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Kent Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: 14 May 2016 by Tim Ingram

An auction for our times.

Our East Kent Group of the AGS raised £1 short of £300 last night from the Plant Auction that we hold every few years to raise funds. It set me thinking about the value we place on plants within our particular small Group of only some 60-70 gardeners, of whom only around 20 attended the auction. Multiply this up proportionately across the AGS as a whole and you would be talking of raising a sum of around £50 000. Do something similar at the Shows, where there are often extremely fine plants brought along and exhibited, and it could be a great deal more! 

Our Group is notably strong in 'gardeners', by which I mean members who open their gardens for charity - especially the National Gardens Scheme - but also for local villages and towns. We value plants as much for this reason as for many others, and of course a garden needs to be worked on and developed and replanted regularly. Most of all it is a sign that we are a 'Plantsman's Society' first and foremost, and the simple truth about plants is that they can be propagated and presented to others. 

I would like to mention our Chairman, Peter Jacob, who acted as auctioneer for the night becuse of his particular generosity with the plants he brought along: a wonderful specimen of Iris kirkwoodii in full flower, the equal of any you see at the Alpine Shows... I forgot to take my camera but here to illustrate the plant is a picture from the Prairiebreak blog that Panayoti Kelaidis writes, with my thanks for his kind permission to use the image.

...Peter also brought a brimming potful of probably 30-40 bulbs of Narcissus 'Solveig's Song' and a strong specimen of the unusual Iris stolonifera. There were other plants of note, even if sometimes much smaller: Hacquetia epipactis 'Thor', Codonopsis lanceolata, Trillium kurabayashii and T. flexipes, Paris quadrifolia, Iris confusa, Ariseama nepenthoides in flower, a very fine potful of Bletilla striata, the useful and striking hardy Impatiens omeiana. There was the curious tender Euphorbia horrida, grown from seed by Virginia Oakes who grows a wide variety of succulent plants of all descriptions (Virginia is the Web-master, as well as Treasurer, of the Kent Group of the Hardy Plant Society, and if you are interested in web design I recommend you view the site she has made for the Kent HPS http://www.hpskent.co.uk ), Cistus x dansereaui  'Jenkyn Place' from Jeremy Spon (who I have already mentioned is Secretary of the Australasian Plant Society in the UK, though this is no Australasian plant!), Primula auricula 'Honey' (from Rachael Castle, who gave us a fine talk on the history of Auriculas last month and which I will write up for this diary in a while) - this created quite a buzz amongst bidders! And finally just a simple and rather beautiful white viola of no name.

For myself I am pleased to have bid successfully for a plant of Lysimachia paridiformis var. stenophylla, brought along by Gillian Regan, former Secretary to our Group and Chairlady of the Kent Hardy Plant Society, long term member of both the AGS and HPS and who will be well known to many members (especially those who travel widely), and whose garden I have helped with and learnt a lot from; a friend who has always been there in times of need for the Group.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable and productive evening - thanks to all! 

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