Six on Saturday 20/7/19 – A Soggy Interlude

Dahlia Little Robert

I’ve been away for a week visiting gardens in Yorkshire, very inspiring and I will probably share my thoughts and images with you soon.  I only had time on arriving home to unload my plant acquisitions  so I didn’t have a chance to walk round the garden until Friday morning when it was absolutely pouring.  The rain is well overdue and the garden will benefit and hopefully the humidity will be lifted but the rain isn’t very helpful for taking photos and having a look around the garden so these are not my best.

The dahlia is the only one that has grown for me this year.  I bought four tubers and this is the only one that has grown, which is a huge disappointment. I doubt I will bother with dahlias again as they are generally too large and dominant for my planting style.

Gladiolus flanniganii

I love this gladiolus, I have a whole pot of it which I drag under cover each winter to protect it.  Its a small gladiolus and originates from the cliffs of the Drakensburg, I expect I bought it from am alpine nursery when I was dabbling in alpines a few years ago.

Phlox paniculata ‘David’

I did spot that the Phlox paniculata ‘David’ is flowering.  This phlox does really well for me and it smells amazing.  I saw quite a lot of phlox in Yorkshire last week so I bought another one to see if it will grow as well.

I’ve included the flowering agave as the flower is so disproportionate to the size of the plant.  I suspect it is long overdue for repotting; another job to add to the long list of jobs to do.

You may have wondered earlier what plant acquisitions I made so I thought I would show you a picture of them recovering in the rain. Some of them spent 5 days sitting under a coach so they have done very well; we were lucky that our coach driver is also a gardener.  He has driven us for each of our trips over the last four years so is part of the gang now although this year we really challenged him with filling the underneath of the coach and every available space inside the coach with plants. I think I ended up with 21 plants including an echeveria, a fern, a couple of alpines and numerous plants for the Big Border where I am trying to improve the grassy pollinator look.

The other new acquisition on the patio is a new patio set of two chairs and a small table.  We wanted chairs which were conducive to reading and relaxing and these chairs are incredibly comfortable.  I bought them just before I went away so I am now looking forward to having a nice sit down outside when I get home from work next week.

Those are my soggy Six on Saturday, for more posts visit The Propagators blog.

 

A Country Gardeners Day Out

2015_06140144

Stockton Bury is one of my favourite local gardens so the idea of a visit which also combined a country gardeners market with a range of local nurseries was an opportunity impossible to resist.  Luckily for all concerned the heavy and relentless rain we had yesterday was not present and in the morning the sun shone adding to the jolliness of the event.

2015_06140184

I realise now that I don’t have any photos of the actual market with nurseries.  I was so busy buying plants that I didn’t think to take photographs until I was walking around the garden.  The market was set up in the courtyard just beyond the main house above.  Although much smaller than some fairs I have been to the quality of the plants for sale was excellent and wide-ranging and there was a really friendly atmosphere.  It was really nice to bump into lots of people I know whether they were nursery men (or should I say ladies) or other visitors.  I really like buying plants this way as you often come across plants you wouldn’t find anywhere else and you can get lots of helpful advice.

2015_06140149

Despite the lack of people in my pictures there were quite a few looking around the garden and it seemed that many had never visited before which was excellent for the garden as hopefully they will visit again. I don’t think I have visited at this time of year before, I seem to always visit earlier in the year so I was quite surprised to see the borders so full and the plants so tall – silly I know.

2015_06140155

The pond at the far end of the garden had almost disappeared from view behind the foliage of the Gunnera and Lysichiton americanus. You can see how much by clicking on this link to my post about an April visit.   This is one of my favourite areas of the garden as I have a weakness for gunnera and also other moisture loving plants, maybe because I can’t grow them myself.

2015_06140177

The tree peonies which I have admired in previous years were going over and the roses were beginning to take the starring role.  I do like the vertical accents of the columns although this is maybe a little grand for my small garden!

2015_06140178

One of the things I always notice in this garden is the part the trees play. They add a nice canopy but without plunging the garden into deep shade. In some ways it is a good ploy to give you a range of environments from bright and open to more shady borders and this in turn extends the range of plants you can grow – always a good thing in my view.

