The Combined Spring Show is an annual event showcasing the New Zealand Alpine Garden Society, the Christchurch Daffodil Circle and the Canterbury Rhododendron Society to a wider public. The NZAGS’s competitive classes bring together both native plants and exotics from the four corners of the globe, many being rare and difficult and unlikely to be seen by the public anywhere else. Plant-associated photography, art and needlework are also on display, as well as increasingly popular classes for children and local primary schools.
The members’ plant stall and a number of specialist nurseries do a roaring trade during the Show, bringing along an unusual range of alpines, bulbs and woodland plants, many not available in garden centres, for sale to the public.
Prizewinners in 2012 included Fritillaria purdyi, entered in the cut flower class by Helen Taylor. This is a rare North American member of the Lily family, and took the trophy for Best in Show.
Another cut flower, Paeonia ‘Early Scout’ was beautifully presented, its three immaculate red blooms a credit to the grower, local member Edna Parkyn.
Nelson member Anne Murray showed the eye-catching South African Peacock Flower, Moraea villosa which has stunning pale purple petals and blue markings reminiscent of a peacock tail.
Another South African was the rarely seen dwarf Gladiolus uysiae with more subdued yellow and purplish-brown colouring, exhibited by Louise Salmond from Southland.
Gentians are usually instantly recognisable for their brilliant blue trumpets, but the prizewinning Gentiana clusii ‘Pink Form’ was unusual for its lovely creamy white colouring with violet markings. This was another first-class plant from Louise Salmond.
The children’s and primary school classes included colourful sand saucers, imaginative vegetable animals, and decorated recycled soft drinks bottles standing on old CD discs in which to germinate mustard and cress.
It’s encouraging to see the enthusiastic participation in the novices’ and children’s classes as this is where the future of Societies such as ours lies, and the support of our event by the Canterbury Community Trust is gratefully acknowledged.