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East Lancashire 2023

April 29, 2023

Mukdenia rossii (Carol Kellett) It is not often we see plants from Manchuria so it was a refreshing pleasure to find it on the benches. Its rather unprepossessing generic name does it no favours, whilst its previous ‘monicker’ Aceriphyllum better described the maple-like foliage. The specific epithet refers to John Ross (1777–1856), naval officer and Arctic explorer. In the open ground it forms a clump as much as 1 m across, spreading by means of thickish rhizomes which, if required, may be dug and potted. One of a genus of two species the other, Mukdenia acanthifolia, is a more desirable plant with orbicular foliage turning a pleasing shade of red in autumn. Both species are deciduous and bear flowers typical of the family Saxifragaceae with its pepper-pot styles.

Mukdenia rossii

Mukdenia rossii - Carol Kellett

Androsace villosa (John Dixon). Wandering around the Pyrenees in June it is only the unobservant who would fail to notice this hairy Rock Jasmine, so frequently occupying crevices and hollows in the alpine zone. Widespread across Europe and beyond, it has been recorded on the passes through the Pamirs in Tajikistan where it is more of a member of plant populations on open scree. The specimen exhibited in Whitworth was different in that it stood some 10 cm tall, like villosa on stilts, and as such would seem to be of Turkish origin and more typical of plants from Taurica.

By way of a digression it might interest the pedant amongst us who sometimes rails against name changes, to note that Androsace vandellii has suffered a change to its specific epithet. We should now regard it as Androsace argentea, the silver Rock Jasmine. Hey ho! at least it’s a pronounceable change not like some of those recent proposals, Aster for example, now Symphyotrichum.

Androsace villosa - John Dixon

Primula allionii x carniolica x albenensis (Brian Burrow). The first cross was made between the very well known and usually well cultivated Primula allionii from the Maritime Alps and Primula carniolica from a similarly restricted distribution area further east in alpine Slovenia. Not entirely satisfied with this presumably fertile hybrid the breeder made a subsequent cross with another member of the Auricula Section, Primula albenenis, found near Alben in Italy. Unlike P. carniolica it has good farina.  The end result was the splendid plant seen on the day displayed in perfect condition with the mealy leaf covering unmarked by careless handling.

Primula (allionii x carniolica) x albenensis BB.10.21.3 - Brian Burrow

Trillium sulcatum.   Trilliums nearly always feature large in spring shows so it was not surprising to see a fine specimen of Trillium grandiflorum (Tommy Anderson) win the prize for Best Plant in Show and with it the Farrer Medal.  A less frequently shown member of the genus was exhibited in the class for one plant native to North America, Trillium sulcatum (Henry Fletcher). With a long pedicel the species is not dissimilar to its close relative T. erectum with which it has, in the past, been closely linked. However, its large leaves and distinctly boat-shaped flowers, Sulcatum translates as ‘boat-shaped’, together with its southerly distribution and lower altitude range helped in deciding it as being sufficiently different to merit true specific rank. Shown at Whitworth this plant bore white flowers and may therefore be further classed as Trillium sulcatum forma albolutescens.

Trillium sulcatum - Henry Fletcher

Glandora oleifolia (Brian Burrow).  The modern trend for renaming plants, following recent improvements of cellular biology techniques, has resulted in another name change for this plant. We first knew this genus as Lithospermum then as Lithodora and now apparently we shall have to get used to another generic name, Glandora, only Lithodora zahnii retaining the second incarnation. No matter what it may be called it is still a beautiful plant, its pale, sky-blue flowers, bringing a shaft of colour on a dullish morning.

It has a very limited distribution from the Eastern Pyrenees, occurring close to the French border in Catalonia near the town of Figueras, where it grows on sunny, rocky outcrops. If grown in the open garden it may reach, in time, about 75 cm across but may need winter protection. If you are into Tufa walls or beds it will relish the well-drained condition and, of course, full sun. Propagation is, probably, best done by cuttings taken in late spring or early summer.

Lithodora oleifolium - Brian Burrow

It would be churlish not to mention Anne Vale’s amazing Gold Award winning display of containers planted as miniature gardens with accessories. Occupying the full width of the stage at one end of the hall this was a tour de force of the genre and despite some strongly held points of view had to be seen for what it was. Those who decried the inclusion of accessories, one had a gnome on the toilet whose unclothed parts were covered by a newspaper, had to concede the skill in her selection of scene created, the characters carefully positioned and the overall effect as being second-to-none. There are those who might argue that the plants did not convey to those who clustered around the exhibit the beauty of alpines but it was pure joy if viewed as a jolly little side digression.

Nor should we forget the enthusiasm and tireless energy of the Local Group members who cooked and baked and served the hungry exhibitors and the lunching public. East Lancashire continue to provide just the high degree of support need by Shows up and down the country. Thanks.

Show Reporter: Peter Cunnington
Show Photographer: Don Peace