chair, Pepper Technology Group (PTG) and serves as Vice Chair, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and serves on the Fruit Veg and Herbs Committee and as a show judge. He is also Chair of his company’s North European Business Group, which embraces most Eastern European countries and Russia.

His wife Maureen decided that she could do better than him in the veg garden, so that has remained her domain for some time now, except strangely enough, all the heavy work such as digging!! He often reminds himself and others, “It is not possible to live for long without plants. No plants; no life!”

15.30 – 15.45  Question and Answer session.

 15.45 – 16.00  Coffee / Tea Break

 16.00 – 17.15  ‘Ringing the Changes’  by Gareth Davies Talybont on Usk, Brecon, Powys.  Gareth will talk about his immaculate garden at Talybont where he has grown Championship winning roses for many years. His talk will feature the design of his garden from early beginnings to present day. His garden started off as a complete rose garden but is  now sectioned off for a variety of flowers, roses and plants. Gareth is a retired teacher of Biology having graduated from Cardiff University in 1964 with an Honours degree in Botany. Qualified RNRS judge and member of RNRS Exhibitions Committee. Chairman of the Rhondda Rose Society. Registered RHS lecturer. Appeared on various television gardening programmes on BBC Wales and ITV. Featured with Monty Don in Channel 4 series “Real Gardens” in 1998

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  Time to indulge yourself in a four course evening meal. (you can order your wine at the table from the Victoria’s reasonably priced selection)

19.30 – 20.45  ‘Growing Short Carrots for Exhibition’  by Ian Stocks Denny, Dunipace, Stirlingshire.  Ian is a retired Fire Service Officer who had 34 years service, culminating in being awarded the Queens Fire Service Medal in the 2009 New Years Honours List.  Ian has been growing for exhibition for over 25 years and is currently the Chairman of the Scottish Branch of the NVS and a member of the National Executive Committee.

Over the last 5 years he has concentrated on  carrots, both long and stump giving us a very informative talk on how to grow Long carrots last year. His talk this year will concentrate on Short Carrots for the Show bench. Ian has certainly got an enviable record with short carrots having won the National on three occasions and coming Second last year at Malvern in what was the largest stump carrot class at any National with 32 entries. Ian will talk us through how he grows his short carrots from the preparation required, the mix he uses, seed sowing and finally to washing and staging them on the bench.

20.45 – 21.00  Question and Answer session.

21.00 – For the next hour or so as you will be entertained by Alan Thomas, a Country and Western singer from Holyhead.


Sunday 10th  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 Celery for Exhibition’ by Mark Roberts Nuneaton, Warwickshire.  There’s no doubt that Mark has become one of the top showmen in the country with his attention to detail being his hallmark.  Last season was undoubtedly a successful one for him with his celery in particular drawing gasps of admiration from fellow exhibitors. Mark undoubtedly sets himself some very high standards which shows how he has arrived at the top in a comparatively short space of time.

Mark will explain thoroughly, through the use of Power Point, how he starts off with the thorough ground preparation of the planting bed to seed sowing, potting on and collaring. He will also explain how he managed at Malvern last year to get such a beautiful blanch on them. Pest and disease will be covered as well as how he deals with them.

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 .

*Please note that the time limit allowed for each speaker will have to be adhered to but may have to vary to suit circumstances outside of my control*

 2014 Seminar will be from the 7th to the 9th November.


Medwyn Williams.


Growing Parsnips

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

Read More »

7 thoughts on “Vegetable Masterclass Weekend

  1. I have read that parsnips are not requiring of full sunlight to grow well and am wondering whether they can be grown satisfactorily in the shade of other vegetable crops.

    One thought for our garden is using the ‘dead space’ on the interior of a ‘wigwam’ construction used to grow runner beans, where there is about a square metre of unutilised soil. The other is as an intercrop in between potato mounds, which usually represents about 2 – 3 square metres each season.

    As space is at a premium, finding ways to maximise use of all the soil is where I am expending research time this autumn.

    If you have any experience, insights or guidance in this matter, I’d be very grateful.

    1. Parsnips can be grown in a low light location but at some point during the day they do need full light. I doubt if they would grow well under runner beans foliage. As exhibitors we like to plant where they get plenty of sunshine for photosynthesising.
      Trust that is of help to you.

      1. Yes we are stocking Panorama which is Item 3215 in the Catalogue that I hope to have sent out towards the end of next week, we have been delayed this year for various reasons. I haven’t grown this one myself but Jim Thompson rates it very highly. Have you seen it staged anywhere! We arte also stocking another new one that I had on my collection at Malvern. It certainly has prospects as I was very slow getting the seed in (mid May) it’s called Pacific Item 3266. I have to say that I was very please with a set of Duchess that won at the RHS Halls show earlier this month. This is from the same stable as Princess that’s been discontinued and certainly has excellent skin finish and colour Item 3128.

  2. Hi Medwyn, can’t remember whether you said that you will you be stocking Parsnip Panorama this year?? Could you please confirm Yeh or Neh 🙂

    Best Regards,


  3. Panorama is listed under vegetable seed in the ‘shop’ bit Marcus.

  4. Jim Thompson had a lovely set on his winning collection at Malvern Medwyn.

  5. Back to Rhys’ origianl question lack of space and the nature of my garden and neighbours gardens means that my paprsnips are in partial shade and they do lack bulk as do the long carrots in adjacent barrels. I did manage to beat Marcus at Bucks County Show with my best three but that was mainly because he didn’t enter any! saving them instead for other shows. We sowed on the same day and mine were what I would describe as about a month behind his, which were grown in full sun. So in conclusion, you can grow parsnips to an OK standard in partial shade but full sun is much better.

    Choosing which parsnip variety to grow in 2014 is going to be a bit of a challenge!

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