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2001 Paul Barlow

Perth  Society - 40 Years

The history of Perth & District Chrysanthemum & Dahlia Society was compiled by Bill MacConnachie. The purpose of this compilation is to give readers an insight into special events and achievements of the Society over the four decades of its' existence.

30th June 1958 ......

The Perth & District Chrysanthemum & Dahlia Society was formed on the 30th June 1958 not under this grand title but simply as "The Perth Chrysanthemum Club". It was a break away from The Royal Horticultural Society Of Perthshire who although having a few very keen amateurs within its directorate did most of it's thinking on the basis of the large estate owners and their professional gardeners. They produced most of the exhibits at their show and the Royal did not anticipate and in fairness could not anticipate that in a short space of time this source of exhibits would not be available.

In retrospect the word "club" in the new society's title seemed to imply a subservient attitude towards the Royal Society and this was probably so because for the first two years the early and late shows were held in conjunction with the Royal.

By 1960 the Society was up and running with their own shows both early and late and with new three tier staging which has endured to this day.

What became very important was an early realisation that it was one thing to support a number of classes at a general horticultural show and quite another to find sufficient chrysanthemums and dahlias to give reasonable covering on the benches.

The first action the society had taken in 1958 was to find beginners who might show interest in the hobby and provide them with practical tuition throughout the whole year. As the doors opened on show day a small number of the new breed walked in carrying a few flowers or perhaps some of them were press-ganged into entering.

The interest in dahlias was provided for and the title changed to what it is today - The Perth and District Chrysanthemum and Dahlia Society. Affiliation to the National Chrysanthemum Society (N.C.S.) and the National Dahlia Society (N.D.S.)  took place and the Society was instrumental in persuading the N.C.S. to form a Scottish Group of Societies.

They opened a supplies trading section for members only and a news and views publication was produced.

Success in the Sixties ....

Membership increased fairly rapidly and the public supported the Society particularly at the shows. The original constitution provided for the usual office bearers and 5 members of committee but due to the volume of work this was increased to 11 at the 1962 AGM.

The minutes of that meeting and subsequent meetings showed that there was often 15 or 16 nominations for 11 places. Different days indeed.

Fife followed Perth with the formation of Fife Chrysanthemum and Dahlia Society and brought with it a competitive edge which contributed greatly to the extension of new found enthusiasm in East/Central Scotland.

New varieties of chrysanthemums and dahlias became available and new exhibitors with new ideas were equal to the occasion. As individuals they quickly progressed from the local 3 x 3 vase exhibits to the large shows such as Edinburgh and Glasgow whose schedule requirements were more difficult and the competition keener.

Three in a row at Harrogate
About this time the N.C.S. provided affiliated society classes mainly at the Edinburgh Show. They were very well supported not only by Perth but also by many other societies. However the Perth vision went beyond the Royal Mile and further south to Harrogate. The shrine where Yorkshire growers gathered from time to time to proclaim with almost Scottish arrogance that in the chrysanth world they were the greatest. By the end of 1962 they were not so sure. Perth had gone and conquered, winning the two affiliated society classes and the Best Vase in Show. For good measure they repeated the victories in 1963 and 1964 and thereafter retreated.

Some time later the dahlia section took up the challenge and while they did not emulate the chrysanthemum section they nevertheless had their moments. In 1965 the Society tackled London with chrysanthemums but had to be content with 3rd place.

The following year they tried again and while they succeeded in the 3 vase class they came up against Fife in the 6 vase class. Fife not only won the class but the exhibit was judged to be Best in Show.

International Show, Toronto, 1967
The scene changed to Toronto in 1967. John and Lil Dickson came over from Canada to try and raise support for an international show to be held in Toronto in conjunction with Expo 67. Such a charming couple could only succeed.

Various Scottish Societies made the trip across the pond and an Aberdeen paper carried the headline Perth 1, Elgin 2, Aberdeen 3 such was the domination by the Scottish Societies. The rest of the world was nowhere. This competition has been repeated from time to time but it was as if there had to he a final battle between Perth and Fife. This took plate in 1977. The result was Fife 1st Perth 2nd.

Hard times overcome
The sixties had been good for Perth but thereafter they lost their momentum. At one stage they had an EGM when the single item on the agenda was the winding up of the Society. The society survived and in the general decline of societies over the last few years they have probably held their own better than most.

Standing still was not an option and years ago decided to revert back to the practice of finding beginners and giving them practical all the year round tuition.

A succession of profitable plant sales has meant that finance is not a problem although the cost of hiring halls for shows is spiralling every year.

Anniversary year 1998
The Society's 40th anniversary was in 1998 and the show in the Perth City Hall during the second week in September prompted that stalwart of chrysanths in Scotland Dr. David Clark to comment "It's just like old times!".

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Last updated on 26 December, 2001