A talk on a wet afternoon

or semaphore signals in Shelford

The weather has not been kind to us weekend gardeners recently.  This time of year is when I can only get out into the garden at the weekends so I am watching the weather forecast keenly all week hoping that I might get a nice period of time outside to catch up on weeding and potter around the garden.
This weekend was not going to deliver such a time, so having other plans for the weekend was a good idea.  I found out that some friends, Colin and Karan Ward from Swines Meadow Farm Nursery were going to do a talk for the local Plant Heritage (National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens) group in Shelford.  Shelford is not that far from me and it seemed like a nice afternoon out.  Another twitter friend said they would come along t0o and so a jolly afternoon was planned.

Saturday afternoon was wet and cold, not good gardening weather at all.  I would have gone to the talk anyway, but it removes any nagging feelings of I could be in the garden if the weather obliges by being horrid.  The village hall was quite full with people and racks of plants.
Oh the plants, such beautiful ones, there was some pre-talk buying, then we all settled down and Colin and Karan began their double act to talk us through hardy exotics and the right conditions for them.  It was a good and interesting talk, it was not via powerpoint, Colin worked his way along the plant table, holding aloft plants and talking about their beauties and foibles.  It was a knowledgeable (much latin was spoken) and honest, if the plants had died in a bad winter we were told this.

Now I am not a hugely indecisive person.  In particular when plant buying I tend to know what I want and buy it (funds allowing of course).  I had done my sweep of the plant racks and made my choices pre-talk.  I was happy with my purchases:  I bought Coronilla valentina ssp. glauca 'Citrina', this beautiful little shrub has gorgeous yellow fragrant pea-like flowers and as I sat listening to the talk the scent kept wafting upwards in a wonderful way.  I also bought Helleborous Harvington Double Yellow Speckled.  I do not have any yellow hellebores and this one is a beauty.  Also purchased was a Poncirus trifolata, a Japanese Bitter Orange, with its inch long spikes it is quite a sight and I am looking forward to its fragrant flowers and orange fruit.
Additionally I had been given a gift not from the sale, Karan, knowing my road to Damascus converstion to begonias had said she had a Begonia Rex cutting I could have.  I was told it had been neglected a bit, in the Wards' world their idea of neglect is apparently not a bad thing for plants.
Yes I am usually decisive, I make my choices and pretty much I know when I am done.  There was one plant my hand had hovered over, but after thinking a bit I had moved on.  

Anyway, the talk continued, the plants were discussed and then Colin picked up the plant I have wibbled over and suddenly I decided I wanted it after all.  Suddenly I knew I had to have that plant - that specific one.  Colin is waving the plant about, talking about it and as he handed it back to Karan I made eye contact with Karan and mouthed 'I want that plant', Karan nodded and it was duly moved to the sold end of the table.  Happily I relaxed again to listen to the end of the talk.  What was this plant of wonder?  Clianthus puniceus, the lobster claw plant, it is now installed in the conservatory until the weather improves.
Colin had bought with him one of his rare plants that was not for sale, the Asarum maximum 'Silver Panda', apparently the flowers look like little pandas.  I like to think that they hang like little baubles, fully formed silver pandas, however this is sadly not the case.  Can't have everything I suppose.

The talk finished and then the locusts descended on the plant sale again.   I was good, I paid for my Lobster Claw plant but did not revisit and buy anything else, but the shelves were clearing in front of my eyes.  It was a pleasure to see, I am a great fan of Colin and Karan's nursery and seeing people enjoying buying their plants as much as I do was good.

So, that was my afternoon, I had an entertaining and informative time, I bought some amazing plants that then led to a busy couple of hours potting and repotting plants in the conservatory and a general move around.  The hardier plants are in the greenhouse waiting to go out but as it was due to snow and go down to -3 this week I decided even the hardiest of them would be better off waiting until the temperatures were a little kinder.

and I think I'm going to join Plant Heritage too, it is a worthy cause and one I can happily support.


  1. It was an inspiring talk. Thanks for introducing me to Karen and Colin. Really pleased with my first class plants. Have a little list for when we go in April....

  2. Snap, I've just bought a scorpion vetch too, amazing fragrance!


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