ags logo

Pershore Early Spring Show 2022

March 2, 2022
Content Sidebar

Spring arrives at Pershore with the Pershore Early Spring Show

Last week, a long account of foul weather presaged my account of the show.  At Pershore, things could not have been more different.  One of the hardest frosts of the winter in the South East (-4C) thawed slowly into a glorious sunny spring morning, with blue sky in all directions.  There was a brief spell of quite thick fog crossing the Cotswolds on the A417, but the glorious morning was restored as soon as we dropped from Birdlip towards the Vale of Evesham.

When we arrived at the show, the nursery stands were already lined with eager customers.  The hall was busy with familiar faces, staging a vast array of plants on benches limned with sunlight.

Artistic Intermediate Section

After these few images of the show benches, taken during judging, my attention turned to the Artistic Section.  Two years of lockdown have encouraged Lesley Travis, a new exhibitor in the Intermediate Classes, to try out some new skills.  She entered two attractive pieces of work, and won the aggregate award for the section.  The first was a pen and ink drawing of Cyclamen libanoticum; the second was a rendering of Galanthus nivalis in chalk in the class for an image in a creative style.

Artistic Open Section

In the Open classes of the Artistic section Rannveig Wallis won the Muriel Hodgman Art Award (the aggregate award) unopposed.  She entered four watercolour paintings.  The first, of Cyclamen coum, won the Florence Baker Award for the best piece of artwork.

Rannveig entered the other three paintings (depicting Ficaria fascicularis, Iris narbutii and Scilla ingridae) into a three image class (220) for pictures of alpine plants growing in their habitat, with characteristic habit and associated plants shown.  I must confess, from my previous involvement with the Artistic section, I was surprised to see these paintings in this class, as the amount of habitat depicted was fairly minimal.  To me, they would fit better in class 222, for portraits of plants showing characteristic habit, with no mention of habitat.  Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing some artistic entries again.

Acis tingitana

I was delighted to see a good pan of Acis tingitana exhibited by Roger Norman in the Novice section.  It is a plant which I used at one point to grow well, but which has declined for me in recent years.  I suspect it does not get enough winter water in my greenhouse which houses mainly South African bulbs.  It would probably be happier in the cold frame, if I can keep the Narcissus flies out.

Novice Section Hepatica japonica cultivars

Sue Bedwell won the Henry Hammer Cup for the Novice Section Aggregate with three small Hepatica japonica cultivars.  These are, respectively, Hepatica japonica ‘Okesabayashi’, Hepatica japonica ‘Shirayuki’, and Hepatica japonica ‘Yamada’.

Galanthus ‘Duckie’

Sue Bedwell also entered plants in the Intermediate section. I thought this neat little pan of snowdrops was quite charming.

Crocus cultivars

Further down the Intermediate section, Steve Clements presented an attractive three pan exhibit of familiar Crocus cultivars including Crocus sieberi ‘Firefly’ and Crocus tommasinianus ‘Whitwell Purple’.

Narcissus ‘Propeller Group’

David Carver also exhibited plants in the Intermediate section.  During judging, my pick of his plants was this little pan of daffodils.

Romulea sabulosa

Later on, I found that David Carver had exhibited a small pot of the fabulous South African Romulea sabulosa.  With the flowers determinedly shut all morning, it failed to impress the judges.  Later still (well after lunch) the two extraordinary flowers finally deigned to open.  It made my day.

Three pans of Bulbous plants

Lesley Travis claimed the Tomlinson Tankard for the Intermediate section aggregate for a potpourri of plants including this winning three pans of bulbs (Narcissus ‘Snow Baby’, Crocus ‘Ard Schenk’ and Iris ‘Sheila Ann Germaney’).

Hepatica henryi

Lesley Travis’ plants also included this thriving plant of Hepatica henryi.  It is good to see some of the other Hepatica species appearing on the show bench, as well as the myriad of Hepatica japonica cultivars.

Narcissus asturiensis

However, in the whole of the Intermediate section, one pan stood out.  This beautiful group of Narcissus asturiensis, exhibited by Alastair Forsyth, won not only the Susan Clements Memorial Trophy for the best plant in the Intermediate and Novice sections, but also the Audrey Bartholomew Award for the best pan of bulbs in the entire show.

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Monarch’

Now I am moving on to the Open section.  I always target the Crocuses first, followed by the Irises and other plants whose condition is ephemeral.  I loved this cheerful gold Crocus from David Richards, with dark feathering on the outers, though the flowering wasn’t quite even enough to appeal to the judges.

Crocus vernus ‘Balkan White’

This lovely pristine white cultivar of Crocus vernus was new to me.  Diane Clement exhibited a fine potful, which appealed strongly to me despite a few small signs of damage.  Diane tells me that although it came to her as C. vernus, she is fairly sure now that it is a white clone of C. tommasinianus.