2015_06140187

Finally my favourite – the bee boles.  I would love one of these if I had a bigger garden.  There is something quite romantic about them, maybe it’s because they hark back to how things used to be which always seems to be attractive, although I am sure the reality would be very different.

And yes I did buy plants, have I ever managed to resist.  I bought a Salvia amistad, a white siberian iris, Lathyrus rotundifolius, Bomarea salsilla, Liriope muscari okina and Dactylorhiza praetermissa.  Some of my purchases were bought for specific locations but I must admit to some whims so I spent time this afternoon wandering around the garden pondering where I could shoe-horn then in.

All in all a great day, and there was cake too.  I will definitely go again next year.

My Garden This Weekend – 18th January 2015

2015_01180002

As you can see the garden has had a dose of winter this weekend albeit short-lived with the majority of the snow having melted by Saturday lunchtime. I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed that it was too cold to do anything outside as all I wanted to do yesterday was hide inside.  I have been overcome with a tidal wave of grief which has crept up on me unexpectedly during the week, just like when you don’t notice the tide coming further up the beach.  It left me feeling emotional and close to tears for 48 hours not an ideal state of mind when you have to go to work.  It took  a while to identify it for what it was, going through all the usual others things, dismissing PMT, depression, concern about changes at work etc.  No it was grief, cold and hard and something you just have to accept and wait for it to pass.

2015_01180011

I have been getting on with life over recent months, being busy, since Dad died and although I think about him a lot I have felt I was doing OK.  But grief has a habit of creeping up on you and engulfing you when you least expect it.  I suppose I am lucky in that I learnt to recognise and accept it for what it is about a year after my sister died thanks to a wonderful counsellor.  This time it was a book that bought everything to a head.  A beautifully written book, if the first chapter or two is to go by, H for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.  The book is about the author training a Goshawk but it is also about her coming to terms with the loss of her father.  Needless to say it starts with her reacting to the news her Dad had died and I suppose it struck at something deep down because I kept obsessing about one paragraph, where they are looking for the father’s car.  I can’t even talk about the story without crying but then again I don’t think that is a bad thing because I believe it is better to let these things happen rather than fight them. We do more damage to ourselves with the British stiff upper lip approach.

2015_01180009

So the only gardening I did this weekend was to move things around in the greenhouse.  Rejigging the pots of bulbs so that those emerging have the best light and the late summer bulbs, such as nerines, are moved under the staging to rest for a while.

2015_01180016

Sunday has been a better day.  Having recognised the grief for what it was, had a good cry, I woke up feeling like my old self again and ready to battle on.  I have been decorating the hall, landing and stairs, which means endless gloss work which I can doing in stages.  So after tackling some of the bannisters Mum and I went out for a jaunt to Ashwood Nurseries which is just over an hour from here.  My boss had given me some garden vouchers for Christmas and I had earmarked them for some more hellebores and some spring flowering shrubs.  A lot of research has been done in recent evenings and a mental wish list drawn up.

2015_01180021

The choice at Ashwoods is extensive and always so well displayed.  I realised I have only visited at this time of year, the last time for a hellebore talk, so I must try to visit again through the year but if this is the quality of the display in early January I can only imagine how wonderful it will be in a few months.

I came home with 3 hellebores – Anna’s Red, Neon Star and Walbertons Rosemary which has been bred to look upwards, 3 heptica nobilis, a clivia and two dwarf rhododendrons that are part of my new planting plan for the border you can see in the second photograph.

2015_01180022

We had a nice lunch, a laugh, talked about Dad, grief, glosswork (Mum is decorating too) and strangely bought a resin tortoise (a gift for my Aunt!).  We are going back in March for my birthday so Mum can treat me to something, probably for the border above.

As for the book …. it is safely back on the shelf waiting for such time as I feel more emotional able to read it.

