An April Plant Fair

You know that moment when you realise you have been visiting somewhere for over five years and had not really thought it was that long?  I think it goes hand in hand with thinking that police officers are getting younger and not being sure if your doctor is really old enough.

So, five years on from the first plant fair I visited at Swines Meadow Farm Nursery owned by my good friends Colin and Karan.  The first time I visited their April plant fair it rained, hailed and blew a freezing gale.  Today started with frost, it is clearly a cold weekend generally.  I have bought many plants from Colin and Karan, direct from their nursery, at plant fairs elsewhere and from talks that they have given. I buy from them because their plants are good and reliable, they are well priced and, probably most important of all, they are nice people.  Also, let us not forget, that it was through them that I got Bruce, my beautiful big ginger cat.
So, what did I buy today:
A Ribes odoratum, I had been wanting one of these for a while so as soon as I saw it I grabbed at it.  The bees were loving it and it is now lighting up a sunny spot at the top of the garden.
A Mukgenia Terra Nova Flame.  I have to say I had not heard of this plant but I really liked the shape of the foliage and the flowers are good.
You may notice the ghost-paw of Esme at the top of the picture, heaven forbid I should photograph something other than her!  The plant is a hybrid a bergenia and a Mukdenia 'Crimson Fan',  it is now planted in the Spring border and I am now a bit of a fan.
This is a Woodwardia fimbriata.  I have been buying a few ferns recently as I have been developing a fernery.  No you have not been told about this before, but I shall probably include it in my End of Month Review depending on how it is coming along.
This is a Fatsia japonica 'Spiders Web'.  I do not like this plant very much generally.  Hold on a second you say, why buy a plant you do not like?  Well, as ever, context is everything.  I saw one of these last year at Great Dixter in their exotic garden and it looked fandabbydozy.  Anyone would think that they knew a thing or two about planting!  I can only dream about getting anywhere a fraction as good as what they achieve.
I also chose carefully which one I wanted.  This one is not too webby and I like it better than most of its type.  I do actually like it - honest!  (protesting a little too much now maybe....)  Anyhoo, it is now planted in the Tree Lupin border, shortly to become the Exotic Border.
Lastly and definitely not leastly, the Stauntonia hexaphylla.  The scent of this plant was filling the greenhouse in the nursery.
It has superb foliage,
and some of the most amazingly scented flowers you will ever come across.  I don't think it is totally hardy so it has been moved to a larger pot and placed in the Courtyard.  This is the perfect setting for it as the smallness of  the space traps the scent.  One thing I must say is that the scent really is powerful. Possibly a bit too powerful for driving home with on a warmish Spring day.  I did have to open the car window after a while.  As soon as I got it home and placed it in the Courtyard the bees found it.  I take this as a good sign.

So, a fine haul and a chance to catch up with good friends.  A fine way to spend a day.


  1. A fine way to spend your cash as well!

    1. Absolutely - there will hopefully be years of pleasure from them.

  2. Hello, your Stauntonia hexaphylla looks very interesting, I love scented plants and I am building up a Japanese themed flowerbed. I am a bit worried about final height of 10m though….I have not really got space for monster plants in my garden and this one apparently flower on last year’s wood. Might have to think about this one, but it’s a really interesting one – thanks for the introduction!
    Have you seen this article?

    1. Hi Helene - thanks for the comment and the link, I don't remember reading that article and it is really interesting. Mine is in a pot so I think that will restrict it a bit. I wasn't sure how hardy it would be so I am taking it a bit gentle with it at the moment.

  3. You had a nice shopping trip. Like your selection. JC

  4. You bought a wonderful selection of plants, the Mukgenia Terra Nova Flame is also unknown to me. Always interesting to find new plants.

    1. Thanks- glad it's not just me who's never heard of it - it is a great plant

  5. Just discovered this at the bottom of my to-read pile! Colin had a few similar plants at

    The Mukgenia, the Fatsia "Spider's Web": and a different Ribes (speciosum) were all there. I dithered over the last one and someone else beat me to it!

    I know what you mean about Fatsia: they're usually very "generic" (people dislike Mahonia for the same reason that you see them everywhere, always the same: although I have a soft spot for them in bulk like a prehistoric forest.) But "Spider's Web" seems to have odder leaf shape as well as variation, like big, distended jigsaw pieces. Maybe I could do with one too...!


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