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East Anglia Show 2019

May 13, 2019
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A long weekend in Norwich

Until recently, the East Anglia Show at Wymondham was one which I regarded as a bit too far and seldom attended. Certainly, a minimum three hour journey meant an early start if I was to be there in time to stage plants and visit the plant stalls before a day’s photography and the return trip was a long and weary one.

This has all changed recently; my son Robin now lives in Norwich so we can use the show as an excuse to spend the weekend with him. The journey takes longer on Friday afternoon (4.5 hours) but we had a warm welcome and an excellent meal out in town.

On the Saturday evening after the show, we went to the Green Dragon in Wymondham, where Robin was playing a set in a blues festival in the garden. The previous year this would have been great – the evening was warm and sunny. This year there was a complete contrast; although we were sitting at a table in a covered area and thus were protected from the passing heavy showers. By the time his set was finished the temperature had fallen to 5°C and we were all frozen.

The Old Vicarage Garden at East Ruston

On the Sunday following the show, we visited The Old Vicarage Garden at East Ruston.We have never managed to arrive there before when it was open and our anticipation was not disappointed. The garden was wonderful and the visit was gilded by a most elegant tea room, which served excellent food and drinks. The sausage rolls and gingerbread in particular were magnificent. I have a huge number of pictures of the garden but I am in two minds as to whether to post them here; it would make a rather un-alpine contribution.

Strumpshaw Fen

Before we returned home, we made a most enjoyable visit to the RSPB reserve at Strumpshaw Fen, where we saw all sorts of birds, including Marsh Harriers, a hobby and a cuckoo, and heard a bittern, and saw a stoat in the woodland area. I did not have the photographic gear with me to do the birds justice. My 70-300mm zoom lens was rather inadequate compared to the thermos flask lenses the serious birders all wield but we thoroughly enjoyed the day nonetheless.

As a result of all this activity I did not actually get home until late Monday nigh and I had about 1,400 photos from the weekend to sort out, so it has taken a while to get the show images processed and ready to post.

Cypripedium calceolus in cross-stitch

In my last post, about the Kent Spring Show, I was complaining that I had failed to photograph a piece of needlework which I very much liked, exhibited by Liz Livermore.  Fortunately, Liz read my article and kindly brought the missing piece to the Wymondham show for me to photograph. So here it is.

Four pans of Rock Plants

At this show there is a class for four pans of rock plants – two in flower and two for foliage effect. This always seems to be popular with the exhibitors and this year there were five entries, from Anne Vale (first), Diane Clement, Don Peace, Michael Sullivan and Neil Hubbard respectively.

Large three pans of rock plants

By contrast, there was only one entry in the class for three large pans of rock plants – three superb plants from Diane Clement (front and back).

Cut Flowers

Anne Vale produced a very elegant grouping of cut flowers.

Miniature Garden

Mavis and Sam Lloyd produced a beautiful miniature garden. They always manage to tread the tightrope between plants looking established and having plenty of flower for the show.

Arisaema thunbergii  ‘Urashima’

This is the first plant from Diane Clement’s large three-pan exhibit of rock plants, which helped her on the way to the Norfolk Trophy for the Open Section aggregate.

Arisaema sikokianum

Diane Clement also exhibited a very small, apparently dwarf form of Arisaema sikokianum.

Arisaema taiwanense f. cinereum  BSWJ3602

By contrast, Maurice Bacon’s plant of Arisaema taiwanense in the Intermediate Section was huge.

Incarvillea younghusbandii

Chris Lilley exhibited an attractive plant of this small Incarvillea from Nepal and Tibet, a favourite of the exhibitors.

Allium macropetalum

The onion season has officially started. This pretty little thing came from Neil Hubbard.

Allium peninsulare

This one was also from Neil Hubbard. I found it tricky to find the right angle and the photographs don’t do it justice.

Allium nevskianum

It was good to see Cecilia Coller at the show. This is her pan of Allium nevskianum.

Allium shelkovnikovii  ‘Sarejn’

The Sudbury Prize for the best pan of bulbs went to Robert Rolfe for this wonderful pan.

Fritillaria affinis

The Suffolk Trophy for the best plant in the Intermediate section went to Ben and Paddy Parmee for this fine pan of the yellow form of Fritillaria affinis.

