|~ Primula belarina Cobalt Blue ~|
So the day was already a success when I tore myself away mid-afternoon to head off to the show. It was open until 7 so I thought I'd left myself enough time for a browse round... and, naively, I thought I'd get away with just window shopping! (Several carrier bags on the tube home disproved that theory.)
Traders selling their wares don't overlook the opportunity to introduce the public to more unusual cultivars and planting. I bought an Ugni molinae Flambeau, or Chilean Guava, having been told that it has white flowers in the summer, aromatic leaves (make tea with these) and red edible strawberry-flavoured berries in winter. A perfect addition to the veg patch. The fruit was apparently Queen Victoria's favourite and, if you could buy it, would retail at about £9 a punnet. Apart from anything else, it's small, edible and rather pretty.
My downfall though was Pennard Plants. Plates of heritage potato tubers set among vintage garden paraphernalia first grabbed my attention - and then I saw the trays of heritage and heirloom flower and veg seeds. I think I may have even trembled with excitement.
A jolly conversation ensued; Pennards people were so helpful with their advice that, despite best intentions of keeping my growing list simple this year, I came away with a paper bag full of seed packets. (And the aforementioned Ugni plant.) I'm particularly excited at having found red flowered broad beans and a short/cold season sweet corn which has a pretty good chance of maturing even in a bad summer. Pennards will be at the Garden Museum's Potato Day on 10th March, by which time I'll have chosen which tubers I want to buy from them.
The "design" part of the show was held in the second Horticultural Hall; I didn't leave myself enough time to fully appreciate all the displays but, for my resource book, I made a note of the makers of this very stylish cloche. Possibly a thing of beauty for my own garden one day ...
But the most useful discovery was Oxford Green Roofs, a husband and wife team who are passionate about sustainable living and displayed a variety of green roof possibilities on their stand. I'd love to introduce their ideas into my garden designs. I thought the Pocket Habitat was especially brilliant, see it here transforming the urban landscape of the Ove Arup offices in London.
|The Pocket Habitat: a felted pebble pocket made of recycled materials |
and filled with bio-diverse plants - good for the environment on all counts!
I was recommended to join the RHS by Jekka McVicar, mainly because the membership fees fund research into plants, pests and diseases. It's proved to be a wise move representing very good value as I've more than recouped the cost of my membership in garden visits to Wisley and various shows (free or discounted), as well as the extremely readable and informative RHS 'The Garden' magazine which members receive every month. There's free seeds as well if I order before 31st March.
Upcoming shows that I plan to visit are the 'Grow Your Own' weekend at Wisley on 23/24th March, the Great London Plant Fair on 26th March in Victoria and the Spring Craft Fair on the 2nd - 6th May at Wisley - and, of course, Chelsea and Hampton Court shows. More information on the RHS website, here.
|~ Jovial conversation with the team at Pennards Plants. |
He even pointed out the RHS bigwigs and television scouts! ~