Guide to Vegetable Show Varieties

Whilst the majority of vegetable varieties available, if grown well and properly presented, would be a valuable addition to the many shows staged across the country. There are varieties and cultivars, which due to their attributes, are regularly seen on the show bench and do particularly well in competition.

To assist those new to growing for showing, the following are amongst the most reliable and successful currently available.

This is not an exhaustive list of all vegetables but seeks to example those most regularly listed in show schedules and seen on the show bench.

Most are available through commercial seed houses whilst some will have to be sourced from specialist seed suppliers and breeders accessed through the horticultural press and/or the internet.


Beans, broad                                     Imperial Green Longpod, Bunyards Exhibition & Giant Exhibition Longpod  

Beans, dwarf french                        Hawkesbury Wonder, The Prince & Safari Kenya Bean

Beans, runner                                   Stenner, Liberty (Lovejoy) & Benchmaster

Beans, climbing French                   Cobra, Algarve & Fasold

Beetroot, globe                                 Pablo, Red Ace & Cardeal

Beetroot, long                                   Cheltenham Greentop, Regar & Long Black

Cabbage                                              Green Ramco, Stonehead & Brigadier

Carrots, long                                      New Red Intermediate & St. Valery

Carrots, stump rooted                     Sweet Candle, Nandor, Trevor & Norwich

Cauliflower                                        Raleigh, Mayflower, Skywalker & Boris

Celery                                                 Morning Star, Evening Star & Starburst

Courgettes                                         Venus, Defender & Ambassador

Cucumbers                                        Carmen (frame), Marketmore (outdoor) & Socrates (mini)

Garlic                                                   Solent Wight & Giant Elephant

Leeks, blanch                                     Pendle Improved & Welsh Seedling

Leeks, pot                                           Cumbrian, Yorkshire Green/Blue & Betty Black

Lettuce                                                Webb’s Wonderful, Rosedale, Lakeland & Lobjoits (cos)

Marrow                                               Table Dainty, Bush Baby, Badger Cross & Blyton Belle

Onions, exhibition                            Kelsae & Showmaster

Onions, 250g & under                      Toughball, Tasco & Vento

Parsnips                                              Gladiator, Panorama, Palace & Victor

Peas                                                     Show Perfection, Alderman & Hurst Greenshaft

Peppers, chilli                                    Joe’s Long, Giant Jalapeno, Scotch Bonnet & Apache

Peppers, sweet                                 Ace, Lany, Diablo & Ariane

Potatoes, white                                 Winston, Nadine, Casablanca & Harmony

Potatoes, coloured                           Kestrel, Amour, Maxine, Bonnie & Bluebell

Radish                                                 Scarlet Globe, Robin, Sparkler & Bacchus

Rhubarb                                              Raspberry Red, Victoria & Stockbridge Arrow          

Shallots, exhibition                           Hative de Niort, Ambition & Aristocrat

Shallots, under 30mm                      Hative de Niort, Jemor & Aristocrat

Swede                                                  Helenor, Tweed & Marian

Sweet Corn                                         Swift, Lark & Ovation

Tomatoes                                            Cappricia, Zenith, Shirley & Meccano

Tomatoes, cherry/small fruited     Sungold (cherry), Apero (plum), Sweet Million (mini) & Sakura Red (cherry)

Tomatoes, beefsteak                        Marmande, Country Taste & Big Daddy


Barry Newman FNVS

3rd Review November 2016

Guide to the 2016 RHS Show Handbook

Barry Newman FNVS, spoke at the Federation Day on 25th February about the changes between the 2008 & 2016 RHS Show Handbook.

He has kindly provided notes from his talk – reproduced here:

The Judging of Vegetables

Major differences between the 2008 and 2016 versions of the RHS Show Handbook

 Page 90 Constitution of Dishes

  • Now contains suggested numbers for smaller shows.
  • Gives an explanation on pointing plus a combined list of specimen numbers and point’s values for ease of reference.
  • Gives the specimen numbers required for collections and single dishes which are now the same.

Page 91, 92 & 93 Vegetable listing index

  • Please note reference to ‘miscellaneous’ vegetables (fruiting, leaf, root and salad) is now dealt with on pages 126 & 127.
  • Additional vegetables have been added, these will be dealt with later in these notes.
  • Please be aware that the *reference to stalks not being required for Cabbages and Cauliflowers in collections has been removed. Stalks are required in collections.

