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Exhibitors' Newsletter, Spring 2018
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Exhibitors' Newsletter, Spring 2018

Welcome to this year’s Newsletter.

2017 was another highly successful show season and, I hope, for the visitors to our shows a pleasant and trouble free experience. Of course, beneath the surface, there are always last minute problems and unforeseen hiccups, at both National and Local level, which get solved by the dedication of all the volunteers who organise and help run the shows. All exhibitors owe this army of people a huge thank you for their efforts.

In last year’s newsletter I emphasized the need to have succession plans in place for shows in your area. We haven’t lost any shows this year due to show secretaries retiring and not being able to be replaced but I know of two who are retiring in 2018 so the risk is real. Here is part of what I wrote last year, get involved. “You, the exhibiting population, have a vested interest in preventing further decline in the number of shows and I would urge you to get together with other exhibitors, and local group committees, in your area and try to create a team which could create a new show, or resurrect an old one. The problem is particularly acute in the West of England from Cheshire northwards……..”. The Shows team are here to help so don’t be shy. Don’t hesitate to contact me.

Happy Showing


You should receive this newsletter with your Shows Handbook for 2017.  It has been sent out to all known exhibitors, judges and anyone else who has requested one. If you hear of anyone who did not receive one who should have, tell them to let us know.

In this issue

  • Calendar and Venue Changes
  • Opening Hours
  • Artistic Section
  • New Exhibitors
  • Plant Names
  • Dwarf Shrubs
  • The 2017 National League Tables

Calendar & Venue Changes

Last year’s experiment with a new Pershore Early Show was highly successful and is in the schedule again this year albeit at a new venue, Pershore High School. This is unfortunate as the venue we used at the college was ideal for an early show and, of course, next door to the Society’s HQ and Garden. It has been redeveloped and isn’t suitable anymore which is why the 2017 Pershore Summer Show was held in the old, badly lit, hall we used to use. The Summer show will also be at the new High School location.

With the reducing number of exhibitors we’ve been working hard to avoid having two shows on one day unless absolutely necessary. This has been largely achieved and a big thanks to the East Lancashire team for agreeing to move their show from late March to late April. Further work is still required to avoid the diary clash with the Harrogate Spring Flower Show which has led to a significant challenge recruiting nurseries to attend the show. In addition there was much frantic discussion and negotiation when the Wimborne team were asked by the school they hire if the date could be changed in future years. Fortunately a solution was found.

The Bakewell Show, a brave experiment, did not attract the passing tourist trade we had hoped for and so we have abandoned it. But do not despair, the team are using the same slot to relaunch the East Cheshire Show in the small village of Bramhall while continuing to look for a bigger, better venue in the North West.

And, at the last minute, we have been informed that the school which hosts the Kent shows are going to refurbish the show hall during the October break and this means, alas, that the Kent Autumn Show will not take place in 2018. Hopefully normal service will be resumed in 2019

2017 successes in calendar and venue were the new Loughborough venue, so much better than the old and substantially cheaper to hire! The move to Rosemoor was also a success despite the new show hall not being ready in time. Visitor numbers were high and I’ve rarely seen so many nursery owners with large smiles.

Finally, new for 2018, following on from the success of the Harlow Carr and Rosemoor shows there will be a show at RHS Wisley in May.

Opening Hours

Closing time for shows will be 3.30 with trophy presentations at 3.15 at most shows. Note this does not apply to all shows, in particular Dublin, Ulster, South West and Harlow Carr where 4.00 will still be closing time. Please consult the Shows Handbook for details of staging times and finish times for the new Wisley show. Public safety being paramount vehicle movements on site will dictate how this is organised in much the same way as used to happen at Malvern.

You will also note that advertising material for the majority of shows will state 11am as the start for both show and plant sales. This is being done to assist the show teams to maximise their income from catering and will not affect your ability to scour the nursery stands for treasure before everyone else!

Artistic Section

In 2017 we had two new exhibitors in the Artistic section but one stalwart has also retired from showing having achieved her 8th Gold Bar. Well done Jean and thanks for all those wonderful exhibits. So if you have even one artistic bone in your body (I have none) why not have a go.

New Exhibitors

Here’s what I wrote last year. “I know this comes up every year but please keep twisting arms, encouraging or blackmailing members to start showing. Make sure they come to a show and look at the Novice Section exhibits. Merely marvelling at 36cm pans in the Open section is not going to get them in the right frame of mind!” We are still losing more retiring exhibitors than we are recruiting novices. Twist those arms harder!

Plant Names

Remember to read those boring botanical lists in the handbook and try not to get caught out by taxonomic devilry. The only item I will note here is the attempt, by one author anyway, to move Campanula zoysii into its own genus within the Campanulacae as Favratia zoysii. Will it become accepted? Who knows! The only show at which this creates a problem is Pershore Summer. The class definitions have been altered to avoid the 2017 pragmatic decision (Martin) or fudge (Robert). If you don’t understand this read the December Alpine Gardener.

Dwarf Shrubs (including Ericaceae)

Question: What is a dwarf shrub? This has defeated many attempts to define for the purposes of our shows. Following discussions on the topic my predecessor, Mary, accepted Alan Furness’s kind offer to try and sort it out. A precis of his discussion and suggested way forward are printed here for digestion by both exhibitors and judges. I suspect there will be further debate and feedback would be welcomed. Preferably by email or a written note handed to me. A verbal response at a show will be gone from my memory before the next cup of coffee!

I have done a considerable amount of research in an attempt to establish an objective ( as opposed to a subjective) base for a possible addition to rule 23f in the Shows Handbook.

Because the AGS have no definition of ‘dwarf’ I have used;

1) Hilliers definition which is  …. Up to 60cms ( 2’ )

2) Peter Cox’s definition in his publication 'The smaller rhododendrons’. In it he defines ‘dwarf’ as up to 40cms (16”) after 10 years and ‘semi dwarf’ as 40-80 cms (up to 32”) after 10 years.

3) I have also looked through both volumes of the AGS Encyclopaedia and read all entries relating to ‘shrub’. I recorded for all shrubs (ericaceous and others) their ultimate size as given by the author of that genus in 10cm steps from 0 to 80 cms. This did not include Rhododendron, see 4 below.

In the AGS encyclopaedia there are 300 shrubs which attain 80cms at maturity (give or take 1 or 2 that I might have missed).

4) !n the Glendoick ( Cox) full catalogue they have available 34 dwarf rhododendrons (up to 40cms after 10 years) and 76 semi- dwarf rhododendrons (40-80 cms after 10 years), i.e. 110 in all within the 80cm size category.

Setting the size limit at 80cms gives exhibitors 400 or so plants as potential entries for those classes.

On the basis of the facts that I have established for myself I would propose adding the following sentence to rule 23f:

"In those classes where shrubs may be exhibited Judges will look less favourably on those entries whose growth would normally exceed 80cms after 10 years.”

The 2017 Show League Tables

The annual league tables for prize points in each section appear on the website.

The winners of the sections in the 2017 Season were:

Giuseppi Cup (Open Section): Don Peace

Byng Cup (Intermediate Section): Lawrence Peet came first.

      The Trophy itself was won by Michael Myers as Lawrence

      held it last year and it can't be won by the same exhibitor twice.

Clifford Crook Cup (Novice Section): Ben Parmee

Nancy May Herbert Memorial Award (Open Section Art): Rannveig Wallis

Intermediate Section Art: Gemma Hayes


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