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AGS Shows: London Alpine Garden Show SUNDAY 27th April 2014

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Started by: Jon Evans

Go to latest contribution by Jon Evans, 29 April 2014, 14:28. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from Jon Evans 22 April 2014, 17:39top / bottom of page

The AGS London Show will be held at part of the London Alpine Garden Show, organised in collaboration with the RHS, at the Lindley Hall, Vincent Square on Sunday 27th April. 

The show will be open to visitors from 11am to 4.30pm.  Entrance is FREE to RHS and AGS members on production of their membership tickets; other visitors can pay £8 for entry on the day (standard RHS admission prices). 

Staging for exhibitors is 4pm to 8pm on Saturday 26th, or 8am to 9.30am on Sunday; if you can bring any plants for the plant sales table (which we haven't had before), please do so.

What to look forward to at the show

-   Competitive show of alpine plants from Alpine Garden Society members

-   A stunning display from RHS Wisley Alpine section

-   Nursery stands from Evolution Plants, Wildside, Jacques Amand and Trewidden

-   AGS members plant stand

-   RHS Wisley and AGS advice desks

-   A beautiful AGS photographic and artistic competition and exhibits

-   Incredible mountain paintings from Sam Gare

-   A wide selection of books on alpines

-   A full talks programme

   -   12:30 Alpines in the garden  - Jim McGregor

   -   13.30 Alpines in the wild and in cultivation - Diane Clement,

   -   14:30 Alpines in the eastern cape of South Africa   Cara Smith, Team Leader Wisley Alpine Section, RHS

   -   15.30 Photography in the garden -  Doug Joyce, photographer

-   Mezzanine cafe

Contribution from Ian Crompton 22 April 2014, 18:57top / bottom of page

Such bad planning I will be traveling through France Switzerland and Italy so will miss this show. Will be back for Malvern though i recived my tickets this morning.

Contribution from Margaret Young 22 April 2014, 19:54top / bottom of page

Thank you for posting these details about the day around the show , Jon. I can't understand why there has been no previous advertisment of the talks  in these pages. Something worth publicising - I already made  a note in the SRGC forum.

Contribution from Jon Evans 28 April 2014, 10:17top / bottom of page

Well, that's the London Show over for another year, and as far as I could see, a huge success.

My day started at 5.30am, unblocking a toilet which was brim-full.  Great, that certainly augured well for the day, and necessitated an unplanned shower before we left.  Fortunately, the drive in to Westminster was straightforward, and we arrived just after 7am.  The doors of the hall weren't due to open until 8, so that left time for a quick trip to Starbucks for a large Americano which propped me up for the manic morning which followed; I didn't get anything else until a hurried sandwich around 2.30.  By the time we got back to the show hall, exhibitors were shuffling quietly in and out.  The hall was nice and cool, but humming with life - busy people were staging plants everywhere.

Nurseries had brought plants from South Devon and Cornwall, as well as Tom Mitchell, who made two trips from Wiltshire, and local RHS regulars Jacques Amand.  This year we had about 350 plants entered in the competitive classes (up from c. 280 last year),  and new (to London) exhibitors from as far away as Newcastle, Chester, Wolverhampton and Pembrokeshire (oops Carmarthen).  All appeared to have had an easy trip into London and a good day, many leaving the hall and going out to visit the sites, shows and shops of central London.  Whilst still fewer than many of the other AGS shows, the plants were of a very high standard, and made a very impressive display.  This was augmented with a fine non-competitive display of alpines in pots by the Alpine Department at RHS Wisley.

Around the sides of the hall there were boards carrying the artistic classes.  With over 240 pictures entered, this made a wonderful backdrop to the plants.  In addition, I somehow found time last week to put together a small non-competitive display of photographs, to illustrate the more artistic side of photography.  Near the entrance of the hall, there was a small exhibit of wonderful large paintings of mountains by Sam Gare.

As soon as staging finished at 9.30am, the judges set off briskly, trailed, after some last minute organisation, by pairs of stewards.  The whole process worked smoothly, and by 10.30 we were turning the exhibitors cards over, and I went to tell the RHS staff they could let the visitors in.

