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AGS Loughborough Show 2024

March 15, 2024
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The Loughborough Show came at the end of a hectic week for us, with two lecture commitments and unexpected family issues, so when we made our way north on Friday, we were very familiar with the M1.

The New Venue

Again the show was in a new venue, which meant leaving the motorway at Leicester, and finding our way over a narrow humpback bridge to a school in Barrow-upon Soar.

The school had all the room we needed, the light in the show hall was reasonable, and there was just about enough room to do the show photography without blocking the fire exit.  As the day wore on, the clouds parted and the sun came out, giving shadows across my table, but fortunately this was only for brief intervals, and didn’t interfere with the photography.

Tulipa cretica

Whilst I was standing chatting to other exhibitors before the show, I saw Jim McGregor staging a huge pan of Tulipa cretica in full flower.  I was concerned that such a magnificent display would not last, and, with permission, removed it to photograph before judging started.  This pot later received the Royal Bank of Scotland Award for the best pan of bulbs.

If I had been quicker, I would also have photographed Bob and Rannveig Wallis’ Tulipa regelii, which had four flowers open, unlike the one I captured the previous week at the Early Spring Show at Braintree.  By the time judging had finished, all but one had closed, and I had to be content with my previous picture.

But it was too late; the judges (and stewards) were under starter’s orders, and then in the blink of an eye they were off.

Large Three Pan classes

I have received positive feedback about photographing the winning three-pan exhibits in situ at the South Wales show, so here are the winning entries in the large three pan classes, except for the class for three shrubs, won by John Savage.  For some reason, I got confused by the signs on the benches, and thought there wasn’t such a class, though it is a usual staple.

So here are the winning entries for three large pans of:

  • rock plants exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis
  • Primulaceae exhibited by Paul and Gill Ranson
  • Primula allionii exhibited by Geoff Rollinson
  • Papaveraceae or Ranunculaceae exhibited by Alan Newton
  • bulbous plants exhibited by Steve Clements
  • miniature or dwarf Narcissus exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis
  • rock plants for foliage effect exhibited by Bob Worsley
  • cushion plants exhibited by Paul and Gill Ranson

Dionysia tapetodes ‘Kate’

On my way round the benches, I photographed John Dixon’s Dionysia ‘Kate’, and a miniature garden exhibited by Peter Hood.  I had no intention of carrying either of them unless absolutely necessary.

Six small pans of Rock Plants

The AGS Medal for six small pans of rock plants went to Don Peace for this grouping.  This contained:

  • two Corydalis
  • Pleione ‘Heckla Locking Stumps’ which I photographed at Braintree
  • Iris winogradowii (likewise)
  • Primula allionii ‘Eveline Burrow’
  • Primula ‘Lepus’

Primula allionii ‘Eveline Burrow’

A fine slow cultivar selected by Brian Burrow and exhibited by Don Peace.

Primula ‘Lepus’

Don’s Primula ‘Lepus’ received the Richard Regan Trophy for the best plant in a 19cm pot.

Six small pans of Rock Plants grown from Seed

The Roger Smith Cup for six pans grown from seed went to Bob and Rannveig Wallis.  Their selection included:

  • Fritillaria ariana
  • Fritillaria gibbosa
  • Erythronium californicum
  • Corydalis macrocentra
  • Hyacinthella dalmatica
  • Narcissus bulbocodium (pale form)

Fritillaria ariana

I think all of these pans had been to at least one show previously, and the two Fritillaria had both reached full height and started to lean on each other.  Nevertheless, I took the opportunity to photograph them.

Fritillaria gibbosa

Small Three Pan classes

Following on from the large pan classes, here are the winning entries for three small pans of:

  • rock plants – the winning entry in the centre exhibited by Don Peace
  • Cyclamen exhibited by John Savage
  • Dionysia hybrids exhibited by Paul and Gill Ranson
  • Dionysia species – three entries, winner in the centre
  • Dionysia species exhibited by Paul and Gill Ranson
  • Orchidaceae exhibited by Steve Clements
  • bulbous plants exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis
  • Narcissus – species or natural hybrids. Two of the four entries were NAS (not according to schedule) because they included garden hybrids.  But it did seem a little perverse that the large pan equivalent was for miniature or dwarf Narcissus, allowing garden hybrids, and the small pan class excluded them.
  • Narcissus – species or natural hybrids – the winning entry exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis
  • Fritillaria exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis
  • Iridaceae exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis
  • rock plants from seed exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis
  • rock plants with educational information exhibited by Paul and Gill Ranson

Success in all these bulbous three pan classes was crucial in winning the Charnwood Forest Trophy for the Open Section aggregate for Bob and Rannveig Wallis.