 

A Trophy and too many Camassias

photo3(2)

I have never ever won any trophy for anything so you can imagine how thrilled I am at winning the trophy above.  It is  even better given that the trophy is a wooden bowl when you consider my eldest son is a wood turner so we have a passion for wood in my house.

photo2(2)

I won the trophy at the Alpine Garden Society Malvern show which was held today at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival.  Like the other AGS shows it is a one day competition with competitors entering from around the country.  The plants above are in the Open section which a mere novice such as myself can only dream of aspiring to.  Many of the plants have been grown and cosseted for many years so the amount of commitment and dedication from the top exhibitors is to be admired.  This is my second national AGS show; I entered my first one last July when I got the bug for showing alpines.

photo1(4)

I entered six classes in the novice section and I have to admit some of the plants I nearly didn’t bother entering but then I am my own worst critic.  I achieved three firsts – 3 pans of rock plants (Semiaquilegia, Saxifraga fortunei and Arisarum proboscideum); 1 rock plant grown from seed (Erinus alpinus); and 1 Sempervivum as well as a second for a Saxifraga and two thirds for a Rhodohypoxis and the other for a Primula marginata in the foliage category. Having staged my plant at 7:30 this morning I returned just before 10 to get the results. Thrilled at my awards I went off to spend the day working for Avon Bulbs at their stand.

Grevillea Mount Tamboritha
Grevillea Mount Tamboritha

I knew we would be busy in the floral marquee; Avon Bulbs are always popular and I have queued many a time to buy one of their treasures, but the stream of customers for the six hours I was on duty seemed endless. I sold so many Camassias and Gladiolus byzantinus that I will be happy not to see any for some time as well as Scilla peruviana which we  ran out of around lunchtime.  We also had regular demands for Lunaria annua Chedglow which had been featured on Gardeners World yesterday evening.  I loved every minute of it. I learnt lots of stuff from Chris (the boss) and also the customers themselves. I enjoyed sharing the excitement of customers at finding a plant they had been looking for, their indecision as to whether or not to splash out on another plant and the general sense of fun they were having.

Cypripedium calceolus
Cypripedium calceolus

Suddenly during the middle of the afternoon one of my fellow AGS members, Pauline, appeared in front of me.  She had come over especially to tell me I had won the Hartside Trophy for the most points in the novice section but I had missed the trophy presentation.  I have to say it hadn’t occurred to me to even look to see when the trophy presentation was as I didn’t think I would do that well.  But at least I missed having to go up in front of lots of people to receive the award!

Androsace bulleyana
Androsace bulleyana

As I said I have never won a trophy and I have to admit to feeling quite excited at the prospect as I made my way back to the AGS show at the end of my shift for Avon Bulbs.  It is a rather lovely trophy I think you will agree and is on my mantlepiece in pride of place.

Sadly, my camera is over exposing pictures at the moment so the photos on this post were taken with my son’s phone when he came to help me collect up my plants.  The plants I have featured are ones that caught my eye in the last 15 minutes which I would like to acquire – my love of red shows.

So I will now be seeing what I have that might be up to show standard for the next show I can get to in July.  I think I need 10 firsts before I can go up to intermediate but I’m not in a rush.  Talking to Pauline who was a novice last year she found the step up challenging as her plants had not yet bulked up enough and the number of exhibitors was greater.

All in all a full on, tiring but satisfying day.

Malvern Spring Festivals – the Nurseries

Ian Butterfield Nursery
Ian Butterfield Nursery

Being a bit of a plant nut for me shows are all about the nurseries not the show gardens.  If I am honest I think the show gardens, especially at Chelsea, get far too much coverage and the nurseries get overlooked.  At the end of the day without the nurseries growing, and in some case breeding, plants there wouldn’t be much on offer for the designers to plant up their show gardens with!  Anyway, stepping off my soap box, I am devoting this post to some of the nurseries in the Plant Marquee at RHS Malvern Spring Festival.

Hardy's Nursery
Hardy’s Nursery

This year the Plant Marquee has been relocated to the other side of the showground having been in the same location for years.  I liked the layout of the new Marquee although there were 10 less nurseries exhibiting which was a little disappointing.  However, because today it has rained more or less all day the showground was getting very muddy and when you add a leaking gutter to this which resulted in a couple of nurseries having to work in very muddy conditions at the start of the day there were some grumbles.  Saying that I think the location of the plant marque was as good as previously with probably more passing trade.

Cotswold Garden Flowers
Cotswold Garden Flowers

Having visited the show for more years than I care to remember it is nice to see familiar nurseries and faces.  I was thrilled to discover Ian Butterfield had returned with his pleoines.  He thought last year was his last but there he was back again. He gave me an idiots guide to growing pleiones and a catalogue so I can order another one when I have killed the first one!

