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Early Spring Show 2022

March 23, 2022
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Last Saturday saw two AGS Shows on the same day, with exhibitors in the North travelling to Kendal, and exhibitors in the South visiting Theydon Bois Village Hall.  Nevertheless, the AGS Early Spring Show at Theydon Bois saw a fine display of plants on the benches, on another glorious, sunny spring morning.


By the time I arrived, the nurseries were busy making finishing touches to their stands, and customers were already investigating their wares.

My old friend Doug Joyce had arrived to help take photos of the show, and he is responsible for these shots of the plant stalls, and many of the views taken around the show hall.

These nurseries are, respectively:

  • Aberconwy
  • AGS Members’ Stall (Michael Sullivan busy filling gaps on the table)
  • Little Heath Farm Nursery
  • The Plantsman’s Preference
  • Daisy Roots
  • Jacques Amand International

In the Show Hall, a varied array of plants kept the judges busy.

Large Six Pans of Rock Plants

This grouping of Cyclamen and friends won the AGS Medal for the large six pan for Ian Robertson.

Three Pans Native to a Single Continent

Anne Vale showed three large and extremely prickly plants native to North America.

Prunus incisa (?)

This Prunus exhibited by Peter Hurren provided a focal point on the large pan bench.


Before long the judges reached the point where they had to select the award plants.

Cypripedium formosanum

The vote for the best plant in the show yielded a moment of drama, but the result was never in doubt; Ian Robertson won the Farrer Medal for this huge pan of Cypripedium.  He also received a Cultural Commendation from the Joint Rock Garden Committee (JRGC).

Once judging had finished, excited visitors and exhibitors filled the hall.

Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’

Now it was time to start taking portraits of the show plants.  As usual, I started with Crocus – Peter Hurren exhibited this pan in the Intermediate section.

Romulea bulbocodium

Next came two pans of Romulea exhibited by Anne Vale.  These look much like Crocus, and are similarly unpredictable in the show hall, often closing quickly, or only opening late in the day.  In the event, both pans stayed open all day.

Romulea requienii

The second Romulea from Anne Vale.

Tulipa cretica ‘Dikti’

Tulips are another awkward genus.  This little pink-tinged clone from Ian Robertson stubbornly refused to open more than this all day.

Tulipa cretica ‘Chani’

A taller, white clone of the same species was much more obliging for Anne Vale.

Erythronium dens-canis

Erythronium are another genus I try to photograph early in the day, before the flowers reflex fully and start to crinkle in the heat of the hall.  Diane Clement exhibited this well-flowered clump of the European E. dens-canis.

Erythronium hendersonii

This species, from North America, formed part of Ian Robertson’s winning six-pan entry.

Flower arrangement

This was the final exhibit I wanted to photograph before it suffered in the heat of the show; a beautiful arrangement from Anne Vale.

Narcissus bulbocodium citrinus

Steve Clements brought a wonderful array of daffodils to exhibit in the Intermediate section.  These helped him win the Epping Trophy for the Intermediate section aggregate.  Sadly there were no entries in the Novice section.

Let’s start with this lovely pan which we saw last week at Loughborough.  This was now relabelled according to feedback from the judges, and looked even better.

Narcissus ‘Oxford Gold’

Next, this fine N. bulbocodium hybrid.

Narcissus ‘White Petticoat’

This is another fine N. bulbocodium hybrid.  Both are readily available in commerce.

Narcissus fernandesii

This final pan of daffodils from Steve Clements won the Geoff Smith Salver for the best pan of bulbs in the Intermediate and Novice sections.  It filled the hall with a beautiful perfume.

Narcissus jonquilla henriquesii

Diane Clement exhibited this pot full of scent.  This went for consideration by the Joint Rock Garden Committee (JRGC).  The committee gave it an Award of Merit (subject to confirmation), and a Cultural Commendation.

Fritillaria wendelboi

Diane Clement particularly wanted me to photograph her pan of F. wendelboi, for comparison with David Carver’s plant photographed last week.

Fritillaria ruthenica

I have only photographed F. ruthenica once before, at the London Show in 2010.  Maurice Bacon exhibited this tiny specimen in the Intermediate Section.  To be honest, I was not sure it was the same species as that I photographed at London, but I am no expert.

Fritillaria aurea

John Dixon received a Certificate of Merit for this thriving pan of F. aurea.

Fritillaria carica

Another Certificate of Merit went to this pan from Clare Oates, which was the runner-up for best plant in the show.

Tecophilaea cyanocrocus var leichtlinii

I photographed Tecophilaea violiflora at Loughborough, so I was keen to photograph the more familiar Tecophilaea cyanocrocus, here exhibited by Diane Clement.

Satyrium bicorne

I was delighted to see my friend Barry Tattersall at the show, along with a few of his orchids.  This species is endemic to southwestern Cape Province in South Africa.

Ophrys speculum

Barry also brought a fine pan of Mirror Orchids from the Mediterranean, which won a Certificate of Merit.

Cyclamen persicum forma puniceum

Cyclamen made up the bulk of Ian Robertson’s large six-pan exhibit.  This one is always a favourite, with attractive leaves and flowers.

Cyclamen pseudibericum

A big plant of C. pseudibericum, also from Ian’s six-pan.

Cyclamen pseudibericum forma roseum

Ian showed a number of rather different plants under this name.


Paul and Gill Ranson brought a big collection of beautifully flowered Dionysia hybrids in small pots.  These provided one of the highlights of the show, and earned them the Elliott bowl for the Open Section aggregate.

