In 1911 Lord Northcliffe the owner of the Daily Mail offered the colossal prize of £1000 to the amateur gardener who grew the best bunch of sweet peas, with second and third prizes of £100 and £50 respectively.
A display of the entries was put on at the Crystal Palace in London on 28 and 29 July, and no fewer than 38 000 bunches of magnificent sweet peas arrived, although there was room for only 2 500 in the enormous marquee that had been erected for the occasion. The winner was a Mrs Fraser, of Sprouston in the Scottish Borders.
The flowers had, in fact, been grown by her husband, a church minister, who had sent in one bunch in his name and one in his wife's, as the rules allowed. Astonishingly, the bunch in his name won third prize.
The Daily Mail still sponsor the main prize in the NSPS shows.