Sue Beesley's Bluebell Cottage Nursery
Sue Beesley’s Bluebell Cottage Nursery

In the past I have bought from both Hardy’s and Cotswold Garden Flowers but this year my interest has strayed away from the usual woodland plants I buy so having admired their stands I moved on.  I also liked Sue Beesley’s Bluebell Cottage Nursery display.  This was her first time at Malvern and she seemed to be doing well as whenever I went to say hello she had a gaggle of customers waiting to buy plants.

Fibrex Nurseries
Fibrex Nurseries

Having discussed ferns and pelargoniums many an evening on twitter with Fibrex Nurseries it was a foregone conclusion I would succumb to a few purchases from them: a Woodwardia unigemmata for the exotic border and a Pelargonium Sweet Mimosa which has deliciously scented leaves and is perfuming my greenhouse as I type.

Fernatix
Fernatix

I love the guys at Fernatix and their displays are key contributor to my fern obsession and they, many a nurseryman, are only too pleased to chat and give advice. So every year I buy at least one fern from them.  This year it is Onoclea sensiblis which I chose because the foliage is very different from the normal ferns.

Dibley Nurseries
Dibley Nurseries

Dibleys was on my list to visit as I wanted to buy some tender Begonias to adorn the patio and feed my new exotic foliage fascination.  I came away with Begonia Raspberry Swirl, Begonia Rocheart and Begonia L’Escargot which has made me very happy.

Trewidden Nursery
Trewidden Nursery

Last up is Trewidden Nursery from Cornwall.  I encountered them a couple of weekends ago at the London show and discovered they had an extensive range of succulents – another of my interests (maybe I have too many interests!).  Needless to say I came away with two new Aeoniums, both bred by the nursery, Aeonium sedifolium with dwarf leaves and Aeonium ‘Cornish Tribute’.  Hopefully one of them might earn me an award in the Open Garden competition next year if I enter.

This year I got a third which isn’t as good as last year but it’s still an award though I think trying to enter plants into the Open Garden competition at the same time as getting organised for staging the AGS Artistic Show may have been too much so I might not bother with the Open Garden next year.

Oh and I also bought a bit of garden art which for some reason seemed to make people laugh – I think it’s all a matter of taste and I love her.

2014_05080090

Two nurseries and a fish lunch

2014_04040024

There are certain nurseries I enjoy visiting and there are certain people I enjoy buying plants with.  Today the two came together and I visited Cotswold Garden Flowers with Victoria, Rob and Darren.  I didn’t know Darren but I have known Victoria and Rob for some years.  Victoria and I went to San Francisco last summer and I worked with Rob at Chelsea a few years back. 2014_04040022All three are knowledgeable about hardy exotics which was kind of handy considering I was buying for the slope border which is to have a hardy exotic theme.  Bob’s nursery is fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone interested in plants.  The range is vast and as you can see from the top photo plants are laid out in stock beds so Bob can assess their hardiness and garden worthiness.  During our visit we were accompanied by Victoria’s dog Rufus and Bob’s chickens – luckily the two didn’t quite come face to face.

2014_04040019

I was particularly taken with the Euphorbia above although we couldn’t quite decide which variety it was – our suspicion is Euphorbia stygiana although the red older leaves foxed us.  We wondered if the tough growing conditions at the nursery had caused it.

2014_04040028

An hour’s blast down the M5 negotiating the inevitable road works too us to our lunchtime destination – The Old Passage Inn.  I had booked this on a recommendation so was a little apprehensive whether it would live up to expectations.  The restaurant is a fish restaurant and is right by the River Severn near Gloucester.  On arrival we were treated to three helicopters flying low along the river towards us – very Apocalypse Now – and landing in the field in front of the restaurant.  They were joined by a fourth and apparently it is common for guests to arrive in this way so long as they book a landing site in advance!

2014_04040026

Our lunch was wonderful – Wild Garlic Soup, homemade bread with seaweed flavoured butter followed by Lemon Sole with potatoes, tomatoes and capers – delish.  Sated we set off back up the road to Pan Global Plants; a nursery I have wanted to visit for some time. My keenness had grown after reading the owner, Nick Macer’s, article in one of the glossies about hardy exotics and how you can create an exotic looking garden or border without having to resort to tender plants and the need to overwinter them under cover.

