A champion veg grower is on course to pick up a record-breaking hat-trick of garden “Oscars”.
Medwyn Williams from Anglesey is on the shortlist for the Royal Horticultural Society’s coveted Lawrence Memorial Medal.
If he wins it, it will be the third time that Medwyn, who showcases his produce at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, has been handed the medal – known as the gardening Oscar among green-fingered professionals.
Usually the winner is plucked from those exhibiting at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show – however Medwyn has been nominated for the spread of veg he put on his stand at Malvern RHS Show last September, where he also picked up a gold medal and best exhibit prize.
The expert grower has also collected a record-breaking 11 gold awards at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Medwyn, who runs his veg business at Llanfair PG with son Alwyn, picked his prize-winning exhibit from among the produce he grows and supplies to Bodnant, the centre of excellence for Welsh food in the Conwy Valley.
“What was on the stand at Malvern RHS Show was just the same as the vegetables I take each week to Bodnant. I like to think that everything we put on sale is good enough, and tasty enough, to win a prize, whether it’s a garden show or food competition,” explained Medwyn, who won his first RHS prize 20 years ago, and now has 11 Chelsea gold awards under his belt.
“It was a great display at Malvern, as we had more than 40 kinds of vegetables and I aimed to make it really colourful. We had lilac cauliflowers, beetroots of all shades, yellow and purple carrots, white and red radishes, black, yellow and green tomatoes, superhot chillies, kohl rabi and herbs.
“I was very pleased when we got a gold, and best in show, as Malvern was the only RHS show that we did last year, as we have been so busy growing produce to sell at Bodnant.
“So obviously I was doubly delighted when I discovered that we had been nominated for the Lawrence Medal again, we are the only Welsh growers to have that honour.
“Really, among professional growers, it’s seen as the Oscar of the gardening world. I’ve won it twice before – you are not eligible to win it for the next three years after getting it. Usually it goes to one of the big flower growers for their Chelsea stand, so it’s even more of an honour to be nominated for vegetables at another show.
“I first got the Lawrence Medal in 2001, when the display also won the Chelsea’s President’s Medal, and in 2004. Also, I’ve won 12 RHS Gordon-Lennox trophies from the RHS for the best fruit or veg display.
“As a business, though, it is good to keep developing and so it’s been a big step forward to be growing produce for Bodnant’s farm shop.”
Chris Morton, managing director of the £6.5m Bodnant Welsh Food Centre at Tal y Cafn in the Conwy valley, says that Medwyn’s vegetables have proved a huge hit with shoppers.
“We pride ourselves on stocking seasonal local fresh produce of the very best quality, and that’s what Medwyn delivers for our customers. Our research shows that shoppers return again and again to Bodnant because they can find food that inspires them.
“I’m delighted that Medwyn’s exhibit is up for such a well-regarded prize – but here at Bodnant we already know that his produce is the best.”
The Lawrence Medal is usually presented to large-scale flower or shrub growers, and Medwyn has already entered the RHS record books, by being the only double-medal winning veg grower in the past 25 years, and the only Welsh winner to take it more than once. He previously won it 2001 and 2004 – the last time a vegetable grower picked up the medal for a third time was back in 1952, when it went to Suttons Seeds.
Launched in 1906 to celebrate Sir Trevor Lawrence’s 21-year tenure of office as President of the RHS, the Lawrence Medal is awarded annually for the best horticultural exhibit shown to the Society during the year.
Also nominated this year are displays by French orchid growers Vacherot & Lecoufle, R A Scamp Daffodils, auricula specialist Drointon Nurseries, South West in Bloom, Birmingham City Council and Pheasant Acre Plants gladiolus.
Medwyn, who has been busy planting seeds for the new season, added: “Knowing what catches the judge’s eye at an RHS show is one thing, but it’s another challenge to constantly produce quality vegetables across a long season, which tempts cooks to try new recipes.
“That’s why I’m always on the look-out for new and unusual varieties of vegetables. We are just about to start cropping our kalette to put on sale at Bodnant. It’s a cross of curly kale and flowering sprouts that’s the latest superfood – it opens out like a flower and looks lovely on the plate when it’s cooked.”
Born in the Anglesey village of Paradwys, Medwyn grew up in Llangristiolus, and began growing veg when he was just eight, helping out his dad, a farm worker renowned for the length of his prize-winning carrots.
He started showing at Chelsea after presenting S4C’s coverage of the show. Today he is President of the National Vegetable Society, and a member of the RHS’ Fruit Vegetable and Herb Committee, which he previously chaired.
Bodnant Welsh Food Centre has its own dairy making cheese and ice cream, plus an on-site bakery and butchery, with award-winning pies. There’s also a wine store and tea rooms plus the Hayloft restaurant and farmhouse accommodation.
More details at www.bodnant-welshfood.co.uk or call 01492 651100.