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AGS Pershore Show 2024

March 1, 2024
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It was a surprise this year, to find in the Exhibitor’s Handbook that the South Wales Show and the Pershore Show had swapped weekends; Pershore would be the first show of the new season.  I think there were problems with school bookings and half-term.

Anyway, Helen and I made a relaxed start to the season by staying near Evesham, and arrived at the show nice and early on the Saturday morning.

Excuses, Excuses

Once again the show season has started with a frantic flurry of activity for me.  Since the first show at Pershore I have:

  • planned and staged a huge exhibit of photographs at the South Wales show
  • done the show photography at South Wales
  • given three talks to local groups
  • attended three committee meetings.

Hence the delay in posting my pictures from Pershore.

Artistic Section

Since the Pershore Show is one of the few which still has an Artistic section, I am going to start with that.  As usual, all the entries came from a small but select band of exhibitors.

Alpine Plants in their Natural Habitat

This class definition always causes issues, with debate about the amount of habitat depicted.  Thirty years ago, most entries would be full canvasses, with some artists displaying great skill in their rendering of rocks and accompanying plants.  Nowadays, much less habitat is required, and Rannveig Wallis’ three paintings passed muster.  So here are:

  • Fritillaria stenanthera,
  • Roscoea humeana, and
  • Anemone tschernjaewii.

Portraits of Alpine Plants

The next classes are for portraits of alpine plants in the wild or in cultivation.

Caroline Jackson-Houlston entered a pleasing panel including two Iris reticulata cultivars:

  • Helleborus ‘Frostkiss Illumi Lime’
  • Iris reticulata ‘Clairette’
  • Iris reticulata ‘Pauline’

Single Portrait of an Alpine Plant

In the single portrait class, Caroline Jackson-Houlston’s meticulous rendering of Lilium formosanum pricei triumphed over Rannveig Wallis’ paler watercolour depiction of Iris camillae.

Botanically Accurate Study

In the class for a botanically accurate study, Caroline Jackson-Houlston entered an exceptional painting of Meconopsis ‘Slieve Donard’, which went on to win the Florence Baker Award for the best painting or drawing.  Caroline also won the Muriel Hodgman Art Award for the Artistic Open Section aggregate.

Design featuring Alpine Plants

In the class for designs featuring alpine plants, Caroline Jackson-Houlston entered an illustrated letter H (for Hellebore).  I have seen some of these before – in 2020 she entered a C, I and O.  I wonder whether she has a full alphabet already, and brings a letter or two out each year, or whether she is producing a set of letters to spell something.

Rosemary Walker

In the Intermediate Artistic section, Rosemary Walker entered a number of works, in various media, including coloured crayon, chalk, and pen and ink drawing.  I particularly liked the drawing of Tulipa ostrowskiana.

Lesley Travis

Lesley Travis also entered in the Intermediate section.  Her painting / drawing of an alpine plant (Hepatica japonica) in its habitat did fill the canvas.

Lesley also entered an excellent pen and ink rendering of Fritillaria gibbosa.

In the (close-up) class for a flower or other part of an alpine plant, Lesley entered a fine portrait of a Paeonia caucasica flower, in (?) acrylic pencils.

Finally, in the class for a picture in a creative style, Lesley entered a beautiful rendition of Erythronium ‘White Beauty’ in a garden setting, which was one of the strongest works in the whole show, and was awarded a Certificate of Merit.

Lesley’s entries won her the Artistic Award for the aggregate in the Artistic Intermediate Section.


Georgina Instone entered two small pieces of cross-stitch, featuring Iris reticulata and Cyclamen coum.

Sandra Clements

The last artwork in the Intermediate section was a design for a metal die-cast template featuring Fritillaria meleagris.

Show views

After I finished photographing the artwork, there was still time for a few views of the show benches, before judging finished and the hall filled with people.  Unfortunately, the higher windows had their blinds down, and the hall wasn’t flooded with warm sunlight the way it has been in recent years.

By late morning the sun had vanished anyway, and I was taking photos in unremitting gloom.  On the whole, they came out remarkably well, considering.

West & Midland Iris Group Display

At one end of the hall there was a display by the West & Midland Iris Group, which received a Silver Award.  For me, the highlight of the display was a selection of cards featuring prints of exquisite botanical paintings of Iris cultivars.

Six small pans of Rock Plants

The AGS Medal for the small six-pan went to Bob and Rannveig Wallis.

Six small pans of Bulbs

Bob and Rannveig also took home the Ivor Barton Memorial Trophy for six small pans of monocotyledons.  Winning both six-pan classes also set them well on the way to winning the Mooney Cup for the Open Section Aggregate.

Three Large pans of Rock Plants

The large three-pan class also went to Bob and Rannveig, with three large pans of Corydalis.  I wanted to photograph the huge pot of Corydalis sewerzowii, but decided it would be prudent to do it in situ, instead of carrying it.  In fact, Bob told me later that the bottom half of the pot was full of polystyrene, and it was lighter than it looked, but the photo on the bench came out pretty well, so no harm done.