Crocus scardicus

Ian Robertson exhibited many of the most interesting Crocus.  This is C. scardicus from North Macedonia and Albania, noted for being tricky to grow.  I always find the purple throats exquisite.

Crocus jablanicensis

Next we have Crocus jablanicensis, also exhibited by Ian Robertson.  This is a very newly described species with fabulously white flowers, also from North Macedonia and Albania.  It attracted much attention throughout the day.

Crocus veluchensis forma leucostigma

The third ‘new or rare’ Crocus exhibited by Ian Robertson was Crocus veluchensis forma leucostigmaCrocus veluchensis from the Balkans is a plant we have become familiar with at these early shows, but it has a yellow stigma.  This form with a white stigma is much less common in cultivation, though it grows in the same populations in the wild, and requires the same cultivation conditions.

Crocus hueffelianus

Ian Robertson exhibited this fine form of Crocus hueffelianus in a three pan exhibit with the following pan.

Crocus sieberi ‘Mt Pelister form’

Ian Robertson’s three pans of crocuses also included this selection of Crocus sieberi.

Crocus pelistericus white form

The last of Ian Robertson’s crocuses was this much admired white form of Crocus pelistericus.  I also photographed this last week at Newport.

Iris kolpakowskiana

The other genus I target early on at a show is the irises.  Bob and Rannveig Wallis exhibited a wonderful three-pan including this charming little plant, and the following Iris svetlanae.  I intended to go back for the third member of the entry (Iris nusairensis), but got interrupted and forgot all about it.

Iris svetlanae

Although shown here by Bob and Rannveig Wallis, this is a plant which will be familiar to many from a few years ago, when Ivor Betteridge had a fine specimen he used to exhibit.

Galanthus angustifolius

This is a species of snowdrop from the northern Caucasus, exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis.  It is clearly closely related to the familiar G. nivalis, and included within it by many sources, but is notable for its dainty character and narrow leaves (hence its name).

Galanthus ‘E. A. Bowles’

Diane Clement exhibited this large, imposing white poculiform selection of G. plicatus.

Fritillaria rugillosa

Bob and Rannveig Wallis exhibited this little newly-discovered Fritillaria last week at Newport.  This is a different pan, still with three flowers but pointing in different directions.

Fritillaria ariana

For comparison, here is F. ariana, another member of the Rhinopetalum group, also exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis.

Fritillaria gibbosa

These are three different forms of F. gibbosa, also from Bob and Rannveig Wallis.  They also brought F. stenanthera to the show but I missed it.

Ornithogalum sibthorpii

There are a number of Ornithogalum species which make a low mound of white flowers surrounded by green strap-like leaves.  This was O. sibthorpii, exhibited by Bob Worsley.

Narcissus triandrus x bulbocodium

One obvious effect of the week since the Newport show was that there were many more daffodils on the show bench.  It is always a pleasure to see and photograph this little N. triandrus hybrid exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis.

Narcissus triandrus x cantabricus ‘Hufen’

Bob and Rannveig Wallis also exhibited this hybrid, which I suspect I have photographed before without a name.

Narcissus alpestris

Not all the daffodils came with the Wallises; Ian Robertson exhibited this lovely pan of N. alpestris.

Narcissus bulbocodium

Ian Robertson also exhibited this fine form of N. bulbocodium.

Corydalis maracandica

The Corydalis growth had advanced significantly since the last show. I loved the subtle colour combinations in this plant, exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis.

Corydalis verticillaris

These are plants I seem to photograph every year.  I am slowly getting the hang of it, and finding compositions which work.  Bob and Rannveig Wallis’ C. verticillaris was in great condition.

Corydalis firouzii

Bob and Rannveig Wallis won a Certificate of Merit for Corydalis firouzii, in spectacular condition and covered in flowers.

Corydalis nariniana

Best of all, Corydalis nariniana exhibited by Bob and Rannveig Wallis won the Farrer Medal for the best plant in the show.

Pleione ‘Riah Shan’

Every year at the early shows I admire Pleione ‘Riah Shan’.  It is so delicate and graceful compared to many of its family.  I was concerned this year to see the striping on the petals of these beautiful flowers.  However, Steve Clements, the exhibitor, assures me it is not virus, but old age – these flowers have been out for over a month.

Cyclamen persicum forma puniceum

Although it was a small plant, I thought this seedling from Ian Robertson was exceptional.

Cyclamen pseudibericum

The leaves of this Cyclamen pseudibericum from Ian Robertson were particularly striking.

