And so it proved. A pot of the yellow form of Iris suaveolens (syn. mellita), staged as part of a three-pan exhibit in the Novice Section on Monday evening, had fallen victim to overnight warmth, with most of the
flowers withered before judging commenced on Tuesday morning. Luckily the exhibitor, Audrey Dart (Henfield), had a perky Anemonella thalictroides in reserve, and went on to win the section.
Another, larger pot of Iris suaveolens was also staged, this time as part of a very handsome, Sewell Medal winning six-pan entry in Class 1 from Cecilia Coller (
Cecilia’s six-pan also included two Chinese Asarum species – A. delavayi and A. maximum – and splendid pans of Ipheion sellowianum, Pleione Bandai-san gx and Erythronium tuolumnense ‘Spindlestone’. In fact of the 221 plants entered in the Open Section, 68 were put on the benches by Cecilia. Both of the asarums in her six-pan exhibit were awarded Certificates of Merit, and she also took first place in Class 29 (three pans native to any one continent) with another three pots of Asarum – A. maximum, A. splendens and A. campaniflorum – all native to
These so-called wild gingers are striking plants, with unusual flowers borne at soil level under a canopy of large, glossy leaves. Asarum maximum (shown) is particularly alluring, with its panda-like blooms. The plants are most commonly found in the moist, humus-rich soils of woodland habitats in
Cecilia showed many other beautiful plants, including a pink Anemonella thalictroides that won the Audrey Bartholomew Memorial Spoon for the best plant from
All of these were brought to
Ray Drew (Laindon) also brought many fine plants to the Show, includinga fabulous pot of Narcissus bulbocodium. This, too, was suffering by the second day, with several blooms shrivelling. Dwarf narcissi grown in pots have had a tough time this winter, with many growers reporting leaves browned by frost and plants failing to flower.
In Class 71 (three pans of Fritillaria, distinct), Peter Erskine (Petersfield) took third place behind Cecilia Coller and Joy Bishop, but his entry was perhaps the most interesting. He showed Fritillaria tubiformis (shown) and Fritillaria tubiformis subsp. moggridgei, and a plant that emerged as a chance seedling in 2005, a cross between the two. According to Peter, the two parent plants occupy different territories in the wild, so never get the chance to cross-pollinate naturally, which made this brownish-coloured offspring's appearance a rare treat. It is the disproportionately large blooms on short stems that are the striking feature of these plants. They require a sharply drained compost, kept moist in the spring and almost dry in summer.
Iris sari subsp. manissadjianii is another plant in which the foliage is dwarfed by large flowers. Joy Bishop (Lightwater) showed a pot of six stems of this Oncocyclus iris, three in bloom and three buds waiting to unfold, the white flowers exquisitely marked with maroon.
Richard Clements (Pershore) won the George Gable Memorial Trophy for the best pan of Ericaceae with a glorious specimen of Cassiope ‘Beatrice Lilley’, its rich green whipcord foliage smothered under a thick carpet of hundreds of tiny white bell-shaped flowers.
The extensive photographic and artistic display was much admired by visitors, and show secretary Jon Evans and his band of helpers did a superb organisational job over the two days, even watering and deadheading plants as required. This show is a wonderful opportunity for the