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Hyde Hall Show 2021

October 28, 2021
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AGS Hyde Hall Show 2021

The dust from the Harlow Carr show had barely settled before another one came along.  This was at the RHS Garden at Hyde Hall – a two hour drive – so a day-trip for us rather than an overnight stay.  But staging finished at 9.15am, entailing an early start.  Alas, the routine of rising and setting off for a show in the dark with a car full of plants is no longer familiar, and parts of me resented the early start for most of the morning.


The darkness continued longer than expected – a heavy sheet of cloud extended almost to the eastern horizon.  But as we left the M25 behind, the sky to the east lit up with a sheet of red; it must have been a fantastic sight from the hill on which the show hall stands.

Sadly, by the time of our arrival, perhaps 20 minutes later, the colour had faded, and daylight was creeping across the landscape.

Show Hall

The show hall was situated right on top of the hill in the centre of the garden, with wonderful views over the garden and the Essex landscape.  On a brighter day the large windows would have let in plenty of light.

Vehicle access was a little tricky (five cars maximum at the show hall at any time), but we were soon parked and unloaded, thanks to the well-organised team of marshalls.

The last photo was taken by Doug Joyce.  Doug helped me with the photography, and most of the general views of the hall, and of the public viewing the show benches and nursery stands are his.

Inside the hall, the exhibitors had been busy already, and the benches were already decked with plants.  Cyclamen, Saxifraga fortunei, and Oxalis stood out.  The hall was a hive of activity; the computer desk registered a stream of late entries from exhibitors who had brought additional plants to support the display.

Artistic Section

At one end of the hall, a row of boards contained a small artistic entry.  This show was being treated as a continuation of the 2020 show year (i.e. works exhibited in 2020 were still eligible). So, many of the artworks were familiar from the 2020 Pershore Early Spring show, with some new pictures amongst them.

The two main exhibitors were Rannveig Wallis and Gemma Hayes.  The contrast between their styles was immediately evident.  Rannveig favours a gentler, pastel-shaded watercolour, whereas Gemma uses strong lines and strong but true to life colours, particularly in this striking painting of Iris pumila.

Outside the hall, partly sheltered by the deep eaves of the roof, there was a small selection of nurseries.  The weather was not perhaps as cold as it might have been (the wind was not roaring in off the North Sea), but even so the nurserymen needed to be well wrapped up.

Tim and Gillian Ingram at Copton Ash Nursery

Daisy Roots Perennial Nursery

Tim and Rachel Lever from Aberconwy Nursery

Gemma was left at home minding their young man – already nine months old, and into everything.

Riverside Bulbs


The Alpine Garden Society Members Plant Stall

Soon judging was finished and the hall filled with people, both exhibitors and visitors, all eager to see the plants and the results.  Thanks to Doug Joyce for these pictures; I was busy now photographing plants.

Crocus asumaniae and kotschyanus

As always, the first plants I photographed when judging was finished (well, finishing) were the Crocus.  Long ago I learnt not to trust them, but to photograph them immediately if they were looking good.  Ian Robertson exhibited the biggest pans, including C. asumaniae and C. kotschyanus.

Crocus niveus

Ian Robertson also exhibited Crocus niveus.  This has beautiful two-tone flowers which make lovely close-ups.

Crocus longiflorus

Bob and Rannveig Wallis brought this small group of C. longiflorus – another pan in great condition.

Crocus goulimyi ex Agia Sofia

I was delighted to see this pan exhibited by Anne Vale.  This is one of Lee Martin’s plants, which has always caused dissension among the judges; some of them feel it is virused (because of the veining in the petals).  However, this characteristic is passed on to the seedlings (and most viruses are not transmitted by seed); this exhibit was of seedlings from the original collection.

Crocus cartwrightianus

Just one pan of Crocus refused stubbornly to open fully, and that was Don Peace’s C. cartwrightianus.


One of the features of the show was a number of beautifully grown and flowered pans of Oxalis, including at least three 3-pan entries.  Intermediate section exhibitor Barbara Chapman brought all of these, apparently unaware that her success with them was notable.  The official show reporter spent some time talking to her, and I hope he may be able to reveal a little of how she does it.

The following pictures show some of Barbara Chapman’s plants individually; we seldom see these plants looking this good.  These are:

  • Oxalis flava
  • Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg form’
  • Oxalis perdicaria ‘Cetrino’
  • Oxalis polyphylla subsp. pentaphylla
  • Oxalis versicolor

Small Pan Class for Six Rock Plants

Bob and Rannveig Wallis won the AGS Medal for the small pan class for six rock plants, with this fine collection.