2014_04040029

Nick is just beginning to bring his stock out from the protection of the poly tunnels and I was so busy admiring plants and being educated by the others that I  forgot to take any photographs nor did I take any of our full plant trolleys just before we paid.  So you will have to take my word that this nursery is well worth a visit if you are interested in something a little unusual, some with interesting foliage or an unusual flower – really just the not the run of the mill plants.   I could have spent a fortune here so had to keep reminding myself that  my garden is small and not acres and no the rhododendron grande was not suitable for my garden no matter how in love I was with it – even Nick told me I couldn’t have it.  The red leaved Euphorbia put in another appearance although a little different. Nick and I concluded that Bob’s plant was possibly a Euphorbia pasteurii and as his growing conditions were tougher than Nick’s this may have resulted in the red leaves.  Anyway, having already bought Euphorbia pasteurii Phrampton Phatty from  Nick earlier in the year I bought Euphorbia stygiana – I am hoping one of them will produce the older red leaves this time next year.

2014_04040031

So here is my haul – it doesn’t look that much here on my patio but I am very excited to  see how they will come together in the new border, although the Aloe striatula is for the hardy succulent border in the front garden.  For those of you curious to know what I bought here is the list:

Aloe striatula
Tetraapanax papyrifera ‘Rex’
Impatiens stenantha
Onoclea sensibilis copper form
Ajuga incuse frosted jade
Polysticum setiferium ‘Plumosum-Bevis’
Asarum splendens
Fatsia ‘Spiderweb’
Euphorbia stygiana
Buddleja salviafolia

I think I may have to avoid plant buying opportunities for a while until I clear the patio of the last  month’s acquisitions but what a wonderful way to spend the day.

 

 

The San Francisco approach to selling plants

2013_07030107During the Garden Bloggers Fling in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago we visited two nurseries.  When I saw these on the itinerary I was a little down as to make a plantaholic visit a nursery when they couldn’t buy any plants to take home to the UK seemed a bit mean. Oh well, I thought I would wander around and try not to covert too much and then we would be off to the next garden.

I was wrong.  Both of the nurseries/plant centres were eye-opening.  Their approach to selling plants was very different to the UK and in Annie’s Annuals case quite breath-taking.  I was so distracted by this that I didn’t really look closely at the plants.

Annie’s Annuals was founded 20 years ago and was in its third home.  I had been warned by one of my fellow attendees that it was in rather a run down part of San Francisco but then as Annie herself said the land was cheaper.  I don’t think I have ever visited a nursery with barbed wire around the top of the fence!  The colour hits you before you have entered and not only colour but mad eccentric ornaments and ephemera.  It’s like a nursery on speed.  Annie’s approach is to grow plants – perennials and shrubs as well as annuals – that perform year on year.  All the plants are grown on site and they acquire seeds from all over the world growing them for a number of years before they introduce them to the nursery.  Whilst the nursery was colourful it was mainly from the displays of mature plants and ornamentation rather than the plants for sale.  Annie told us during her enthusiastic welcome that if there are plants in flower for sale it’s because they grew too many; they want people to buy the plants before they flower so they get the best of them and are inspired and enthused to grow more.  This made me smile because I know from many a plant sale that it is the plants in flower that go first and anything without a flower tends to sit waiting for a more knowing gardener to come along.

2013_07030111

Victoria and I were quite entranced with the nursery.  As well as the approach to plants there was funky rock music playing and a bubble machine.  We had the giggles imagining the reaction of UK gardeners if this approach was transplanted to the home counties.  But then why not, if you found the right location and targeted the right market maybe this is the sort of injection the UK nurseries need, it’s certainly would improve many garden centres.  Instead of garden centres filling their space with various food, book and gift outlets so you can’t find the plants they should consider the whole experience of visiting.  If visitors could look at plants and have fun and a laugh at the same time it wouldn’t matter that there wasn’t a gift store or a coffee shop etc.  Word would soon spread that if you wanted a different more modern experience this was the place to go.

