Sorry about the delay in distributing the Shows Handbook - computer breakdown in early December caused a weeks holdup in the preparation and it then fell foul of the Cristmas and New Year break at the printers. You should all have received the Shows Leaflet, listing dates and venues, with your December bulletin.
The big change in 2003 was the publication of all the show results, together with pictures where available, on the Society website at:
www.alpinegardensociety.net (was .org)
The results are usually posted a day or two after the show and the pictures as soon as I get them. Anyone who takes digital pictures at a show (general views, or interesting plants) can email them to me and I will display a selection.
My thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of the shows during 2003.
Encouraging New Exhibitors How big is an Alpine?
Changes in B Section Rules How hardy is an Alpine?
Medals What is new or rare?
Show Closing Times Typos in the Artistic Section
Brassicas on the Show Bench? Appeal for Newsletter 'copy'
As you know, the Shows Handbook is sent only to known Exhibitors, Judges and New Members, as well as to anyone else who requests it. Supplies are also sent to Show Secretaries and Local Group Secretaries. If you know of anyone who might be encouraged to exhibit, why don't you take the initiative and telephone or email AGS Centre and get a Shows Handbook sent to them. Having it arrive through the letterbox might just be all it takes to encourage them to take the plunge.
Over the years, I and my predecessors have received many letters from exhibitors who have enjoyed showing a few plants over many years, but who do not wish to compete at Open Section level. When they win their Silver Medals, these exhibitors are usually lost to the shows.
As an experiment last year, we extended the period in which new Silver Medal winners could remain in Section B by a year. This experiment was favourably received and from the 2004 season, any exhibitor who has not yet won a Gold Medal can continue to show plants in Section B. If you know of anyone who stopped exhibiting when they won their Silver Medal, see if you can encourage them to come back and continue to exhibit in Section B. Anyone who wins a further 25 firsts in Section B after winning their Silver Medal will be awarded a Silver Bar to mark the acheivement.
For any of you who have not seen the medals that are awarded at our shows, look at pages 4 and 5 of the Handbook. The black and white scans, shown there at two thirds life size, do not really do justice to the quality of or medals, but they will give you some idea of what they look like.
Another change you may notice in the Handbook is that nearly all of the shows now close at 4.00pm. We have found that there are usually very few visitors during the half hour between 4.00 and 4.30. Trophies and awards will usually be presented at 3.45 as this tends to be an occasion for Exhibitors and most of them will be in the hall at that time waiting to take their plants home.
Another change in the Handbook is that we have made an attempt to bring our plant nomenclature up to date in line with current practice. Some of the new family names are: Apiaceae (was Umbelliferae); Asteraceae (was Compositae); Brassicaceae (was Cruciferae). The old Coniferae: now consists of Cupressaceae, Pinaceae, and Taxaceae. The term conifer includes all of these.
It is impossible to be prescriptive about size and hardiness of eligible plants - Rule 14 is as good as it gets:
14. Definitions 'Alpine or rock garden plant': The term covers all plants, including shrubs, suitable for cultivation in a rock garden of moderate size or in an unheated frame or alpine house. It excludes any plants which will not survive an average British winter under such conditions but includes many plants which do not necessarily grow in mountainous regions. 'Distinct': The word 'distinct means 'distinct varieties'. Obvious colour variants or sufficiently different forms are distinct varieties for this purpose.
This is fairly imprecise (is it possible to be precise about British weather?). A lot of discretion in interpretation is necessarily left to the Judges.
Generally, the Judges would downpoint plants that grow quickly and whose eventual size is such that they would be out of scale in a moderately sized rock garden.
The critical word in Rule 14 is 'unheated'. Plants that require artificial heat for their survival will be excluded. However, many exhibitors keep some plants in almost frost-free conditions while they are dormant, or provide some heat in really cold weather in order to maintain condition and appearance. This has always been tacitly accepted and the show benches would be the poorer without Pleiones, Rhodohypoxis, some of the Cyclamen and so on.
Classes for new plants are for plants only recently introduced (or reintroduced) into cultivation as well as newly developed cultivated hybrids, typically raised in the last few years.
Classes for rare plants are for plants that may have been in cultivation for some time, but which are so uncommon as to be very seldom commercially available.
Unfortunately, the automatic numbering of classes has gone awry in the Artistic Section Schedules on Pages 18 and 19 of the Shows Handbook. The classes numbered 115 to 128 should of course have been numbered as for last year, 201 to 214. More seriously, there are two classes numbered 230. The new class 230 in the Paintings Drawings and Needlework part of the Open Section will be recorded in the results as class 250 for this year and we will put all the numbering right next year.
If you have any brief items that could be printed in future issues of this Newsletter, please let Geoff Mawson have them. He has agreed to act as coordinator.