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Archive for the ‘Spring plants’ Category

Pittosporum illiciodes v. angustifolium

I’m a big fan of the Pittosporum genus and was delighted to find such a gorgeous airy specimen two years ago at the RHS spring show on the Crug Farm stand.

Pittosporum illiciodes var angustifolium

I bought this evergreen shrub to screen my compost bin, and although it’s a little slower than I had imagined, it’s still coming along nicely. This spidery Pittosporum will grow in sun or part shade, with its leaves elongating in more shadier spots, and it also has, yet to be seen, small yellow flowers. To be honest, it’s getting a bit more shade than I originally planned for, as I’ve let a Clematis montana scramble up into a nearby small apple tree and it’s blocking out a fair amount of light. So as soon as the horizontal sleety/snowy rain is over, I might venture out to carefully start untangling the climber from the tree.

Pittosporum tennuifolium flowers

Not far away is a Pittosporum tennuifolium, merrily romping away (well over 6 ft and still growing) in a dryish shady spot under another apple tree. Last April I was stopped in my tracks by the scent from its tiny black flowers, and I’m eager to see, when my P. illiciodes does flower, if the tiny yellow blooms will also pack a punch.

Snowdrops on Avon Bulbs Stand

So if you’re on the lookout for some unusual shrubs or want to stock up on spring-flowering bulbs and perennials, The RHS London plant and design show is fast approaching again (19th and 20th February), where Crug Farm, Avon Bulbs (above) and many other nurseries will be exhibiting and selling many a tempting plant. After such a damp and miserable winter, I’ll definitely be making the trip for a joyful taste of things to come.

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It’s such a treat to have the opportunity to buy from specialist nurseries, all under one roof at the Garden Museum in the centre of London. As the heavens opened, even traders outside in the gardens still seemed to be doing a brisk trade.

Seen on Friday night on Gardeners World, this Euphorbia amygdaloides Purpurea, on the Swallowfields Nursery stand, just stopped me in my tracks. Gorgeous large airy lime green bracts atop delicious dark foliage was more than I could resist. A bit taller than its close cousin Euphorbia robbiae, and without its creeping habit, this plant will perfectly replace a larger Euphorbia wulfenii, which has outgrown its space and is crowding other plants in a client’s garden. Plus it can take some shade too. Perfect! Swallowfields nursery had bought plenty of choice perennials up from Ashford in Kent to tempt and I while I mulled over where I could squeeze in a couple of Euphorbia polychroma, they were quickly snapped up by another plant hungry gardener!

On the hunt for a purple Heuchera for another client, Rotherview Nursery from Hastings had plenty of choice specimens to choose from, plus some gorgeous looking Tiarellas and much more.

‘Rustic Garden Things’ from Rye in Sussex offered many enticing vintage tools. By chance I’d already bought a border fork when on my travels out of London in Rye, which I love and use every day. Couldn’t stop myself buying another of these perfectly formed objects as I find their size and weight (and good looks) ideal for everyday use.

Resisting the cosy cafe, with piles of pastries for a Sunday morning, I ventured back out into the rain to stock up on herbs. ‘Herbal Haven’ from Saffron Walden in Essex had a wonderful selection to choose from and as well as stocking up on regulars such as Parsley and Basil, I also bought an African Blue Basil and a Black Peppermint.

The African Blue Basil, aka Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum ‘Dark Opal‘, is a perennial Basil and although not hardy, I shall endeavour to nurture through the winter so I can savour its gorgeous purple leaves, year after year. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed buying plants at this wonderfully eclectic plant fair. Hats off to the Garden Museum and all the exhibitors who braved the downfalls. Much appreciated by this London gardener. 

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This is the second time that I’ve visited Lucy Mackenzie’s Lip na Cloiche garden and nursery on Mull. I was originally wowed by this hillside haven and its phenomenal planting about a year ago, but since then, the island has been battered by the worst storms in 30 years, with salt-laden winds hitting the land at over 120 miles an hour.

Salt and wind burn are easily in evidence on some of the plants. However, ceaseless rain since last August, unlike our drought in the South, has also done for a fair amount of perennials too.

After a brief sunny spell, the rain was back in force on the day we visited, but had its compensations as it looked rather gorgeous captured on the hairy leaves of this Meconopsis.

Despite, or maybe because of some gaps left in the planting, there are some great sculptural developments in the garden. I love the fork heads climbing their way up the slope amongst the ‘London Pride’ (Saxifraga x urbium),

and the teapots filled with various bulbs are a fabulous quirky delight. Along with the stunning planting, Lucy Mackenzie’s outsider art credentials seem even stronger than before.

Found objects have been artfully recycled throughout the garden,

and beachcombed treasures displayed with panache.

Spade heads echo the fork head pilgrimage ,

and teapots are reprised as planters at other points in the garden.

Bedsteads define the border at the top of the garden at Lip na Cloiche,

whilst willow has been woven to mask off the compost area half way down.

There’s so much artistry to feast your eyes on, from Fritillarias in colanders,

to trees in trunks and much, much more,

that I know I’ll be drawn back to visit this spectacular garden again and again.

P.S.

Prompted by a comment by Jono at Real Men Sow (a fantastic veg growing blog), adding a couple of pics of Lucy’s gorgeously chunky raised vegetable beds. They’re tucked in, in front of the greenhouse area,

and nice and deep, allowing for plenty of veg planting choices. There are also some trained fruit trees and raspberry canes on the other side of the hedge, heading towards the shoreline. Heaven!

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