Another weekend, another show. After an overnight stay at Caerleon (admittedly because I had my exhibit to put up) and a relaxed breakfast before the show, the early start to go to Pershore was unexpectedly hard.
Add to that the need to go via Oxford instead of Cirencester, because my wife Helen wanted to be dropped there, and the fact that I was driving through intermittently thick fog for the first two and a half hours, with suicidal cock pheasants appearing suddenly out of the murk in the middle of the road over the Cotswolds, and tractors which offered no prospect of passing them in the fog, and you will understand that I was weary by the time I reached the show.
My first task when I got out of the car was to take two trays of plants to the members’ plant sales table, on behalf of Robin White (owner of the now-closed Blackthorn Nursery); then a quick session of retail therapy around the plant stands followed by therapy of a more physical kind – two bacon rolls and a cup of tea and I was raring to go.
Views of the show the previous week had been straightforward – an airy well-lit hall, with high cloud outside and no direct sunshine made the lighting nice and even. Here things were different. As I crossed the top of the Cotswolds, I had driven out of the fog and into bright spring sunshine, and the same was now lancing down in shafts, creating little patches of flame in a hall which by contrast seemed thoroughly gloomy. So initially at least, I focused my attention on the benches furthest away from the sun, moving on to the artistic section. I also took the opportunity to capture some of the most striking plants in situ, though I was sure I would be carrying them later in the day.
As on the previous weekend, Bob and Rannveig Wallis won the small-pan class for six rock plants, winning the Royal Bank of Scotland Trophy.
At this show there is an Artistic Section. Photographing this during judging proved rather awkward, as sun was shining on some of the paintings, so I photographed what I could and made a mental note to go back, which I later sadly failed to do. This lovely pen-and-ink drawing of Campanula raineri was exhibited by Gemma Hayes, who won the Art Award for the Intermediate Artistic section aggregate.
This Arisaema lampshade design was also produced by Gemma Hayes.
In the Open section, Rannveig Wallis, produced some lovely new paintings, including this Arisaema. From the reflections, it looks as though the sunlight was catching something red behind me.
Another beautiful painting also from Rannveig.
However, the overall aggregate in the Open Artistic section went to Caroline Jackson-Houlston. Her entries included this set of three botanical illustrations.
Caroline Jackson-Houlston also won the Florence Baker Award for the best painting or drawing with this wonderful orchid.
Ian Robertson exhibited this lovely pan of crocuses as C. dalmaticus (pictured also above on the show bench), but discussions during the show and subsequently seem to have concluded that it is more likely to be a very good form of C. tommasinianus.
I was following my normal routine of seeking out and photographing the crocuses and other flowers likely to deteriorate in the heat of the hall. This lovely little pan was exhibited by Lee and Julie Martin.
Another good form of Crocus tommasinianus, here exhibited by Brenda Nickels in the Intermediate section.
Perhaps the most refined beauty of the day – Ian Robertson’s charming little pan of the rare hybrid clone ‘Middleton Cream’.
At the other extreme, John Dixon produced this huge pan of Crocus pelistericus in the heavyweight classes. Not open at the time of judging, it nevertheless received a Certificate of Merit and the photographer’s award for the heaviest plant of the day, for during the growing season it needs copious amounts of water. By the time I photographed it, it had spent the best part of an hour sitting in the sun near a window to make sure it looked its best.
This cultivar of Crocus tommasinianus is renowned for being as difficult as the species is usually easy, but Vic and Janet Aspland have maintained and exhibited a pan for several years now.
This crocus was exhibited by Ian Robertson the previous weekend, but it had many more flowers open now.
Not quite a crocus, but similarly included to close or sag depending on the conditions, this was a lovely pan from AGS Director of Seed Diane Clement.
My first Juno iris of the year, from Bob and Rannveig Wallis.
Peter Hood was awarded a Cultural Commendation by the Joint Rock Garden Committee for this corydalis.
This plant won the Susan Clements Memorial Trophy for the best plant in the Intermediate section for Ben and Paddy Parmee.
Somehow it was the small neat corydalis which caught my eye at this show. This one was from Bob and Rannveig Wallis.
From George Elder.
Again from Bob and Rannveig Wallis.
Two contrasting forms of C. popovii – the first (white) from Bob and Rannveig Wallis and the second (pink) from Peter Hood.
I always love this one – it looks like a group of little figures with their arms in the air. Again from Bob and Rannveig Wallis.
Last but not least. This is a familiar garden plant, but made a very pleasing exhibit for Lesley Travis in the Intermediate secion.
In the Open large pan class for Orchidaceae, the judges awarded two equal firsts. One went to Don Peace for this pleione. I knew it was his as soon as I realised it had had its morning shower – sprayed over with water on arrival on the bench to keep it looking fresh.
