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The Early Bulb show in Dunblane


I only joined the Scottish Rock Garden Club in June last year and have found the members very helpful and encouraging to someone exploring alpines and rock garden plants for the first time.
The members get involved in all sorts of projects, the early Bulb Display in Dunblane being one of them. I travelled to the show with a friend. We had a very satisfactory day. We split up soon after arriving as we went to greet old friends (mostly her old friends) in my case I saw Bulboholic and Moongrower, who were running the bookstall and helping wherever an extra pair of hands were needed, as well as a few members of the Edinburgh Club who I got to know through helping with the seed packing and distribution for the Seed Exchange. I went to view the exhibits and managed to get a few photos worth showing you. I almost dropped my camera and pressed buttons I should not have done so there were too many pics which could only go in the bin. I really need to check out what does what on it.
First Scilla mischtschenkoana. Did you get your tongue round that one? The white petals with pale blue midribs are lovely.

Rhododendron ‘Tessa Bianca’ was last included in the RHS Plant finder in 1970 so this must be a fairly old bush. As this is a “Display”, not a competitive show, members are invited to bring cut flowers from plants they cannot bring along. This grows in to a medium size bush described in a Canadian website as being about 4’ in height and diameter. The delicate frilly white petals with a pale pink edging made me wonder why it is not still available. It is a real treat to see this in February.

There was a lot of pots of snowdrops both in the Display and in the main hall on the Trade stands. More of them later.
Snowdrops are always heart stopping and these were no exception. Sorry the names are unreadable.

Sorry I did not catch the name of this one but it was a double with beautiful clean green marks on the inner petals.

I had to snap this one. It is ‘The Groom’. The marks are on the outer petals which have not opened out. Was someone playing a trick on us and had removed the outer petals as a joke? I dk what the truth is but does ‘The Groom ’ look terrified or mystified?

I was delighted to see this next one. It is named ’Fred’s Giant’. It looks exactly like one I was trying to ID on here last year. Bb said it was a variation of Elwessii and that is what this is. I was a bit worried because mine is not nearly as big as this giant but according to the ‘net the ’Giant’ part can be a misnomer as it depends where it is growing whether or not it reaches the lofty heights this one has attained. It may also have one large green mark or, as here with the upper part of the green mark, as two blobs.


The long bright yellow trumpet and reflexed leaves of this narcissus make it stand out from the crowd. It is equally at home growing in a greenhouse/alpine house or out in the garden. It is a good show dwarf narcissus too.

I liked the pale cream colour of this Narcissus romieuxii ‘Don Stead’. To grow these from seed to flowering point will probably take about four years. I no longer moan about the cost of plants when I see how long it takes.

All too soon it was time to take our seats to hear the excellent speakers chosen to talk on this years subject
‘Bulbs at home and away’. I have borrowed some of the info from the show schedule to describe our speakers.
Our first speaker Chris Brickell VMH, former Director General of Wisley Garden until 1993, is a renowned horticultural author and is editor of the RHS Encyclopaedia of plants and flowers and the RHS Encyclopaedia of gardening. He is an expert on Colchicum. I had already been exploring Colchicum so this was right up my street.
Next up was John Amand. He is the owner of the prestigious bulb firm Jacques Amand International, a
major supplier of bulbs including well-established favourites as well as the rare and unusual. John and his sister Nesta’s exhibits regularly win Gold Medals at flower shows :- Philadelphia, Chelsea, RHS shows, BBC gardener’s World, Harrogate and Gardening Scotland. He is an authority on bulbs and woodland plants. He attends the Early Bulb Show every year. He made Arisaemas interesting to me. I just don’t take to them but he showed us why he loves them and this came through in his talk.
We broke for a 2 hour lunch break which left us plenty of time to see what was available on the Trade stands. I bought five bulbs of a hardy Pleione which does not mind the cold but will need a hat to protect it from the wet over the winter. I have chosen to put those in a bowl this year. The bulbs are beautiful colours.

I also bought some of packets of colchicum and dwarf allium seeds. Seeds left over from the Seed Exchange distribution stage are offered at the shows. Its a good way to find seed not available elsewhere. Also 2 narcissus romieuxii and two Corydalis. I forgot I also got an Oxalis.
The C.Beth Evans which is pink

and a white one C. Malkensis syn. caucasia alba.

