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Pershore Summer 2018

July 7, 2018

See some of the plants exhibited at the Pershore Summer Show 2018.

pershore summer show benches 2018

The Pershore Show is the only show in the AGS calendar that takes place in high summer, bridging the gap between the last of the spring shows a month earlier and still 12 weeks to the start of the autumn season. With soaring temperatures (30C +) over much of the British Isles the week before, we wondered how this would affect the exhibits. Certainly a first look at the benches revealed much greenery – foliage, mats and cushions… but more on these later.

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Pelargonium endlicherianum (Exhibitor: Peter Farkasch)

When first arriving at a show, our initial question is: ‘What won the Farrer Medal?’ We quickly tracked down the ‘best in show’ – an attractive Pelargonium endlicherianum, entered by Peter Farkasch. He told us he was only prevailed upon to enter it by the show secretary, who was concerned that the hot weather was relentlessly diminishing the number of flower entries. A lesson for everybody that a plant left at home never won any award. This plant was purchased from an AGS show stand a few years ago. He finds it relatively easy to cultivate, the main challenge being to prevent Botrytis in winter by careful watering to avoid wetting the foliage.

Ponerorchis graminifolia



The plant, which is a native of Syria and eastern Turkey, also caught the eye of the Joint Rock Garden Plant Committee, who gave it an Award of Merit. The plant had grown a little tall, presumably adapting to the lower light levels in Cheshire compared to its homeland, and this may have led to it not being awarded a Farrer Medal. Nevertheless, a very fine plant, and Peter will be depositing seed in the AGS Seed Exchange later this year. Peter only entered three plants in all at the show (the others were a prize-winning orchid – Ponerorchis graminifolia – along with an Allium). Not a bad return for the day.

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Androcymbium striatum (Exhibitor: George Elder)

Moving round the Large Open Section exhibits, we were quickly drawn to a fine specimen of Androcymbium striatumexhibited by George Elder. This was grown from seed acquired in December 2001 from Silverhill Seeds, the South African seed company owned by Rod and Rachel Saunders, who were the tragic victims of a kidnapping and murder earlier this year. Their legacy lives on in their plants, however. This corm, a native of the Drakensberg, was planted quite deep and decidedly late, in April, using a standard bulbous mix. It normally comes into growth in early June, and thereafter grows very rapidly. It needs to be kept in full sun to give of its best. Seed from this plant will also be submitted to the Exchange.

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Alstroemeria garaventae (Exhibitor: George Elder)

George had several other outstanding exhibits, including a fine three-pan group of Alstroemeria. Some of these had been obtained from Jenny Archibald as small plants, others (A. hookeri and A. garaventae) from seed. Cultivation of these South American plants was described in detail by Martin Sheader in an article for the AGS Bulletin back in 2003.

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Campanula rotundifolia subsp. arctica Mt Jotunheim (Exhibitor: Lee & Julie Martin)

In a ‘normal’ season (whatever that is) Campanulaceae reach their peak flowering to coincide with the Pershore Show. Not this year, when many exhibitors nursed fine plants on the Monday, only to see them going over by the Tuesday!

One plant which did make it to the show was Lee and Julie Martin’s Campanula rotundifolia subsp. arctica ‘Mt Jotunheimen’. This was originally collected from the mountain of the same name in Norway by Henrik Zetterlund, and introduced to British gardens by Graham Nicholls 20 years ago, but has not been offered by nurseries or seen on the show bench for a few years. It is much more compact that the standard species. The Martins’ plant was around three years old and had been grown on from a division.

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Favratia zoysii (Exhibitor: Ian Instone)

The winning Campanulaceae exhibit in the large pan class wasn’t even technically, nowadays a Campanula, but Favratia zoysii, a victim of a recent name change, exhibited by Ian Instone. Years ago, when visiting Slovenia with holidays more about lakes and mountain scenery rather than botanising exhibitions, we had looked for, but failed to find, this plant growing in the wild, with its characteristic ‘crimped’ bellflowers.

