ags logo

South Wales Show 2019

February 22, 2019
Content Sidebar

I have a set of images from an outing last week I want to post, but before that I had better put up the pictures from last weekend’s show at Caerleon.

I was very pleased that Helen and I had made the decision to arrive on Saturday afternoon to put up my display of pictures of Fritillaria species in cultivation. It took us both two full hours of hard work; it would have been difficult to arrive early on Sunday morning, put the display up, and then spend all day photographing plants. Instead, we were able to have a relatively leisurely rise, and a full English breakfast, before departing for the show.

The hall was much busier than usual; there were just under 400 plants, which is a record for this show. I started taking photos during judging, using a low angle to capture the full benches and the display of photos surrounding them, with the occasional group of judges or stewards in between.

Small six pans of rock plants

Whilst taking photos around the hall, I stopped to record Bob and Rannveig Wallis’ winning entry in the small six-pan class. Apparently Bob had run out of white card to print the name labels; the green replacements were easily identifiable all over the hall. It was not surprising that they won the Isca prize for the Open section aggregate.

Galanthus nivalis ‘Blonde Inge’

There were a few pans of plants set aside as non-competitive exhibits, which meant I could photograph them during judging. One such was Robert Rolfe’s Galanthus nivalis ‘Blonde Inge’, which he had excluded from his competitive entries because some of the bulbs had reverted to green markings, rather than yellow.  You can see the mix clearly in these photos. I am curious about this; other exhibitors had pots which were all yellow, which suggests that the problem may be cultural rather than genetic, or else that a huge amount of roguing out is done, and the large pans are put together in flower.

Crocus tommasinianus ‘Eric Smith’

Also on the non-competitive bench was Robert Rolfe’s crocus. I’m not sure what he felt was wrong with this. Perhaps the flowers were a little uneven in height, but even so I would have been very pleased to exhibit it.

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Ard Schenk’

By now, judging had more or less finished, and I was able to photograph whatever plants I wanted.  As always I started with the crocuses.  This was a fine pan from Paul and Gill Ranson.

Crocus cvijicii JJA 243.600

The petals on John Dixon’s pan of Crocus cvijicii were reflexing further almost as I watched; this is why I always try to photograph the crocuses as soon as I can.

Crocus dalmaticus

A lovely pan of Crocus dalmaticus from Ian Robertson, though a very different clone from the pans Robert Rolfe used to exhibit.

Crocus imperati subsp. suaveolens

This crocus, also from Ian Robertson, was fabulous, but already starting to deteriorate in the heat of the hall.

Crocus sieberi var ‘Tricolor’

This is a plant that Bob and Rannveig Wallis exhibit most years at this show; always a pleasure to see.

Crocus sieberi  ‘Ronald Ginns’

Another familiar exhibit from Ian Robertson.

Crocus sieberi subsp. nivalis

I thought this was fabulous, and in perfect condition. Also from Ian Robertson.

Crocus vernus

The Best Plant in the Show was this wonderful pan of crocuses from Ian Robertson. It was exhibited as C. albiflorus, but apparently current thinking says it is simple C. vernus.  Apparently a Farrer medal was not awarded because two or three flowers were starting to look tired in the heat of the hall. Hmm – the trials of an exhibitor.

Crocus etruscus

This crocus was exhibited by Mike Morton from my local group. I have photographed it before like this, with its petals reflexed and its reproductive parts thrust out at the world; I think it looks rather striking like this.

Romulea monticola

Along with the crocuses, I photographed other plants that look like they might not last in the hall; this South African Romulea was exhibited by George Elder. Being keen on South African bulbs, I thought it was terrific, and admired the variation in the stripes on the petals, suggesting the clump had been grown from seed; that variation was probably a weakness as far as the judges were concerned.

Lapeirousia oreogena

Also from South Africa, and exhibited by George Elder, was this wonderful pan of Lapeirousia oreogena, which gets better every year, even if the camera can’t quite capture the extraordinary colour of the flowers.

Colchicum hungaricum

Another plant usually in flower for this show is Colchicum hungaricum. This year, the best pan was this relatively small one from Diane Clement.

