Saturday, 13 March 2004

AGS Blackpool Show

Blackpool show struggled following a week of freezing temperatures allowing many plants from the previous week to put in a repeat performance. There was of course quite a few new exhibits to satisfy the needs of any alpine enthusiast including one or two 'new' Dionysias......

Paul and Gill Ranson are getting into the 'Farrer medal habit'. With two magnificent well covered pans of Dionysia viscidula x freitagii EGW MK 91/1 to choose from, the neater dome took the day.

Rhododendron Pemakoense is one of the earliest species to flower, this free flowering Chinese beauty is worth considering. Quite hardy but watch for hard frosts if considering exhibition.

How useful that Corydalis malkensis one of the more attractive members of Sect. Corydalis can be a plunge or garden weed! There is a plant portrait on this site if you want to know more but the picture speaks volumes, courtesy of Don Peace.

The first of the season's orchids were on display. Like the closely related Dactylorrhiza sambucina and with no danger of this becoming a garden weed, this diminutive species will need careful cultivation in a pot.

A well established pan of Iris maracandica with three flowers was awarded a certificate of merit. Very neat, with tightly packed foliage, the yellow flowers have a pronounced wing to the falls.

Many Fritillaria species are best viewed 'inside'. F. latifolia is most obliging with large dumpy flowers held just above the top of the pan. Whether this represents F. nobilis I'm not sure - it certianly is attractive however.

The business end of Fritillaria biflora (I've excluded the 30cm or so of stem. A Californian coastal species which is hardier than you would think but certainly needs cold glass protection in the UK.

Dionysia termeana is now becoming established from the recent introduction, this is proving to be variable in habit and flower. Ranging from a lax mat to tight cushion, all are gorgeous with a generous supply of yellow flowers.

Probably seen on display for the first time, the newly described Dionysia iranica was keenly viewed. The flowers are most unusual as they unfurl - almost Campanula zoysii-like just before they open. Note the  plastic pot, just to show that clays are not essential, the compost and watering regime are the critical factor

A new hybrid on the scene from Michael kammerlander. Dionysia Manuela is a cross of D. microphylla with D. archibaldii with roughly intermediate characteristics of both - and of course hybrid vigour, very attractive flowers.....

This cross of Primula allionii Crowsley x Joan Hughes between of the best darker P. allionii hybrids was much admired. This very neat form was raised by John Dixon and one of the most attractive on display.

The hall lighting didn't help in capturing the beauty of Primula allionii 'Alexina'. The flowers are actually a much deeper purplish hue, nestling at/amongst the foliage surface.

Only alpine afficianados would want to grow a cotton wool sponge! Haastia pulvinaris remains one of the greatest challenges to the alpine grower and provided care with winter water is taken, summer ventilation, masses of good luck - it is possible!

If the Haastia wasn't enough to whet your cushion appetite, how about this! Geoff Mawson has for the moment tamed Raoulia eximia,  this equally difficult vegetable sheep - still a lamb by wild comparisons but getting to 'spectacular' proportions and worthy of a certificate of merit.

A third AGS medal of the season for your's truly. Galanthus 'Straffan', Iris rosenbachiana, Fritillaria pudica, Cyclamen pseudibericum, C. coum and Primula allionii Lismore P94/9/2.

The busy March season continues with milder weather promised for East Lancs in a weeks time. Watch this space for further reviews.........

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