Cyclamen parviflorum

I photographed this huge plant of Cyclamen parviflorum last week.  This week it won a Certificate of Merit for exhibitor Ian Robertson.

Small Six Pans of Rock Plants

Paul and Gill Ranson staged a similar collection of plants to last week in the small six pan class, and duly won the AGS medal.  In fact they have replaced both primulas, and at least one of the Dionysias, but the overall mix is the same.

Dionysia denticulata x tapetodes

This week, as well as Paul and Gill, and Eric Jarrett, John Dixon was competing in the Dionysia classes.  He exhibited this pretty hybrid.

Dionysia tapetodes ‘Kate’

John Dixon also exhibited the best of the large pans of Dionysia.  This plant of D. tapetodes ‘Kate’ won him a Certificate of Merit.  It seems to have been repotted recently into a much larger pot, presumably in the expectation that it will not exceed that.  There may be merit to this from the exhibitor’s point of view; as show photographer I dearly wished that it had stayed in a smaller pot, for this was the heaviest pot I carried all day, and made all the others seem light.

Dionysia hybrids

Fortunately, there were many smaller Dionysia hybrids to photograph.  These are all from Paul and Gill Ranson.  The pictures are, respectively:

  • ‘Florenze’ – I have never photographed this before
  • ‘Hyperion’
  • ‘Lysithea’
  • MK0357/11 (iranshahrii x ? bryoides)
  • PMR-TBG1268b/5 (f2 hybrid ex JLMS02-07/JM1) – another I have never photographed
  • JLMS02-07/JM1 (khatamii x ? janthina)

Ypsilandra thibetica

Diane Clement’s Ypsilandra thibetica has appeared at this or a subsequent show for several years.  Knowing the weight of the pot from previous occasions, and having carried the big Dionysia ‘Kate’ already, I saw sense and photographed it in situ.

Primula x gothoburgensis

Robert Rolfe brought two plants of this novel Primula hybrid (P. renifolia x. megaseifolia).

Primula allionii BB 03/5/13

This week, there were two excellent plant of P. allionii on the bench, both seedlings raised by Brian Burrow and identified by his seedling numbers.  Don Peace exhibited this one.

Primula allionii BB 03/3/4

The second Primula allionii seedling won Robert Rolfe the Ashwood Trophy for the best plant in a 19cm pot.

Hepatica japonica forma magna

Don Peace doesn’t grow many Hepatica, but he has a few plants of this lovely form, which appear at the early spring shows.

Hepatica japonica

Bob Worsley’s serried ranks of Hepatica japonica cultivars will remain in my mind as the highlight of the show.  Some were fancy clones with Japanese cultivar names, but many bore labels saying simply Hepatica japonica – presumably selected seedlings.  The photos here are of:

  • ‘Isari Bi’
  • ‘Minamo’
  • ‘Sai Chou’
  • Various plants labelled Hepatica japonica.

Hepatica japonica ex ‘Tessin’

Bob Worsley’s remarkable dark purple Hepatica seedling won a Certificate of Merit last week.  It did so again this week, looking even darker.

I don’t know whether it has lost a sheen of freshness which made it look lighter, or whether it is simply the difference in light levels between the two shows.  Even afterwards on the computer the colour is very dependent on the brightness of the room in which you view the pictures.  So the colour is somewhere between these two pictures, depending on the conditions you are viewing it in – at the brightest a deep, rich, velvety magenta, down to almost black in bright light.

Hepatica japonica var. pubescens

Finally, here is an early plant of Hepatica var. pubescens exhibited by Bob Worsley.  I always love it, and have tried and failed to grow it on several occasions.  Possibly my favourite plant in the show, though the Romulea sabulosa is another strong candidate.

As always, it takes a great deal of effort from many people to make a show like this a success.  Some contribute to show after show – judges and nurserymen in particular.  The school catering staff provided some excellent bacon and sausage butties first thing in the morning, and I believe good food later on.  Others are part of the local team that works so hard to set up the show, run all the services for visitors smoothly, and then pack everything away.  It was good to see many of the staff from the Pershore Office helping at this, their local show.  In particular, thanks to show secretary Gail Devries who stepped in to help run the show when there was a risk we might lose it.

Many of the exhibitors travel long distances to shows all over the country, bringing plants to fill the benches, helping with judging or stewarding, and providing informal cultivation advice via the myriad conversations which happen at every show.  Many exhibitors stayed after collecting their plants to help clear the hall and manhandle the tables; I’m sorry to say that after a long day carrying plants to photograph, I did not have the energy to do so.

Finally, thanks to my wife Helen who accompanied me, partly because she now has many friends among the nurserymen and exhibitors, but also to help with navigation in the event of road closures, and to keep me supplied with ‘snacks’ and cups of tea whilst I am busy taking pictures.