The second first went to Barry Tattersall, for the same pan of giant orchids I photographed the previous week at Caerleon. I wanted another go at the close-up.
The small pan Orchidaceae class went to Barry Tattersall for this tiny orchid – always one of my favourites.
This was a lovely form of F. ariana, with huge flowers with a prominent pink central stripe on a small plant. It was grown by Bob and Rannveig Wallis from JJA seed sown in December 99 – sometimes exhibitors have to be very patient.
Further along the bench, Bob and Rannveig Wallis showed another small pan of F. ariana, from Michael Kammerlander seed sown as recently as February 2005.
Not all fritillaries require such patience. This pan was grown by George Elder from seed sown in September 2014.
Tiny and delicate, from Ian Robertson.
Again from George Elder, this time sown in September 2011. I loved this and took a long time photographing it, but got distracted trying to photograph the interior of the flowers and forgot that I wanted one of the glossy bloom on the outside of the petals.
A fine clone of F. pudica, which we used to see in large pans 20 years ago, but which seemed almost to have faded out of cultivation. Vic and Janet Aspland have been building up this pan slowly over the last few years.
The Audrey Bartholomew Memorial Award for the best pan of bulbs in the show, and the Farrer Medal for the best plant in the show, went to George Elder for this wonderful pan of Fritillaria stenanthera, again grown from Jim Archibald seed, apparently collected in Afghanistan, and sown in January 2000. It will probably be even better next week, as the stems elongate a little, but George is not going to the Harlow show.
There were more pans of daffodils than a week previously. This was exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis.
A tiny jonquil hybrid, again exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis.
A nice pan of N. bulbocodium from Ben and Paddy Parmee, who won the Tomlinson Tankard for the Intermediate section aggregate.
Also from Ben and Paddy Parmee
The only snowdrop I photographed at this show was this tiny poculiform clone, exhibited by Ben and Paddy Parmee.
The strident colour and unusual form of the red form of D. aurea is familiar to me, with my interest in South African bulbs, but many people, both visitors and other exhibitors, were very taken with this bulb grown by George Elder.
I intended to photograph this plant from Bob and Rannveig Wallis the previous weekend, but it escaped me, so I was delighted to see it reappear at Pershore.
Don Peace staged two excellent pans of the exhibitors’ favourite aconite clone.
An unusual little ericaceous shrub from Eric Jarrett.
An unusual high-alpine cushion umbellifer from the Rockies, exhibited by Brian Burrow in the new or rare classes, barely bigger than when I last photographed it three years ago. This tiny plant is something like eight years old now.
This plant won a Farrer medal for Diane Clement two years ago at this show. This year, she had to be content with a Certificate of Merit, and a Cultural Commendation from the Joint Rock Garden Committee.
There were lots of lovely hepaticas on the show bench, many exhibited by Bob Worsley in the Open Section. But this little one was in a two-pan class with the following plant, exhibited in the Novice class by Anita Acton, who won the Henry Hammer Cup for the Novice section aggregate.
The other half of Anita Acton’s two pan exhibit. I photographed it at Caerleon, but it had many more flowers open here.
This striking striped form came from Lesley Travis in the Intermediate section.
I love the colour of this Hepatica japonica clone from Bob Worsley, falling somewhere between blue and purple.
Best of the hepaticas was this wonderful plant of H. henryi from Bob Worsley, which won the Ashwood Trophy for the best plant in a 19cm pot, an Award of Merit and a Cultural Commendation from the Joint Rock Garden Committee.
The Mooney Cup for the Open section aggregate went to Paul and Gill Ranson, whose exhibits consisted mainly of dionysias.
Also from Paul and Gill Ranson.
And a slightly different colour, the Turkmenistan form of D. tapetodes again from Paul and Gill Ranson.
A Primula allionii seedling from Brian Burrow.
I always love the deep colour of this primula from Eric Jarrett.
I was almost at the point of packing up when I noticed this cyclamen from Bob Worsley.
Exhibited by Ian Robertson. Normally I would have been desperate to photograph this first thing in the morning, but it took all day for the sun to come round and for the flowers to open.
Finally, another late-opening plant which missed judging, a lovely form of Crocus malyi from Ian Robertson.
By this point I was exhausted, mainly from being on my feet all day, and dragging my gear back out to the car was considerably more effort than bringing it in. Still, all in all a very successful show, with some fine plants. Thanks to all the exhibitors for bringing them, to the show secretaries and all their helpers for organising the show and last but most important, to the ladies in the kitchen who keep us all going through a long day.
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 email@example.com