The Spen Valley Paxton and Chrysanthemum Society is staging its annual show at the weekend and two dozen or so people are making sure their blooms are in top condition.
“It’s a labour of love,” says Mr Sidebottom, 82, from Gildersome, near Leeds. He was a police officer, keen hockey player and road runner until age meant he had to find a gentler hobby.
“My father-in-law was into gardening and I picked it up from him about 35 years ago. I tried a few things before settling on chrysanthemums,” he said.
Mr Sidebottom now specialises in fantasy chrysanthemums – ones which have long and fancy petals. He even won a national award which he says was the result of 30 years of hard work.
“It took a lot of work over a lot of years to find out how to care for them but it keeps me young and active. It’s good to keep the brain going as you get older and there is always something to do,” he added.
“It takes months and months to grow them. There are a lot of variables about the conditions, feeding them, watering them and so on. Too much water and it spoils them.
“But our society caters for all sorts. We have a broad range of interests and we even stage other crafts too such as baking and we have classes in the children’s section.”
However, Mr Sidebottom fears too few young people are taking up gardening as a hobby. “If it hasn’t got a computer attached, a lot of them are not interested. There are some young people coming through but not enough really.
“It takes patience and a lot of work. I’m always doing something with the chrysanthemums and I really enjoy it. I make my own compost and I take time to learn. I’m still learning now and I’m 82.
“But it makes you think when you realise our national group had 15,000 members at one time and now we are down to around 400.
“It’s not just us. The budgerigar and rabbit shows are feeling the pinch too. Times are changing and people don’t have time for things like this.”
He is chairman of the Spen Valley Paxton and Chrysanthemum Society which is holding its annual show at Liversedge Parish Church Hall on Sunday from 1.30pm.
“We meet on the second Thursday of the month and we have 50 members but only 25 or so are what you would call active members.”
Mr Sidebottom, who is also treasurer of the Ossett and Horbury Chrysanthemum Society, does what he can to encourage others. His profile was raised by winning the national award and he helped a group in Hull to develop.
“I just hope people pop along to our show and say hello. If they’re interested in finding out more we will certainly help them,” he said.