Page 94

  • Artichokes, Chinese have been added as additional separate vegetable with a point’s value of 12 and a number requirement of 9.

Page 97

  • Beans, shelling, other than broad (eg. Borlotti and similar types) have been added as a separate vegetable with a point’s value of 15 and a number requirement of 9 pods.
  • Under Advice to Judges Beetroot, cylindrical, there is now reference to not cutting specimens to determine internal condition. This is repeated for Beetroot, globe and long.

Page 100

  • Calabrese now includes romanesco and other types still with a point’s value of 15 and a number requirement of two heads.
  • There is additional advice under Carrots, long pointed. To aid differentiation between these and Carrots, stump rooted.

Page 101

  • Information regarding differentiation is also contained under Carrots, stump rooted.
  • Cauliflowers, coloured now enjoy their own entry with a point’s value of 20 and a number requirement of 2 heads.

Page 102

  • Celeriac receives additional ‘merit’ advice.

Page 104

  • Chicory, Chicons is expanded to include Radicchio and other forced heads.

Page 105

  • Cucumbers, mini or small have been added with a points value of 15 and a number requirement of 6.

Page 106

  • Cucumbers, gherkins and pickling types have been added with a point’s value of 15 and a number requirement of 9.
  • Dandelion, blanched has been removed.
  • Endive is expanded to include Chicory, sugarloaf type.

Page 107

  • Flower sprout, Petit Posy has been added with a point’s value of 15 and a number requirement of 15.
  • Garlic, elephant or giant has been added with a point’s value of 15 and a number requirement of 3 bulbs.
  • Garlic has been reduced in point’s value from 15 to 12.

Page 108

  • Both Herb entries are now prefixed with the word ‘culinary’ and the advice to judges has been strengthened to stress that foliage is the predominant factor.

Page 109

  • The merits of Kohlrabi have been revised.
  • An addition to Leeks, blanched or intermediate is that ‘roots must be washed not trimmed’ this is also included under Leeks, pot.

Page 111

  • Lettuce, cos now gets it own entry which includes Lettuce, crisp with a points value of 15 and a number requirement of 2 heads.

Page 113

  • Onions, large exhibition advice to judges now excludes the instruction to disqualify under 250g specimens.

Page 117

  • Pepper, hot (chilli) has been added with a point’s value of 15 and a number requirement of 6.
  • Pepper, sweet has been added with a point’s value of 15 and a number requirement of 3.

Page 118

  • Potatoes approximate tuber size has been increased to between 200g and 250g.

Page 119

  • Radishes, salad approximate size guidance has been reduced to 30mm and the point’s value increased to 12.

Page 123

  • Swedes have been added as a separate entry with a point’s value of 15 and a number requirement of 2.

Page 125

  • Tomatoes, truss has been added with a point’s value of 15 and to be displayed as a single truss.


The following is an extract from a note received from Colin Spires who chaired the Show Handbook Review Committee.
Hopefully it will direct you to other areas that have received updates and modifications.

“…..As far as flowers, etc are concerned, I approached a number of specialist societies and the following sections have had substantial reviews:

Bonsai, cacti & succulents, dahlias, fuchsias, gladiolus, orchids & tulips.

The rose sections were slightly reduced in number and illustrations of dahlia divisions are shown

A note about specialist societies was included (P130). The difficulty is that all specialist societies seem to have their own rules for specialist shows which don’t really apply to local/county shows.

An important note (p130) states that cut flowers must be in water, or water-retaining material.

A new section was added re Floating Flowers (p153) and the section re Hanging baskets (p182), etc simplified.

The main changes are shown in the preface (p7)”

                                                                                                    Barry Newman February 2017

Allotment Competition 2017

The Allotment Competition is open to all members of affiliated Societies and has two Sections:

  1. Plots of less than 10 rods
  2. Plots of 10 rods and over. 10 rods are equal to 250 sq m or 300 sq yds.

Allotments are assessed by official Judges of the Federation. The judging criteria, based on the recommendations listed in the RHS Show Handbook 2008, are

  • Condition of the Plot
  • Good Workmanship
  • Quality of Crops, Flowers, Fruit, Vegetables and Plants
  • Originality of Layout and Planting
  • Ingenuity in Overcoming Local Problems
  • Visual Aspect of the Plot
  • Condition of Structures

Judging takes place on a mutually agreed date during late June/early July. There are cash prizes for the top 3 plots in each section, and Challenge Cups are awarded annually to the winners of each section and presented at the Federation AGM in February.