Fritillaria camschatcensis

Ben and Paddy Parmee also produced an excellent pan of Fritillaria camschatcensis.  This helped them towards the Ken Aslet Trophy for the Intermediate Section but also to their fifth (and last) Silver Bar. Now they will have to exhibit solely in the Open Section. They are already well on their way to their Gold Medal.

Narcissus  ‘Sun Disc’

Angela Praeger won the East Anglia Trophy for the Novice Section Aggregate. Her plants included this jonquil N. ‘Sun Disc’.

Iris cristata x. lacustris

Back in the Open Section, Anne Vale exhibited a large pan of Iris cristata x. lacustris covered in flowers. This was perhaps a tad unfortunate not to be considered for a Certificate of Merit.

Iris paradoxa subsp. paradoxa x. acutiloba subsp. lineolata

Michael Sullivan exhibited a lovely Iris hybrid raised originally by Norman Stevens of Cambridge Bulbs.

The following Wednesday at the Nottingham group meeting, I saw an even better seedling (Iris acutiloba x. paradoxa) from the same source, when without my camera. I think it may have been exhibited by Eddie Spencer but I am not sure.

Ornithogalum nutans

Steven Squires exhibited this neat pan of Ornithogalum nutans.

Three South African Bulbs

For the class for three plants from the Southern Hemisphere, I managed to find three South African bulbs. These were:

  • Albuca namaquensis with greenish-yellow flowers
  • Albuca sp. ex. Namibia with huge white flowers with a green stripe and a yellow tip. It just wasn’t warm enough on the day to open the very swollen buds in time for the show. I think this is the same plant as that distributed in the USA and in cactus and succulent circles, as Albuca sp.Augrabies Hills‘.
  • Cyrtanthus falcatus – a kind gift last year from another grower of South African bulbs. I have a pot of seedlings growing on from seed sown in 2012 but they are still a long way from flowering size.

Nothoscordum montevidense

Finally, I exhibited this pan of a yellow Nothoscordum from South America, which seemed to attract some interest, though it just wouldn’t open the way it did in the warmth and sun earlier in the week, when it was spectacular.

Trillium grandiflorum

The second of Diane Clement’s large three-pan was an attractive pan of Trillium grandiflorum, which I only photographed in situ whilst walking round the show waiting for the judging to finish.

Trillium luteum

Martin Rogerson produced a large and well-flowered pan of Trillium luteum.

Dicentra peregrina alba

Last year, at several shows I photographed a pink form of Dicentra peregrina exhibited by Ben and Paddy Parmee. This year, the same exhibitors produced a white form.

Shortia soldanelloides v. magna

Ben and Paddy Parmee also exhibited this lovely Shortia.

Dodecatheon pauciflorum

Cecilia Coller exhibited this fine plant of Dodecatheon (now Primula ?) pauciflorum. I think the AGS accept both names.

Trientalis borealis

Neil Hubbard produced this seldom exhibited Wintergreen from North America. I think he raised it from seed. Lovely to see and photograph, despite the paucity of flowers.

Polygonatum humile

This attractive little Solomon’s Seal was also raised from seed by Neil Hubbard.

Pteridophyllum racemosum

Ten years or more ago, we used to see large pots of this Japanese woodlander on the show bench. It is much more unusual now so it was a pleasure to see and photograph this small plant from Anne Vale.

Tiarella  ‘Pink Skyrocket’

David and Liz Livermore produced a very attractive little Tiarella.

Cypripedium calceolus

Every year, about this time, the pans of Cypripedium start to appear. At Kent two weeks earlier there was just one. Here, I photographed four.

Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens

Diane Clement also exhibited this hybrid Cypripedium.

Cypripedium parviflorum x. farreri

This was the best of Diane Clement’s Cypripedium, the final plant from her large three-pan exhibit, and was awarded a Certificate of Merit.

Cypripedium parviflorum

As on the previous weekend at the East Lancs Show, the Farrer Medal went to this fantastic plant of Cypripedium parviflorum exhibited by Don Peace. To my eye, it looked perhaps slightly tired but it was still a marvellous potful.


This show has classes specifically for the genus Pleione and they were well contested.

Pleione  ‘El Pico’

Cecilia Coller has exhibited this cultivar for many years and it is still one of my favourites.

Pleione  ‘Vesuvius grex Phoenix’

This is a cultivar which Don Peace likes to exhibit. Here is a large pan and a smaller one which looked a bit more elegant.

