The Cleveland Alpine Garden Society Show
31st March 2018
My first ever visit.
Ever since my mum grew alpines in her garden when I was a child, I have always had a bit of a 'thing' for them. When I discovered the Alpine Garden Society last year at a local agriculture show I was intrigued as to what they were all about.
They have been around since 1929 and are one of the largest specialist garden societies in the world! They help with conserving and protecting alpines in their natural habitat and fund conservation projects across the UK and support development in knowledge and skills in the Alpine field. They also have a huge seed exchange scheme which have an enormous amount of variety to choose from. You can find more about them HERE.
When I found out there was a local show on I decided to pop along and check it out.
On walking in I first came across the plant sales. There really should have been a DANGER/WARNING sign outside! A nice handful of stalls with enticing varieties of lovely alpine plants to take home and nurture them in the hope that you can grow them on to at least some of the standard of the ones on show.
I made my way through to the show hall and again there should be another warning sign of "Don't forget to breathe". The sight of so much colour really hits you in the face (in a nice way of course.) and it made me gasp. The room was lined with tables that were split into classes/groups,Open, Intermediate, Cleveland and Novice. There were lots of varieties of Corydalis, Hepatica, Cacti, and Narcissus to name a few. Many people had travelled from around the country to put forward their pans of beautiful plants. The novice group though sadly had no entries as there isn't any beginners coming through to grow in the show. This saddened me a bit, as a keen novice gardener in general I love the feeling of growing from seed, giving it plenty of TLC for it to repay you back at each stage of its growth. It does require some patience and dedication but if you are willing to do that then you are already on the right path. Has this sparked something inside of me to give it a go?
There were some really truly beautiful specimens of Dionysia and Saxifraga. This seemed a popular entry and whilst they look amazing they require some patience to grow to these sizes. A HUGE pan of Dionysia Aretioides won the best in show prize
One thing I was surprised to see was the amazing pots of 'miniature' Rhododendrons, Conifir's and Pieris'. I never knew they were part of the alpine family!
My favourite section that I really got drawn to was the cut flower section. Four entries of six little shot glasses filled with gravel and dainty little posies of different alpine flowers. They looked fabulous and really showcased the flowers well. I fell in love with the Iris Tuberosa's black and green flowers. So unique and beautiful.
I got chatting to some lovely local members who took their time to make me feel welcome and to see how I was enjoying the show and explained how not many young people take up membership. A category for Cacti has even been introduced to entice a new wave of growers. A lovely chap, Don Peace who I had chatted to via twitter prior to going was ever so kind to explain about the groups in the show. He takes pictures for the society and has some STUNNING entries in the show too. My favourite of his were the Fritillaria's.
On the whole the show was a brilliant experience. With something for everyone there whether you like to grow alpines yourself or just to like to see some amazing plants I would urge you to visit them. A super friendly society, passionate about growing and preserving you would be mad to miss out. Plus you can get your hands on some society seeds to have a go at growing at home and possibly enter yourself. The cakes and savouries are an added bonus too!
I left with some goodies myself. A lovely little Saxifraga 'Peach Melba' and five packets of seeds, Fritillaria Involucrata, Primrose Marginata, Ranunculus Montana and two Iris'- Latifolia and Vicaria.
Maybe these will in time become future entries. Watch this space!!
Until next time
x N x