Do consider entering your allotment plot. The competition entry form is available here.

Iain Crawford
Allotment Competition Organiser

Peter Maunder Garden Competition 2017

The Federation is running the Peter Maunder Garden Competition again in 2017:

Anyone who is a member of an affiliated society is eligible to enter the competition.  You do not need acres of rolling park land; there is one class in the competition for all garden sizes.  The judging is based upon the suitability of the design to the site, the level of maintenance, the suitability and cultivation of the plants and the practicality of planting.  It is accepted that many gardens have more than one purpose.  Vegetable gardens are often incorporated into decorative gardens and there is the need for seating areas and play space for children. 

The competition is judged in July by Federation approved judges, and there are prizes and certificates for First, Second and Third.  The First prize winner also gets custody of the Peter Maunder Trophy for one year.  This is a memorial to one of the founding members of the Federation and it is a delightful miniature pewter wheelbarrow on a wooden stand, therefore no polishing required.  

Do consider entering your garden.  Entry forms and the judging criteria are available here.

Update: Deadline for entry has been extended to 10th June.

Suzanne Holroyd
Garden Competition Organiser


Federation Quiz Report 2016

The preliminary round of the Federation quiz took place on the 25th September 2016 at Otterbourne village hall.

Our chairman and myself where a little surprised when on arrival we found the hall in use by a model car group complete with race track but to be fair they cleared the hall very quickly and allowed us to start setting up. All was well except once again we had difficulties with the sound system, this is something I must try and rectify before next year’s quiz.
Twelve teams entered which was first class it’s a long time since we have had that number.
As far as I am aware all enjoyed themselves and I only had one complaint this time round, which to be honest was justified, that there were no questions on Capability Brown.
Round one picture identification caused the most problems followed by the General knowledge round otherwise the teams were fairly close.

Four Marks managed a perfect ten out of ten in round three Trees and Shrubs.

The final top four who now go onto the final at the AGM in February are as follows. 

Four Marks  50.5 marks
Ropley         44.5 marks
Liss              41.5 marks
Emsworth     41.0marks 

I must thank Douglas and Kelvin for checking my questions before hand and for acting as markers along with Jenny and Roger Butler. Ian for his scoring system which now rivals the European song contests. Lesley for her cakes and everyone else who helped make it a successful afternoon.
I would also like to show my appreciation to Caroline who promoted the quiz so well in the e bulletin. 

Finally a very big thank you to Haskins Garden Centres for their extremely generous support in the form of £100 worth of gift cards.

Bob Sawyer

Community Gardening Groups invited to Exhibit at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017
Tuesday 4 – Sunday 9 July 2017

Preview Evening Monday 3 July 2017

Dear Community Gardening Groups,
We are writing to invite you to apply to create an exhibit at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.  For the last two years Flower and Vegetable box planting displays have been created by a variety of community groups and for 2017 we are keen to encourage as many groups as possible to participate.
Flower and Vegetable boxes focus on planting and plantsmanship without the need for heavy construction meaning the exhibits can be delivered with more limited resources. The RHS provides timber framed beds filled with compost allowing exhibitors to focus on creating a story and message to share with visitors through the planting.  Flower and Vegetable boxes offer a great way to engage with the many visitors that come to the show, providing a platform to showcase work and promote campaigns and initiatives connected with horticulture.
For 2017 community groups applying to create Flower and Vegetable boxes will also be able to apply for a grant (£250) to help with the costs of exhibiting at the show.  We are very keen to include more community groups at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and we very much hope that you will be interested in working with us. For application forms and to find out more about the show, click below


Contact details are provided in the factsheet that accompanies the Flower and Vegetable Box application form and we look forward to hearing from you should you have any questions, comments or suggestions. If you have any problems using the web based application forms please contact:
Kind regards,

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show Team
Application Deadlines
Flower & Vegetable Garden Box deadline: 20 January 2017