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Archive for the ‘Plant Nurseries’ Category

Jardins des Sericourt

Although my blogging has been rather minimal this year, I have quietly visited a few corking gardens and nurseries that I couldn’t resist writing about. My previous post noted the merits of Les Jardins Agapanthe just north of Rouen, and above are Les Jardins de Sericourt, roughly halfway between Calais and Amiens, also in northern France.

Topiary 3 at Jardins de SericourtI must say that I didn’t find the gardens as a whole as satisfying as the exceptional Jardins Agapanthe, but this magical topiary walk really took my breath away and justified the trip.

Topiary walk at Jardins des Sericourt

I do seem to be developing a penchant for evergreens. Does this come with age? I think so. I’m not going to be throwing out my lush perennials, but I find that a fine bit of topiary increasingly gives pleasure and I’m (finally) starting to really understand the merits of year round structure, even in smaller gardens, where space is always fiercely fought over. And some evergreens, such as Myrtle, Sarcococcas, Pittosporums and Skimmias will also give you scent and berries.

Chilean Guava wholeThis Chilean Guava is such an evergreen shrub (part of the Myrtle family I think) and was covered in the most moreish deep red berries at Edulis Nursery in Pangbourne (near Reading). Wouldn’t this be great for an edible hedge?

Chilean Guava berries

It needs neutral to acid soil, and a sunny sheltered spot, although it should tolerate temperatures to about -10. There’s also a rather attractive variegated variety and one of these might be featuring in a client’s garden (or two) as well as my own next year.

Szechuan Peppers square

Edulis is a wonderfully exciting nursery to visit, with so many unusual edible plants to tempt you. I also came away with a few fantastic varieties of chives (edible flowers, stems, and roots), some which will grow in shady areas and others that have gorgeous flowers in September and October and all the way through to December.  The Szechuan Pepper tree (above) is also on my list for when I get that extra half an acre.

Niwaki Ladder by elephants

Next on my favourite things list is this great Niwaki ladder which I’ve been lusting after for years. I’m absolutely delighted with it. I’m not great with heights, but I feel safe and secure working from it and it’s light and easy to carry around. What more could you want? Different heights? It comes in quite a few. Alas, more temptation!

Gravetye ManorAnd I finally got to visit Gravetye Manor in July for a spot of lunch and a good wander around the gardens, which are now under the very capable hands of Tom Coward, formerly Fergus Garrett’s deputy at Great Dixter. One needs to be a resident or lunching to visit the gardens, but there are some talks and tours in the gardens this year (see below in comments). Not a cheap option, but worth the visit.

Garvetye flower border

The deep borders were soft and romantic,

Romantic borders at Gravetye Manor

packed full of summer colour and very uplifting.

Walled veg garden at Gravetye ManorHowever, the main draw for me was the enormous 2 acre oval-shaped walled veg garden (walled garden envy alert!).

Trained fruit trees at Gravetye Manor

All the beds were immaculately maintained, with trained fruit trees dotted along the walls,

Stepover apples at Gravetye Manor

as well as step-overs edging some of the beds.

Garvetye walled garden flowers

And there was a great hum of insects from the flowers that were generously planted along the margins of the beds.

Picking gooseberries at Gravetye Manor

It’s great to see varied growing techniques in different gardens and I found these Hinnomaki Red Gooseberries, trained as cordons, very inspiring. A lot easier to harvest than from a bush, these upright fruits would be wonderful to grow in tight urban spaces and I’ve already ordered a few to experiment with in my own garden.

Siew Lee's front garen July 2015So onwards for 2016. I’m looking forward to visiting lots more exciting gardens. Above and below are the delightful airily planted gardens of Siew Lee Vorley, another Great Dixter gardener with an abundance of vision.Siew Lee's back garden 2 July 2015

Her gardens are packed full of artful plant combinations, (Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Lavendelturm’ above from Marchants Hardy Plants, flanked by the annual, Larkspur ‘Sublime Lilac’)

Siew Lee's back garen July 2015 with truly gorgeous colours and textures. This delicate Kniphofia ‘Rufa’ (above), is a non edible plant from Edulis. They do flowers too!

Siew Lee in her garden 2Siew Lee’s garden is in Brightling, East Sussex, a hop skip and a jump from Sarah Raven’s flower picking patch, and if you’d like to visit her gardens this year, you can contact her at slvorley@googlemail.com.

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Grow LondonGrow London is now in its second year. Last year was a fabulous show, beautifully curated with top-notch nurseries, classy garden furniture and the most desirable tools and it looks to be the same again this Friday to Sunday. What’s more, there are great talks happening every day and I’m looking forward to hearing Cleve West, Helen Yemm, Patti Barron and Fergus Garrett talk on Saturday. What a line-up! Violas Wildgoose Nursery will be there again with their deliciously scented Violas, Crug Farm will be offering up some exciting and unusual plants (which should mostly be hardy in London) and Hardy’s return with their glorious herbaceous perennials (see top pic). Dogs at Grow London The show is taking place on Hampstead Heath and if you fancy killing two birds with one stone, you can go for a walk and then bring your loyal canine into the show with you. Can’t say fairer than that!

The show costs £16 on the door, but pre-booked tickets are only £10.80 (a tenner plus booking fee). Not to be missed!

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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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