The cool early summer in the lead up to Hampton Court gave us problems in getting Allium sphaerocephalon into flower for the show where it is usually one of the stalwarts. However this was more than made up for by the Eryngiums and Triteleias which were used to good effect on the Avon Bulbs stand which was 225 sq ft (21 sq m) divided by a path leading to a wrought-iron bulb sculpture at the centre surrounded by lilies which certainly had the wow factor.
Some of our plants had a mention during the BBC coverage and that certainly brought the visitors to us. One plant that certainly caught peoples' attention was Nigella papillosa which we were showing for the first time and displayed two varieties 'African Bride' -white flowered plants with purple black stamens and 'Midnight' - ink blue flowered plants with blue stamens all flowering over the typical 'Love in the Mist' foliage. They then produce attractive and architectural seed heads which will self sow in succeeding years.
In 2018 we were the Master Grower at the RHS Malvern Garden Festival. We learnt quite a lot from that experience and when the RHS chose the theme for the floral marquee in 2019 to be ‘Through the Lens’ we thought we could build on that and produce a truly magnificent stand in both size (440 sq ft) and content. We teamed up with the Aberystwyth University Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Studies (IBERIS) and commissioned electron micrograph images of structures in the plants that we were showing. After all, plant photography has brought the beauty of plants, wherever they are found as exquisite examples of the amazing colour, form and diversity of nature within grasp of us all. But photographic imaging has its limitations and modern electron microscopy now brings parts of plants that previously could only be imagined into our visual world. This collaboration into previously unseen structures and parts of plants builds on what capturing light through a lens has done in the past.
We were very pleased to have been awarded a Gold Medal for our exibit which consisted of a dazzling mix of Lilies and Alliums for height with Eucomis, Eryngium, Dahlias and Triteleia for contrast. Despite it being very hot in the marquee, visitors certainly enjoyed what we had to offer especially the Allium sphaerocephalon, an interesting plant that the bees just love which sold out every day.
We were also showing Agapanthus Alan Street which has a lovely indigo flower which caught Carol Klein's eye and was filmed by the BBC as part of the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show coverage. The plants will be available for sale in Spring 2019 so do follow the link and "register an interest " to receive an email as a reminder just after Christmas. We expect to be despatching them from March 2019.
After an up and down spring, weather wise we had a lot of stock in the cold stores in the weeks before the show holding the flowers so that they were at their peak for our show customers. Our decision not to go to Chelsea meant we had more preparation time for the show and satisfyingly, we were awarded a Platinum medal for our display. The show was very busy for us from the start on Thursday through to Sunday afternoon with customers who couldn't get enough of the Ixia Spotlight and Triteleia Rudy Luckily the weather was not too hot which was good for stock, staff and customers alike, there was even a little drizzle on Saturday morning but it did not last. By Sunday afternoon we more than ready for the sell off, which went well and allowed us to clear the stand and get away in good time.
We decided after 30 years of exhibiting at Chelsea to miss this year. We had to to do a very small display in conjunction with our Master Grower's status and with time in hand, we did a quick sweep of the still unfinished marquee and the completed gardens. Inside the marquee there are some gems - Ashwood's display of Hellebores is quite technically amazing, they look as though it is still late February. It is jam packed full of exquisite flowers -evidence why many other nurseries have deserted that plant family in the face of such expertise ! But actual specialist nurseries with an equal attention to detail are less evident elsewhere, gaudiness seems to be to the fore. Who would expect to see Polygonatum (Solomon's Seal) and Convallaria (Lily of the Valley) in close proximity to Gloriosa (the Flame Creeper of India and Southern Africa)?
Outside in the gardens, the emphasis seems to be on urban chic, shiny surfaces (or Cor-Ten rust), structure first and plants a distant second. In many cases the planting is too colourful and dense for my taste with too little emphasis on the foliage or the form of a plant. Subtlety is not very apparent except in some of the Artisan gardens. There were a couple of big gardens at the Ascot and Malvern shows that I liked better!
