AGS Local Groups: AGS Bedfordshire Group
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Compared to many other AGS Groups the Bedfordshire Group is quite small, with around thirty five members who rejoin annually. Despite this we have a full calendar with eleven meetings a year, an annual show, displays at other local shows, talks to other gardening groups and much more!
Meetings take place on the first Monday of every month, excluding January, from 7:30pm until 9:30pm in Wilstead Village Hall. Refreshments, a raffle and a monthly competition are always on offer. We are very lucky to have John Spokes, whose nursery is often at national shows, as a member and he always at our meetings with superb plants for sale.
Our website is always developing, with a very active Members' Contributions section. This currently contains members' photos, articles on plants and places and two garden diaries. The website also has lots of information on national AGS events, local AGS events, other local gardening group dates, Gardener's Questions, Plant Files, photo galleries and a great deal more!
My main focus for the website this year is to use it to get the AGS Bedfordshire Group in the public eye a bit more. This discussion thread is part of that, as I plan to keep it updated with news of what is going on in our Group and on our site. Our website can be accessed through the 'AGS Groups' section of the AGS website, or by visiting www.bedfordshirealpines.com
All contributions to this thread are welcome, whether your a friend of the Group or would like to know more about what we are doing.
The February meeting was our first in 2010. Despite the poor weather conditions attendance was good with all the usual faces turning up. February?s speaker was Peter Sheasby, who talked about ?Flowers of Turkey?. Peter?s talk went down very well with the Group; he was a clear speaker and had some excellent photos.
Unfortunately the Monthly Competition was low on entries this month (doubly disappointing as I was hoping to get some photos for the website!), with only a Cyclamen coum and a suspected Cyclamen coum in the Primulaceae class and a few foliage plants. The artistic section, which we introduced last year and has proven to be very popular, had a good number of entries again. This month?s competition was a photo of alpines in the wild.
The main focus of the business side of the meeting was our upcoming Show, which is on Saturday 13th March. More details of this will be posted soon, but there is already a lot of information on our website. This time of year always feels like the calm before the storm? Gran and I have done everything we can preparation-wise, but I?m sure in the week beforehand we will be getting paranoid about the entries we will receive as well as if we?ve done something silly like told everyone the wrong date!
Today Gran and I went to the Cyclamen Show at RHS Wisley, as Ian Robertson kindly asked me to judge. The number and standard of plants on display was an encouraging sign of what to expect plant-wise at the upcoming AGS shows; as always a little bit of cold weather did not stop the keenest (daftest???) of growers from exhibiting their plants! I won a first with a Cyclamen coum and Gran achieved a first, two seconds and a third with her photos. Below are a few photos that were taken at the Cyclamen Show and in the Alpine House. Lots more can be found on our website.
The first competitive Show of the season was definitely a success; although the number of entries was relatively low the plants that were there were of the usual high quality. The Bedfordshire Group was there just as visitors and stewards, as our plants are still feeling the effects of the weather! There are some promising signs that there will be a bit of colour for the Early Spring Show though. Below are two of the crocuses that were on display yesterday and a lot more photos can be found in the Photo Gallery of the Bedfordshire Group?s website.
- Crocus biflorus ssp. nubigena
- Crocus reticulatus
The Bedfordshire Group certainly had a lot of success at this year's Early Spring Show! Four of our members competed and we all went home with at least one first as well as a number of seconds and thirds. As always, photos from the day can be found on the Bedfordshire Group?s website, www.bedfordshirealpines.com. Below are a few photos of dionysias, shown by Mike and Christine Brown, which were on display.
Monday 1st March was our Group's monthly meeting. David Haselgrove, who always provides an excellent talk, spoke about ?Flower Hunting in Iran?. Despite the coldest winter seen in my lifetime, the monthly competition had over twenty entries, including various Cyclamen coum, a number of early flowering bulbs and a few saxifrages.
It's not long now before our annual Show, which takes place on Saturday 13th March, 12-4pm. Details of the Show can be found on our website and in the December 2009 edition of the AGS newsletter. If you would like to know more about the Show, please get in touch!
Above - Dionysia afghanica
Below - Dionysia archibaldii
Dionysia aretioides 'Bevere'
Our Show is only a week away and Gran and I are at the stage where we are constantly double checking everything! We?ve already had some entries and things are looking promising. Although how we are going to fit everything in to the hall is still something we have yet to work out?
