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Archive for the ‘Plant Nurseries’ Category

Galanthus elwesii 'Millers Late'Compared to Chelsea and Hampton court, shows in the RHS halls in Victoria are small, almost intimate affairs and I love them for this. It’s the sweet spring scent that first hits you as you enter Lawrence hall, then as you hone in on the plants, it’s the details of all the different cultivars that lure you in. Choice nurseries from all over the country have their finest plants (and wares) on show and I have to admit being instantly smitten by this whopper of a snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii ‘Millers Late’ on the Harveys stand (@£16 a pop). Friend Catherine is holding a smaller (nivalis sized-ish) snowdrop next to it to give some idea of scale. Most of the snowdrops here are varieties you’ll never see in garden centres and they’re an absoute joy to behold.

Crocus Korolowii from HW Hyde & sonAnother beauty that caught my eye is Crocus korolkowii on the HW Hyde & son nursery stand and it’s definitely on my list for next year. Looks like it clumps up beautifully too.

Plant Belles plant supports allNow I’ve bought natty metal hoops from Plant Belles before to make a cloche to wrap up my winter veg, and they’ve worked really well. This time I was on the lookout for supports for slightly floppy Dahlias and the Sidney support at 87cm tall, 46cm wide (bottom left of pic) should hopefully fit the bill. I also have a client with a rather untoward climbing rose in the middle of a large bed and I’ve been hunting around for a tall support that I can wrap the rose around, inspired by the rose training at Notre-Dame Prieure D’Orsan in France. Always keen to help, Jenny at Plant Belles has been asked by another designer to develop a taller version(1.5-2m?) of their wider (74cm) George support (at back of pic), so looking forward to seeing what she produces for both us later in the season (will keep you posted on this). I can’t wait to start experimenting!

Iris Histriodes and Reticulata on Jaques Amand standAs Clive commented on in my previous post, Jaques Amand’s reticulata Irises were absolutely gorgeous. Plant breeder Alan McMurtrie was over from Toronto, generously sharing information on the new cultivars he had developed alongside Dutch bulb growers.

Iris Histriodes Gerorge

Iris histriodes ‘George’ seemed to glow in the light,

Iris Clairetteand the two-tone blues of Clairette were very appealing.

Iris Frank ElderThe softer tones of Frank Elder however finally won me over,

Iris Sorm

until I espied Storm

Iris Sea Greenand the more subtle tones and slightly torn looking petals of I. ‘Sea Green’. George, Clairette and Frank Elder will be in the Jacques Amand autumn bulbs catalogue and I’m in the process of checking whether ‘Sea Green’ and ‘Storm’ will be available too. Will let you know. Hope so!

Bronze tools from  from implementations.co.ukAnd finally, these lovely shiny bronze (94%copper) tools from Implementations had ‘buy me’ written all over them. The tool heads come with a 25 year guarantee (tool shafts 2 years) and according to their brochure their sharp edges stay sharp. I thought the pointier of the trowels looked fantastic for bulb planting, and was very tempted by the hoe. This has sharp edges back and front of the head, so it will cut through weeds when you both push and pull. As I get more into ‘no dig’, this seems like a perfect tool to keep weeds down and copper tools, allegedly, deter slugs and snails too. Now firmly on my birthday list!

These ‘small’ shows are such a treat. You have the opportunity to chat and buy plants and tools from some wonderful growers and makers from all over the country, right there on your doorstep, and I for one can’t wait for the next RHS show on 14-15th April.

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Sweet cicely 2Ah, the first snow of the year (in London)! I’m deliciously warm and cosy inside, and this enforced idleness from gardening allows me a little time for reflection and planning for the year ahead.

Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis oderata) has to be one of my favourite herbs. Its subtle aniseed flavour is always a great addition to salads and this perennial herb is also a natural sweetener, so can be added to Rhubarb and other tart fruits when cooking, instead of sugar.

Last summer I visited ‘Little Sparta’ just south of Edinburgh (another post to follow on this wonderful artist’s garden) and was enchanted by the use of Sweet Cicely as soft feathery underplanting around a small copse of trees, looking like the most delicate of fur collars. Now I think the soil at Little Sparta may be somewhat damper than my own garden, but certainly an idea to experiment with and proof that not all herbs need full sun to flourish.

Sweet CicelyIf you fancy experimenting yourself and don’t have a herb nursery on your doorstep, Herbal Haven is a great online herb nursery that always sends out quality plants at very reasonable prices.

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Tulips Rai, Queen of the Night and Curly Sue

I have to admit that my dividing Agapanthus pics are none too visually thrilling, so I’m shamelessly throwing in an update of my gorgeous tulips at the same time.

Tulips Rai, Queen of the Night and Curly Sue + Ballerina 2

A week later than my last tulip post and the very dark ‘Queen of the Night’ and the softer, more frilly ‘Curly Sue’ are adding a more sombre note to the bed. Very raspberry ripple, but the firey orange ‘Ballerina’ does add a zing and if I was planting this bed again, I’d probably add a few more of these. I’m pleased with the combination none-the-less though.

Agapanthus pot

So here’s my large (16 inch) pot of Agapanthus.

Sweet peas and Agapanthus by the front door

To be honest, it does give me about 30 flowers every summer (with plenty of feeding), but it’s been in this pot for years and I thought it was time to divide it. I originally bought the plant as a large clump of an unnamed variety from Pine Cottage plants and it’s been delighting me for years. This is a glorious Agapanthus specialist nursery in Devon and well worth the visit should you be heading down that way. They also offer a fantastic mail order service with a wide and very tempting selection of cultivars and I’ve ordered many quality plants for clients that way too.

Agapanthus roots 3

It wasn’t easy removing the plant from the pot, but once the first sliver was out, I was able to use a large sharp kitchen knife to slice through the roots and divide up the rest.

Agapanthus roots

There was hardly any soil left in the pot, but now I’ve re-potted the large clump back into the pot with plenty of fresh rich compost, and the smaller pieces have been planted in a neighbour’s garden. I’m hoping that I should get some flowers from the larger clump this year and I’m curious to see if the smaller pieces will flower too in the soil this summer.

Tulips Rai, Queen of the Night and Curly Sue + Ballerina and mustartd leaf

Meanwhile, back in the Tulip bed, I’m lapping up what these luscious spring bulbs have to offer.

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