Alpine Garden Society



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Dublin AGS Show, 2017

As the longest serving Show Secretary in the AGS, it gives me great joy to write the 32nd Dublin Show Report for perhaps the youngest Show Secretary on the occasion of his third Show in this role. Gavin Moore, I suppose, had the advantage of learning about alpines from his expert grower and shower father Billy Moore, who this year won his sixth Farrer Medal.

The Irish shows, both of which are interdependent on one another, experienced the first day of warm spring sunshine, so perhaps it was because of this that fewer members of the general public visit this excellent Show at Cabinteely. Under Gavin's leadership the Dublin Show is calm and welcoming, from the greetings at the school entrance hall by members sorting plants at the members plant stall, to exhibitors from North and South quite obviously glad to see each other after a year's absence (all at the same time casting a watchful eye as plants were wheeled in and put on the show benches). ‘Be The Best You Can Be’, a wall-hanging motto at the head of the hall, is obviously intended for the pupils of Cabinteely Community School, but also applies to AGS exhibitors!

An eye-catching photographic display of 'Flowers of Turkey' by Joan and Liam McCaughey gave a focus to a wall adjacent to the show benches, gaining a well-deserved Gold Medal. A quiet harmony was orchestrated by Director of Shows Martin Rogerson, who led the judges in a firm but relaxed manner! Another facet worth noting is the efficiency of the stewards, who had been trained to stay at an appropriate distance behind the judges. The Dublin ladies supplied most welcome coffee and first class home baking to judges and helpers, later also enjoyed by the general public. Gwenda Wratt had an excellent stall of hand-crafted cards, book marks etc, all adding to show’s income.

Trillium chloropetalum 'Bob Gordon'

During the afternoon, quiet live piano was played, adding to the buzz of visitors as they viewed the plants on display. Large pots of trilliums were very much in evidence, beautifully grown and perfectly presented. Trillium chloropetalum 'Bob Gordon', its golden petals glistening in the sunshine, won a sixth Farrer for Billy Moore, as well as the Margaret Orsi Bowl for best plant from North America. (This plant has been previously written up in Ulster Show report 2014).

Trillium albidum

Another species, Gordon Toner’s T. albidum, received a Certificate of Merit; of the four trilliums he brought to Dublin, three gained first prizes. He grows them in pots until they are too large, whereupon they are planted out in his Limavady garden. They thrive in a mixture of leaf-mould and garden soil, fed with blood, fish and bone, and while kept in the open most of the year, they are sheltered under glass shortly before exhibition. One of Gordon's trilliums won a Farrer four years ago, and it is worth pointing out that a red-coloured T. chloropetalum, similar to one he had on the bench, is over 25 years old, sporting over 100 flowers! Trilliums appreciate the north-west climate and Gordon's meticulous care.

Cassiope lycopodioides 'Beatrice Lilley'

Pat and George Gordon’s Cassiope lycopodioides 'Beatrice Lilley', eight years old and beautifully grown, was awarded won a Certificate of Merit and the Jacki Troughton-Smith Trophy. Kept outdoors in a raised ericaceous bed without protection, it is top dressed and fed occasionally, then lifted for showing.

Veronica bombycina var. bolkardaghensis

Two other Certificates of Merit awarded, one to Susan Tindall’s beautifully grown, immaculate Anemonella thalictroides f. rosea 'Oscar Shoaf', which is very happy outside on her rock garden in damp, heavy clay, though she also has a clump some 30 years old in a trough. The second Certificate went to Gavin Moore’s Veronica bombycina var. bolkardaghensis [left], a plant he saw at an Ulster Show some time ago (owned by Bob Gordon) and fell in love with. He grows it in the open but protected from heavy rain since it is prone to rotting at the centre.

Cyclamen persicum

Harold McBride was awarded the Ulster Group Trophy for three pans of perfectly grown rock plants from seed. Paddy Smith won the ACC Cup for aggregate points in the Open Section, as well as the David Shackleton Trophy for the best pan of Primulaceae with Cyclamen persicum, which he grows in a fairly lean compost to encourage better flowering; overfeeding produces large leaves and fewer flowers. Paddy also had some ethereal blue gentians on the bench. He's almost the 'Gentian King' with his expertise in producing these plants year after year. He ensures they are part-shaded as soon as they start to flower, to prevent bleaching.

Mukdenia rossii

The Waverley Trophy for the best plant in the Intermediate Section was won by Patricia Maguire, who has now been showing for five years, with Mukdenia rossii, which she lifted from a cool run in her garden of heavy clay. This plant is now seven years old. She also won the Barney Johnson Trophy for most first class points in the Section, which was well supported, auguring well for the future. The Novice Section only had 19 entries but what it lacked in numbers, it made up for in quality of plants. This is where the future of shows lies. Sandra Fowler won the Millennium Cup with a well grown and presented Lewisia tweedyi [below], kept in her alpine house. Sandra bought a gardening book and when she came upon the alpine plant chapter she was hooked, and now wants to learn as much as possible about to grow them. The Termonfeckin Trophy for most first prizes in the Novice Section was won by Jamie Chambers, who also won the Brian Wood Trophy.

Lewisia tweedyi

In conclusion, well done to everybody in the Dublin Group for an excellent, happy Show. Well done particularly to the Moore family; son and Show Secretary Gavin for leading the Show and for his awards, and to his father Billy for all his support, achieving another Farrer, and most importantly a third generation of this talented family, a daughter of Gavin who was there to see the show, and see her father and grandfather pick up their awards. Gavin tells me that she and her sister assist when he is planting seeds: we must catch them young!

Author: Pat Crossley
Photographer: Billy Moore

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