I’m taking a short break from posting about the Picos de Europa to show you my pictures from the AGS Show last weekend at Pershore.
Before things got too busy I managed to photograph two miniature gardens exhibited by Aberconwy Nursery, together with the winning garden from the show, exhibited by Mavis and Sam Lloyd.
For this midsummer show, the benches were crowded and there were some spectacular plants on display. Which one catches your eye as you look around ?
The only six pan exhibit was this one from Peter Farkasch.
There is always scope to photograph the art whilst judging is in progress. The Open Section aggregate went to Caroline Jackson-Houlston. Here are her paintings of Lilium pyrenaicum, Ophrys sphegodes, and an illuminated letter ‘W’ featuring Pyrola, or Wintergreen.
The Intermediate Section artistic aggregate went to Gemma Hayes. Here is her creative image of Pulsatilla vernalis.
Another thing I can always photograph during judging is the cut flowers and flower arrangements. Ben and Paddy Parmee produced a most attractive grouping of six vases of cut flowers.
There were two excellent entries here. Ben and Paddy’s arrangement would have been a worthy winner, if it hadn’t been outclassed by this superb creation from Lee and Julie Martin. Probably my favourite exhibit of the day.
By now judging had finished and it was time to grab shots of the plants I was afraid would go over. The genus Hibbertia is one I have known and loved for a long time, and grown intermittently and lost, and have never photographed. I think it was Hibbertia procumbens that David Sampson used to sell at shows twenty years ago. This fine plant of Hibbertia pedunculata was exhibited by Chris Bowyer.
There were nine entries in the class for one pan of cactus. The winner was quite a small, young plant of Echinopsis subdenudata exhibited by David Charlton. This came out ahead of larger, older and more difficult plants simply by the serendipity of having three flowers open for the show. There were only three buds but they had opened together. By Sunday they would all have closed and that will be it until next summer.
Razvan Chisu showed a good plant of this slow-growing Rebutia in the Novice Section.
Razvan Chisu also exhibited this saxifrage, which won the Wessex Water Trophy for the best plant in the Novice Section.
This South African monocot was also in the Novice Section, exhibited by Sue Bedwell. Although I have seen photos of lilac pink forms in the wild, this white one seems to be the only one in cultivation. I have grown it for many years, and have a large plant of it, but find it surprisingly difficult to grow well. The old leaves get leathery and tend to have brown marks and for me it flowers sparsely. Sue’s plant was in much better condition.
The next plant from the Novice Section is this pan of Triteleia from Steve Clements, who won the Dudfield Cup for the section aggregate.
Steve Clements is an orchid specialist and he had several pans of those in the Open section. His plant of the week was this Epipactis (a hybrid grex between E. palustris var. ochroleuca and E. royleana) and there were at least three pans of it at the show, including this small one in the Novice Section.
Steve Clements deservedly won the class for a plant rare in cultivation, with this lovely orchid from Bhutan and Sikkim. Just one flower open but several more to come.
I was second in this class, with a pan of Tigridia augusta (formerly T. violacea) with one flower which steadfastly refused to open properly. The following day it had four flowers all fully open. A bit like David Charlton’s cactus in reverse.
This pretty American ladies’ tresses was also exhibited by Steve Clements.
Steve Clements was not the only person to exhibit orchids. This pan of the native Marsh Helleborine (in its dwarf, dune-slack form ?) was exhibited by Eric Jarrett.
Finally Vic and Janet Aspland exhibited this attractive form of the Japanese orchid Ponerorchis graminifolia.
Moving back to the Intermediate Section, this neat pan of Hosta was exhibited by Brenda Nickels.
The Florence Baker Memorial Trophy for the Intermediate Section aggregate went to Lesley Travis, who grew this charming little plant of a Cyclamen we seldom see at shows. [Correction: I am told this is C. purpurascens, not C. colchicum. The main difference is the thickness of the leaves. So I have still never photographed C. colchicum.]
Lesley Travis also exhibited some good pans of Campanula. This is one I love in the garden; sadly the slugs love it too.
Again from Lesley Travis.
This was grown from AGS seed by Lawrence Peet.
This plant of Campanula fragilis from Eddie Spencer won the class for one pan of rock plants, and a Certificate of Merit.
Class 8, for one pan of Campanula or Favratia, was contested by some fine plants, and won in the end by a pan of Favratia zoysii exhibited by Ian Instone. Runner-up was this plant of Campanula ‘Blue Pearl’ exhibited by Paul and Gill Ranson. It is a hybrid between Campanula myrtifolia and Campanula asperuloides, raised originally by Martin Sheader. This plant was given an Award of Merit by the Joint Rock Garden Committee (JRGC).
Another plant I love, and feed to my slugs regularly, is Campanula punctata. I thought this red form exhibited by Anne Vale was particularly striking.
I thought this pan of Campanula raineri from Eric Jarrett was slightly unusual in the flower shape and presentation.
A very large, tricky to carry pan of Campanula topaliniana from Peter Farkasch. I was surprised to find that this is another plant I had not previously photographed.
Ian Instone exhibited several pans of Favratia (formerly Campanula) zoysii, of which this was the finest. It was awarded a Certificate of Merit.
