In the early spring of 1981 the dahlia scene in Cornwall changed dramatically, as new society had been formed – the Cornish Dahlia Society.
Several members of the National Dahlia Society had got together and decided that a specialist society was needed in the county of Cornwall. Cornwall was, then, a stronghold of many horticultural societies and great exhibitors.
With just a few from members from each society the success was almost certain.
A meeting, called by David Beer (of the Executive Council of The National Dahlia
Society) was held in February at the Royal Hotel in Truro. Cyril Watkins was elected President, David Beer as Chairman and Roger Turrell as Vice Chairman. David Jasper was elected as a committee member.
The first show was held at the Perranporth Memorial Hall on the 29th August at a cost of just £15. BBC South West gardener Don Hoyle opened the show and presented the trophies.
Growers from Somerset and Devon, including national champions Frank Newberry from Bristol and Tony Kingdon from Barnstaple came to the show. From Plymouth came Russell Turner and Peter Bateson who later became an officer of the Cornish Dahlia Society.
For the next ten years or so the society lived from one show to the next with prize
money donated by the committee, members and various commercial sponsors.
Harold Wilkinson of St Enodor raised “Gurtla Twilight” a pompon which regularly wins the prize for best vase of poms even at today’s shows. Phil Burden from Lanivet, raised “May B” a small ball, Ray Adley from Helston bred a giant decorative “Mabel Anne” which has also
won at National level.
Cyril Watkins is probably the most famous Cornish based raiser with the yellow small ball Polventon Supreme from as far back as 1992. Cyril’s also released Polventon Kristobel which is a very successful pink miniature decorative that has won many prizes at national level. He continues to produce new seedlings under the Polventon name.
Peter Greenway raised a pompon, large pompon and numerous miniature cactus
and semi-cactus winning at the National Shows under the Josudi name.
David Jasper has raised a number of new varieties including Jazzy Bee and Tiggy Bee, in 2017 he won the Silver Medal for miniature decoratives Kernow Sen
Lorraine and Kernow Sen Tetha.
Roy Knight and Mike Bryant are also breeding some very striking collerette and star dahlias.
2021 saw the Society celebrate it’s 40th Anniversary show, after missing a year in 2020 due to COVID. Our show continue to be a success with the 2023 Three Day Show held at the Lost Gardens of Heligan seeing nearly 100 novice exhibits.
Society Chairman Cyril Watkins said “Our society is going from strength to strength and it is thanks to our continuing growing membership and exhibitors and the societies desire to constantly change and adapt. Long may it continue.”