After we were fed and watered and had emptied our purses at the stands it was time for the final speaker. Margaret Thorne and husband David are members of the SRGC Borders Group who have travelled widely in Turkey, Europe and Asia looking at and photographing plants and bulbs. They have led many mountain flower holidays including last year’s SRGC trip to Turkey. Margaret is a plantswoman who travels to find exquisite treasures. She gave a beautiful presentation on the trip and one member asked if he would have been able to keep up with the party when it came to walking around looking for plants. She was quick to assure him that the people who go on these trips are of mixed abilities and the tour is tailored with that in mind. Because of her excellent connections with people abroad she has access to information about finding interesting plants which might not be available to ordinary tourists. We were all wishing we had gone too.
All too soon it was time to go home and we now looking forward to the next event. It is in Blackpool. 12 noon to 4pm on the 16th March. I can’t go but there will be a lot of our members there. No speakers, it is a competitive show for members of the Alpine Society and the SRGC. If you live near do go along. There will be lots to interest you. There will also be a plant stall and some traders.

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A most interesting blog. Thank you for explaining so much for us all to understand, and for the photographs.

18 Feb, 2013


Thanks Diane. I have just been over it to correct the spelling mistakes lol. I do tend to go on so thanks for your kind words. I did enjoy myself.

18 Feb, 2013


Very interesting. Alpines are such a fascinating group of plants.
I enjoyed seeing all those different types of Snowdrops :o)

18 Feb, 2013


Sounds like you had a good day Sheila - if you learn something, anything, it has been worthwhile!
I like your choices - I grow C. Beth Evans and Malkensis - not quite flowering yet but almost! Don't forget to mark where you plant them - they disappear.

18 Feb, 2013


Nice interesting blog,Although I have trawled the alpine nurseries from south to north and back again never been there when shows have been on which is a regret I have.I particularly like the Rhododendron but that Snowdrop Groom leaves me cold ,Having said that I am going to blog Snowdrop 'Diggory' that does it for

18 Feb, 2013


So pleased that you enjoyed your day, Scotsgran. I was a good day, wasn't it? This always a busy day and it is not just for members of the SRGC. Anyone can come in to buy plants, look at the displays and listen to the talks - and there is no charge for anyone.

18 Feb, 2013


That was the most amazing thing Bb. I expected an entry fee but there was not one. There is at the other shows though isn't there or is it just raffle tickets to boost funds.
There was something for everyone. We certainly did not have time to be bored. I was surprised at the turnout too. The stall holders have endless patience and I am hoping the chap from Ardfearn Nursery has a plant I want. We are coming up on a flying visit to Nairn at the end of March or beginning of April. I will phone him to check he has it and collect it. We found the nursery closed every time we passed last time we were in his area, either too early or too late. The talks were all very enjoyable.
Hywel if you want to see a fantastic range of snowdrops do have a look at
i don't think she sells bulbs now but she has an amazing collection. Thanks for the reminder Scottish, I went looking for one Bjs gave me and it has disappeared. It soldiered on until before Christmas but has now vanished to do what it does. I planted these two in bowls and put them in the greenhouse because of the hard frost we had overnight. They are both delightful. Your luck might be in one day Bjs. I have to agree about the Groom. I would not be very keen on having it but it did make me laugh. Maybe in the 1970's people did not want the garden and house to merge as they do now but I'd love to be able to look out on a bush of Tessa Bianca when I stop for a cuppa in the middle of February. Diggory is a lovely snowdrop. I have only seen it on the 'net.

18 Feb, 2013


Those giant Snow drops are magnificent! The blobs look like a face, two eyes and a moustache!! It made me smile. :))

19 Feb, 2013


Hi Sheila

Getting hooked?
The A.G.S. early spring show is at Harlow on 2nd March and I hope to be able to get there.I've been to the Essex branch shows and some of the plants at those are very desirable.The main shows should be even better.Hopefully some of the big nurseries will be there to relieve me of any spare cash.

19 Feb, 2013


Thanks for the link. Very interesting :o)

20 Feb, 2013


Just before we leave this blog a reminder to all that there is a similar event, the 'Summer Meeting' on Saturday 17 August, same venue same, entry fee.

20 Feb, 2013


Wow! that was a blog and a half...well done you. I did quite like 'the groom' snow drop!

20 Feb, 2013


Pam it made me smile too. Pcw between you, Bjs and Bb how could I not be hooked. You all have such a lovely range of plants and are all very generous with advice and plants. I'm trying to work out if we can go to the Harlow show. Its almost en route to Woodgreen Animal Centre. Glad you enjoyed the link Hywel. That came courtesy of Bjs who is ever helpful. Thank you Bb I had not looked that far ahead. Chocolates etc. definitely off the shopping list in an attempt to save up for the inevitable love at first sight plants on offer. LOL. (Apologies to Andrew who has a distinct aversion to people professing to love plants). I'm glad the Groom got one vote from you Lulu. It really was a strange little specimen.

20 Feb, 2013


Sorry short messages.....inna hurry!

20 Feb, 2013

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