A Display of Gems

Each year in April the Dublin branch of the Alpine Garden Society holds its show at the Cabinteely Community College and it is an opportunity to view the most beautiful plant gems imaginable and, of course, an opportunity to meet some of the people who are gems of the gardening world.

A visit to the dentist before leaving Waterford had us decided to avoid a restaurant and we had a light lunch with coffee from the flask in the carpark. The society members had been inside much earlier to stage their displays and for the judges to appraise them. While we ate we observed members arriving with plants for the members’ plant sale – quite a feature of the event and an opportunity to acquire some very nice plants. We watched one member, one we know well, as he practically wore a path from car to hall with his deliveries and we also could see the earlybirds forming a queue for the 1.30 opening.

The Members’ Plant Sale area is the first encountered on entering the hall and is always a source of good plants – at a good price.

Once indoors we headed for the members’ plant sales where Mary added some of Harold McBride’s “Waverley Seedling”s to her collection of Primula auricula. We don’t know what colour the flowers will be but Harold always has good plants so it is worth the chance and there is the excitement of the wait to see what we have bought and it is nice to have a plant raised by a friend.

Once into the main hall I was greeted by the plant of my dreams – there is always a plant we dream of and would wish to have. There are several reasons I long for this plant – this one is Trillium chloropetalum ‘Bob Gordon’. Some years back, Bob gave Billy Moore some seedlings of Trillium chloropetalum from his garden. Billy grew them on to flowing size and found he had some with yellow flowers – T. chloropetalum is usually a rich bungundy – so he knew he had something special. He grew it on before showing it at an AGS show in Belfast where the members of the Joint Rock Committee  commended it highly and suggested it deserved a cultivar name – a recognition of its worth. Billy, of course, named it after Bob Gordon who had given him the seedlings.

Trillium chloropetalum 'Bob Gordon' - grown by Billy Moore  (2)
Trillium chloropetalum ‘Bob Gordon’ which was raised by Billy Moore from seedlings from Bob Gordon’s garden. 
Trillium chloropetalum 'Bob Gordon' - grown by Billy Moore  (9)
Trillium chloropetalum ‘Bob Gordon’
Trillium chloropetalum 'Bob Gordon' - grown by Billy Moore  (4)
Trillium chloropetalum ‘Bob Gordon’

Quite simple, this is a fabulous plant, with a distinct colour for a Trillium – even T. luteum is not as good a yellow as this. It is also one which would make an excellent garden plant – while I admire greatly the many plants the AGS members display I realise that many would not make good garden plants but would require pot culture and a level of care and attention which would be more that I would wish to give. Trillium chloropetalum, on the other hand, is an easy and excellent garden plant – seedlings from Bob’s garden have simply romped along in our garden – and I am especially delighted that Billy has put Bob’s name to such an outstanding plant.

Further along the same bench was a much smaller plant which stopped every visitor in his/her tracks. Paddy Smith has shown Gentiana ligustica at previous shows over previous years and it has continued to improve and to impress even more with each showing. The blue of gentians has something magical about it and invariably catches the eye and the admiration of viewers. Paddy has grown this specimen to a very high standard so that his display represents not only a beautiful plant but an example of the wonderful skill of the grower.

Gentiana ligustica - grown by Paddy Smith. First Prize (5)
Gentiana ligustica grown to perfection by Paddy Smith

It is plants, such as the above, which make the AGS shows so wonderful. There is a purity here – thoughts of garden design, plant combinations, colour coordination and those many other considerations of the garden maker can be put aside – and the visitor can focus purely on the beauty of the individual plants and this is a pure joy.

Moving from plant to plant and from bench to bench is a slow process and this is as it should be so that there is time to admire at length the beauty which is presented and the skills which brought them to us. This slow  movement is guaranteed by meeting so many people, great gardeners and great friends, some of whom we meet only once a year, and who are as much an attraction as the plants on the benches so the pleasure of visiting the Cabinteely show is on many levels and a rich and wonderful experience.

Some photographs from the show to give you a flavour of the occasion: 








Paddy Tobin

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