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Kent Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: 08 May 2015 by Tim Ingram

Interlude - the AGS in 1970

Why pick out 1970? If you look at the names of some of the people who wrote articles for the Bulletin in that year and the subjects they wrote on, this is part of the reason. Another is that 1970 was around the time that I first became fascinated by alpine plants and built a small raised bed in the garden without being aware of all these names (in fact I didn't join the AGS until some years later). It was also a time when the AGS was growing significantly in membership - as it had been steadily over the previous decade in particular. 700 new members joined in the first six months of 1970! And, as mentioned in the Alpine Anthology, it was European Conservation Year, and the year preceding the 4th International Conference held in partnership with the SRGC at the Harrogate Show. One of the lectures at this was on Plant Nomenclature: 'Is it really necessary to change the names all the time? Possibly we shall learn.' So some things still exercise us in the same way as they did 45 years ago, whilst interest in alpine plants and alpine gardening may be rather less proportionately now than then.

Almost all of the pictures in the Bulletin were in black and white. It is hard to imagine this now but a consequence may have been (may actually be now if you read articles like those written in 'Hortus') that writing held more significance than illustrations. How many members read the Journal now, or mostly enjoy the images of plants? On the other hand pictures are always important and on page 5 of Vol. 38, March 1970, there is a wonderfully evocative photograph of the Dolomites which is no less affecting now, even in this world of digital photography, Facebook and Twitter.

Amongst the Vice Presidents of the Society listed on the first page of Vol. 38, No. 1, are Sir E. J. Salisbury, F.R.S., past Director of Kew and author of what must be one of the best popular books ever written on plants, 'The Living Garden', and E. B. Anderson, V.M.H., who probably needs little introduction to keen gardeners even now 45 years later (?), along with many other familiar names (at least to the plantsman). 

The Hon. Editor was R.C. Elliott F.L.S., who must have played a big part in the growing membership of the Society after acting as Publicity Officer a decade or more before. The Assistant Editor was C. Grey-Wilson.

A different time but a very interesting one!

Amongst the articles in the Bulletin were a continuing series on Saxifraga by Winton Harding, 'The Genus Phlox' by Lincoln Foster, 'Alpines of the Yorkshire Dales' by E.C.M. Haes, and 'A New Fritillary' by J.M. Watson and E.M. Rix - the rather delectable Fritillaria alburyana on Çakmak Daǧ.

At the Shows Kit Grey-Wilson staged a botanical exhibit of almost all species of Dionysia then in cultivation from various growers (at London) and Jack Elliott one on fritillarias and recent introductions. At East Chesire, Ness Botanic Garden staged a group of dwarf rhododendrons and alpine plants. And at Birmingham, S.E. Lilley made a non-competitive display of forty rare and difficult plants, and Kath Dryden one of almost all known species of Lewisia. Stirring times.

Proposed talks at the 1971 Conference to come included... well see the copy below from the leaflet included with the Bulletin.

If 1970 was European Conservation Year and learning about plants was hardly not a part of this, and the AGS played a significant role then, then how much must this also be true now?

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