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Gentiana rubicunda purpurata (Exhibitor: Brian Burrow)

Despite all these flowering treasures, it was the foliage classes (so often the supporting cast at shows) that dominated this year. Six exhibitors vied for first place in the large three-pan class, which occupied over half of one row of benches alone. Mavis and Sam Lloyd emerged triumphant, with a fine exhibit of Arthropodium candidum ‘Little Lilia’, Disporum smithii ‘Rick’ and Hepatica yamatutai x nobilis.

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Dionysia esfandiarii (Exhibitor: John Dixon)

For those few exhibitors who can grow Dionysia really well (and John Dixon certainly can), the genus provides opportunities to exhibit these cushion plants throughout the season. The bright yellow and mauve flowers of early spring have long gone, exposing the tightly mound-forming cushions in all their glory. John bought a number of fine examples to the show, helping him towards the Open Section aggregate trophy. In the large single pan, D. esfandiarii impressed, this plant having started life back in 2006 as a cutting. The same species also featured in his small three-pan exhibit, along with the rare (and challenging) D. afghanica and D. viscidula. In the large three-pan class, he exhibited three clones of D. tapetodes, including two seedlings (‘Kate’ and ‘Brimstone’) of his own raising. A compost of 20% John Innes compost and 80% mineral material is routinely used.

3 pan of rock plants (Exhibitor: John Evans)

3 pan of rock plants (Exhibitor: Jon Evans)

Jon Evans brought 15 head-turning examples of Rhodohypoxis to the show and found classes for 13 of them. In addition to entering (and winning) in the Open Section, he is still eligible to enter the Intermediate Section, where his three-pan entry of R. milloides ‘Midori’, R. milloides ‘Claret’ and R. baurii ‘Helen’ duly won its class.

Francoa chilensis



In the Novice Section, Steven Squires of Luton has been making his presence known in the southern shows this year, and he collected a further two trophies this time (for the best exhibit, Cheilanthes lanosa, and the aggregate trophy). Steven is an active Seed Exchange participant, and grew a plant labelled as Boykinia jamesii from seed sown in January 2016. However, the judges correctly identified it as Francoa chilensis. Several other growers reported similar experiences. This is not a criticism of the AGS Seed Exchange scheme, which provides fantastic opportunities to share plants but also, as in this case, offers the potential for unexpected bonus plants!

Francoa ferganensis



We had feared for the future of the Artistic Section after Jean Morris retired from active exhibiting last year. But we needn’t have worried, as several other exhibitors have filled the gap. Experience still counts, however, and Rannveig Wallis again won the Open Aggregate. We particularly liked her ink drawings of Fritillaria species (F. ferganensisF. verticillata and F. yuminensis) which she and her husband Bob do so much to promote.

Alpines in their environment (Exhibitor: John Hill)

Alpines in their environment (Exhibitor: John Hill)

In the days when a photographic competition was included at AGS Shows, John Hill was a familiar exhibitor in the Intermediate Section. As a local exhibitor, he took the opportunity to mount an excellent informative display illustrating the different types of plant growing in the Austrian Alps and the Dolomites, highlighting some of the ecological factors determining where alpines grow and the challenges they face in the wild environment. His efforts were marked by a Silver Award for an exhibit of outstanding merit.

Miniature garden (Exhibitor: Anne Vale)

Miniature garden (Exhibitor: Anne Vale)

There is still scope for those with artistic flair to show off their talents in the plant show. One such is the ‘Miniature Garden with accessories’ class. Pauline Carless and Ann Vale are frequent competitors in this class. Ann emerged victorious on this occasion with an enchanting little garden constructed round a hobbit house. Unlike the RHS shows, AGS shows are not a gnome-free zone. We particularly liked the Campanula with a drooping bell masquerading as a lamppost, lighting the way to the little peoples’ front door. Erodium and Saxifraga species provided a supporting cast.

As temperatures outside continued to rise, and the competing interest of a rare English football presence in a World Cup Quarter final approached, the hall emptied of visitors. The Show Secretary decided to close the show half an hour early to give exhibitors a chance to watch the game, and inter alia for your reporters to drive home along deserted motorways with just a few foreign lorries for company. This show, more than most, depends on a lot of help from exhibitors around the country to put it together. Many thanks to them all for staging such an excellent event in a very challenging season.


Authors: David & Liz Livermore
Photographer: Jon Evans