There are some plants which are reliable exhibits for the same show year after year, and at this show some of the Allium species are among them. This is one of my favourite summer show plants. I love the subtle colouring of the flowers, mixing silver and grey with a subdued blue. It was exhibited, as every year, by Bob and Rannveig Wallis.
This is another onion I have photographed before at this show in previous years, here exhibited by Vic and Janet Aspland.
Finally, another onion I always admire, Allium paniculatum from Lee and Julie Martin.
Robert Rolfe exhibited this quite exceptional pan of Triteleia laxa ‘Dexter’.
John and Clare Dower weren’t at the show (a pity, I would have liked to chat to them about our respective holidays in the Picos) but they sent some of their plants, including this beautifully grown pan of Ledebouria, which was awarded a Cultural Commendation by the JRGC.
In times gone by, the Glebelands Trophy was awarded for the ‘wierdest plant’ at the Summer Show. This always provided some light hearted merriment but apparently it made things too difficult for the judges, who couldn’t decide what constituted a ‘wierd plant’. So now the trophy is presented, rather boringly, to the plant with ‘the most attractive foliage’.
This year, the winner was this Eucomis from Lee and Julie Martin. It could easily have won the same trophy under the previous requirements.
One of my favourite plants on the show bench was this little (3-4in) green Eucomis exhibited by Simon Bond. Not all forms stay this compact.
I have always loved the pure white form of Freesia laxa but I tend to neglect it and it seems to dwindle without renewal from seed. Paul and Gill Ranson exhibited a beautifully grown and well-flowered pan of it.
George Elder exhibited an Alstroemeria again this year but it was smaller and less spectacular than those he brought to the same show last year, though still a very attractive plant. Apparently last year’s showstoppers are going to be better than ever this year but are not out yet.
I am always surprised to find Alstroemeria in the bulbous classes, although the AGS definition seems to equate bulbous with monocot, so it is just another anomaly that arises from that definition.
One last bulb. Bob and Rannveig Wallis exhibited this little curiosity, a very early flowering Colchicum. I photographed it more for completeness than anything, as I have an exhibit of Colchicum images. It looked better when I had managed to prop up one of the flopping flowers.
Anne Vale exhibited several lovely pans of this well known cultivar of our native Bog Pimpernel. My own plant got rather set back last winter and is only just starting to make buds, but these pans were beautiful.
Lee and Julie Martin exhibited this little toadflax which we saw in the Picos a month ago. This cultivated form was far better than anything we found in the wild.
This was a fine plant, exhibited by Edward Spencer.
I was rather intrigued by this American woodlander exhibited by Bob Worsley. It was something I am not familiar with and have never photographed. I might have to track a plant down and try to grow it.
No AGS show is complete without a gentian. This was a species I haven’t seen before, and a very attractive one, exhibited by Eric Jarrett.
This very attractive small Chinese shrub was exhibited by David Richards.
This beautifully grown American Phlox relative was exhibited by Chris Bowyer. Perhaps not as compelling as some of the annual species in this genus, it does nevertheless have a quiet beauty of its own.
I brought this to the show, and was pleased with it, as I have never before managed to get it to flower this well. Usually it gets mown off at some point during the spring by molluscs. Apparently the judges thought it was poorly grown and not as lush as it should be. In my garden lush = snail food.
Robert Rolfe was insistent that this was the best he had ever seen this, and George Elder was awarded a Certificate of Merit for it. Robert was right – it was even finer than when George won a Certificate of Merit for it last year at this show.
This lovely form of Pelargonium endlicherianum was grown by Lee and Julie Martin, from a plant given to them by Ray Drew, and was awarded a Certificate of Merit. If you haven’t guessed, Lee and Julie won the Hilliard Cup for the Open Section aggregate.
This is another plant I took to the show. It is a gesneriad from Mexico and grows from potato-like tubers. I treat it like Rhodohypoxis – cold dry conditions in winter, lots of water in the summer. I put it out in full sun as soon as the danger of frosts is past but the judges still felt this plant was much too tall. Nevertheless, the long tubular flowers are very graceful, presumably moth-pollinated and have an unexpected beautiful scent, particularly in the evening.
This spectacular pot of Thalictrum kiusianum was exhibited by David Richards.
Finally, the Farrer medal plant. Did you spot it when I wandered round the show benches? It was a stunning plant, beautifully grown by Chris Lilley, and fully deserving of the award, for all it is a common garden plant.
That’s all the pictures I had time for. As it was, there were lots of people I should have spent more time talking to but time always seemsm short at a show. I wish I had captured Tuberaria lignosa early in the day when it still had all its petals; it is so ephemeral we rarely see it on the show bench.
After that I had a lot of packing up, and then what became a long walk back to the car with my photography gear, my plants and those of Paul and Gill Ranson, which we were taking back for him.
While I was doing that, Helen joined the small team of helpers assisting the new show secretary Razvan Chisu in stripping and taking down the show tables and then cleaning the plant sales area and setting school dining tables in it again. Thanks to Razvan for taking on the unenviable task of running this show and to all those who helped, before, during or afterwards.
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