Tecophilaea cyanocrocus var violacea

One selection from Bob and Rannveig Wallis’ AGS Medal winning six-pan exhibit.

Iris ‘Painted Lady’

After the crocuses, I moved on to the irises, which also have a tendency to look tired as the day wears on.  This is an I. reticulata clone or hybrid which I have not seen before; Pauline Carless exhibited (at least) two pans of it.

Iris reticulata ‘Polar Ice’

This one is more familiar, and I have photographed this pan from Bob and Rannveig Wallis several times before.

Iris zagrica 

It was good to see a thriving pan of Iris zagrica, with so many flowers, again from Bob and Rannveig Wallis.

Galanthus elwesii ‘Green Brush’

Moving on now to snowdrops. This form of G. elwesii with prominent green tips was shown by Diane Clement.

Galanthus ‘Nothing Special’

Galanthus is a genus Bob Worsley specialises in, and this elegant little plant went by the self-effacing name ‘Nothing Special’.

Galanthus ‘Peg Sharples’

From Bob Worsley’s three-pan exhibit with ‘Nothing Special’.

Galanthus nivalis var poculiformis

A lovely poculiform form of G. nivalis, from Bob and Rannveig Wallis.

Galanthus reginae-olgae subsp. vernalis MT4027

Galanthus reginae-olgae usually flowers in the autumn; this was a spring flowering form, again from Bob and Rannveig Wallis.

Galanthus transcaucasicus

This pan of G. transcaucasicus from Bob and Rannveig Wallis was deemed worthy of a Certificate of Merit.

Galanthus ‘Sophie North’

As in many recent years, the Galanthus Goblet for the best pan of snowdrops went to Don Peace for Galanthus ‘Sophie North’.

Galanthus x valentinei ‘Joe Spotted’

In the Intermediate section Ben and Paddy Parmee, who won the Gwent Trophy for the section aggregate, showed this interesting cultivar with green marked flowers.

Floral Arrangement

This was (Ben and) Paddy Parmee’s second arrangement of snowdrops. Apparently Ben had accidentally destroyed the first one. He wasn’t allowed to live it down all day; fortunately the replacement won them a first in the Open section.

Leucojum vernum var carpathicum

Not a snowdrop, but a snowflake – again exhibited by Ben and Paddy Parmee in the Intermediate section.

Narcissus alpestris x. cyclamineus

Most of the daffodils at the show were exhibited by show secretaries Bob and Rannveig Wallis. My favourite was this hybrid between N. alpestris and N. cyclamineus. If you look at last year’s report you will find that I photographed three or four different selections from this same cross.

Narcissus jonquilla var. henriquesii

The Narcissus Salver went to Bob and Rannveig Wallis for this beautifully scented pan of jonquils.

Narcissus jacetanus MS899

Late in the day, when the sun had finally broken through the grey murk, I had to photograph with for most of the show, I took the opportunity to photograph this lovely species, again from Bob and Rannveig Wallis.

Scilla libanotica

There were other bulbs as well; George Elder produced this attractive pan of Scilla.

Scilla mischtschenkoana

Another of Bob and Rannveig Wallis’ regular exhibits at the early shows.

Fritillaria oranensis

Bob and Rannveig Wallis once again showed their interesting and unusual North African fritillary, F. oranensis. Bob’s notes give us the following information about it:

“The fritillaries which grow on the Rif mountains through Morocco,Algeria and into Tunisia have long been the subject of various name changes. The oldest and therefore correct name is F. oranensis after the port of Oran in Algeria. This form is rarely grown and I don’t know of any others of this taxon in cultivation. It grows easily in gritty compost under cover with a dry summer rest and water through the winter and early spring.”

Fritillaria stenanthera

Also from Bob and Rannveig Wallis.

Himantoglossum robertianum

Barry Tattersall always has orchids to exhibit at the early shows – this year it was the Giant Orchid, from Southern Europe, a plant I haven’t photographed for a good number of years.

Pterostylis nutans

Barry Tattersall also brought this little orchid from eastern Australia.

Corydalis firouzii

Last year, Bob and Rannveig Wallis brought lots of Corydalis to the early shows. This year, I photographed just one; I rather liked the effect as the yellow and pink flowers mixed – presumably a result of some flowers being older than others.