Dionysia hybrid ‘Dove’

Dionysia hybrid PMR-MK1140/6

This is one of Paul’s own hybrids, from seed distributed by Michael Kammerlander.

Dionysia hybrid PMR-TBG1268b/5

This is another of Paul’s own seedlings.

Dionysia hybrid ‘Tethys’

I always love the way the flowers stand off the cushion in this hybrid.  This indicates clearly the presence of D. microphylla in its ancestry.

Dionysia hybrid ‘Selene’

Paul and Gill’s exhibits included several plants of ‘Selene’.  This one received an Award of Merit (subject to confirmation) from the JRGC.

Dionysia bryoides JLMS02-44

Paul and Gill brought Dionysia species as well.

Dionysia zetterlundii T4Z125/GBG2

I thought this was a lovely little plant of D. zetterlundii.

Dionysia zagrica

This fabulous plant of D. zagrica won a Certificate of Merit for Paul and Gill.  The JRGC awarded it a Preliminary Commendation and a Cultural Commendation.

Dionysia tapetodes

Paul and Gill were not the only exhibitors of Dionysia.  This monster D. tapetodes from John Dixon was probably the heaviest pot I carried all day.

Dionysia esfandiarii SLIZE259(3)

John Dixon’s big plant of D. esfandieri seems to be sulking this year.  Fortunately it was in a class for a cushion, not a flowering plant.

Dionysia tapetodes

Nigel Fuller brought a darker yellow and higher mounded seedling of D. tapetodes.

Dionysia lurorum x aretioides BB2

I would not normally have photographed this plant from Nigel – it had clearly tired during the day.  However, I have never photographed this hybrid before.

Three Large Pans of Primula

Clare Oates brought some lovely large pans of Primula.  All three were perhaps flowering a little coyly, but they were fresh and vibrant and very appealing.  The two shown below are ‘Lois Parker’ and ‘Blindsee’.

Primula hybrid ‘Ellen Page’

Two different exhibitors brought plants of one of my favourite Primula hybrids.  The flowers have a beautiful shape and a gold line around the edge of the petals which highlights the lovely purple colour.  This never flowers profusely, but Clare Oates’ large plant looked great; Paul and Gill Ranson’s smaller plant was exceptional in the amount of flower.

Primula allionii

Nigel Fuller exhibited the best small pans of Primula allionii and its hybrids, including several of his own seedlings.  These P. allionii clones are:

  • BB 08/15
  • 2010-1-1 (NF)

Primula hybrid ‘Coolock Snowball’

This hybrid was raised by Jim Almond, exhibited by Nigel Fuller

Primula hybrid 2010-12 (NF)

This is another of Nigel’s own seedlings.

Primula hybrid ‘Olive’

Finally, here is another of Nigel’s own hybrid seedlings, named (I think) for one of his grand-daughters.

Primula hybrid ‘Broadwell Ruby’

In the Intermediate section Maurice Bacon exhibited Primula ‘Broadwell Ruby’, an old Joe Elliott hybrid I have not seen for a long time.

Primula forbesii

Alex O’Sullivan showed a fine pan of this Chinese biennial species in the Intermediate section.

Primula odontocalyx alba

Last week I photographed Alex O’Sullivan’s plant of P. hoffmanniana.  This week he exhibited another Chinese petiolarid, under the name given above.  Normally, the plant which is in cultivation under this name is thought to be a form of P. hoffmanniana.

Primula renifolia

Alex also brought this tricky new introduction from the Caucasus.

Saxifraga oppositifolia ‘Theoden’

As well as Dionysia, and that fine plant of Primula ‘Ellen Page’, Paul and Gill exhibited a neat little plant of this saxifrage, which tends to be difficult in a pot.

Hepatica japonica ‘Benikanzan’

Bob Worsley had gone north to Kendal, but there were a few good Hepatica on the bench still, starting with two from Diane Clement.

Hepatica japonica ‘Nitchirin form’

I thought this was a lovely plant, also from Diane.  It certainly provided the most pleasing photo I took all day.

Hepatica japonica ‘Tamamushi’

Robin Alabaster exhibited my final plant.  This was a magnificent plant of a very fine cultivar, and the JRGC awarded it a Cultural Commendation.  Sadly however, the show had come a week late for this plant; every time I touched it, petals fell like rain.

Every week, I end with thanks to all the people who contributed to the show; it must seem rather repetitive.  But it is important to realise that each show is run by a different team, who fully deserve those thanks.

So, thanks again to all the nurserymen and women, thanks to all the team who run the catering and the members’ plant stall, and to all those who set up and broke down the show.  And once more, thanks to the stewards and judges and all the exhibitors who brought their plants to make the show a success.

Image of Jon Evans Jon Evans

Jon lives and gardens on the north side of the Hogsback on the border between Hampshire and Surrey, on a heavy clay soil. He is a long standing member of the AGS and has been treasurer of the local group in Woking for many years. He is interested in bulbs of all sorts, particularly those from South Africa, and is progressing slowly towards his Gold Medal at shows, at the rate of roughly one first per year.

However, he is best known within the AGS as an enthusiastic amateur photographer. For about 10 years he was responsible for organising the artistic and photographic section of the AGS shows around the country, and also for organising the show photography. During this period, he set up and ran the AGS Digital Image Library. He still visits many shows each year to catalogue the extraordinary achievements of the exhibitors, and is actively involved in other plant photography, both in gardens both public and private, and on outings to view and photograph wild flowers in the UK.

If you have any comments or queries for Jon, you can contact him direct at