Wednesday 30 May 2018

Nursery visit and plant fair at Pottertons

Large pond at Pottertons

Having long admired the Pottertons Nursery displays and plants at flower shows, I finally got to visit their garden and nursery on the weekend. It coincided with a Plant Hunters Fair taking place on site, which was perfect as there are some new plants I was after for my new garden. As as bonus, I was able to order some red Heleniums I was after from Martin of Special Perennials (who also organises these plant fairs), to pick up on the day. This is a write up of both the fair and Pottertons.

Plant Hunters Fair
My haul

As someone not well enough to currently attend the larger flower shows, plant fairs are an ideal way of getting some of the flower show bling without the crowds and expensive food prices. I checked in advance that I could use my mobility scooter, and yes, no problem.

There were 10 nurseries spread out across the large garden, including Edrom Nurseries from Berwickshire, Jurassicplants Nurseries from Denbighshire, Tissington Nursery from the Peak District, and Special Perennials from Cheshire. A good opportunity to see the plants available from nurseries that I couldn't usually get to.

I've purchased Hepatica's from Edrom in the past, and I was told they will have even more Hepatica's in their catalogue this autumn. Oooh! This time I picked up a trailing Clematis, C. x Eleanor, Allium insubricum and a couple of Erigeron leiomeris.

Erigeron leiomeris

I want to start a new strawberry patch and having seen a pretty pink flowered strawberry on The Cynical Gardener's website a couple of weeks ago, I was on the look out for something similar. So when I saw Fragaria red ruby at the Mayfields Plants stand, I excitedly grabbed one. It's smaller fruits are supposed to fruit from May to November, and I look forward to trying some soon.
Fragaria red ruby

Kevin chose this beautiful Iris, I. sibirica 'Flight of Butterflies' from The Gobbett nursery.

And I purchased three red Helenium's from Special Perennials, including H. Waltraut and H. Dark Beauty. They aren't flowering yet, but from photos on their website, they look nice and hot for my new 'hot garden' (hot colours, that is) at the front of the house.

Pottertons Nursery and Garden
Part of the alpine display in the garden at Pottertons

Potterton's is a specialist nursery focusing on selling alpines, dwarf bulbs and woodland plants. And wow, does the garden accompanying their nursery sell their plants for them.
The other side of the display in the previous photo of the garden

 Who wouldn't love alpines after seeing this?!

Because the garden was also open as part of the NGS, this included 'Mum's Garden', which is over closer to the nursery itself and I think not always opened to the public. It was a classic cottage garden and Kevin and I both declared that we wanted to live there.

The nursery was also navigable for mobility scooters and wheelchairs (possibly not the larger mobility scooters though). There was just so much available and I'll be honest and say that I didn't, on this occasion, go down every row, as ME* exhaustion was taking over. However, I discovered that they had a fine collection of alpine Daphnes, and I'll be definitely returning to purchase some in the future.
ALL the daphnes!

The nursery was clearly laid out and oh so organised. I love an organised nursery.

The nursery is so well organised

The staff were really helpful at answering questions. I picked up about 7 alpines this time around, including Erodium 'Ardwick Redeye':

And Anemone obtusiloba 'large blue':

I also picked up some display ideas, including this excellent use of paving stones to create a border and height. We inherited a large number of grey ones with our new home, and I don't need that many paths. Now I have an idea of what to do with the rest.

Visiting both the plant fair as well as the garden and nursery was a great pleasure. I picked up lots of pretties and enjoyed chatting to the nursery people. Everything, both the nursery and plant fair, was well organised. The obligatory, and tasty, tea and cake, allowed you have enjoy a break in between all the oohing and ahhing over plants. And gave you time to ponder on whether you should just quickly go back and pick up that other plant you liked. You know the one. Yes, you should definitely go and pick that one up too.

I plan on visiting Pottertons again (and again). They have a wonderful selection of alpines, and all the plants I purchased looked to be in very good health. It was also inspiring to be able to view plants in situ, and also really helpful when forming your plans for alpine displays at home.

* * * * *
Visit the Plant Hunter Fairs website for a list of upcoming events.

Pottertons will be having an open day on Saturday 15th September, 10am-4pm. They also have a list on their website listing the flower shows and events they will be attending coming up.

