I realise that what I appreciate most about this show is that many of the nursery owners are on hand and are so willing to talk to customers at length (if desired!) about their plants. This means that you are getting access to crème de la crème advice from these very knowledgeable growers at this cosy, yet vibrant show. Here’s what caught my attention at this year’s show:
Just one look, and I fell in love with this Asplenium scolopendrium crispum on the Fibrex stand (above). As Richard from Fibrex dashed away to find me a few more of these gorgeous ferns, I found myself serving customers on this very busy stand, and rather enjoyed it too as customers were so enthusiastic about the plants that they were buying. Fibrex will be back again in London for the RHS Great London Plant Fair 29 – 30 March 2011 if you’re tempted to buy some of these alluring sculptural forms.
Stealing the show as you entered one of the halls was the amazingly surreal show of technicolor Hepaticas on the Ashwood Nursery stand. John Massey and his very friendly staff were all on hand to give advice. Hepaticas come from snow-melt regions so need moisture to induce flowers in spring. However, in their mountain woodlands, the soil dries out later in the year, so, according to John, ‘no soggy bottoms’ in summer, demands that they are planted in soil with excellent drainage. If you have the right growing conditions, you could plant up a riotously colourful treat in your garden for spring. Also noticed on the Ashwood Nurseries website, that John Massey’s private 3 acre garden in the west midlands is open to the public on March 19th / April 23rd / June 4th / July 23rd /September 24th between 10am and 4pm and also October 16th on behalf of the NGS. I’m making sure that I go and visit on at least one of these dates!
Family run Oxford Green Roofs offer to design bespoke green roofs and will also put together workshops for community groups to pass on their knowledge and expertise. Cogs in my brain are already turning to think where we could run such a project for our community group here in N.London. They also have DIY guides which can be bought from their website for £12.00, which give instructions on how to build your own green roof, for example- for a garden shed or a bike shed, using only materials that are readily available in DIY stores. Sounds like a fantastic weekend project for my bijou shed-feel like another blog coming on!
Spotted this lovely Hakea salicifolia on the Plantbase stand (‘hardy plants from tender places’) which comes from woodlands in S.E Australia. Seems to tick all the boxes for growing trees in London in that it will grow in shade but is drought tolerant and will put up with winter rain and temperatures down to minus 8 degrees. Sufficiently intrigued, I’m off to visit the nursery in E.Sussex on my way down to Great Dixter this week -will keep you updated on other tasty hardy plants that I find on my travels.
Another family run and very friendly nursery is Foxgrove plants from Newbury in Berkshire. Just missed their ‘Snowdrop Saturday’, but snowdrops can still be seen at the nursery, plus Hellebores (originally from Helen Ballard stock), winter Aconites (Eranthis Hyemalis) and Cyclamen coum. Check their website for opening times and go and visit for an early spring treat.
Crug Farm Plants continue to delight. This Exbucklandia tonkinensis (above) is not available yet and is going through it’s paces for hardiness but was a lovely sight to behold.
Also very pleased with this Pittosporum illiciodes var angustifolium (name trips off the tongue I know) which I had pre-ordered from Crug Farm nursery. It is definitely hardy and I can’t wait to see how it grows in my garden. It can take semi- shade, has fragrant yellow flowers and its leaves become longer in the shade too. What an exciting plant!
Next RHS London show is the RHS Great London Plant Fair 29 – 30 March 2011. I’ll be checking the website to see what nurseries will be attending and also have my eye on a talk from a very interesting Garden Designer. Looking forward to it already.