The Show is on Saturday 13th March, in Wilstead Village Hall (a map can be found on our website) and is open from 12 ? 4pm. Entry is 50p for adults and free for children. Refreshments and a raffle will be available throughout the day. We will have a members? plants stall and John Spokes, from Little Heath Farm Nursery, will also be there. If you would like more information please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This year we have introduced a number of new initiatives to try and increase the number of people who visit the Show. One of the main ones is ?Bring a Friend for Free?; any person or couple who arrives at the Show with one of our members can enter for free.
We are also running a competition in the local lower school. We asked the children to do a picture of a plant, which we are going to display on the day. The pictures are going to be judged by one of our members and the top three in two age groups will be given prizes. It is hoped that the parents and grandparents who come to see the children?s work will join the Group.
Other ideas we are trying this year include a Public?s Choice Award, a membership offer for those who are new to the Group and information packs that will be given to visitors, rather than just left out for them to pick up. The packs include an AGS membership form, a Group membership form and the ?Easy Leaflets? that have been sent out with recent bulletins.
On a side note, members of our Group have had an extremely successful day at Loughborough. Colin and Sue Buxton, who only started showing this year, got a third, four seconds and seven firsts in the Novice Section at today?s Show; unsurprisingly this meant that they had most points in the section.
The Bedfordshire Group's Show met with mixed success. Display-wise the standard was at its usual high level. Everyone I spoke to was amazed at the huge amount of colour on show and the plants that our members had brought along following the exceptional winter we have had. The artistic section was unfortunately down this year, but this was more than compensated by the twenty seven photos that were brought along! Jean Morris was again entered her embroidery and anyone who has seen it at the national shows knows how good it is. Barbara Hook put on a display of her artwork which was complimented on by eveyone. and we had over forty pictures given to us by the school children. I will upload photos of the display over the coming week.
Despite our best efforts, we still had a disappointingly low number of visitors. We only had one child come to see her picture on display and 'Bring a Friend for Free' actually worked against us, as couples who regularly come into the Show got in by only paying for one? Back to the drawing board I think!
The Public's Choice Award was very successful on the other hand. Everyone took part in this and a wide range of plants was nominated. I was especially pleased with it as one of my plants won the award! (Dionysia aretioides 'Bevere').
I have finally found time to upload the photos from our annual Show! Lots more can be found on our website. I'm looking forward to going back to university just to have a break!
Dionysia aretioides 'Bevere'
Class 24 - Three pans bulbous plants
It has been a bust week for the Bedfordshire Group. On Easter Sunday we held our annual display at the Biggleswade Gardening Club Spring Show, the next day was our April meeting and following that a number of our members exhibited at the London Show!
Our display at Biggleswade attracted a lot of attention and many people took away both Group and Society membership forms. Fingers crossed that not all of them end up in the bin! Photos of our display can be seen below.
The speaker at the last meeting was Jim Almond, with his talk 'Out and About - Adventures of an Alpine Enthusiast'. Jim always gives us an excellent talk and this year was no different. The monthly competition was also well supported, with over twenty entries on the bench.
Our members had a lot of success at the London Show (actually getting to the Show seemed to be an achievement in itself this year!). Tony Hale did particularly well, with a total of twelve firsts in the Intermediate Section. Unsurprisingly this meant that he had most points in that Section... Well done Tony!
Members of the Bedfordshire Group once again met with success at the Midland Show. Tony Hale gained another four firsts and I gained one more first towards my second Silver Bar. Photos from this Show can be seen on the Bedfordshire Group's website and below are a few samples.
We have a quiet two weeks now before things start to get hectic again with our May meeting and two more national shows. However, there is plenty of work to do in the greenhouse to keep us busy!
Gentiana clusii alboviolaceae
Fritillaria aff. bithynica
It has been another hectic week for members of the Bedfordshire Group.
Last Saturday a number of us went to the East Anglia Show and once again met with outstanding success. Colin and Sue Buxton were given the award for having the best plant in the Novice Section and had most points in this section, Tony Hale achieved the same in the Intermediate Section and Jean Morris was awarded a Large Gold for her fantastic display of embroidery.
The following Monday was our Group meeting. Tony presented a DVD of an AGS visit to Czech. gardens. This went down very well with our members. We also ran a members' plant sale, on a 50/50 basis, which provided a boost for club funds.
This Saturday some of us made the long journey to the Malvern Show. I am pleased to say that the 3:00 a.m. start was worth suffering and we came back with a collection of stickers between us.
Photos from the most recent shows can be seen on the Group's website. Below are a few photos taken at the East Anglia Show.
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