2013_07030113

Our very last stop of the whole weekend was Flora Grubb’s (isn’t that a great name and the owners real name).  This plant centre was focussed more on your sub-tropical plants but they were artfully displayed in groups among garden furniture, pots, and other nick nacks so you could see how you could grow them in your own space.  2013_07010335Whilst the plants were generally greens and greys the accessories were every colour of the rainbow and it really showed how you could add a different dimension to sub-tropical planting and have some fun.  I would say that Flora Grubb’s was a more sophisticated shopping experience there was a coffee shop and lots of nicks nacks for sale but again it was very different to a UK outlet.  It hadn’t lost its focus and it was clear to its customers exactly what that focus was – sub-tropical plants.

 

Both nurseries/plant centres were, to me, fun and they took away that serious ponderous tone we sometimes 2013_07010342have to plant buying in the UK.  I love plants, I love their diversity and I think it should be celebrated and gardening and plant buying should be fun.  I think we are too serious about gardening full stop in this country and I think this discourages some people who are frightened of having a go.  This is what I loved about Annie’s Annuals the whole approach was ‘have a go’ put what you want with what you want, see what happens.  And this approach is working – when we visited Keeyla Meadow’s garden the next day I noticed that the exuberant planting of her garden was spilling out down the side-walk and into her neighbours.  I asked her about this and she put it entirely down to the huge impact Annie’s Annuals was having on gardeners and more importantly non-gardeners in the San Francisco and the surrounding area.  Huge praise from a garden designer.

2013_07010344

I think there is a lot that could be taken from these nurseries/plant centres and adapted for the UK market.   We are at fault in that we aren’t prepared to pay a reasonable price for our plants so the garden centres buy in bulk from Europe bringing in virus and diseases and also reducing the selection of  plants.  I really believe that we need a change of approach, we need to move forward from garden centres that are more interested in generating income from anything apart from plants and instead we should have places that celebrate the plants and the joy of growing them.  I know there are arguments to be made that there isn’t enough money to be made from plants which is why garden centres diversify but I think the big chains have led the way creating what they call ‘destination garden centres’ and the smaller independents feel they need to keep up.  I would love to see some independents taking a different route and maybe the approach of the two establishments above, of making the plant the star could inspire them.

A Visit to Cotswold Garden Flowers

There is nothing nicer on a sunny warm Saturday than visiting an excellent nursery especially when you are accompanied by a very knowledgeable plantsperson as I was with the company of Rob Stacewicz today.  We decided on a whim about a week away when chatting on twitter to visit Cotswold Garden Flowers this weekend.

For those of you who don’t know the owner of this nursery, Bob Brown, has a huge reputation in the UK as a plantsman who introduces new plants and is incredibly knowledgeable.  The nursery rarely disappoints and I particularly like the way you can see most of the plants growing in the stock beds.  At the top of each bed is a list of the plants in it in order going away from you; as long as you can already identify one or two it isn’t that hard to work out which plant is which.  Then there are 7 polytunnels to explore for plants to buy as well as outside sales area.

The other thing I like about the nursery are the quirky labels.  If you look at the catalogue on line or in print you will see Bob’s personal opinion on most plants and many of these are repeats on the labels.  Things like ‘So whats not to like’ which do make you smile – and surprisingly buy the plant!!

I think I was quite restrained in my purchases.  I could have spent loads but I know that firstly I couldn’t afford it and secondly I needed to have somewhere to plant the plants.  Also as its only just under a pleasant hours drive from my house I can always go back for more!  So what goodies crept into my car.  Well a Crocosmia ‘Hellfire’ which is a dark red and much darker and richer than Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ – when it flowers I will post a picture.  Also Saxifraga ‘Silver Velvet’, Geranium ‘Salome’, Allium sikkimense, and Pileostegia  Viburnoides.  I wouldn’t normally  buy geraniums as I have  so many already but the colouring of the flower (see below) just  won me over.

We then went on to have a niceish lunch at the Fleece Inn before a visit to Hidcote Gardens which was also good.  So a good day was had by both of us.

Crug Farm Plant Fair or “I’ve got one of those”

I have spent a lovely couple of days in North Wales staying with Karen (ArtistsGarden).  Although we don’t need an excuse to meet up it was rather convenient that there was a Plant Fair at Crug Farm on Saturday which just happens to be about an hour from Karen’s  – so rude not to go really.

We picked up a couple of like-minded souls: Karen’s sister-in-law Jane and Kate (Beangenie) and set off.  Of course being organised and practical people we took two cars in order to ensure that we had sufficient boot space for our purchases.  Especially important as I have no self-control when at these events and also because we were visiting a very good garden centre on the way home and the others had lists of what they needed. We had a lovely drive across the Snowdonia National Park and arrived not that long after the fair opened.  Of course the first stop was for refreshments.

