We are amused. We have received a letter from the Taranaki Rhododendron Group advising us that as they no longer have competitive displays, the committee is looking at what to do with the trophies. There are, apparently, three options. The first is to return them to the donors or their families. The second is to donate them to the local museum (in which case, please would we supply full details of the horticultural achievements of the donor). Should the museum not want them, the third option is for the committee to decide on their disposal.
Quite some time ago, Mark went all out one year with exhibition blooms and, as far as we can recall, he won all but one of the trophies. In due course, a large carton arrived here with the engraved trophies for us to hold for the year. They were fairly extensive. Besides the usual cluster of silver cups, there was a very large barometer which did not work, a large crystal vase which made up for in size what it lacked in style, the odd tray or two, maybe a shield and a fairly remarkable, large wooden piece carved out of rhododendron wood in a freeform fashion, adorned with handpainted clematis. Maybe it also had Mount Taranaki on it. It was certainly a curious mixture of European folk art and traditional Maori carving designed to be the centrepiece of any room in which it was placed. I am sorry to admit that these trophies spent the whole year of our possession living, unseen, in their carton. I am sure it fell to me to clean the silverware before they were returned for the following year’s awards.
I banned Mark from ever entering again. Though, in his defence, he had already decided that it was not fair for amateur members to be competing against professionals and it would be poor form for him to try and repeat his successful performance.
Fortunately the silver cup which Felix donated (for the best maddenii hybrid bloom) is of modest proportions and reasonably inoffensive. We have advised the Rhododendron Group that it seems most appropriate to return it to us as part of our family history. I think we can spare the local museum from the problem of what to do with the Felix Jury cup.