A splendid Autumnal mix of flowers, foliage and fruit combined to bring the 2007 show season to a close at Loughborough.
Autumn bulbs, Gentians and Cyclamen provided flowers in near equal measure. Crocus banaticus always catches the eye amongst a class of Autumn crocus as it is so ‘different’ and there were three extremes on view. The sumptuous flowers of C. banaticus ‘Snowdrift’ grabbed immediate attention with large pure white flowers, a well filled pan of the blue form was nearby and there was no denying the beauty of a delightful ‘two tone’ form, exhibited with just three flowers. Don’t be put off by thinking all exhibits need to be ‘panfuls’, the two-tone form aroused just as much attention!
The new stock of truly improved Autumn Gentian hybrids rolling off the Aberconwy nursery conveyor belt shows no sign of easing and two new gems were noted. G. ‘Silken Giant’ boasted incredible heads of up to six flowers on a single stem, with eye-catching external striping. The blooms of G. ‘Silken Night’ were for those who like their flowers dark - nicely in proportion with the form of the plant too.
Mike and Christine Brown proved it just takes careful cultivation plus a little time and skill to repeat their earlier successes with another Farrer medal winning exhibit of Cyclamen hederifolium forma albiflorum (and this one had attractive foliage on display too!) A smaller pan of Cyclamen colchicum staged by the same twosome stopped just as many onlookers in their tracks however. This species is still rarely seen in cultivation with rounded leathery, saw toothed leaves - an attractive foil for the slightly scented flowers.
The foliage classes conjured up two plants from the Southern hemisphere of particular note. Lobelia keniensis may be a challenge to grow and hopefully flower after many years of cultivation but in the meantime, it makes an ideal foliage subject. Despite the South African origins, this plant craves moisture, below at all times and above except during the winter. The golden foliage display provided by Celmisia semicordata ssp aurigans was enhanced by the multiple rosettes (a single is usually the norm) this particular plant was producing.
New Zealand is a rich source for Autumnal fruiting shrubs and the Leicester group trophy was awarded to a well berried pan of Coprosma brunnea x petriei.
Pick of the flowering shrubs and gaining a certificate of merit was the Tasmanian Trochocarpa thymifolia, still going strong after impressing at Newcastle too, with numerous drooping racemes of red flowers.
Those aspiring to produce digital images to the excellent standard maintained and considered the norm in the bulletin, were expertly guided by a superlative non-competitive exhibit provided by Jon Evans which left which left very few technique stones unturned. There was no shortage of would be photographers trying out a tip or two and you could hear the groans as they strived to come to terms with the infamous Loughborough lighting …….