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AGS Local Groups: A Day Out in Essex

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Started by: Tim Ingram

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Contribution from Tim Ingram 28 April 2013, 17:33top / bottom of page
The Essex Group Local Show

Local AGS Groups have inevitably always had close connections to alpine nurseries and plantspeople in their areas, as well as having members whose interests vary across exhibiting, gardening and travelling to see plants in nature. Effectively the main Society is the 'Local Group' writ large. Mike Brett who with Hazel ran the Mid Kent AGS Group for very many years, was hooked on growing alpines by seeing them growing in the wild and offered to help at Robinson's nursery in return for learning about growing and propagating plants. He suggested that as part of our plans for a display at the Kent Garden Show we should visit Mann's highly respected alpine nursery in Essex - and Mann's nursery has always had close connections to the Essex AGS Groups and those who have run them, like Kath Dryden and Ray Drew.

Well by happy chance, the Essex Group was holding their local Show on the same day! (Good timing on Mike's part). And so these are a few pictures taken at the Show, starting with a wonderful exhibit of Erythroniums put on by Ray (see under 'Any Other Topics' for how we got on at Mann's nursery).

These photographs do not give full credit to the beauty of Ray's plants but there are more and more hybrids of Erythroniums available now, raised by plantsmen like Ian Young and Keith Wiley, as well as older varieties that have never been commonly grown. The first picture shows something of the overall magic of the display and then let's look more closely at individual plants; ex. 'Rosalind'; 'Jeanette Brickell'; and I think my favourite variety of all shown, 'Craigton Cover Girl' - a beautiful soft-pink and elegant flower.

The Essex Group Local Show

In the garden E. revolutum is one of the very best species, and this form, from 'God's Valley', seems especially compact and well marked. The paler species like howellii, citrinum and californicum are very similar, and ray had examples of all of these, this second photo being howellii. Probably though it is the hybrids that appeal most; 'Appleblossom' doesn't seem to live up to its name here(?); 'Beechpark' has a curious combination of pink and soft-yellow flowers and very attractive leaves, which can be such a feature of the genus.

The final three pictures above are: 'Joan Wiley', 'Janice' (another nice compact looking plant), and californicum. A hybrid of E. citrinum was very nice for that deeper yellow flush towards the centre of the flowers; and for sheer reliability and vigour in the garden, here is good old 'Pagoda', highly recommended for any and every garden. Ray's display included many other plants too, and makes it very hard not to want to try and emulate and grow plants to bring to the Shows, and the last two pictures show overall views.

I will show a few more plants from the Show itself when I've got my breath back; there are some pretty interesting plants to come!

Contribution from Tim Ingram 29 April 2013, 08:47top / bottom of page
Some of the Show plants...

This pink form of Lewisia brachycalyx (from Robin Alabaster) was a gem, and would be an exciting plant to establish outside. Muscari 'Baby's Breath' (syn. 'Jenny Robinson') must have stimulated many more gardeners to consider muscari in the garden too - but what about the deep violet Bellevalia atroviolacea? What a tremendous colour. The Bellevalia's include many rarely grown species, and one that I would like to establish above all others is B. forniculata, which has flowers of vivid turquoise-blue. These two plants, and the following one were shown by Jean Rich, who is also well known for her interest in ferns - and this was illustrated by a lovely display of crockery.

Some of the Show plants...

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