Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Dahl's Centenary at RHS Cardiff

Pic of large white with pink trim Clematis flowers, buds and leaves

Pic of Dahl's BFG giant made out of wicker
A wicker BFG at RHS Cardiff

2016 is an extraordinary year for literary anniversaries. It's not all about Shakespeare and Cervantes. Cardiff is celebrating the centenary of the birth of the famous author Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl's children's characters featured prominently at the Royal Horticultural Society's Cardiff Flower Show. We were barely inside the entrance before we saw the towering figure of Dahl's BFG made out of wicker (left).

Roald Dahl was born in the North of Cardiff, the capital of Wales. His parents were Norwegian and he was baptised in the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay.

Dahl-inspired Pure Imagination Garden

One of the show gardens was called Pure Imagination. It was inspired by Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was a surreal representation complete with chocolate pond. It captured something of the storyteller's wonderful imagination. 

The best Roald Dahl-themed show contributions came from local children. Local nursery schools, primary schools, Beavers, Brownies and various other children's groups transformed wheelbarrows to represent their favourite stories. Show visitors were given counters to vote for their favourite wheelbarrow. It was extremely difficult to choose.

My elder son chose the Enormous Crocodile (left). It brought back fond memories of bedtime stories when he was younger. He now towers over me - not as tall as the BFG, but pretty tall nonetheless. 

We remembered how he used to love the ending when the enormous crocodile gets sent spinning off into space. 

Roald Dahl wrote great stories that are still capturing children's imaginations. 

My younger son always loved listening to Roald Dahl's stories. He liked James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr Fox and George's Marvellous Medicine. He loved that the wicked grandmother got her comeuppance in the latter.

Not every child finds reading and writing easy. Reluctant readers and children with early learning difficulties often appreciate Roald Dahl's stories. If they grow to love the stories through other means like artwork and gardening, it is much easier to motivate them to read the books afterwards. Fresh air and improving hand strength for writing are added bonuses.

James and the Giant Peach Wheelbarrow

Not only was Roald Dahl an inspirational storyteller, his own story is inspiring for such children.  It now seems incredible to think that Roald Dahl's teachers did not think much of his writing skills. Their comments were cruel. Yet, he went on to become one of our best-known and best-loved authors.

I thought it was a great idea for the RHS to host such a competition. It combined literacy skills and gardening. The children had obviously put a lot of thought, work and love into their wheelbarrows. Capture them young. I'm sure that early interests in reading, the environment and gardening never go away.  They certainly didn't in my case. 

Moorlands Primary School's entry complete with a Norwegian flag and Dahl's writing hut

After a great start to the RHS Show season, I am now looking forward to the Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows. Tickets already booked.

RHS On Tour Bus ready for the next show

Karen Andrews runs
Anglicity Ltd.
 She is
an English copywriter 
and digital marketer
with Welsh roots.

She loves gardening
and visiting gardens.

For further information see
Anglicity's website