What none of us were expecting, though we were delighted, was the huge number of visitors.  The hall was packed with lively, interested people from 11 through to 3.30.  All of us who were helping had a wonderful, but exhausting time, answering questions, and embarking on fascinating conversations about plants, photography, and gardening in general.  The nursery and bookstands were kept incredibly busy; by the end of the day there was little left on the Wildside Alpines stand, and the AGS plant sales table was empty apart from a tray of large plants of Primula allionii from David Philbey's collection.  He is trying to cut down on the number of plants he grows because is struggling to maintain them in good condition, and these plants were good named clones, 5-10 years old, being sold for £3 each.  Only half of them were sold, perhaps because people were put off by the need for alpine house treatment, or because they did not recognise the age and quality of the plants. 

The four talks that were given during the afternoon were extremely popular, and we had to double the number of chairs put out for them.  They provided an excellent introduction to the variety and beauty of alpine plants in the wild and in the garden, and how to grow them; thank you to all of the lecturers for making the extra effort to add this additional facet to the day.

I hope that in this flood of interest we managed to encourage a few to come to more of our shows, and perhaps join the society.  The only complaint I heard all day was that the show needed more nurseries selling 'genuine alpines' rather than woodland plants and bulbs.  I can only suggest that those who want to but lots of alpines visit more Alpine Garden Society shows - they take place all over the country, with at least 6, but often between 10 and 20 nurseries selling alpines.

Overall, the experiment of running this show on a Sunday was a great success.  I hope we will be running the show again next year, and that we can encourage more nurseries, and even more exhibitors to brave the unknown of bringing their plants into central London.  The success of this year's show should make that easier.

I would like to offer my thanks to all who helped with the show - all the AGS exhibitors and judges (particularly those who took a chance and came to London for the first time), the lecturers who gave the four talks, all the many people who came to help, both new and old faces, from all around London, but also from Pershore, who worked tirelessly all day, and by no means least to the RHS staff, both in public and behind the scenes, who contributed so much to the organisation and staging of this event.  It was a pleasure to work with you all. 

Finally, I would like to thank all the visitors who came to the show, AGS members, RHS members, and members of the public.  I hope you had a great day.

I have a very few snatched pictures of interesting plants I took during the day.  If no one else posts any photos, I will sort them out and post them once I have dealt with the huge mountain of boxes in the hall, where they got dumped last night.

Contribution from Helen Johnstone 28 April 2014, 12:57top / bottom of page

I really enjoyed the show and met lots of interesting people when I was working on the bookstall.  It was obvious that a significant number weren't alpinists. Trying to convince one lady that not all poppies were red and yes a meconopsis poppy was an alpine was challenging! There was lots of interest in growing alpines in pots and we sold out of the Alpines in Containers book.  We also signed up a handful of new members. 

Having listened to Doug's talk on photography I am slightly apprehensive to post any photos here but for what it's worth here are some I took


I have also posts lots of pics on twitter as have some others who went but who I don't think are AGS members and they have created quite a bit of interest.

Contribution from Della Kerr 28 April 2014, 15:21top / bottom of page

I quite often attend the London show, as a visitor rather than as an exhibitor - I couldn't have carried plants on the train from Darlington! It was much pleasanter to cross central London on a Sunday, with far less traffic and air pollution. The show was excellent, with additional entries from members who live in the north or midlands. The higher standard of entries was a pleasure to see. Jon is being very modest about his photographic display, which had beautiful photos and interesting narrative. The Artisitic Section was also excellent, as usual. I had not been aware of the problems at last year's show, but Sunday does seem to be a better day for both competitors and visitors.

Contribution from Jon Evans 28 April 2014, 17:02top / bottom of page

That's very kind of you Della.  I'm glad you enjoyed the show, and my photographic exhibit, having come so far.  We hope that we will be able to have more nurseries next year if the show is repeated; the date clash with Harrogate makes that a little more difficult than it might be, but we will see what can be done.

Contribution from Jon Evans 29 April 2014, 11:41top / bottom of page

Hi Everyone

Doug Joyce's official photos are now online here -

Helen Johnstone has posted some more excellent photos on her blog here -

it is good to see the feedback she gets on her blog, and on her Twitter account - thank you Helen.
Finally some of Alan Newton's photos have found their way onto the SRGC website here -

I'm sure it was an exhausting weekend Alan, but I hope you enjoyed it.