Pleione  ‘Vesuvius grex Tawny Owl’

This is another cultivar which Cecilia Coller has exhibited regularly over the years.

Androsace vandellii

Don Peace’s pans of Androsace vandellii were just starting to go over. I first photographed one at the Midland Show three weeks previously. If you look carefully, you can find occasional dead flowers.

Androsace cylindrica x. hirtella

By contrast, this pan of Androsace cylindrica x. hirtella from Clare Oates looked wonderfully fresh.

Primula rusbyi  var. ellisiae

As last year, Steven Squires showed a small plant of this in the Intermediate section. This year, there were about twice as many flowers in the head.

Primula sieboldii

Ian Instone has clearly raised a large batch of Primula sieboldii from seed and exhibited them in several classes, including a pan showing variation from seed and a large white seedling which was awarded a Certificate of Merit.

Primula  ‘Wharfedale Bluebell’

Finally, this lovely blue European Primula hybrid was exhibited by Clare Oates.

Clematis petriei hybrid

This Clematis hybrid was different from the plant Michael Sullivan exhibited at the Kent Show two weeks ago and not quite as heavy.

Coronilla valentina  ‘Compact Form’

This was exhibited by Mavis and Sam Lloyd. Coronilla valentina is a beautiful, scented shrub which flowers most of the year. I am not sure how compact this form stays – the straight species can grow into quite a large bush.

Daphne cneorum  ‘Benaco’

My final shrub is a really good form of Daphne cneorum, exhibited by Anne Vale. This plant gave some suggestion of having been dug up from the garden for the show (subsequently confirmed). I hope it survives this treatment; Daphne species are notoriousfor resenting root disturbance.

Geranium glaberrimum

Robert Rolfe was awarded a Certificate of Merit for this Turkish Geranium, which is very scarce in cultivation.

Haberlea ferdinandi-coburgii

Ian Instone didn’t only exhibit Primula sieboldii. This neat pan of Haberlea was also his.

Hosta  ‘Blue Mouse Ears’

I haven’t photographed this Hosta for a while but I thought this pan from Andrew Ward was in perfect condition.

Pyrrosia drakeana

The Barbara Tingey Trophy for the best fern went to Don Peace for this plant. It is very popular with both judges and show reporters and it seems like I photographed it at more or less every show last year.

Jovibarba hueffelii

I liked the way the sun added highlights to Martin Rogerson’s Jovibarba as it sat on the show bench.

Rupicapnos africana

Michael Sullivan exhibited this at the Wimborne Show last year and I photographed it for the show reporter then. At least this plant was reasonably portable, unlike last year’s monster.

Saxifraga pedemontana cervicornis

This saxifrage exhibited by Clare Oates always looks elegant, with its comfortably spaced blooms.

Trollius europaeus  ‘Dwarf Form’

I was very taken with this neat form of Trollius europaeus from Don Peace.

Lewisia  ‘Ashwood Ruby’

The show benches were ablaze with Lewisia for the first time this year, many of them hailing from Martin Rogerson’s alpine house. Apparently, this is the poorest plant of this cultivar he has had for several years but it is still a very striking colour.

Lewisia cotyledon

If you don’t like the red one, how about pink or yellow, both from Martin Rogerson. I didn’t photograph the orange one, which was a mistake.

Lewisia columbiana hybrid

This was another plant from Martin Rogerson. I always feel that it is a little more refined than the rather vulgar L. cotyledon hybrids.

Maihueniopsis darwinii

This rather intimidating cactus from Andrew Ward seemed to attract the attention of all the photographers in the hall.

Mammillaria laui subsp. dasyacantha

This is a more familiar cactus and one which doesn’t appeal particularly to the judges. I liked the contrast between the silky spines and the purple flowers and thought it was well grown by Anne Vale.

I’m going to end with a few views of the show I took at the beginning of the day, during judging. My thanks;

  • to Doug Joyce for sharing the carrying and photographing of plants and for trying to make sure I photographed everything I was supposed to
  • to the exhibitors for bringing such a fine array of plants
  • to the judges and stewards for all their hard work sorting the wheat from the chaff
  • to retiring show secretary John Foster and all his team for organising everything so smoothly, except for the weather (cold, with extremely heavy showers and intermittent hail)
  • in particular to the ladies in the kitchen who brought me some lunch and provided regular cups of much-needed tea.
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