Cyclamen alpinum album

Always a favourite of mine, this time exhibited by David Richards.

Cyclamen coum

A fine plant from Ian Robertson, marred slightly by a hole in the centre of the flowers.

Cyclamen coum

Peter Farkasch showed a number of Cyclamen coum which he had raised from seed, including these.  I have tried to get the colour of the cherry red one right, but it isn’t easy.

Cyclamen coum

Exhibited by Brenda Nickels in the Intermediate Section

Cyclamen coum

This one was from local exhibitor Diana Green in the Novice section.

Helleborus dumetorum

Pauline Carless exhibited this little hellebore in the Open section.

Arcterica nana

The tiny Arcterica nana grown by Don Peace caught my eye, and made a pleasing photo in the afternoon sun.

Hepatica japonica forma magna

One of the highlights of this year’s show was the hepaticas; this familiar clone exhibited by Don Peace.

Hepatica acutiloba

Many of the best hepaticas, including this one, came from Bob Worsley.

Hepatica japonica ex Tessin

The plant which attracted the most interest, and the most oohs, was this deep red form of H. japonica, again exhibited by Bob Worsley.

Hepatica maxima

A charming plant of H. maxima from Bob Worsley.

Hepatica japonica ‘Utyuu’

This is a plant we have seen for several years, and it seems to get better and better; this year it won a Certificate of Merit for Bob Worsley.

Hepatica japonica ‘Yu Zuru’

Anita Acton just clinched the Caerleon Cup for the most points in the Novice section, after a tight contest with Diana Green; this was one of her plants.

Corydalis flexuosa

Michael Wild won Class 119 (for exhibitors who have never won a first at a national show before) with this Corydalis. It just shows that if your plant is well-grown, it is worth entering it – it might win a prize, even if it doesn’t have flowers at the moment.

Dionysia khatamii hybrid

John Dixon exhibited this fine plant; it is a new clone of D. khatamii from wild-collected seed, which is apparently now considered to be a natural hybrid with (probably) D. curviflora.

Dionysia michauxii ‘Emmylou’

Another new clone, this time from Eric Jarrett, with much larger flowers than the D. michauxii clone which used to be exhibited.  This clone has been christened ‘Emmylou’ by Henrik Zetterlund.

Dionysia ‘Ewesley Theta’ EGW 93/3

This plant is a hybrid between D. afghanica and (it is believed) D. tapetodes, and was exhibited by Paul and Gill Ranson. I was surprised, when I got home, to find I had never photographed it before.

Dionysia Mk01221/1 f2 hybrid ex MK9301/3

Paul and Gill Ranson exhibited two different plants of this Dionysia hybrid from Michael Kammerlander, which again has D. afghanica in its ancestry, both coffee coloured, but one making a solid dome of flowers and one with small gaps between the flowers. I’m not sure which is most attractive – they have contrasting merits.

Dionysia tapetodes ‘Brimstone’ JRD92/2/1

This plant of John Dixon’s Brimstone, exhibited by Paul and Gill Ranson was probably the best of the big dionysias, but the carpet of flowers had a few gaps, which means it was not quite good enough to challenge for the main awards. Still, it looked lovely in the sun.

Dionysia archibaldii JLMS02-87/MK2

The Mary Byng Award for the best plant in a 19cm pot went to Paul and Gill Ranson for this lovely pan of Dionysia archibaldii.

Primula ‘Little Queen’

And to finish, a really attractive little primula from the Intermediate section, exhibited by Brenda Nickels.

Well, that’s about it. It took Helen and I just over an hour to take the display down and pack it back into the car (that was the hard bit), by which time the show team had just about finished clearing the tables away etc., and the caretaker was setting the hall up for an exam the following morning. In one of the boxes with my photos was a card saying the judges had decided to award me a Large Gold Award for the display.

As usual, huge congratulations to Bob and Rannveig for running such a successful show, as well as for their personal successes in it, including the Isca prize for the Open section aggregate. My thanks to all the familiar faces who help in a multitude of different ways, to Rannveig for an excellent lunch, to the ladies who produce cups of tea at crucial moments, and above all to Helen, without whom I couldn’t have managed to produce and display that exhibit.

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