A West Wight flower champion has been crowned ‘POTY’ by The National Dahlia Society.
Darren Everest, of Cranmore, received one of the most prestigious accolades at the society’s virtual annual meeting when he was presented with the Personality of the Year (POTY) Award. The award is given to recognise the efforts Darren has put in to promote the dahlia over the years. He has been growing dahlias for 35 years and for the last 15 has been doing talks for gardening clubs across the south east of England.
Darren, with the help of his wife, Dawn, have also put up large displays at such places as the Edenbridge and Oxted Agricultural Show, Lullingstone Castle and the Royal Horticultural Society, Wisley. Darren, whose father, Bryan, and grandfather were also keen gardeners, first took an interest in dahlias, aged 12, after visiting the Westerham Autumn Show in Kent where he grew up.
He said: “Dad grows chrysanthemums and we both show our blooms for the sheer fun of it. The social side of showing, the banter, the swapping of ideas, meeting friends, all with the same interest, is what it’s all about. Of course, we all want to win, but it certainly is the case that it’s the taking part that counts.”
Darren, a member of the Freshwater Horticultural Society, has had his fair share of success in the past, with eight consecutive gold awards, including one large gold award, for his displays at the Edenbridge and Oxted Agricultural Show and six National Dahlia Society Championship classes for his miniature and waterlily-type dahlias.
Darren was also featured on BBC Gardeners’ World in 2014 with his dahlias and on the Farmers’ Country Showdown with his gold medal-winning sweet peas. He and his family moved to the Island in 2018 and he regularly contributes to the National Dahlia Society Facebook page and has his own YouTube channel.
He has recently joined the National Dahlia Society’s executive committee and, on receiving his award, added: “To be recognised by the honours committee this way makes all the time and effort worthwhile.
“I love growing and showing dahlias and will always continue to do so. I have met some wonderful people throughout my time in the show world and hope to continue promoting this wonderful flower for many years to come.
“Some people might think my hobby is a little strange and now I can say that I am officially POTY!”