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Cleveland 2023

April 8, 2023

My drive to the Cleveland Show began in dense fog from South Yorkshire. As my journey progressed the fog disappeared and the sun shone and continued to do so all day. This new show location near Darlington is conveniently only a few minutes from the A1[M], in what I’d describe as a large 19th century-style former dwelling known as a grange, now converted into a Community Centre, set in its own grounds, with excellent parking and an on-site cafe.

I began looking for easy to grow plants with versatility and adaptability for pot and garden culture. Frank and Barbara Hoyle entered a large pot of Pulsatilla ambigua, now about 8 years old which was awarded a Certificate of Merit. This plant is an excellent hardy Pulsatilla for the garden, making a striking display in a spring border, seeding well and readily hybridising with others, especially Pulsatilla vulgaris. In the wild this plant is found over a vast area from Southern Siberia, Mongolia and into China.

Pulsatilla ambigua exhibited by Frank & Barbara Hoyle

Pulsatilla ambigua exhibited by Frank & Barbara Hoyle

Salix myrtilloides ‘Pink Tassels’, shown by John Savage, is an attractive early flowering dwarf shrub bearing, as its name implies, pink male upright catkins. Not as dwarf as the type Salix myrtilloides but, nevertheless, suitable for pot and garden culture, appreciating well-draining ericaceous compost. Growing in the wild throughout northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere, this Salix is an excellent example of a plant that may be entered in many different classes at any of our shows, such as from North America, Europe or Asia.

Salix myrtilloides 'Pink Tassels' - John Savage

My final choice of an easy to grow plant for pot and garden culture is Viola riviniana subsp. nana ‘Purpurea’, a British native, entered by myself as one of a trio of rock plants from any one genus, in this case Violaceae. Growing happily in sun or part shade, it can seed prolifically, but is not particularly invasive. As a show plant I like to keep the foliage compact, so early each year I trim any straggly growth and repeat again later in the year, which also helps to control its seeding habit.

Viola riviniana subsp. nana var. 'Purpurea' - Chris Lilley

In a class for 3 pans rock plants from different continents, John Richards exhibited three yellow flowered examples from Brassicaceae, namely Physaria alpina found in Colorado, USA, Degenia velebitica from Croatia, Europe and Draba rosularis, found in Anatolia, Asia.

John added a short note explaining that these three plants are examples of adaptive radiation (a botanical term used to illustrate plants from different continents from the same botanical family have a single ancestor, in this case John suggests from the Cretaceous geological period).

Class 27 - John Richards

In a class for cultivated Primula hybrids, Geoff Rollinson exhibited a very floriferous Primula ‘Stella’ reputedly introduced some 30 years ago by the late David Philby, a well-known breeder of Primula hybrids. It’s thought to be a possible Primula allionii x Primula marginata hybrid. Vigorous in flower, this primula, it is hoped, will once again come into commerce next year.

Primula 'Stella' - Geoff Rollinson

The Blackthorn Trophy for the best Asiatic Primula went to Don Peace exhibiting at his local show, with Primula petelotii, one of three Primulas native to Vietnam. Don was also successful in a class of 6 pans rock plants [not more than two of any one genus] and awarded the E B Anderson Prize, presented at our Society’s Annual General Meeting later this year.

Primula petelotii - exhibited and photographed by Don Peace

The David Baker Vase, for best plant native to North America, was awarded to Ian Kidman for exhibiting Hymenoxys torreyana, grown from North American Rock Garden Society seed sown around 2004. Slow to increase in size, this plant flowers consistently, requiring overhead protection and in Ian’s words ‘patience’.

Hymenoxys torreyana - Ian Kidman

A sweetly scented bulb, Fritillaria yuminensis from China, was shown by John Bunn. Growing to 40 cm the slender stems have cirrhose tips to the leaves, which cling to, and wind around, adjacent foliage in the wild. A commercial grower recommends growing this bulb in ordinary well-drained, humus enriched soil, in a raised bed, in full sun without winter protection.

Fritillaria yuminensis - John Bunn

Growing alpine plants from the same genus in the garden may produce interesting hybrids with better colour forms than their parents. Brian Burrow staged just such an example in a 19 cm pot, with a Draba, which he believes is a hybrid between Draba longisiliqua and Draba parnassica, being the only flowering Drabas in close proximity at the time of flowering.

Draba longisiliqua x parnassica - Brian Burrow

Frank and Barbara Hoyle continued their seasonal success with the best plant in show and were awarded The Farrer Medal for an immaculate Cassiope lycopodioides ‘Suzuki’, grown from a cutting from a plant in the possession of Ian Kidman.

Chris Lilley, Show Reporter
Don Peace, Show Photographer