Finally we were unleashed in the plant buying area and within 5 minutes Jane had bought some very exotic looking carnivorous plant  with a wonderful elaborate yellow flower.  The buying didn’t stop for some time.  I don’t know how many stalls there were but at a guess I would say around 15; there were all sorts of plants from the obligatory tomato plants through a wealth of perennials to small trees. I  hadn’t realised I was doing it but I kept saying, “I’ve got that” which soon became a bit of a joke with my friends and was a welcome relief to being called a soft Southerner due to the many layers I had on.  It just  shows I have bought far too many plants from similar events and confirms my complete lack of self-discipline when it comes to plant buying.

Then we moved into the Crug Farm plant sales which although the plants were a bit more pricey than the other plant stands the plants available were large and unusual.

Having procrastinated a lot about  which gems we would  buy from Crug decisions were finally made,  lunch consumed and a wander round the garden undertaken.  You can see in the photo above our purchases waiting for transportation to the cars in wheelbarrows.  I suspect Sue (second from left) was pleased to see us go as we were jolly noisy  bunch.

As I know some will be wondering about our purchases this is what I bought:

Kirengeshoma Koreana
Potentilla rupestris
Geranium westray
Molopospernum peloponnesiaam (Crug)
Geranium plamatum (Crug)
Iris Lemon Ice
Japanese Angelica
Beesia  calthifolia (Crug)

As you can see the gardens are quite magical especially if like me you have a weakness for woodland plants.  The gardens clearly show that the whole concept of shade being difficult if just rubbish.

We left happy with our purchases  and headed off to the garden centre for afternoon tea.  If you are near Caernarfon I would recommend a visit to Crug Farm and if you are heading that way next May then do bear in mind next year’s plant fair which I believe is the first weekend in May or the open garden on the 2nd June 2012

 

Woottens – a fabulous nursery

I have a weakness for parcels and so I have fully embraced the whole on-line shopping revolution. I am now beginning to find more and more nurseries that you can buy from on-line.  At first I was a little dubious as I worried about the quality of the plant, but I have now progressed from bulbs and seeds to plants and so far so good.  I think the key is to buy from a reputable nursery.  My experience to date is that you get a better service than from the big on-line chains which offer bargains but no doubt someone will disagree so as I say this is strictly my experience.

The other week someone I follow on Twitter mentioned Woottens and their wonderful catalogue.  I had to investigate and was entranced by the selection of plants which were available at very reasonable prices.  However, I’m not one for impulse buys and tend to think about purchases for a few days.  In the meantime, I subscribed to Woottens email newsletter service.  Bad idea!! I now receive weekly emails with offers all very tempting.  It wasn’t long before I succumbed to the Pulmonaria Sissinghurst offer – 4 plants in 2 litre pots for £15.52, an excellent deal I thought!! I have plans for a shady/woodland border and I think the white flowers of the Pulmonaria will really work well there.  So I purchased them along with the catalogue.  You have to buy the catalogue but I have been told by a number of garden designers that it is wonderful and they treat it like a bible.

I received an email yesterday telling me my parcel would arrive this afternoon and it did as you can see in the top photo.  These are the best wrapped plants I have received to date. Under the poly chips were the four pots of plants and my catalogue.  However, there is a note in the box which tells me that they aren’t poly chips but made out of potato/corn starch and so can go in the compost bin or be dissolved in water – I’m very impressed. The plants appear to have healthy root systems as roots are beginning to appear out of the bottom of the pots and there is fresh young foliage as you can just make out.   The plants will go in my bay for new plants waiting for the new border to be prepared.  In the meantime I shall be perusing the catalogue which is a beautifully produced book.  The photos are fantastic and there are so many varieties I fear that bankruptcy may be imminent.  There are 5 pages of Hemerocallis each with 9  photos – I have never been a fan of this plant but some of the flowers shown are completely stunning so I may succumb.  As for the Bearded  Iris – 10 pages of sumptuous photos there is no hope of me resisting.

So I’m off to read my catalogue as Stephen Anderton in The Times says “This is that rare thing, a readable catalogue”