London Alpine Show

Pleione formosana 'Snow Bunting
Pleione formosana ‘Snow Bunting

There is no ‘My Garden This Weekend’ post this week as I have spent the weekend in London helping at the Alpine Garden Society/RHS Alpine Show.  This is a new show and was held on a Sunday which means it is a nuisance for me to get to as there seem to be no trains to London from Malvern on a Sunday morning.  So I offered to help out at the show in return for a lift and overnight accommodation.  To be honest I find it easier to meet people if I am doing a job and I also find that people are more chatty towards you if you are helping out.


We arrived around 2pm on Saturday and set too set up the book stall and also the artistic display which you can see in the background.  This display was all around the hall and features photographs, botanical art and embroidery. I was particularly pleased to help with setting this up as I am taking on Artistic Show Secretary role for the AGS show at the Malvern Spring Show in a couple of weeks and will have to stage the same entries.  I have taken many photographs to crib from!


We left at 7:30pm, returning at 8:30 the next morning ready for the judging.  Exhibitors had started to arrive from 8:00am and this year as the show was on a Sunday as opposed to two days mid-week exhibitors who don’t normally show at London attended traveling from as far away as Newcastle and Carmarthen.  All in all there were 350 plants on the show benches, an increase from the 280 last year. Judging started around 9:30 and I was roped into stewarding which basically means you follow the judges noting who has won what and putting the award stickers on the entry cards.  Then the RHS opened the doors to the general public and we were rushed off our feet until around 3:30.

Sanguiana canadensis forma multiplex
Sanguiana canadensis forma multiplex

There were four nurseries in attendance, Wildside, Evolution Plants, Trewidden and Jacques Armand and their stock was positively flying out of the door.  We sold lots and lots of books and other merchandising and signed up a handful of new members to the AGS.  Whilst there were the usual AGS show visitors there was also a very good turnout from other visitors and it was clear that many were impressed with the plants on show and wanted to know more. Exhibitors and AGS volunteers were very busy answering questions on plants, cultivation, the AGS and showing.  We sold out of the book Alpines in Containers which is a primer for those starting out and could have sold many more copies.

Primula sieboldii kotunosirabe
Primula sieboldii kotunosirabe

I did find time on my break to buy some plants and luckily there was room in the van to get them back home.  For those interested I bought the following:

Epimedium wushanese ‘Caramel’
Anemone nemorosa ‘Buckland’
Thaspum barbinode
Asphodeline turica
Ranunculus x arendsii ‘Moonlight’
Erica cerinthoides

Dionsysia 'Gothenburg White' involucrata alba
Dionsysia ‘Gothenburg White’ involucrata alba


As I have said on previous posts alpines aren’t all cushion plants. The term relates to any plant growing above a certain altitude.  This obviously caused some bewilderment for some visitors when presented with a wide variety of woodlanders such as the Sanguiana above and ferns.  I spent some time persuading one lady that there were indeed blue poppies and another that a Meconopsis Poppy was an alpine.  I think these

Androsace vandellii
Androsace vandellii

misconceptions are part of the reason why the AGS struggles to recruit members and attract visitors to show.  Its something that was discussed at the AGM back in November and whether we should consider a new name for the society.  Personally I think we need to educate gardeners more and show them the vast variety of plants that our members grow and in some cases show.

Whilst my preference in alpines is more for the woodland varieties and bulbs who cannot not be smitten by this Androsace displayed in a mini crevice garden which unsurprising won a first in its class and is something for me to aspire to.

Having packed everything away we left central London at 5:30pm yesterday, getting home at 10:00pm completely shattered so I am pleased I have had today off work.  I have spent the day pottering in the garden and planning my entries for the AGS show at Malvern in a couple of weeks time.


Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

12 thoughts on “London Alpine Show”

  1. Hi Helen, I visited the show with my husband on Sunday, the first time I have attended an Alpine society show. I can only say we were thoroughly impressed, not just by the plants and the displays but by the atmosphere, the talks, which were refreshingly not patronising and the help and advice available. I do not grow alpines, but want to, I picked up the list of shows and am aiming to attend more. I have been to the other two London shows this year and this was by far the most enjoyable, it was also extremely refreshing to attend a show and see lots of different, new and exciting plants. Your hard work was worth it!

    1. Hi Julie
      I would recommend joining the AGS and going to your local group meetings. If they are anything like my group there will be good talks, maybe plant sales and lots of advice.

    2. I have just looked on the Alpine Society website and actually there is a local society less than 5 miles from here, thank you for that advice I am going to go.

    3. Thanks, yes will do, it was genuinely lovely to attend one of these shows where it was actually interesting, rather than just visually jolly.

  2. What an inspiring weekend you enjoyed! Your excitement is contagious. Though I must admit I am not a fan of the fancy bloodroot, as the native form is perfection in my book. Good luck with the Malvern show.

  3. What a busy weekend for you. Your enthusiasm has whetted my appetite and I too will be looking for a local society

  4. Thank you for this post Helen. It was very interesting. I wanted to find out a little bit about alpine gardening in Australia – not something one hears about much – so checked the internet. Apparently there is a gentleman in Victoria who is deeply involved.
    I admire your energy and enthusiasm. Thanks again.

    1. Hi Chris
      The AGS has overseas membership so if you wanted you could benefit from receiving the quarterly journals which is very good and the seed exchange. I know there are quite a lot of overseas members.

  5. Hi Helen, thanks for doing this post – the show sounds great and well-worth attending next year.

    I agree that I don’t think AGS needs a new name as much as needs to educated gardeners etc to see their worth. They probably also need to do some direct worth with younger gardeners & horticulturists to see how they can get younger people involved too. In fact the same goes for the HPS. They are both great societies and so worth joining; they just need to find new ways to reach new audiences.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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