Right: In front of the large pond. Have scooter, will buy plants. And more plants. All the plants.

*ME - the chronic illness Myalgic encephalomyelitis, known as ME.

Thursday 24 May 2018

First border

Thanks to my gardener Andrea, who spent a day starting to tidy up the garden, I now have my first border in the new garden. I'm rather excited. This was the border back in April. Well, not really a border. A mess of plants, grass and weeds.

The border that wasn't a border anymore, in April.

Andrea did a major weed out, discovered some border edging stones buried under all the mess, dug them out and put the edging stones back in. I got her to remove quite a bit of the rhubarb as I didn't need two patches. She also tidied up the raspberry canes, removing the dead ones. And she trimmed the ivy on the back corner. I don't want to remove it, it's good for the birds, I just didn't want it taking over.
The border in May, after all Andrea's hard work. Plus I pruned the plum tree.

I then had the first plants added. On the left you can see my first of two sorrel patches, and on the right is Thalictrum 'Anne', which was getting burnt in the pot in the hot sun. It's now in part shade, which I hope it will like more.

The name of this border, is rather originally, the Raspberry Border. It's hard coming up with names for borders.

The plum tree is on the outside of the border. Despite my pruning, it's heaving with fruit. 

I'm going to add in some herbs and lower growing ornamental hardy perennials adjacent to the raspberry canes. And on each side of the sorrel patch will be some pink Japanese Anemones, to add height. It will be so nice to get some of my plants out of their pots and into the ground; they have been waiting 18 months. Then I'll sit back and wait for the raspberries to fruit and see what they taste like.

My first border in the new garden. How exciting!

Thursday 10 May 2018

In praise of: Narcissi Falconet

I know, most of you are thinking daff time is over, let's move on to other Spring plants and bulbs. But before you do, I suggest you consider this little beauty for next years pots or borders.

Narcissi Falconet is a Tazetta type of narcissi, fragrant, with a cluster of smaller flowers on the same stem. These sit very prettily above their long strong stems. They are meant to flower a bit earlier, late March-early April, but not only did I plant them late, this years long cold Spring held them up.

Not only does this Narcissi cheerily flower for nearly 3 weeks, it also has the most delicious fragrance. I've had some in a pot by the front door and every time I pass it's like I'm inhaling sunshine. Ok, that might be a little O.T.T., but you get what I mean.

I've been so enraptured by this Narcissi I'm planning on buying a lot more for next year* so that I can have some to stay in pots and the ground, and some to cut for the house.

I recommend Narcissi Falconet to you.

*I purchased mine from Peter Nyssen bulbs. And no, I didn't get anything from them. I just love their range, quality and price.

Monday 7 May 2018

Spring blues

One of my favourite colours in Spring are the Spring blues. Of course, sometimes it's hard to tell if a flower is blue or a purple blue, and it's not always the easiest colour to photograph. However, here are a few that have been giving me joy in the last couple of weeks.

Anemone blanda blue-flowered

Here it is mixed in a pot with Narcissi and Alliums.

Omphalodes cappadocica 'Cherry Ingram'

Alpine, Veronica whitleyi

In detail.

Another alpine, Lithodora diffusa 'Heavenly Blue'

Which Spring blue's do you love in your garden?

Saturday 5 May 2018

The case of the strange straight apple tree in the garden

This is a rather strange apple tree. I know it's an apple tree, because it had a couple of apples on it when we viewed the house we now live in, last November. Unless the sellers managed to glue a couple to the tree for effect.

Anyway, I'm not sure what to do about it. I mean, it's growing straight up.

Of course, in general, things grow up, unless they grow in the ground, but let's not confuse this matter any further. But for not just the trunk, but all the branches to grow up in the same manner, I mean, how do you even get an apple tree to grow in such a way?

There is of course the issue of taste. And going by these buds, and the luck of the weather goddess, it looks like I should get some apples this year. What type, cookers or eaters, well, I guess I'll have to wait and see. And hope I can get to an apple day with some of the fruit to see if I can find out what variety it is.

However, going back to the issue of straightness, I'm in a quandary. What do I do with this tree? How in the hell do I prune it so the branches go out and not straight up. I'm asking you, dear reader, for help! Any suggestions? And can I start pruning now, or wait until next winter?

Over to you.