28 Jun 2015

Still GROWing ...

More loveliness that caught my attention!
Top: Thomas Broom in action; watering cans à la mode; natural brush and pan
Middle: Ash wall planter (using wood from Ash dieback felled trees); Erigeron planter; Ash wall planters
Bottom: Succulents; Oak swing seats from Green Oak Furniture; Rabbit cushion (Thornback&Peel)


At the risk of over-egging the pudding, I've got to reiterate what an utterly brilliant time I had at the Grow London show last weekend. I chatted to design gods of the gardening world, Cleve West and Tom Stuart-Smith, quaffed some very nice wine, learned which flowers will make an edible bouquet, had my head filled with so many good ideas, watched how to make a delicious nasturtium pesto which I sampled over a huge tomato and an edible flower salad and then came home with a car boot full of beautiful plants.

Purchased plants! (Hosta flowers are  top right corner; bright pink Bletilla is centre.)

I'd just finished cataloguing all the plants I'd bought at the show and was back indoors when the heavens opened and rain poured down. Win:win - I was dry, the plants were watered.  The plants will live outside until I can plant them at the end of the week; they're destined for a client's part shady garden. I can't tell you how much joy I've had researching and choosing plants without spending any of my own money.  Beauty without penury - bliss.  I've been smiling all week.

I thought the real bonus of the show was the talks and demonstrations. I cherry-picked the ones of special interest to me - Cleve West talking about healing gardens, referencing his past work, specifically Horatio's Garden in Salisbury which he designed for patients with spinal injuries. Thomas Broom, the highly respected florist and Horticultural Manager at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, was another must see. He was putting together a bouquet made up entirely of edible flowers. Definitely one not to miss! Many anecdotes were told and tips given as he worked. He made it look so easy and yet the result was masterful and beautiful. (There will be a short follow up post soon on this subject.)

Thomas and the finished bouquet

I also dipped into Helen Yemm's talk about problems in the garden but the thought of plant shopping was distracting me.  Sooooo many gorgeous plants!  This is one of the brilliant things about attending a show like this - the growers are there to advise you so there's no guesswork - you tell them the site and situation of the planting area and suggestions are made. Looking at the size and condition of the plants, you know exactly what you're buying - something you don't get with mail order.  The nurseries at the show were all specialists, offering plants that you're unlikely to come across in your local garden centre. I came home with my car boot stuffed with Astrantia 'Roma', Adiantum and Dryopteris ferns, an Abutilon vitifolium, Astilbes and Aruncus, Penstemons, Lavatera maritima, Bletilla striata and an Anemonopsis macrophylla. Whaaat? It took me a good half hour just to learn how to say it! The must-have plant though is Hosta rectifolia, a Japanese woodland plant said to be able to withstand slug onslaught - I was more than slightly sceptical but I'll be happy to be proved wrong. It's a pretty little thing, with long slender ribbed leaves and purpley-pink flowers so I hope it makes it. Wool pellets and gravel at the ready.


Damian's pesto and salad demonstration

Shall we have one last mention of the edible flowers cookery demonstration from Petersham Nurseries?Petersham restaurant's Head Chef, no less, Damien Clisby, showed us the ease of making a pesto from nasturtium leaves. Tiny baby leaves, a pinch of salt, some excellent flavoursome olive oil, some parmesan and pine nuts.  Ground together with pestle and mortar and spooned over a huge beefsteak tomato. It was stunningly delicious. A salad of thinly sliced raw beetroot, broad beans, radish, leaves, pea shoots and coriander was dressed with olive oil and lemon - and a complete lack of vinegar. That guy really knows how to make fresh food sing. It was sublime. Sadly the prices at Petersham's restaurant are way beyond my budget but I can take inspiration from this demo and look with fresh eyes and interest at the food growing in my garden. More of which in my next post … :o)


My unusual plants came from Evolution Plants, a nursery I was very impressed with and would say is well worth visiting online or in person. A few more of my plants came from Glendon Plant Nursery and Hardy's Plants.



20 comments:

  1. You sound so happy! Plant therapy evidently works... You mention that those plants are for a client. Are you a garden-designer then, or what? And another thing I want to know is this - you mentioned (on FB) spending some time with family in Hampshire. Is their place anywhere near mine in Fleet? Is there an opportunity for us to meet up sometime, maybe?