Contribution from Jon Evans 29 April 2014, 13:35top / bottom of page

As I have said, being show secretary, not only was I not the show photographer at London, but I didn't even have time for a proper look around the benches, to take careful shots of plants on the bench, so these are just a few snaps I grabbed between interruptions.  
There were many other plants I would have liked to photograph, and many I would have liked to do more formally, but either they were tired by the time I was taking photos, or I got distracted and missed that section of the bench.  I didn't try to photograph many of the award winning plants, knowing that they would have been done properly by the show photographer.
One of the highlights of the show was a wide selection of irises.

Iris reichenbachii

Many of the irises were brought all the way from Carmarthen by Bob and Rannveig Wallis, to provide an entry for six plants from the same genus, and the backbone of their entry for six pans of bulbous plants.  This is a dwarf form of Iris reicehnbachii which was given an Award of Merit by the Joint Rock Garden Committee.

Iris reichenbachii
Iris acutiloba ssp longipetala

Again from Bob and Rannveig Wallis, this is an intriguing variant of Iris acutiloba, which I haven't seen often on the show bench.  Bob calls it their Ku Klux Klan iris.

Iris acutiloba ssp longipetala
Iris paradoxa v mirabilis x urmiensis

Bob and Rannveig Wallis also exhibited this pretty hybrid iris.  I'm sorry I didn't photograph more of their irises; if I had been show photographer there were 8 or 9 I would have captured.

Iris paradoxa v mirabilis x urmiensis
Iris barnumae

Ray Drew staged an interesting 3 pan exhibit featuring this iris, and two hybrids between it and I. paradoxa ssp choschab.

Iris barnumae
Iris paradoxa ssp choschab(f) x barnumae fm urmiensis(m)

Exhibited by Ray Drew

Iris paradoxa ssp choschab(f) x barnumae fm urmien
Iris paradoxa ssp choschab(m) x barnumae fm urmiensis(f)

The reverse cross, also exhibited by Ray Drew.

Iris paradoxa ssp choschab(m) x barnumae fm urmien
Iris iberica ssp elegantissima

The most spectacular of Ray Drew's irises was this lovely form of I. iberica ssp elegantissima.  I hope Doug's formal shots of it come out well.

Iris iberica ssp elegantissima
Iris schachtii

There were plenty of other irises as well, including an Iris cycloglossa from Colin Rogers with 15 or so buds, which was going to be spectacular the following day, but refused to open before judging.  This I. schachtii was exhibited by Cecilia Coller.

Iris schachtii
Wurmbea recurva

South African bulb specialist George Elder, brought two wurmbeas.  I find these difficult to grow, let alone flower. First the more familiar plant, W. recurva.

Wurmbea recurva
Wurmbea species

George Elder also brought this lovely unidentified Wurmbea, which demonstrates why some of us find them so attractive, and try to get them to grow in this country.

Wurmbea species
Calochortus amoenus

Bob and Rannveig Wallis exhibited this lovely Calochortus; Colin Rogers asked me where it was from, and was cross when I answered "Bob and Rannveig".

Calochortus amoenus
Gladiolus anatolicus

On the other hand, this charming little gladiolus, which was exhibited by Colin Rogers, did come from Bob and Rannveig !

Gladiolus anatolicus
Gladiolus carneus

Cecilia Coller showed a lovely pan of this South African gladiolus, which seems to be becoming more popular on the show benches in recent years.

Gladiolus carneus
Scilla pratensis

A lovely scilla from Bob and Rannveig Wallis.

Scilla pratensis
Anacamptis laxiflora

As well as bulbs, there were a good number of orchids on the bench, including this attractive pan of the Jersey Orchid, from Barry Tattersall.

Anacamptis laxiflora
Cypripedium fargesii

Colin and Eliane Barr were awarded a Certificate of Merit, and a Preliminary Commendation from the Joint Rock Garden Committee for this pan of C. fargesii.  It had 3 or 4 flowers on, though the photo only shows one.

Cypripedium fargesii

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