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Dublin 2019

April 6, 2019

On a cold grey early April morn, we entered the school where yet again the Dublin Show was being held. There the greyness ended and the genuine warmth of the Irish exhibitors exuded. While entries were down, quite understandably due to the most unusual season, the overall quality was excellent. Show Secretary Gavin was delighted to tell me that he had three new exhibitors in the Novice Section, always welcome for someone in his position.

It is worth noting that the excellent catering at this show is undertaken by members of the AGS Dublin group with their wonderful range of home baking. This year was no exception, with the show secretary’s wife Niamh in charge for the first time and ably supported by her two young daughters and members of the group.

A non-competitive display of immaculate bonsai was arranged by the Leinster Bonsai Club, creating much interest, as did the excellent photographs of alpine plants taken by Liam McCaughey and George Sevastopolo.

Judging was masterminded by the calm but firm Director of Shows, Martin Rogerson. He and the totally relaxed Show Secretary Gavin ensured the smooth running of this first of two Irish shows of the year. These shows are interdependent and it is evident that the exhibitors (though fiercely competitive) are delighted to meet each other again!

The best plant in the Novice Section, a beautifully grown Pulsatilla vernalis, was shown by the Montalto Estate and received the Millennium Cup. Grown in a mixture of coir, Vermiculite and top soil, it is grown the year-round in an alpine house. An interesting point of history about Montalto Estate: over 80 years ago, in May 1938, an exhibition of alpine plants was staged at a garden fête at Montalto, then the home of the Countess of Clanwilliam. In one of the greenhouses, a founding member of the Ulster Group took names of people interested in becoming members of the Alpine Garden Society, and in the spring of 1939, those new members organised the first Belfast Show, under the Society’s rules and regulations. Now the new owners of Montalto are endeavouring to revive links with the Society.


The David Shackleton Award, for the best pan of Primulaceae, was won by Liam Byrne with a well-grown Androsace vandellii. This too is kept in the alpine house and grown in a mixture of one part garden compost, one part very fine grit, and one part peat. Liam shades his alpine house from end of April. He was also (and again) the winner of the Jacki Troughton-Smith Trophy, for best pan of Ericaceae, with a beautifully grown Cassiope lycopodioides ‘Jim Lever’. This plant in its pot remains outside all the time and is grown in a mix of two parts peat and one part each of fine grit and garden soil.

The best plant in the Intermediate Section, and as such recipient of the Waverley Trophy, was Maeve Spotswood’s excellent Rhododendron ‘Blue Tit’. It has always been grown in a pot outside in an ericaceous mix. In the same section, a nicely grown group of Cassiope ‘Snow Wreath’ won Fionnuala Broughan a first prize In the Intermediate Section. Kept in a pot filled with friable, neutral garden soil and excellent drainage, it stays in the greenhouse over winter.

Billy Moore’s beautifully grown Trillium chloropetalum ‘Bob Gordon’ was the public’s choice as best plant in show. This fine specimen has already won two Farrer Medals and is grown in a pot filled with rich woodland compost. Cultural details have been recorded in previous reports. The judges, however, elected to choose Gordon Toner’s Trillium grandiflorum as the Farrer Medal recipient (his fourth such award). It was also was awarded the Margaret Orsi Bowl for the best plant from North America. All Gordon’s trilliums are raised from seed, mainly received from Bob Gordon, and are pot-grown in a mix of garden soil and leaf-mould with added blood, fish and bone. Well done Gordon!

All three Certificates of Merit were won by Paddy Smith. The first was for an excellent Pulsatilla campanella that remains outside permanently and is potted in Paddy’s own compost mix of grit, soil and leaf-mould. Paddy’s two other Certificates were for both pink and white forms of Cyclamen persicum in pristine condition. His mix for these is 80% grit, 10% leaf-mould and 10% soil, with plenty of sunshine in the summer and no feeding. Paddy also won the Ulster Group Trophy for three pans grown from seed. These comprised of the aforementioned Pulsatilla campanella, Cyclamen repandum and Gentiana clusii (which he grows to perfection outside in a mix of 50% grit, 20% soil and 30% peat).

Quiet background music played throughout the show, repeating last year’s experiment. In the afternoon George Sevastopolo gave a demonstration of planting up alpines which drew a sizeable crowd. Dublin Group members were delighted that there were more visitors than usual at the 2019 show.

I must record a special thanks and congratulations to two ladies, namely Anne Moore and Rose Sevastopolo, who have along with others been responsible for providing the most amazing judges’ lunches for over two decades. Now they have decided to ‘hang up their boots’, so very well done and many thanks. You will be missed!


Author: Pat Crossley

Photographer: Billy Moore