Alpine Garden Society

Now is the time to enter the Online Show

01386 554790
[ Full list of Show Reports ]
[ Printable Version in separate window ]

Malvern AGS Show, 2009

“I’m late, I’m late for a very important date” cried the White Rabbit and somehow we all feel the same when the Malvern Show comes around. Early staging and early judging means scurryingng backwards and forwards with our plants, extra cards being made out and quickly dodging those exhibitors who have already benched their plants. At least the weather was dry, although cool as can be expected at 7am, so we didn’t have to dodge raindrops as well. This year the show was situated in the hall nearest the car park and although it wasn’t far to walk back after parking the cars, the distance to the toilets challenged even the best alpine hikers.

As usual this show attracted a good many entries with 59 exhibitors and 521 plants on the showbench demonstrating that even the early start doesn’t put off keen exhibitors nor does it lower the standard of exhibits.

Cypripedium parviflorum is an exquisite ladyslipper and gained a first in the Open section for Colin & Elaine Barr. It normally grows from the eastern United States and Canada west to the Rocky Mountains north to Yukon and Alaska rarely occurring in the far western and southwestern US. The exhibited plant is grown in an outside frame covered only in winter with a compost that is very free draining made up of 80% perlite and 20% composted bark and the plant is repotted every three to four years.

Cypripedium parviflorum is an exquisite ladyslipper and gained a first in the Open section for Colin & Elaine Barr. It normally grows from the eastern United States and Canada west to the Rocky Mountains north to Yukon and Alaska rarely occurring in the far western and southwestern US. The exhibited plant is grown in an outside frame covered only in winter with a compost that is very free draining made up of 80% perlite and 20% composted bark and the plant is repotted every three to four years.

Campanula carpatha 'Alba' An outstanding plant in the Campanululaceae small pan section was Campanula carpatha ‘alba’ exhibited by Graham Nicholls. The usual form seen is blue flowered but this white flowered exhibit demonstrated the reason for growers to collect seed from their plants. There are two white flowering forms in cultivation, one can only be propagated by cuttings and the other as shown here is propagated by seed and, unusual for campanulas, it comes true to the white parent in 90% of cases. However both forms need careful watering and will suddenly collapse if too much it given. Standing the pot in a saucer of water and allowing it to draw up what it needs is the best method. Careful cleaning away of dead foliage at the base of the plant is also important to prevent speedy onset of botrytis which again will cause the plant to collapse without warning.

Erigeron aureus ?Canary Bird? Two lovely yellow flowered North American species were on show both grown by Peter Farkasch. Erigeron aureus ‘Canary Bird’ can be difficult to grow to any reasonable size and so we are used to seeing it in the small pots as exhibited here although it is a fairly old plant being obtained from an AGS stall about 8 years ago. ‘Canary Bird’ is a selected cultivar raised by Jack Drake many years ago and makes a nice compact, free flowering plant.

Tetraneurus (Hymenoxys) scaposa Tetraneurus (Hymenoxys) scaposa on the other hand is much larger. It comes from dry areas of Utah, Colorado and Kansas and usually thrives in a dry spot outdoors in the U.K. Stems can grow to 35 cm with large yellow daisies and being exhibited in a large pot just shows what a nice plant it is. Both plants are treated very similar by the exhibitor and grown in a gritty compost. Careful watering over the winter time and control of botrytis is essential. In growth they are given a feed with half strength tomato fertilizer.

Allium shelkovnikovii The pink flowered Allium shelkovnikovii from Iran brought an Award of Merit for Ivor Betteridge. He first saw this on the showbench in 2003 and two years later bought3 bulbs from a reputable bulb list and potted them up in 1 part John Innes No 1, 1 part peat and 1 1/2 parts grit. When the bulbs were repotted in 2008 it was found that the number had increased to 6. Ivor starts watering from October and the bulbs are kept slightly moist over winter. Watering is increased when growth is evident and a high potash feed is given during the growing cycle.

Notothlaspi rosulatum Notothlaspi rosulatum was exhibited by Paul and Gill Ranson in the Rare in Cultivation class and interested many a visitor. This plant is found in the northern part of New Zealand's South Island where it grows on steep, mobile screes composed of mostly large rocks. Although these appear dry, barren and inhospitable, below the surface are finer gravels though which water constantly percolates. It is usually monocarpic but can be perpetuated by removing the flowering stem before it opens. It is rare in cultivation but wild collected seed is sometimes available which is the only realistic means of propagation. Cultivation is similar to the highly desirable dionysias that Paul & Gil grow.

Saxifraga cebennensis Saxifraga cebennensis is often seen at shows but this compact form exhibited by Brian Russ showed quite a variation. The plant was first obtained from the late John Saxton who was an excellent grower in his own right. It grows in a gritty compost and has winter protection under glass where it is plunged to halfway up the pot in sand. Propagation is by cuttings.

Podophyllum delavayi On walking around the show the amount of highly decorative foliage grown by some plants attracted my attention and one of the best was Podophyllum delavayi grown by Dick and Valerie Bathe. It is commonly known as the Chinese mayapple and was beautifully presented.

Graham Nicholls
[ Full list of Show Reports ]
[ Printable Version in separate window ]