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    1. It's been a very good week, Mark - how lovely that happiness spills over onto the written page! I've recently been training as a garden designer at Capel Manor - mainly because I was frustrated at not being able to identify all the plants I saw. That training was interrupted due to a need to look after my parents more often but people are beginning to find me anyway! My folks live on the Hampshire coast but I like to drive the scenic route through the A31/Meon Valley roads. I would very much like to meet up and will DM you on Twitter.

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  2. Lovely post and I'll try the nasturtium leaf pesto this week.

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    1. I had so many self-seeded nasturtiums this year that I've been tearing them out of the garden (some were replanted). After this inspiration, I've bought a huge tomato ready. Sadly not my own tomato, yet, but it will be worth the wait!

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  3. A most enjoyable post and wonderful pictures. I've long admired Clive West and Helen Yemm. Good to see you putting your garden designer talents to good use. Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks, glad you enjoyed it, Flighty. The show had an excellent range of speakers which I thought made it more appealing - beyond the usual shopping and looking - and, for me, a rare treat to be able to ask questions of the experts in a fairly intimate arena.

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  4. It sounds fantastic, and you've bought some beautiful plants for your client. The food looks utterly delicious, I really like the sound of the pesto served over a big tomato, simple but tasty. Glad you had such a good time Caro. CJ xx

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    1. Maybe it's because it's so local to me, but I'm thoroughly enjoying this show and thought it had improved on last year. A lot of the plants I bought were new to me and I love that I can expand my horizons in this way! They've yet to be planted as there was lots of pruning and preparation to be done first. I think after seeing this demonstration that I may try growing my own beefsteak tomatoes next year! Caro xx

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  5. Oh it sounds as if you came away with a head bursting full of ideas and inspiration Caro. I heard Cleve West speak on the subject of his allotment a few years ago which was a most informative and enjoyable experience. I've got the erigeron (well more than one as it self-seeds everywhere) but not that highly desirable planter :)

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    1. I had my eye on some similar planters, Anna, but they were rather pricey! I think I'll have to head to a few countryside auctions before I can acquire one of those. Inspiration was the name of the game at the show - yes, I did feel quite energised afterwards! Erigeron is one of those fabulous plants that I don't mind if it self seeds everywhere - the more the better! x

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  6. Interesting post! so many ideas!

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    1. Thank you, Endah - I thought the wooden wall planter would be fairly easy to copy and be good for growing herbs and salads within easy reach on my balcony.

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  7. what a wonderful event to have! the different experts and speakers makes it sound like an inspiring day out. and your haul is so very pretty.

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  8. There are so many nasturtiums in my garden, I am definitely going to give the pesto a try. Last year we had lunch at Petersham Nurseries, fantastic food and such a lovely place. They are expensive, but one can also just have coffee or a snack in the cafe, I can only recommend it.

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    1. I wouldn't have thought of making nasturtium pesto before seeing this demo - amazing where inspiration can strike from! How lovely to have had lunch at Petersham - it's definitely one of the places that I must visit now, I've heard that it's very gorgeous. Better keep my budget strict though, I'm a sucker for buying plants!

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  9. I did enjoy this, especially reading of the healing herbs, I have many books on the subject and am always astonished at the healing properties of herbs. If we all included a few fresh herbs a day into our diets the results would speak for themselves!
    I bet you are going to use some of these ideas....how exciting!xxx

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    1. I wouldn't be without my balcony of herbs, Dina! I'm sure that they have healing properties as well, but I find them indispensable for the taste lift that they give to food. I'll certainly be putting some of those good ideas to good use! C x

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  10. Fabulous plant haul! I'm really intrigued by the hosta.. I've given up with them thanks to the slugs. Let us know how it goes?

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    1. Definitely, Jessica. Having lost every hosta that I've ever planted to slugs, I'm watching this one keenly. A follow up post will be forthcoming for sure!

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  11. Horatio's garden was running a raffle at the River Cottage Garden Open Day. It is a lovely way to create a memorial to Horatio and be a benefit to spinal patients and their familes. The edible bouquet and the garden salad sound wonderful! We have an adundance of nasturiums so will try that pesto! Your plant choices sound wonderful it's so exciting to find unusal plants. Sarah x

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Comments on my posts are much appreciated and help to build an online community of blog friends. Everyone is welcome! I love to discover new blogs so please leave a comment to introduce yourself.
Caro x

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