London AGS Show, 2006
Situated as it is in central London at the RHS Halls, Vincent Square, with an early start, and lasting over two days, the London Show presents obstacles unique in the experience of the AGS exhibitor. Only 20 brave souls were prepared to face these difficulties, so the excellent Show, of a high standard and with more than 300 plants, was both a credit to the exhibitors and a surprise to this observer. However, a warning note was sounded by the fact that no less than 80 of the plants were brought by one exhibitor, a herculean effort which brought due reward in the form of the Farrer Medal for the best plant in the Show (Asarum maximum), the Royal Bank of Scotland Trophy for the 19cm six pan class, the Mooney Cup for the aggregate of points in section A, and the Anna Griffith trophy for the most first prize points won in 19 cm classes.
Cecilia Coller, for it was she, impressed with the all-round quality of her plants, but also for the range of beautiful Turkish lamiums she grows, her exhibits including L. microphyllum, L. armenum with a vivid purple throat blotch, a good dwarf form of L. garganicum (ssp. pictum) and the scree specialist L. eriocephalum. The only senior award which escaped Cecilia was the RHS Sewell Medal which went to Leslie Cheesman, as in 2004.
Three Certificates of Merit were awarded, two of them to Ray Drew for Erythronium helenae, and for a complex hybrid Corydalis he had raised himself and named after his wife ‘Sue Drew’. The parents included C. solida, C. bracteata and C. malkensis, favouring the first named the most, but with an attractive contrast between white spurs and purple lips. Ray also won the Audrey Bartholomew Spoon for the best plant from north America, for a Erythronium revolutum with 25 flowers. The rarely seen Fritillaria striata won a Certificate for John Kemp. Amongst other unusual plants enjoyed by this reporter were the magnificent Chinese gesneriad Chirita fimbrisepala (Ray Drew), Iris zenaidae (Cecilia Coller), the orange, mound-forming Tropaeolum rhomboideum (Joy Bishop), and a hybrid between Narcissus triandrus and N. rupicola raised by the Director of Shows, and so far without a name. This is as good a dwarf narcissus as you will see and we must hope that Jim McGregor will propagate and name it.
One of the main features of this Show are the artistic exhibits. The Dawson Trophy (photos) went to Sheila Brown, and the Muriel Hodgman Art Award to Jean Morris. However, pride of place went to the Large Gold Medal winning display by the Show photographer Jon Evans. Jon has led the way in the use of digital photography of alpines for display, advertisement and art with intelligence, good design sense and endeavour (one image took 50 hours to create!) and thoroughly deserved this accolade, even if a turquoise dionysia sticks in the maw for some!. The Society should consider using some of his images for publicity.