Three large pans of Dionysia

Of course, Bob and Rannveig were not the only exhibitors, and an army of Dionysia was competing with their bulbs.  Paul and Gill Ranson won the class for three large pans of Dionysia, and that for three pans of rock plants from a single genus, with spectacular groupings.

Three large pans of Corydalis

This class went again to Bob and Rannveig Wallis, with three spectacular pans of Corydalis popovii, C. nariniana, and C. verticillaris.

Corydalis nariniana

This pan of Corydalis nariniana was eventually selected as the premier plant in the show, and was awarded the Farrer Medal.

Miniature Garden

Perhaps in the spirit of HS2, Anne Vale brought the railway to the show in the form of a miniature garden, complete with Railway viaduct.

Eranthis x tubergenii ‘Guinea Gold’

I have wanted to take some good close-ups of winter aconites for some time, and Don Peace’s exhibit offered some nice fresh, well-spaced flowers.

Crocus tommasinianus

There were some nice pans of Crocus on the benches.  The first to catch my attention was this dark form of C. tommasinianus exhibited by Vic and Jan Aspland.

Crocus pelistericus

Ian Robertson exhibited a good clump of the tricky Crocus pelistericus.

Crocus pestalozzae

George Elder has been exhibiting Crocus pestalozzae for several years, but I haven’t caught it fully open since 2018.  It seems to want more warmth and sun that it usually gets at this time of year.  Perhaps if the blinds had been up…

Crocus jablanicensis

This is a newly described (2012) species of Crocus from Macedonia in the Balkans, exhibited here by Ian Robertson. At the show it had a curious dusting of sand on the white petals, perhaps suggesting a bit of an accident en route.

Crocus hueffelianus ‘Snow Princess’

David Carver exhibited a small pan of this very pretty little C. hueffelianus seedling introduced by Dirk Schnabel.  There was some debate about the identity, because other pictures of this cultivar show much paler inner sides to the petals.  Whatever, it was a lovely plant, and was awarded a Preliminary Commendation by the RHS Alpine and Rock Garden Committee (formerly known as the Joint Rock Garden Committee).  I’m not sure what acronym I am supposed to use for them, but for now RARGC I guess.

Iris kolpakowskiana

Bob and Rannveig Wallis exhibited two irises in the classes for new or rare plants.  The first was Iris kolpakowskiana, much admired, though actually with several buds to come, and nowhere near as good as it was last year when all the bulbs flowered together.

Iris rodionenkoi

The second iris from Bob and Rannveig was Iris rodionenkoi.  I was interested to find that does not seem to be the same collection they exhibited in 2020, which appeared to be larger and more vigorous.

Iris reticulata ‘Kath’s Gold’

Anne Vale exhibited this pale yellow bulbous iris, which was identified (I think by members of the Iris group) as Iris reticulata ‘Kath’s Gold’.

Iris reticulata ‘Scent Sational’

In the Intermediate Section Lesley Travis entered a fine pan of Iris reticulata ‘Scent Sational’, and went on to win the Tomlinson Tankard for the Intermediate Section aggregate.  The name suggests that this cultivar must be scented, but I must confess I didn’t notice any perfume.

Galanthus ‘David Shackleton’

This year the season seems very early, and the few snowdrops on display were mostly looking tired.  However, Don Peace still managed to produce a neat pan of Galanthus ‘David Shackleton’.

Galanthus nivalis ‘Lovesgrove’

The poculiform Galanthus nivalis ‘Lovesgrove’ from Bob and Rannveig Wallis seemed to have many admirers.

Galanthus nivalis ‘Tiny Tim’

In the Novice section, show secretary Gail Devries entered Galanthus nivalis ‘Tiny Tim’, and won the Henry Hammer Cup for the section aggregate.

Narcissus asturiensis

Moving now to daffodils, Alistair Forsyth exhibited his pan of Narcissus asturiensis, which has won awards the last two years.  During judging, the judges deemed that this pot was too large for a 19cm class, and very kindly moved the exhibit to a large pan class where there were no entries deemed worthy of a first.  Thus located, it won the Audrey Bartholomew Memorial Award for the best pan of bulbs.

Narcissus ‘Eira’

Bob and Rannveig Wallis exhibited this lovely Narcissus triandrus hybrid, a deliberate cross between Narcissus triandrus and Narcissus cantabricus.

Narcissus ‘Minionette’

David Carver exhibited a good pan of the tiny Narcissus ‘Minionette’, raised by Anne Wright.

Narcissus ‘Trumpet Voluntary’

Another of Anne Wright’s seedlings, again exhibited by David Carver, was awarded a Preliminary Commendation by RARGC.

Hyacinthella glabrescens

This little Hyacinthella was exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis.  It is very demure and self-effacing, but beautiful if you look closely.

