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Midland 2018

April 21, 2018

See some of the plants exhibited at the AGS Midland Show 2018.

Show benches Midland show 2018

Exceptionally warm weather in the days leading up to the show had no doubt pushed some plants into excellent flower, but also a few plants, although still worthy of staging, were past their peak. It is important when exhibiting to present plants well, ensuring that all fading blooms and discoloured foliage are removed.

At some shows the Novice Section is not always strongly supported, but it was good to see these classes well-filled at this Knowle. Groups can do much to encourage members to enter their local show. This was a successful event, with 636 plants staged by 68 exhibitors; the benches were crammed with a wide range of plants, producing an excellent, colourful display.

Androsace vandellii_exh_Don Peace

Androsace vandellii (Exhibitor: Don Peace)

The timing of the show was spot on for Androsace vandellii, with several well-flowered cushions appearing in various classes. The best example, shown by Don Peace, was awarded the Midland Challenge Cup and a Certificate of Merit. This was also a close contender for the Farrer Medal. A high alpine, it has a wide distribution, occurring in the Alps, Apennines, Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada and the Atlas Mountains, where it grows in non-calcareous soils. Very seldom, in any of these localities, does one see a cushion even approaching the size of those that can be produced under alpine house conditions.

Gentiana angustifolia Mrs Vorger_exh_Eric Jarrett

Gentiana angustifolia 'Mrs Vorger' (Exhibitor: Eric Jarrett)

A beautiful form of Gentiana angustifolia, ‘Mrs Vorger’, was shown by Eric Jarrett in the large pan class for one pan rock plant in flower. This novel, head-turning selection had very pale blue flowers with contrasting green centres. It too was awarded a Certificate of Merit.

Astragalus sericoleucus_exh_David Charlton

Astragalus sericoleucus (Exhibitor: David Charlton)

In the same class, David Charlton exhibited a large pan of the North American legume Astragalus utahensis, which is not an easy plant in cultivation, for all that in its native Wasatch Range (where it also blooms in April), it is said to line the roadsides, growing on gravelly slopes and among pinyon-juniper scrub. The combination of soft lavender flowers and white foliage made for a wonderful display.

Uvularia grandiflora_exh_Dave Mountfort

Uvularia grandiflora (Exhibitor: Dave Mountfort)

A member of the Colchicaceae, Uvularia grandiflora was shown in several classes, notably by David Mountford in a rich yellow form. This elegant woodlander from eastern and central North America needs a humus-rich compost and a part-shaded site where it won’t be submerged by the flush of spring bulb foliage, at its peak around the same time

Primula juliae_exh_Clare Oates_Midland Primula Bowl

Primula juliae (Exhibitor: Clare Oates)

One of the most eye-catching exhibits in the show was the enormous pan of Primula juliae shown by Clare Oates in the class for a plant native to Europe. This mat-forming member of the Vernales Section only narrowly qualifies, for it grows among moss-covered rocks in the mountain woodlands of the Eastern Caucasus and Azerbaijan. It has been used in the creation of many dwarf hybrids such as ‘Wanda’ but how nice to see the species in its own right, winning its owner the Midland Primula Bowl.

Iris henryi_exh_Eric Jarrett

Iris henryi (Exhibitor: Eric Jarrett)

A diminutive Chinese iris, I. henryi, was shown by Eric Jarrett. It and another plant of the same species shown by Brian Burrow originated from raisings by Jim Almond. In habitat, the species grows in grassland and flower colour varies from pale blue to creamy white or pale yellow. Each stem produces two flowers and increase is by means of thin rhizomes. Cultivated plants suffer if allowed to become too dry or too wet (they are very susceptible to Botrytis): a plant for attentive owners!

Primula juliae_exh_Clare Oates_Midland Primula Bowl

Primula juliae (Exhibitor: Clare Oates)

Several exhibits of Primula petelotii were staged, the most attractive of these was a dark-coloured form shown by Clare Oates. The mass of flowers completely hid the leaves. This is one of only three Vietnamese primulas and grows on shady banks near water on Mt Sapa at 1,800m. In cultivation it needs shade and is said to be tolerant of low temperatures down to -6°C.

Tristagma ameghinoi_exh_Martin+Anna Sheader

Tristagma ameghinoi (Exhibitor: Martin & Anna Sheader)

One of the most unusual plants on display was staged in the rare in cultivation class by Martin & Anna-Liisa Sheader. Tristagma ameghinoi occurs in the far south of Argentine Patagonia and is one of the two southernmost species of amaryllid. Each stem produces one or two green flowers which are strongly night-scented. They take about four years to flower from seed and thrive in an open, gritty compost.


Miniature garden (Exhibitor: Ben & Paddy Parmee)

A miniature garden in the Intermediate Section, devised by Ben & Paddy Parmee, attracted the judges’ attention and was awarded a Certificate of Merit. The garden was effectively planted, making use of a number of Primula modestaseedlings in various shades of pink in addition to more mature alpines.

Soldanella montana_exh_Brenda Nickels_Crataegus Trophy

Soldanella montana (Exhibitor: Brenda Nickels)

Congratulations to Steve Spells who received the Perry Cup for most points in the Novice Section. Brenda Nickels was awarded the Crataegus Cup for the best plant in the Intermediate Section with a well-flowered clump of Soldanella montana. John Savage won the large Open Section Ericaceae class, his large, well-flowered pan of Andromeda polifolia ‘Compacta’ taking first the Edinburgh Quaich for the best pan of this family, and then the Farrer Medal (his first). Ericaceae exhibits have been thin at the earlier shows, the wintry weather having postponed their flowering. Two warm, sunny days with frost-free nights and they came into their own.

Dicentra cucullaria_exh_Chris Lilley

Dicentra cucullaria (Exhibitor: Chris Lilley)

There were many well-grown plants on display. In addition to those already listed, a further Certificate of Merit also went to Chris Lilley’s Dicentra cucullaria in notably generous flower.


Author: Martin Sheader
Photographer: Jon Evans