Intermediate section three pan classes

In the Intermediate section the three-pan classes were shared between a number of exhibitors, but in the end it was Sue Bedwell’s success in winning two of them which narrowly brought her the Outwoods Trophy for the section aggregate.

So here are the classes for three pans of:

  • rock plants exhibited by Sue Bedwell
  • rock plants small exhibited by Sue Bedwell
  • bulbous plants exhibited by Ian Sutton
  • rock plants for foliage effect exhibited by Raymond Hurd

Novice section two pan class

In the Novice section, there was just one multi-pan class, for two pans of rock plants.  This went to Esio Visona, who entered well-grown plants of Primula renifolia and Saxifraga ‘Coolock Gem’.

Hepatica yamatutai

However, the Beacon Trophy for the Novice section aggregate went to Christine Jarvis.  Her plants included the Hepatica I admired the previous week, now further out.

Cyclamen libanoticum

Christine also exhibited a nice plant of Cyclamen libanoticum.

Cyclamen persicum

In the Intermediate section Sue Bedwell had a pretty white form of Cyclamen persicum.

Primula x gothoburgensis

We have already seen P. renifolia in the Novice section.  In the Intermediate section, Alex O’Sullivan exhibited Primula x. gothoburgensis.

Primula ‘Lindum Wedgewood’

Heather Barraclough exhibited a good plant of this Primula hybrid.

Tulipa iliensis

However, the stand-out plant in the Intermediate section was this pan of Tulipa iliensis from Michael Wilson, which was awarded a Certificate of Merit.

Tulipa humilis ‘Tete a Tete’

In the Open section, Anne Vale exhibited a double form of T. humilis.

Tulipa kurdica

This tulip from Bob and Rannveig Wallis was a little more subtle, but the flowers didn’t open all day.

Crocus aerius

No such problems for Bob and Rannveig’s Crocus aerius; this was one of the first plants I photographed when judging had finished.

Iris attica

By special request, here are the subtle but striking colours of Steve Clements’ Iris attica.

Gladiolus caeruleus

David Carver exhibited a pot of Gladiolus caeruleus.  This appealed hugely to me, with my interest in South African bulbs.  The whole pot was not very conducive to a portrait, but fortunately I was able to get some close-ups of individual flowers I was happy with.

Sparaxis metelerkampiae

Another special requrest; Sparaxis metelerkampiae exhibited by Peter Farkasch.

Narcissus bulbocodium conspicuus

In the small pan class for a Narcissus species or natural hybrid, Jim McGregor staged a pan of Narcissus bulbocodium conspicuus packed with flowers.

Narcissus cuatrecasasii

However, the winner in this class was the tiny Narcissus cuatrecasasii, exhibited by Vic and Jan Aspland.

Fritillaria affinis

Bob and Rannveig Wallis staged this Fritillaria, very quiet and unassuming, but beautiful in close-up.

Fritillaria carica

Don Peace received a Certificate of Merit for his pan of Fritillaria carica.

Fritillaria ‘Lentune Fox’

Don’s own hybrid, Fritillaria ‘Lentune Fox’ always attracts attention with its deep golden trumpets.

Gagea peduncularis

This little Gagea from Bob and Rannveig Wallis was something I meant to photograph all day, and only just got to, during prize-giving at the end of the day, when the flowers were beginning to close.

Scilla x allenii ‘Fra Angelico’

In the large pan classes, Don Peace had a fine pan of Scilla x allenii ‘Fra Angelico’.  I didn’t get time to carry it for a serious portrait, so we will have to make do with a shot on the bench.

Crocus vernus

Vic and Jan Aspland received a Certificate of Merit for this pan of Crocus vernus.  At judging, it had only a few open flowers.  As the day went on, a steady trickly of further flowers opened, but even at the end of the day there were plenty of buds to come.

Corydalis solida ‘Beth Evans’

Edward Barraclough exhibited a fine pan of this Corydalis, though there were a few doubts about whether it was the genuine article.

Corydalis solida ‘Lentune Gemini’

This curious mutant form of Corydalis solida was raised by Don Peace.  Instead of the usual asymmetrical flowers, we have symmetrical ones with two spurs, somewhat reminiscent of the related genus Dicentra.

Ranunculus crithmifolius

Don Peace received a Certificate of Merit for his Ranunculus, which had developed a bit further since I photographed it at Braintree.

Ophrys tenthredinifera var. villosa

The pan of Ophrys which won a Certificate of Merit at Braintree for Steve Clements was still in fine condition and attracted the show reporter’s attention.

Pleione ‘Glacier Peak’ x humilis

After carrying a lot of heavy pots, this one was like a helium balloon, and shot into the air when I picked it up.  This is John Dixon’s hybrid, which seems close to Pleione humilis, but is apparently rather easier to grow.