Bob and Rannveig’s entry included fine pans of

  • Crocus tournefortii
  • Oxalis perdicaria ‘Cetrino’
  • Cyclamen maritimum
  • Cyclamen graecum subsp. candicum

The judges selected the last of these, and awarded it the Keith Moorhouse Trophy for the best plant in a 19cm pot.

Large pan class for Three Rock Plants

Bob and Rannveig Wallis also won the large pan class for three rock plants with this grouping.  As you would expect, they ended up winning the Open section aggregate award.

These plants included the beautifully scented Hyacinthoides lingulata, and a large pan of Cyclamen maritimum, which won them the Saunders Award for the Best Cyclamen, and the Farrer Medal for the Best Plant in the Show.

Petrocosmea forrestii

David Carver won the aggregate award for the Novice section with a collection of plants which included this pretty Petrocosmea.

Rebutia heliosa var. condorensis

Another exhibitor in the Novice and other sections was much in evidence around the show – our new Social Media and Website Content Editor, Razvan Chisu. Razvan’s plants included a cactus – this fine pan of Rebutia.

Notothlaspi rosulatum

The Intermediate section aggregate award went to Alex O’Sullivan.  Alex brought a selection of tricky high alpine plants he had grown from seed.  First the New Zealand Penwiper Plant, Nothothlaspi rosulatum.

Viola cotyledon

Alex O’Sullivan also brought two plants of this rosulate Viola from South America.  The judges awarded this one a Certificate of Merit.  Rosulate Viola are so rare and difficult to grow that they are seldom seen on the show bench.  The last one I photographed was Viola skottsbergiana (in flower) at the Summer Show South in 2014.

Rebutia heliosa

In the Open section, more non-flowering plants caught the eye.  Anne Vale exhibited a lovely plant of this cactus species.

Sulcorebutia rauschii f. violacidermis

Even more spectacular was this rare form of Sulcorebutia rauschii, for which Anne received a Certificate of Merit.

Abies lasiocarpa ‘Duflon’

As well as cacti, Anne Vale exhibited this huge specimen of the desperately slow-growing conifer Abies lasiocarpa ‘Duflon’.  I was more than a little surprised when the judges placed it third out of three entries.

Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’

At the autumn shows there are classes for plants exhibiting autumn colour.  This pan of grasses exhibited by Barbara Chapman caught my eye.  Backlit by the lights overhead, I thought it was spectacularly beautiful.

Viburnum opulus ‘Nanum’

More autumn colour, this time from a dwarf cultivar of Viburnum exhibited by Don Peace.

Correa reflexa ‘Brisbane Ranges’

Michael Sullivan’s Correa exhibited colour of a different sort.  Huge, and awkward to photograph in its entirety, it sported bright colours which caught everyone’s attention.

Saxifraga berica

Some plants from the Harlow Carr show two weeks ago reappeared here.  Mark Childerhouse’s rare Saxifraga berica received a Certificate of Merit, and a Botanical Certificate from the Joint Rock Garden Committee.

Pleione ‘Confirmation’

Ian Robertson exhibited this large pan of Pleione.  Although there were plenty of flowers, it was hard to find one which would make a close-up, and I was on the point of giving up when a friend pointed out this one.

Allium callimischon subsp. callimischon

This onion from Bob and Rannveig Wallis caused me a little confusion.  It was a tall form – subsp. haemostictum tends to be short – but I thought the red spots inside the flower were diagnostic for subsp. haemostictum.

Sternbergia greuteriana

Don Peace exhibited this pan of Sternbergia.  I think most Sternbergia flowered early this year for the exhibitors, and missed these two shows.

Nerine gaboronensis

Likewise, there were very few Nerine on the show bench.  In my case, these are not quite out yet.  I had several pans I wanted to bring but the buds just wouldn’t open.  It is a while since I photographed N. gaboronensis.  Tim Lever exhibited this pan; I think his stock derives from the fabulous potful Chris and Freda Norton produced at the Loughborough Autumn Show in 2008 (second photo).

Massonia jasminiflora

This fine Massonia was another of Alex O’Sullivan’s plants in the Intermediate section.

Lachenalia (formerly Polyxena) ensifolia var. ensifolia

I have always struggled with this plant.  Under glass the leaves and the raceme of flowers always extend upwards in a most unsatisfactory manner.  So this year, as soon as there was any sign of buds, I removed the plant from the greenhouse and placed it on a picnic table in the middle of the lawn, where it would get as much light as possible.  The results speak for themselves; I think the copious water it received in the last few weeks has also helped.

