Between the wars, Romsey had a flourishing Gardeners’ Association. As well as regular meetings and competitions for members, it arranged several outings for members each year. For example, in August 1928, members visited Paultons Park, then the home of Captain Lester and his wife.

The visitors were met by Mr A.W. Dix, the head gardener, who led them on a tour of the gardens. This started in the kitchen gardens with its fine borders, and where pears, figs and peaches grew on the walls. Melons were growing in frames and outside the walls there was an avenue of apple trees, with ‘fine cherry trees’ nearby.

The garden contained several greenhouses and a peach house, but what particularly interested the visitors were the carnation houses with their wide selection of varieties. Needless to say there were also tomato houses, and also a further greenhouse with coleus and hydrangeas, but what particularly caught the attention of the visitors were the aubergines. These were described in the report in the Romsey Advertiser, as ‘plants of the cucumber family and of American origin’ which suggests that few people had ever seen them before. Beds of roses and sweet peas were examined, as were ‘several remarkably good beds of marigolds’ and a large number of gooseberry bushes.

On the other side of the lake they saw the tennis courts and cricket field, as well as a stand of bamboo, including Niagara, a black variety. Beside the lake they looked at the boat house inside of which were ‘lifelike images of leopards, and birds of paradise’.

Nearer the house were beds of heather and lavender, penstemons and dahlias, as well as coreopsis and fuchsias in pots with geraniums near the pillars of the house. There were both trout and goldfish in the fountain alongside the water lilies. Cygnets were seen on the lake.

From the side of the lake the visitors could see a terrace in front of the house with antirrhinums, begonias and dahlias where a wide flight of stone steps lead into the Italian garden,.

What the report does not mention is how many gardeners Mr Dix had in his team to maintain this finery. It does however shed light on the way flower shows were organised in which there were open classes which were always won by people with professional gardeners, and separate classes for ‘cottage and amateur gardeners’ who did their own gardening.