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South West AGS Show (Exeter), 2010

On the M5 to Exeter, the spring flora was still not fully developed, although the primroses were just starting to bloom and underneath some early blackthorn blossom, a stand of Helleborus foetidus was still in perfect condition.  However on entering the show hall it was obvious that after a long hard winter, spring had finally sprung.  The show benches were crowded with white, yellow and pink cushions of Saxifrages and Dionysias, rather like a Barbara Cartland boudoir.  As in the Kent Show there was a healthy representation in the intermediate and novice sections which is very encouraging for the continuity of the shows in the deep southern peripheries of the kingdom.

The Farrer Medal was a hotly contested affair between a huge Trillium rivale (Lee & Julie Martin), a beautifully well flowered Dionysia ‘Andreas’ (Paul & Gill Ranson) and a large Primula allionii ‘Crusader’ (Mike & Christine Brown) which in contrast to many such forms on the benches was able to show its individual flowers off without them being crowded by their neighbours.  The Trillium won on a close penalty shoot out making this Lee and Julie’s second already in 2010! 

For the second consecutive show David Hoare’s saxifrages won the large six pan class.  A mammoth mound of SaxifragaTenerife’ was centre stage.  It was surrounded by three ‘Allendale’ hybrids (‘Charm’, ‘Harvest’ and ‘Argonaut’), together with ‘Your Success’ and S wendelboi. 


The small six pan class was awarded to Eric Jarrett with four assorted, and superbly presented, cushions (Dionysia termeana and D ‘Bernd Wetzel’, Androsace ciliata and the rare Saxifraga quadrifaria) and two excellent primulas: P ‘Blindsee’ and P ‘Jo Jo’.  After a break of some years necessitated by a move of house, Eric has been able to stage a successful come back, a feat which others have found difficult to achieve.

The Veitch Trophy for three pans of bulbous plants was won by Bob & Rannveig Wallis with Fritillaria gibbosa, F crassifolia subsp crassifolia and what they view as the best of the Gageas, Gagea fibrosa, since it has the biggest and pertest flowers in the genus. Sadly, Peter Erskine, the holder of this highly contested award was not able to defend his title because of the late season.

The show schedule is heavily weighted towards Primulaceae classes, so it came as no surprise that as well as winning the Peter Edwards memorial trophy for most points in the Primulaceae classes, and the East Devon Trophy (best plant in a 19 cm pot) for Dionysia ‘Gheist’, Gill and Paul Ranson also took the overall aggregate in the Open Section for the second year running.

The judges liked three particular plants enough to award Certificates of Merit.  These were to......



a particularly large flowered Fritillaria crassifolia subsp crassifolia (Wallises) which has cloned up well to produce a large potful;



the stunning red form of Anemone biflora (Ivor Betteridge), which he had raised from seed


and  the Dionysia ‘Andreas’ (Ransons) which came so close to the Farrer Medal.

As in the open section, the major awards in the Intermediate and Novice sections were won by a spread of exhibitors. The overall winner of the Intermediate section was Tony Hale of Stevenage and the best plant was adjudged to be Dionysia curviflora JRD 43, grown by Peter Summers. 

In the novice section, the Dartington Trophy (most first prize points) was won by a local exhibitor, Richard Horswood of Honiton, and best plant by another local: Mike Quest of Plymouth with Narcissus bulbocodium var obesus.  This final award links back to the aforementioned Farrer Medal for this stock is the same as that which won Lee Martin his first ever Farrer Medal when he was still exhibiting in the B section.

The Exeter Show is also graced by an artistic section which is greatly enhanced by the natural overhead light of this modern exhibition hall.  Jon Evans’s superb photographs were untouchable and won him the Open aggregate.  It is definitely worth taking some time to watch Jon in action at the shows because most of the pictures on view were carefully crafted from photographs taken on show days.  Ju Bramley was a worthy winner of the Intermediate Section.

On returning home, the day had obviously been fairly warm and the first newly arrived solitary swallow perched in the garage that evening reminded us that summer is not far away.

Rannveig Wallis