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Pershore Early 2018

February 24, 2018

See some of the plants and art pieces exhibited at the AGS Pershore Early Show 2018.

With our early shows there is always the risk that bad weather will lead to cancellations and this year we were warned that there would be severe weather as the air stream came straight from Siberia (never a warm direction). Fortunately the worst was delayed – it was Harlow the following week that had to be abandoned due to heavy snow countrywide when the ‘beast from the east’ finally arrived – and although cold, the morning dawned bright, making for a perfect alpine day. Due to work being carried out at the former college venue, the location was changed to Pershore High School, a new school located approximately 1.5 miles outside the town.

Saxifraga sissi shown by Steven Squires

Saxifraga sissi (Exhibitor: Steven Squires)

The main hall was large and well set out, although the lighting would be improved if the curtains could be drawn back further. It was encouraging to see that the Novice Section was quite well supported, the Henry Hammer Cup for most points going to Steven Squires (Luton) who we hope will be encouraged to continue supporting the shows, along with all the other exhibitors in this section.


Eranthis 'Guinea Gold' (Exhibitor: Clare Oates) Galanthus 'Tiny Tim' Neotinea lactea shown by Barry Tattershall

In the next level of competition, the Intermediate Section, a more demanding standard of cultivation is required. Ben & Paddy Parmee (Chandlers Ford, Hampshire) took home with them the aggregate Tomlinson Tankard prize and the Susan Clements Memorial Trophy for the best plant in the section, Galanthus nivalis ‘Tiny Tim’, a small form of the species thought to have been distributed by Sir William Lawrence, founding father and first president of the AGS. Both exhibitors are becoming well known for their work as Local Group Coordinators and we can only hope that they will find enough time to continue growing plants for show.

Impossible to overlook, a superb example of Eranthis Tubergenii Group ‘Guinea Gold’ (the old hybrid between E. cilicica and E. hyemalis) was staged by Clare Oates of Scunthorpe. Although not difficult to grow, it is slow to build up to the size seen here, on top of which the grouping was very well and evenly-flowered, the stems low to the topdressing and the whole ensemble in perfect condition. The Certificate of Merit bestowed confirmed that the judges liked it too.

A further Certificate of Merit went to Barry Tattersall for his superb Neotinea lactea, one of four species (together with a hybrid) spread throughout much of Europe, North Africa and parts of the Middle East. It is found in short, open grassland up to 1,800m.


Crocus pelistericus shown by Ian Robertson Iris rosenbachiana 'Darwas' shown by Ivor Betteridge

A fine example of the rare – cultivation anyway; in NW Greece/Macedonia it can be found on a few mountains in its millions – and tricky Crocus pelistericus grown by Ian Robertson of Shaftesbury gained the Crocus Award. A few growers have worked up good stocks after studying its requirements, which include a very short resting period (it should never be dried out and is better kept outdoors in an always moist sand plunge, and slight shade in the summer months, when as cool a position as possible should be selected.

The Audrey Bartholomew Memorial Award for best bulbous plant (and also the Ashwood Trophy for the finest exhibit in a 19cm pot) went to an excellent Iris rosenbachiana ‘Darwas’ grown by Ivor Betteridge of Ashby-de-la-Zouch. We have had the opportunity of seeing this and other forms of this rare juno iris on occasion before but it is always a pleasure when they appear on the show bench.

Corydalis nariniana shown by Bob & Rannveig Wallis

Corydalis nariniana (Exhibitor: Bob & Rannveig Wallis)

Farrer Medal

A third Certificate of Merit, for their Corydalis popovii, the Royal Bank of Scotland Trophy for a sparkling small six pan entry, the Mooney Cup for Open Section Aggregate and the ultimate award, the Farrer Medal for Corydalis nariniana, were deservedly presented to that well-known couple Bob and Rannveig Wallis from Carmarthen. We should all be appreciative of the considerable effort put in by this pair, without whom the shows would be much the poorer. The excellent condition of both Corydalis is not only a reflection of the Wallis’s expertise with these and other members of Section Leonticoides but also registers the cold weather since both plants had last appeared at the Caerleon Show a week earlier. Normally, they etiolate after even a day in a warm show hall, or else on the journey home, and are at their best for just one outing.

In the Large Open Section, the same exhibitors had a fine entry of three pans of bulbous plants, including a snowdrop labelled as Galanthus nivalis Caucasus form. It is believed that species is absent from those mountains and following much discussion and debate it was agreed that what was on display was the rarely grown G. angustifolius, thought not to be cultivated in the British Isles when the authoritative work ‘Snowdrops’ was published in 2001, but among a host of other plants from that region that have come in since. The plants had leaves evenly glaucous on both surfaces of the leaves – a defining attribute. It would be interesting to know if, had this been pointed out before judging took place, the blue second prize sticker would have turned into a red one.

Art award Gemma Hayes

Intermediate Section: Gemma Hayes

Turning to the Artistic Section it was a little disappointing that there were only four exhibitors but the quality and skill of their work deserves high praise. A new exhibitor, Gemma Hayes from Colwyn Bay, won the Intermediate Section aggregate prize. The Open Section aggregate, in the form of the Muriel Hodgman Art Award was won by none other than Rannveig Wallis. Finally for the best painting or drawing, the Florence Baker Award went to Caroline Jackson-Houlston’s elegantly attractive study of Iris ‘Katharine Hodgkin’. [Photo: Gemma Hayes’ Nerine masoniorum]

There are always matters to deal with when a new venue is in place but it is pleasing to report that this was a good show in a satisfactory location with plenty of space. The shows are nowadays run on a more business-like footing, with more attractive venues, more room and a lot more nurseries, tempting us to part with our cash. Gone are the free cup of tea or coffee provided for exhibitors at arrival and the do-it-yourself toasters where they could congregate to chat. Instead, professional caterers here offered a range of refreshments including a full English if so desired, and obviously all this has to be paid for.

Perhaps because of the winter conditions, there was a lack of plants on the AGS plant sales table, usually a fruitful source of rare and unusual plants but on this occasion reduced to just a few trays. The takings help to boost the funds of a show and I am confident that a year from now, a much greater selection will again be available.

Finally I would like to thank Brian Burrow, whose assistance in compiling this report is greatly appreciated.


Author: Eric Jarrett
Photographer: Don Peace