Nothoscordum hirtellum

Also on my picnic table was this Ipheion / Nothoscordum species.  It draws at the drop of a hat – in fact the flower stems extended almost an inch during the show.  I was very pleased to exhibit it with two flowers on straight stems, though two days later there are four.

Narcissus viridiflorus

Several more flowers have opened on my pot of green daffodils since the Harlow Carr show, improving its appearance somewhat, but it was still not quite up to the standard of the pot exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis (last photo).

Narcissus obsoletus

Bob and Rannveig Wallis also exhibited a good pan of white autumn-flowering Narcissus under the name N. obsoletus.  It would be good to have a clear set of diagnostics for these autumn species.

Galanthus peshmenii ‘Kastellorizo’

The entries also included several different autumn-flowering snowdrops.  The pick of them came from Don Peace, known for exhibiting snowdrops in the spring.  First, a selected clone of G. peshmenii.

Galanthus reginae-olgae ‘Cambridge’

This was perhaps my favourite, also from Don Peace.

Galanthus reginae-olgae

David and Liz Livermore showed an interesting form of G. reginae-olgae, with long outer petals.  Sadly my close-ups of this have movement in.

Galanthus corcyrensis

Bob and Rannveig Wallis exhibited this plant as G. corcyrensis, a name which is often treated as synonymous with G. reginae-olgae, but a nice plant whatever the name.

Cyclamen colchicum

However, two genera in particular dominated the show, Cyclamen, and Saxifraga, specifically Saxifraga fortunei.  We have already seen two prize-winning Cyclamen from the Wallises.  I photographed Ian Robertson’s C. colchicum because it is not a species we see often; I have only photographed it on two previous occasions.

Cyclamen cyprium

This pan of C. cyprium won Don Peace the Halsted Trophy for the best plant in the seed-raised classes.

Cyclamen graecum subsp. candicum

There were many more specimens of Cyclamen graecum subsp. candicum.  The first two shown here were from Bob and Rannveig Wallis, and the third, a stunning plant, was from Ian Robertson.

Cyclamen graecum subsp. graecum

Another lovely specimen from Bob and Rannveig Wallis.

Cyclamen hederifolium

Bob and Rannveig also brought a very presentable small plant of C. hederifolium.

Cyclamen mirabile

Cyclamen even did well in the foliage classes; Don Peace showed this beautiful plant of C. mirabile.

Cyclamen persicum

For me, this C. persicum from Bob and Rannveig had the most beautiful leaves of all.

Saxifraga fortunei ‘Beni Guruma’

I am going to look now at the S. fortunei cultivars. Mark Childerhouse, a saxifrage specialist, brought many of these, in a variety of eye-catching colours.  The deep red ones were particularly spectacular.

Saxifraga fortunei ‘Beni Tsukasa’

This is another of Mark’s plants, equally red, but different in form.

Saxifraga fortunei ‘Toshorin’

It was hard to choose – they were all lovely.  This was another from Mark Childerhouse.

Saxifraga fortunei ‘Beni Kirin’

Don Peace exhibited this lovely, frilly cultivar.

Saxifraga fortunei ‘Shiranami’

Don also brought a number of plants of this strong white cultivar.

Saxifraga fortunei ‘Eiga’

At the Harlow Carr show, Don won the prize for the best plant in a 19cm pot with this plant (and a Certificate of Merit).  Here, it won the Saxifraga Group Salver for the best pan of Saxifraga.

Flower Arrangements

Finally, I would like to turn my attention to the flower arrangement class.  As at Harlow Carr, David Carver was second with a very neat little arrangement.

Anne Vale does not normally enter the flower arrangement classes – she claims she cannot do it.  But I can only think that she was channelling the master, Lee Martin, when she constructed this wonderful autumnal exhibit.

I would like to thank everyone who helped to create such a successful show at a new venue:

  • the staff of RHS Hyde Hall who did a lot behind the scenes to make things go so smoothly
  • the AGS volunteers who worked all day (and a long day) to man the show desk and steward the show, sell plants on the Members’ Plant Stall, and particularly to guide exhibitors’ cars in and out at the start and end of the day under difficult constraints
  • show secretary Kit Strange and her husband Steve Bratley for organising everything, and Steve for his efforts to carry plants for me
  • the exhibitors for bringing a fine display of plants
  • and (as Strictly would remind us) last but not least, the Judges. We always complain about them, but they volunteer to come a long way and do a difficult job, and get it at least ‘mostly’ right.
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 especially 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 is still actively involved in plant photography, both at shows (he visits many shows each year to catalogue the extraordinary achievements of the exhibitors) and in gardens both public and private, and he makes regular 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