Pleione ‘Riah Shan’

Steve Clements has brought this pan to a string of shows, and come second, so it was good to see him finally collect a red sticker.

Hepatica japonica ‘Gyousei’

This Hepatica japonica cultivar from Chris Lilley is always a fabulous colour.

Hepatica yamatutai

Bob Worsley’s Hepatica yamatutai had a lot more flowers than the one I photographed from the Novice section, but not the appealing purple backs to the petals.

Bergenia ciliata ‘Patricia Furness’

This fabulous Bergenia cultivar was named by Alan Furness for his wife Patricia, and is slowly becoming available to grow.  Chris Lilley’s pan of it surprised me when I picked it up.  It appeared to have been swimming before its arrival at the show, and dripped water as I carried it across the hall to take its picture.  Perhaps an accident when crossing the humpback bridge over the River Soar on the way to the show ?

Helleborus purpurascens

Diane Clement exhibited a small plant of Helleborus purpurascens.

Soldanella montana

I photographed Brenda Nickels’ Soldanella right at the end of the show when I was running out of time, and didn’t take close-ups, which would probably have been more striking.

Primula palinuri

It is a while since I have seen Primula palinuri from south-western Italy on the bench.  This plant was exhibited by Chris Bowyer.

Flower arrangement

However busy I am, I always try to photograph the flower arrangements.  This one was from Anne Vale.


The show reporter wanted me to photograph some of the ‘snowball’ cacti on the bench.  I took Mammillaria hahniana last week, so here are:

  • Mammillaria gracilis ‘Arizona Snowcap’ exhibited by Colin Sykes
  • Mammillaria plumosa exhibited by Chris Bowyer
  • Rebutia muscula exhibited by David Charlton

Haastia pulvinaris subsp minor

Geoff Rollinson exhibited a fine plant of the difficult New Zealand cushion, Haastia pulvinaris subsp minor.  The photos make it look much bigger than it actually was.

Anisotome imbricata subsp imbricata

Geoff Rollinson also exhibited a big cushion of Anisotome imbricata subsp imbricata.  In the past, several of the leading exhibitors used to grow and exhibit this, but I suspect this may now be the last plant in the UK.

Primula allionii ‘Chivalry’

Geoff Rollinson’s huge and beautiful plant of Primula allionii ‘Chivalry’ won him the Webster Trophy for the best plant native to Europe.  The judges must have decided it is a selection of the species, and not a hybrid.

Dionysia esfandiarii SLIZE259/CL3

Mark Childerhouse exhibited a small dome of this uncommon Dionysia.  I have never seen it cover itself in flower; John Dixon’s much larger cushion used to appear solely in the cushion classes, without flowers on.

Dionysia revoluta subsp revoluta

Another unusual shrubby Dionysia from Mark Childerhouse.  Mark is the only person I have seen exhibit this in recent years.

Dionysia ‘Norlynn Heather’

This hybrid, exhibited by Paul and Gill Ranson, has striking purple flowers.

Dionysia hybrid PMR-MK1140/6

This one is an f1 hybrid ex D. viscidula, again exhibited by Paul and Gill Ranson.  Paul says this is the only plant in existence.  Although this is quite an old plant, he has never managed to strike a cutting of it.

Saxifraga ‘Coolock Kate’

The best, in fact the only, large pan of Saxifraga was this one from Mark Childerhouse.

Kelseya uniflora

And finally, for the second week in a row, the Farrer medal for the best plant in the show went to Peter Hood, this time for an ancient and extremely heavy plant of Kelseya uniflora, which also won the American Trophy for the best plant native to the Americas.  Some muttered that whilst it was clearly an achievement to grow it to this age and size, it wasn’t particularly well flowered.  But there were more buds coming all over it, and I was just glad to see and photograph it.  This is a celebrated alpine, notoriously difficult to cultivate, which I have never seen in the flesh, or photographed before.

My thanks to Don Peace for the last image, of Peter with his plant.

Sadly, there was no time for personal choices – the hall was busy with visitors, and the show reporter’s list kept me occupied all afternoon.  In the end I didn’t photograph plants on the list which I had captured the previous week, or a couple which I have photographed many times in previous years.

But I’m sorry I missed Bob and Rannveig Wallis’ little Fritillara gibbosa (yellow form), Steve Clements’ Ophrys species, and several other things; they will have to wait for another year.

This was an excellent show in an excellent new venue.  As always, there were a few teething problems, but there were lots of people there which bodes well for the future.  Thanks to the school, the show secretaries Martin and Neil, and all their helpers, in particular the ladies on the refreshment table who still had filled baps when I realised quite late on that I hadn’t eaten anything.  Thanks also to the nurseries, the judges, and to all the exhibitors for bringing their plants.

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 has recently won his Gold Medal at AGS shows after about twenty years.

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