Daubenya aurea

George Elder exhibited the yellow form of the South African Daubenya aurea, and an orange form, resulting from a deliberate cross between the red and yellow forms.  I don’t recall a plant of the red form at the show, but I may have missed it.  The RARGC awarded the yellow form a Preliminary Commendation. [Edit: George tells me that this is not a cross between the two forms, but a seedling from the red form which has come a slightly paler shade of red than usual, as they do in red populations in the wild].

Lapeirousia oreogena

George Elder also exhibited the South African Lapeirousia oreogena.  It always attracts a lot of interest for its remarkable colour, which makes it horribly difficult to photograph.

Fritillaria sewerzowii yellow form

Bob and Rannveig Wallis exhibited an attractive clear yellow form of Fritillaria sewerzowii.

Fritillaria davidii

This is a notoriously difficult species, loved and lost by many exhibitors.  So it was a pleasure to see it on the show bench again, exhibited by Ian Robertson.

Fritillaria stenanthera

Steve Clements produced a fine pan of Fritillaria stenanthera.

Fritillaria gibbosa

The judges’ pick of the Fritillaria was this little pan of Fritillaria gibbosa, which won the Ashwood Trophy for the best plant in a 19cm pot for Bob and Rannveig Wallis.

Fritillaria rugillosa

My personal favourite was the little pot of Fritillaria rugillosa from the new or rare classes, again exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis.  The best I have ever seen it, and very photogenic.

Scilla mischtschenkoana

Last year, Bob and Rannveig Wallis won the Farrer at the South Wales show with this Scilla.  This year, it did not catch the judges’ attention, but it reminded me of its worth.

Tulipa biflora

I waited all day, hoping that Bob and Rannveig’s Tulipa biflora would open, but it remained stubbornly closed.

Tulipa humilis violacea

No such problems with this tulip, exhibited by Sue Bedwell in the Intermediate section.

Gymnospermium albertii

Vic and Jan Aspland exhibited a good plant of this Gymnospermium.

Helleborus dumetorum

Diane Clement showed this little hellebore from the Balkans.

Hepatica yamatutai x nobilis

Turning now to Hepatica, Bob Worsley was awarded a Preliminary Commendation for this hybrid (Hepatica yamatutai x nobilis).

Hepatica japonica ‘Kurotaiyou’

Bob also exhibited this expensive, but very attractive cultivar.

Hepatica japonica ‘Kurotaiyou’ (?)

David Carver had lost the label for this cultivar, but it looks very much like the one that Bob Worsley exhibited.

Hepatica japonica

This was another lovely form of Hepatica japonica, without a cultivar name, again exhibited by Bob Worsley.

Hepatica nobilis

In the Intermediate section, the Susan Clements Memorial Trophy for the best plant went to this Hepatica nobilis exhibited by Lesley Travis.

Dionysia ‘Nigel Fuller’

Paul and Gill Ranson exhibited this Michael Kammerlander Dionysia hybrid MK9931027, recently named ‘Nigel Fuller’, in memory of our lost friend and master exhibitor.  Again, the RARGC awarded it a Preliminary Commendation.  Nigel’s own plant, exhibited at the London show in 2013, was exceptional.

Dionysia ‘Zdenek Zvolanek’ (MK9801/14)

Paul and Gill also exhibited a fine plant of this Dionysia afghanica hybrid.

Dionysia ‘Blue Achat’ MK98193/1

This little hybrid from Paul and Gill is one I have never photographed before.

Dionysia ‘Christie’ MK01221/1

My final Dionysia from Paul and Gill always causes discussion.  Many visitors find its ‘caramel’ colouration unattractive, but I find it curiously appealing.  Please note the name should correctly be ‘Christie’, and not ‘Cristina’, as it was exhibited.

Ophrys tenthredinifera

Steve Clements exhibited this Mediterranean orchid.

Pleione ‘Riah Shan’

Pleione growers tend to keep the bulbs in moss over winter, only replanting them in pots shortly before flowering.  Late in the show, Steve Clements came to me complaining that he had read my comments last year about Pleione bulbs being set out facing in one direction, and had deliberately used a more random arrangement.  He felt that as a result, his exhibit had lost out to Don Peace, to whom he had given a few bulbs which were lined out in perfect formation.

Well, this surprised me, proving that sometimes people do actually read the words I write to go along with the pictures.  I had better be more careful what I say.  It is a mistake to interpret my comments as a ‘judge’s view’ – my outlook is purely artistic, and far from a judge’s perception.

Anyway, we went to examine the two entries more closely, and Sandra, Steve’s wife, noticed that many of Don’s bulbs had been cut in half, with a flower on each half, so that the two flowers could be aligned in the same direction.  This seemed brutal, but Don assured us that both halves would grow away fine.  Thus are the exhibitors’ secrets discovered.  It would seem that with appropriate hygiene, Pleione bulbs can be propagated by division.

That’s all from the Pershore show.  Huge thanks to Gail Devries and her team of willing helpers, to the judges, and to the exhibitors.  It was wonderful to see so many visitors to a show – perhaps we are slowly getting past the impact of CoVid.

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