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Pershore AGS Show, 2022

February 26, 2022

This time last year we were still tightly in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic. Any thoughts of a face-to-face show at Pershore were fanciful. Recently, three storms in one week, two Red Weather Warnings and some of the highest wind speeds recorded in over 30 years did their best to interfere with preparations for both plants and show venues. Thankfully, we passed through the worst of the problems and could once again meet up with like-minded people and enjoy wonderful plant exhibits, although face masks were still widely apparent.

The Henry Hammer Cup, for the most points in the Novice Section, was awarded to Sue Bedwell for a selection of plants mainly comprising Hepatica japonica forms, now stalwarts of the early shows. She was not alone in showing good plants in this section, as Roger Norman confirmed with his well-developed pan of Acis tingitana, deemed by some a little tall but this (the tallest of its genus) can reach 25cm in its native Morocco. Best grown under glass, it does well outside in warm, sheltered gardens.

Both the Tomlinson Tankard (most points in the Intermediate Section) and the Artistic award (Artistic, Intermediate aggregate) were awarded to Lesley Travis, her skills multi-dimensional. Among her plants was a well flowered Hepatica henryi, an evergreen species which is best displayed, as exhibited, with last year’s tired leaves removed. The Artistic Section showed her abilities to work in both colour; a superb picture of Galanthus nivalis in a naturalistic setting and in monochrome, where her subject was Cyclamen libanoticum. Staying in the Artistic Section, not only did Rannveig Wallis take the Muriel Hodgman Art Award (Artistic, Open aggregate) but also the Florence Baker Award for the best painting or drawing, for a delightful watercolour of Cyclamen coum, flowering through the snow.

It isn’t often that a plant in a small pan, let alone one from the Intermediate Section, wins one of the major trophies at a show but, not only did Alistair Forsyth take the Susan Clements Memorial Trophy (Best plant Intermediate and Novice Sections) but also the Audrey Bartholomew Memorial Award (best bulbous plant in show) with an outstanding pan of Narcissus asturiensis; the plant had attracted a ‘buzz’ even before judging started. Purchased many years ago as a single bulb under the name ‘Van Tubergen clone’, this pot-full had Initially been overwintered in an alpine house but has latterly been left outside in a plunge bed all year round, resulting in a much more compact stance. Over forty flowers on short, evenly lengthened stems (one could easily have placed a spirit-level on top, without disturbing the bubble), a ‘host of golden daffodils’ comes to mind. Just topping the aforementioned exhibit, the Ashwood Trophy (best plant in a pot not exceeding 19cm) was won by Robert Rolfe with a delightful selection of Primula allionii labelled BB03/3/4. A twelve-year old plant, selected for its well-formed, vibrant flowers by Brian Burrow (hence the BB), this surely needs to be named (discussions on this front are in hand).

The EB Anderson prize is awarded to the winner of the small six-pan class, with the qualification that no more than three plants shown can be from the same genus. This was achieved by Paul and Gill Ranson, with three dionysias, two primulas and a Saxifraga (I’m tempted to add a partridge and a pear tree at the end). They also amassed sufficient first prize points to receive the Mooney Cup for the Open Section aggregate prize.

Four Certificates of Merit were awarded, one of which went to a venerable pan of Cyclamen parviflorum. Grown from seed sown in 1998 and smothered in flowers held tightly above the mat-like expanse of leaves, this is a difficult, high-altitude plant, the smallest of the genus, shown by Ian Robertson. While noted for his mastery of Cyclamen, he is certainly not a one-trick-pony, as he proved with an exceptional pan of Crocus pelistericus (white form). To quote Ian’s own words, ‘Crocus pelistericus is usually a beautiful deep purple but white forms occur quite frequently. This is a snowmelt species occurring above the tree line, but must be unique in its preference for damp sites. Often found flowering in shallow-standing water and nearly always near bogs and streams, it favours south-facing sites. In the wild it very seldom forms clumps and vegetative is slow. In cultivation, however, increase is quite rapidly and one corm will become fifty in five years if you get the cultivation right’.

A large pan of Dionysia tapetodes ‘Kate’ also received of a Certificate of Merit for its owner, John Dixon. Selected from a batch of seedlings raised back in 1992 and named for his daughter, the plant exhibited was a twenty-two-year-old cutting from the original, testimony to good selection and dedicated cultivation.  The third Certificate, not as large but certainly eye-catching, with its dark, amaranth-red flowers, went to a 19cm pan of Hepatica japonica ‘ex Tessin’. Raised from seed sown in November 2013, this was a repeat of the 2020 award, the plant now appreciably larger and yet more floriferous.

Bob and Rannveig Wallis staged an array of large, well flowered Corydalis, one of which, Corydalis chionophila var. firouzii, was the last but certainly not least of the quartet of Certificates of Merit at this show. No stranger to awards, being around thirteen years old and flowering to near perfection, this species, like many others in Section Leonticoides, has a relatively large tuber with a ‘corky’ outer skin and occurs buried deep in rocky soil in its native Iran. Good cultivation demands good light, good drainage and a dry summer. Another of their seemingly endless collection was Corydalis nariniana (now Corydalis persica), grown and flowering to perfection, a very worthy recipient of the Farrer Medal.

Reporter: Ray Drew

Photographer: Jon Evans