AGS Shows: AUTUMN SOUTH SHOW 2012
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We look forward to seeing you at the AUTUMN SOUTH SHOW on SATURDAY 29th SEPTEMBER 2012 to be held at RAINHAM
GIRLS SCHOOL, DERWENT WAY, RAINHAM, KENT.ME8 0BX
Plant Sales from 9am Show will open at 12noon until 4pm
Nurseries attending are.
I'm sure that all the nurseries will be glad to bring your orders to the show.
Refreshments all day
AGS Plant sale and Books etc.
Any further information from Show Sec'
We are looking forward to seeing you next Saturday.
If you have some spare plants to sell on the AGS Plant Sales table it will be most appreciated, please double label them.
Have a safe journey.
Autumn is a relatively quiet but interesting time on the alpine gardening front. In more general gardening terms it has always been a perfect time to plant many things in the garden, but only really enlightened gardeners tend to understand this. So the Autumn Show South was most enjoyable as it always is, perhaps with fewer plants on show and the opportunity to do new things with non-competitive displays showing the diversity of flowers and foliage and fruits at this time of year, and from my personal perspective more thoughts on how new gardeners might be attracted to see and become hooked on these plants. (I am involved in advertising the Show).
For the nurserymen this is particularly important because growing more specialised plants also requires a developing interest amongst gardeners to try these in their gardens. There is an undoubted division that occurs between beginners and experts within the AGS and however much that is inevitable it is also something that continually needs to be bridged to draw new gardeners in and allow them to feel able to express their ways of gardening in their own fashion. For the nurserymen knowledgeable and enthusiastic gardeners are important, which is the greatest thing about the AGS, but also the straightforward numbers of gardeners attending the Shows are important - and for some of us anyway these are simply not enough.
This is an age old and ongoing problem but one which does require wider input from more people. The Shows should from all points of view have the capacity to inspire many more gardeners about alpine and woodland plants and small perennials, and to do so in a way which really stimulates people to want to get involved. They could be advertised very much better. But to do this they also need to look to the interests of new gardeners - and possibly older gardeners too - with more practical displays, and more good garden plants on show. This year, for example, I prepared a display of germinated seeds of all sorts and from many sources, to illustrate the huge variety of plants that it is possible to grow in the garden, and inspired by Jim Archibald, from whom so many AGS members will have had seed and grown plants. Who will do this you will ask? Well most importantly those newer gardeners who will be attracted. But also some of us older and more established gardeners who see the need. (I am a nurseryman and gardener which of course gives me a particular perspective - but also have a strong aesthetic and botanical view of plants, which is why the Shows also have such deep appeal. So I look both ways at once).
At the end of the day though it is that irrepressible fascination about the plants which wins out and there were some very nice things on show and especially for sale from the nurserymen. Dwarf ericaceous and similar plants are not so suitable for the dry south-east, but have always been a fascination for their distinctive habit and form, and recall memories of Barry Starling?s nursery stands at Shows many year?s ago. So a couple of rhododendrons and a cassiope from Aberconwy were tempting, along with the New Zealand Cyathodes colensoi, from Little Heath Farm. This is an intriguing little greyish bushlet with small heather-like leaves and white flowers, one of those understated plants which grows on you over time. We have several thoughts on developing places suitable for these plants - especially in troughs - and siting them in the coolest parts of the garden we can and yet still with good light. Grown in pots they could also make a wonderful non-competitive display to show the great variety of foliage and flower. Also from Aberconwy a dinky dwarf pink variety of Clematis heraclefolia, one which I had had and lost from Mike Smith, who grew many small and unusual clematis at Hythe Alpines. The mantra of many knowledgeable gardeners is to plant according to your particular garden, and whilst this is undoubtedly good advice it is also restrictive. One way of learning about plants is to push the limits, and secondly there are just those extraordinarily ?different? plants from places like New Zealand that are impossible to resist. Like the ericaceous species they need cool and reasonably moist situations in our rather dry garden, and will never grow as they can in more suitable gardens in the north and west. But I am trying the exquisite little Celmisia argentea (and already have a few more related plants). If they succeed I shall have learnt a little more.
Generally though our garden is very much more suitable to dry-loving plants and these can be left to look after themselves more easily. It is these that we particularly want to grow and propagate. I have mentioned before many North American alpines from the Rockies, and a couple of eriogonums from Blackthorn should be good on the sand bed, plus several plants from Little Heath Farm (who grow many of these plants from wild collected seed). We are also collecting more dianthus and picked up a plant of the famous old variety ?Little Jock?.
Those of us with a very strong interest in plants tend to belong to a number of different plant societies, especially often the Hardy Plant Society, and are often involved in running aspects of several of them. On this occasion the Kent HPS Group unfortunately held an Autumn Plant Sale on the same day as the AGS Show. For me this seems a great missed opportunity to combine forces and make an event greater than the sum of the two to attract new gardeners (which both Societies are aiming to do). Logistically and politically difficult - well yes. Possible - well yes.
A few pictures of the nurseries - 'Choice Landscapes', 'Aberconwy', 'Longacre' (with some really superb ferns), and 'Little Heath Farm' (who grow many rare and fascinating shrubs and trees in addition to alpines).
Thre were some 8 nurseries (plus AGS stand) and around 90 plus vistors, in addition to members, a little more than last year, but considerable efforts were made to advertise the Show with more flyers. It must be important to maintain a drive in getting more local gardeners to hear about the Show, and most of all to want to come back.
And a few pictures of the Show - many fine and interesting plants including some lovely pots of Crocus banaticus, which however much you see it always seems to surprise.
It is interesting and gratifying that a couple of overseas members who came to the Show have put pictures of plants on the SRGC Forum. The Kent Shows are ideally placed to attract visitors from the continent, and this is something we should perhaps work on more over coming years.
After days of torrential rain, our journey to Rainham show was blessed with clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine, just above the horizon, and right in our eyes all the way east along the M25. Despite the sun, we counted ourselves fortunate to be travelling in that direction; the opposite carriageway was closed for several miles, followed by a long, and clearly slow moving queue, even at 7am.
After we arrived, I staged two plants (both in the Intermediate section - not worthy of Open), and my photos, and then had a quick walk around the plant sales area before returning to the hall to start to set up for the photography. Various conversations and exchanges later, the show was judged and open by the time I was ready to start.
I always try to identify, and photograph first, any plants which might not be in the same state later in the day. This includes flowers which will close (crocus, townsendia, romulea, some gentians), or dry and curl up in the sun (erythronium, crocus again). At the autumn shows this means that I start with the best pans of crocus, also oxalis, sternbergia and colchicum.
The two oxalis which were most in evidence at this show were Oxalis lobata, here exhibited by Cecilia Coller in its bright brassy yellow form, and the softer yellow of Oxalis speciosa, below.
Bob and Rannveig Wallis were awarded a Certificate of Merit for this fine pan of Oxalis speciosa.
Crocus banaticus is one of the earliest autumn crocuses to flower, and often graces this show. Here are two contrasting pans, the first exhibited by Paul and Gill Ranson.
The second, smaller but better flowered pan, was exhibited by Don Peace.
Crocus mathewii, here exhibited by Ian Robertson, is one of the most spectacular of autumn crocuses, yet for some reason I have never photographed it. I can remember the fuss that was made about it only fifteen or so years ago, when it was first exhibited at the autumn show at Horsham.
This small but beautiful pan of Sternbergia sicula was exhibited by Ian Robertson, winning him a Certificate of Merit and the Keith Moorhouse Trophy for the best plant in a 19cm pot.
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