Malvern, by comparison, was much lower key, much more plant orientated, more relaxed and probably better value. I suspect that this is the way that things have been for a while but we have had our noses too close to the grindstone to see it. There is an allowance now for nurseries to sell a 'limited' range of material at Chelsea - welcomed obviously as some sales can offset costs, but it is intended to be restricted as space is very tight and restocking arrangements in SW3 are complicated.
However with commercial possibilities come hard choices and what I think may be dubious practice - is late May really a good time to plant any newly purchased bulbs that are available there? If the RHS (or nurseries) are to be seen to be educating the public with regard to good practice, is this the right way to go?
We were excited to have been invited by the Royal Horticultural Society to builld a Master Grower's exhibit at the Malvern Spring Festival 2018. In building this display, we only use plants that we have grown ourselves from the same bulbs that we supply to the general public through our catalogues and website. The display boards and screen (with photographs and video by Neil Hepworth) provide additional insight into the nursery with some "back of house" views.
One and a half minutes covering what happens in the office and in the packing shed to get your order out. Shot in 2016 and starring the full packing team.
Everything is somewhat sped up, so please do not expect next day delivery from ordering (though we do ship as quickly as possible! Hopefully it will raise a smile!
Put together by Chris' children as a birthday present!
23 July 2017
Are you uncertain over what to do with your pots of spring bulbs that are now finished and the foliage has dried up?
One way to really help get the most out of those bulbs is to move those pots or tubs into a bit of shade and turn the container onto its side (get help if it is really heavy). On its side the soil will slowly dry out and should be unable to be further wetted by more rain and the bulbs within it will get a drier summer rest. Remaining in wet soil in a pot that is sun warmed by day is a recipe for a rotten disaster for resting bulbs.
Then in mid September you can shake the contents out onto a dust sheet and recover the bulbs, planting the best of them again for another year.
22 June 2017
We showed a 'new' Triteleia at the Gardeners' World event and Carol Klein talked about it on the TV (without revealing where one can obtain it!). So, as they are plants that flower in June it is an ideal moment to suggest Triteleia Foxy, bulbs of which can be delivered in the autumn. The Foxy got omitted from the catalogue but the bulbs are available online, they are illustrated alongside.
The flowers are mainly white with a broad purple blue stripe down the middle of each petal. Triteleia Rudy (which we have listed for a while) by comparison is nearly all purple blue with only the edges of the petals showing the white base colour. They are both easy bulbs to grow in sunny conditions where the soil is relatively free draining and their papery flowers last surprisingly well, even when it is hot.
Names are not only tags, in Horticulture as in other areas of study they provide a context, a history and a description, sometimes all at the same time. Sometimes these can be useful, others may have been once, but now seem weird. Have you ever stopped by a Muscari (the Grape Hyacinth family) and sniffed, after all the name alludes to the scented musc like properties of some of them, or wondered why Narcissus are so called? (It is after the Greek narkau, to grow stiff because of their narcotic properties). Or Chionodoxa, from chion (snow) doxa(glory). Some names are difficult on the tongue (and possibly the ear), Hermodactylus (Mercury's finger, alluding to the shape of the bulb) or unguicularis (narrowly claw shaped - which is probably even less helpful). To the interested it is a whole different field of investigation and possible study.
Illustrated Muscari ambrosiacum
As long as you do not garden on cold unforgiving and poorly drained clay soils and the light is good, there has to be an Allium to suit? Some last in flower for many weeks (Globemaster) but look on them as fillers with attitude in that pre-summer break when the garden has yet to get going. In our heavy loam we have A. cristophii (illustrated) seeding around in amongst the Camassia which is a lovely pairing, and whilst most flower in May and June there are inexpensive dead certs such as A. sphaerocephalon which just do it with lovely egg sized heads swaying in tall stems in July without any fuss and pretty much unnoticed till then