The first impression of this show is almost always the kaleidoscope of colour afforded by the Lewisia classes. This year was no exception, with the vibrant and strong colours that represented the various permutations of L. cotyledon weaving their way across the benches. Digging a little deeper, there were some very choice and superbly grown plants, giving the visitors plenty to fill their notebooks.
Both the large and small six-pan entries were awarded firsts, including a Sewell Medal for Chris Lilley’s entry. This included Draba ‘John Saxton’, a loose cushion with a great depth of white flowers with green throats held on quite long inflorescences. This hybrid of uncertain origin (but thought to represent the spontaneous cross D. dedeana x rosularis, just keeps enjoying larger pots and flowers exceptionally well.
The small six-pan for an AGS Medal was won by Don Peace. His well-balanced entry including bulbous and non-bulbous plants that complemented each other very well. Scilla vicentina (Hyacinthoides vicentina) was in perfect condition, with compact blue umbels above remarkably clean foliage. A white form was exhibited elsewhere, unfortunately a little off-white that never quite does the plant justice. Don also majored on various Fritillaria species, particularly F. pyrenaica, from a dark form to another very pale chequered selection shown in this class. All the selections were distinct and attractive.
The four-pan class for two plants in flower and two shown for their foliage continues to gain entries and here was won by Ivor Betteridge. His diverse set comprised of Cyclamen hederifolium ‘Tilebarn Shirley’, Anemonella thalictroides ‘Oscar Schoaff’, Primula veris ‘Hose-in-Hose’ [right] and Ficinia truncate ‘Ice Crystal’ [below].
This latter little sedge is gaining popularity as a foliage plant with its dark green blades highlighted with a ‘frosted’ edge. Ivor does not cosset it but grows it in a greenhouse that only keeps severe frost at bay.
There was a noteworthy pan of Paris incompleta full of the subtle, starry, green flowers and matching foliage. It is strongly rhizomatous and needs regular release from the confines of the pot. The three-pan bulbous class was also won by Ivor with three excellent bulbs including his trade mark Iranian Allium shelkovnikovii that shone through. The other two components were North American Allium hyalinum and South African Tulbaghia cominsii.
Iris schachtii in a plum-coloured form was exhibited by Anne Vale. The pan was freshly in flower with many buds yet to come. This Turkish, dwarf bearded Iris is a very effective exhibition plant with neat foliage and flowers that hold themselves well.
The Farrer plant, Peter Farkasch’s Haberlea ferdinandi-coburgii, was full of flower, but outstanding because of its compact nature, appearing very much in character.
The show greatly missed Cecelia Coller, a stalwart Norfolk exhibitor who has loyally supported it for several decades. A card was signed by exhibitors and friends wishing her well and a speedy recovery.
Author: Rod Leeds
Photographer: Doug Joyce