Thursday, 25 April 2013

My visit to Crûg Farm

or the fifth visit/garden on the welsh journey.  I wanted to think of a snappy clever title for this post, but then I realised that just thinking about visiting was exciting enough and I did not need to give any further description to lure people in to read this.
I also have to say that I decided not to leave the best until last for this series of posts as this is probably, no not probably, it was the best visit of the whole holiday.  There is still another post to go about my week away (only a week I hear you cry, feels like an age!) I went to visit Crûg Farm which is about 20 minutes drive from Portmeirion.  Those of you who know about Crûg Farm and its owners Sue and Bleddyn Wynn-Jones will know why their names are almost spoken in hushed awe-struck tones.  They are renowned plant hunters and their nursery is just a joy to visit.
You enter through a garden that leads to a garden.  Even when I visited when everything was still cold and hardly growing at all, there were things to look at.  The gardens are informal and very naturalistically planted and show off their amazing collection to great effect.
On the day of my visit I was feeling quite unwell, my sore throat that had been threatening to develop for a day or two was now really making itself known.  We had had to stop off in Carnarvon so that I could stock up on cold remedies and throat pastilles.  I was also still recovering from the sadness of the loss of my cat Chesney.  I knew I wanted a plant to plant in his memory and I thought that Crûg Farm might be a good place to find such a plant.
This is not in my opinion a nursery for me to visit without some preparation.  Whilst browsing is fun, the choice that is put before you is such that I felt I needed to know what I was looking for and looking at.   I did my homework by looking through their online catalogue before setting off.  I realised quite quickly if I wanted a plant to be in memory of Chesney that I needed to buy something to suit his character, my choice was Schisandra rubriflora 'Bodnant Redberry', this had the added bonus of linking to Bodnant as well as I had visited there the day before.  This plant is now growing up the Bramley tree, a tree Chesney climbed often.
I also made other purchases:  a Euphorbia sikkimensis Crûg Contrast, Stewartia Rostrata, Lindera sericea v. glabrata and an Ilicium simonsii.  It was a good day of purchasing and a challenge to fit them into my rather small car plus two children and all of our luggage.  I could have asked for them to be posted home for me, I sort of wished I had but I just wanted to get them home.
Anyway, plant buying is fun and the nursery is one in a league of incredible nurseries but be in no doubt, the gardens are just as worthy of visit.  I loved wandering around them, including the new garden near the front gate that Sue made sure that I visited.  I was so glad I did.  It is not a huge space, no bigger than many people's back gardens; but it is well laid out and full of their wonderful plants.  The key thing is that whilst many of these plants are from exotic places and have incredible stories of how they were bought back to this country, they are hardy and if they can live up a welsh hillside they will live in most  places.
The structure of the burned out barn in the new garden adds a great element.  I walked from shrub to tree to shrub to tree.  I studied them all and even in this early Spring, when most of the plants were just unfurling their first leaves.   I soon realised I was getting completely over excited at each new plant I looked at, the place is inspirational. 
 
There is no other way of describing this place, it is inspirational, I tried to hold back on superlatives but  I look at my Wild Garden, which has had quite a bit of planting this Autumn/Winter, and I know that if it looked a quarter this good I would be over the moon.
Garden visiting does not get much better than this.  I was feeling lousy when I arrived at Crûg, I had almost decided not to go especially as it was trying to rain on and off all morning.  I knew that I could not be so close to the place and not visit and it was the only day I could go as we were going home the next day, yet all my gloominess disappeared in a flash as I started to walk around the gardens and after a chat with Sue, how could anyone be gloomy when you arrive somewhere really special?
The holiday was now complete as I knew nothing was going to top this.

3 comments :

  1. Very nice read as usual, also very educative.For me anyway. I'm very sorry about Chesney, didn't know until now..They leave a great void behind them.

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  2. It's lovely to have a plant in memory of a beloved pet.

    Nice haul from Crug Farm, hoping to visit their nursery this summer.

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  3. What a lovely way to remember your cat, it sounds an amazing place, so many exciting plants.

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