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AGS Shows: South Wales Show 2012

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Started by: Jon Evans

Go to latest contribution by Jon Evans, 21 February 2012, 21:22. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from Jon Evans 20 February 2012, 16:09top / bottom of page

Following close on the heels of the RHS Early Spring Show in London in the week, the first AGS show of the year took place at Caerleon,just across the Severn into Wales. As in the last few years, I was doing the show photography, so this constitutes the first of my irregular show reports for the year. I apologise that some of the images look a little dark on the website; I have tried to fix that as I go through them. I do my post-processing on a screen with a dark grey background, and viewed like that they have plenty of light and the slightly darker rendition gives the colours more punch.

Saturday morning dawned cloudy but dry; the car was soon packed with a few plants (nothing really worth taking after the confused weather for the start of the year, but they bring a bit more interest and colour to the benches), and a photographic exhibit to add some life to one end of the hall. The stands for the latter take up the entire passenger side of the car, which resulted in some grumbling from my passenger and companion, as he had to sit behind me. Soon we were rumbling down the M4 and he was snoring gently in the back. By Swindon the rain and gloom had set in, and things didn't look good for show photography. However,by the time we had crossed the bridge (and paid the toll), the weather was lightening a little, and a temporary respite allowed me to carry plants, photography gear, prints and stands into the hall.

Embroidery Exhibit by Jean Morris

The first thing to strike me on entering the building was a magnificent embroidery exhibit at the far end of the hall, put on by Jean Morris (later to be awarded a gold medal). Because of my involvement with the artistic section at shows, I had seen most of the individual pieces before (and photographed some of them), but freed from the constraints of the show classes, Jean is able to group her work into themed panels which underline the skill, and the variations in technique between the different pieces. At this show we saw panels of irises and crocuses, which looked amazing across the hall; viewed from a distance the subtle shading and lighting in the cross-stitch patterns becomes apparent and they look almost 3D. Between these were other panels focusing on the beautiful ribbon work and stump work which Jean has done and entered in shows over the last decade.

Jean has acquired her own boards this year to put on this exhibit, so I hope we will see it at other shows.

Embroidery Exhibit by Jean Morris
Photography Exhibit

Having dumped my few miserable plants on the benches, I set about erecting my two print stands, and putting up a display of photographs of Alpines in Gardens.

This was one of the four sections of the huge exhibit I put on at the International Conference last year, but the images were new to most of the visitiors to the show, though some were familiar to readers of the Alpine Gardener. In no way did it match the skill, artistry and sheer hard work of Jean's display, but at least it meant that there was something of interest for people to look at at both ends of the hall.

Photography Exhibit
Small 6-pan Class

By the time the pictures were all up, the hall had been cleared for judging, and after a quick rush around the trade stands it was time to start the show photography. I always try to capture the 6-pan exhibits in situ before the public are allowed back into the hall, even if it means photographing all the entries because the judges have not reached a verdict. In this case, there was no confusion; the only entry came from Ian Robertson, but was well deserving of its first place. Two of the plants from this entry appear below.

Small 6-pan Class
Pleione humilis

Exhibited by Ian Robertson as part of his winning 6-pan.

Pleione humilis
Ornithogalum nanum

Exhibited by Ian Robertson as part of his winning 6-pan.

Ornithogalum nanum
Crocus sieberi var. tricolor

After photographing the multi-pan exhibits, my attention always turns to a search for plants whose flowers are likely to be ephemeral, and close or lose condition very quickly. At this show, that means focusing on crocuses, romuleas, irises and tulips (if any); later on in the year, plants such as erythroniums (which suffer in the heat of the hall) and townsendias (which close as soon as the sun goes off them) need to be added to this list. By now the rain had started falling heavily, and the light levels were low, though at least the direct light from the window was grey and even, unlike the harsh sunlight which I am normally struggling with at this show. As a result I was very concerned that I had to work fast to catch some of these flowers while they were still open.

First up was this fine pan of the familiar Crocus sieberi var. tricolor, exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis.

Crocus sieberi var. tricolor
Crocus cvijicii

Second, a small pan of the glowing golden Crocus cvijicii in beautifully fresh condition, exhibited by George Elder.

Crocus cvijicii
Crocus minimus "Bavella"

The third crocus in this initial rush was Crocus minimus "Bavella" exhibited by Ian Robertson. I think the two close-ups have gone a little blue, and the view of the whole pan is a truer colour; I will have to go back and tweak them a little - it is hard to be exact with colours in this part of the spectrum, so I would welcome any other opinions on this.

Crocus minimus
Romulea bulbocodium var. leitchlinii

Strangely a plant I have never photographed before.

Romulea bulbocodium var. leitchlinii
Iris unguicularis J&FK1024 "Peloponnese Snow"

One of the highlights of the show was this lovely white form of Iris unguicularis exhibited by Robin White.

Iris unguicularis J&FK1024
Galanthus Sophie North

Now the most urgent exhibits had been captured it was time to turn to the plants which had won awards. Dominating this list was Don Peace, who seemed to have brought 5 or 6 pans of Galanthus Sophie North. This, the largest, deservedly won both the Galanthus Goblet and the Farrer Medal. I hadn't realised, until I carried it over to the photography bench, how beautifully scented it is.

Galanthus Sophie North
Galanthus ikariae

Don did bring at least one pan of snowdrops other than Sophie North; this is Galanthus ikariae, grown from seed sown in 2001.

Galanthus ikariae

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