Northumberland Diary Discussion: 30 March 2014
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Northumberland Diary. Entry 267.Go to latest contribution by Tim Ingram, 05 April 2014, 07:27. Go to bottom of this page.
Put together fret and the cool north-east coast and that close-up picture of Rhododendron forrestii and you have a winning combination! Just the most beautiful and characterful little plant. I wonder what Farrer himself would have thought of the Farrer medals? He after all was captivated by plants growing in their natural environments. I know it's impossible to have a Show of plants without a way of judging them (and it's not for one who doesn't show to judge) but there does come a point where the plants hardly need to be viewed in the sense of 'Best in Show'; so many of them exhibited are so fine. If I could grow a plant so well I would simply like more people to see it. The underlying aim surely is to encourage new people to get involved as much as old-timers to get such joy from growing plants so superbly - is there some happy medium? In Japan plants are grown in similar ways but the way they are displayed is generally more naturalistic - what would AGS judges make of this? It is up to someone to see.
John, I read your comments on 'Best in Show' at both Kendal and Kent with interest. I'll probably now tie myself in knots! I have been lobbied by a number of people in regards to both events and the lobbying has been almost equally in both camps! Certainly, on both occasions, the 'rules' were followed to the letter...which is not to say the rules are right or wrong. In the Kendal case, as at East Anglia last year, the Best in Show was found but could not have a Farrer because it had won it the previous week. So the question becomes should a Farrer winner be considered for best in show on subsequent occasions? I'm listening although my ears are already sore! As I say the ear bending I've had has been evenly split between yes and no.
I understand, though at the moment third hand, that at Kent the issue arose because the plant in question was in an oversize pot, a situation discovered after class judging during consideration for best in a 19cm pot, so it was though too late to move it to another already judged class (unfair to the exhibitors there). I'll confess here that this bit has occured recently with a plant in Section B brought forward for best in a 19cm pot. On that occasion I refused to consider it as a trophy candidate because it was oversize but I let the class judging stand as the pot was not much oversize and asked someone to have a quiet word with the exhibitor. Clearly the team on the day decided the class judging should not stand (probably correct as this was Open Section) and hence NAS'd the plant. Now the 'rules' as they stand allow the Best in Show and/or Farrer to be awarded to a non competitive plant at the show! This is what the judges did. Again I've had my ear bent in both directions.
Definitely one for the next show committee meeting!
Now I've got a sore head as well as sore ears :-(
My view of this, for what it is worth, is as follows: A Farrer Medal winning plant should not be debarred from exhibition at later shows in the same season, or from being judged best in show, and should be eligible for a second (or third) Farrer Medal if merited; if it is the best plant and worthy of a Farrer then it should receive it, it is up to other exhibitors to come up with better plants. I think the general public must be confused when an excellent plant receives best in show but is not awarded an FM. The only logical alternative in my view is to exclude Farrer Medal winning plants from competition for the rest of that season. I think we should be very strict about pot size rules, otherwise there tends to be gradual slippage, and its not fair for a plant to be included which breaks the rules. We have all had plants that would have won a class but were in too big a pot, so have left them at home.
I think I should probably bow out of commenting on the Shows unless and until I begin to contribute by bringing along plants. I'm not sure I have the ability to grow plants so well (but we are slowly getting better again at doing so) but I do understand why they stand so much at the heart of the Society and this website, and I am beginning to see that my thoughts on gardening with alpines are secondary in their relevance in many ways. I remain mystified as to why more members don't comment here on the website because I find I learn so much from comparing the experiences of others elsewhere, and growing alpines doesn't necessarily come easily.