Tuesday 13 May 2014

A little retail therapy

It was time for my annual trip to Norfolk to visit Keith and Melissa and their wonderful garden and to do a bit of plant shopping.  This is always one of the highlights of the year, a lovely garden to look around and visiting a few cactus and independent nurseries. This year more than ever I needed some plant therapy to get to my mind off not being able to get in the garden.

I'll come back to Melissa's garden in another post. Over the weekend we visited the largest cactus mart of the year, Hyde Hall (one of the RHS gardens) and a couple of local nurseries. First up was the cactus mart and most people agreed that the setting was far from ideal. Everyone tends to tun up ready for opening, the hall wasn't large and so it was a bit of a scrum as everyone tried to get the choice pants.

It was much more enjoyable once the rush had died down and there was space to take you time and enjoy each stand.  Many of the sellers had brought multiples of plants, so kept re-filling the empty spaces, and it was worth returning to each stand to see what had been placed out since your last look.

I was quite restrained and didn't buy everything I liked the look of.  Most of plants were small so it was easy to transport them home. Having said "no more white echeverias", I did cave and bought two.  I can never resist when I see them, despite knowing that they are a pain to keep in top condition and need to be inside to keep their colour.

Ask if you want photos of individual plants.

Next up was a trip to Hyde Hall.  It was the wrong day to visit this garden; it is very open and on a windy day was a little blustery.  Most of the garden was not my style, there were a few areas I liked.

In one section a group of flower spikes caught my eye. On close inspection I found they were eremurus robustus, having seen the size of the leaves on mine, I had wondered if the flowers would be a dramatic. They do not disappoint.

The real area of interest was the gravel garden

I haven't visited many RHS gardens, but they seem to have good nurseries.  For some reason their alpine sections have always been well stocked with some choice plants.

It is always good to find a large number of named sempervivum varieties and added a few to my collection, so I will have to revive sempervivum sundays.

That was it for the Saturday, then on Sunday it was time for the local nurseries.  Having visited the local chain, it was off to Urban Jungle . This is one of my favourite nurseries and it gets better every year.  They started, as the name suggests, with a the majority of plants being aimed at exotic garden styles.  With the bad winters they have evolved and now the exotics are mixed in with choice plants from other styles of gardening.

One of the highlights of visiting is seeing the plants in beds, it is a great way to show how good plants are, or how they may be used in the garden, they also have two great green walls.  This is the original one and it continues to do well. The new indoor one is planted with broms

The main greenhouse is lovely to walk around,

You can stop and look at the koi

And if you want to relax you can get a drink and collapse in one of the seating areas.

Liz who runs it, seems good a picking up on trends in both plants and was of gardening. It was great to see a good selection of pines, both dwarf and larger forms.  I will never understand the resistance to these plants, I guess it's fall out from the laylandii hedges that were so popular in the UK until their true size became obvious.  I think they are perfect in gravel beds planted among succulents and the new garden gives me an ideal opportunity to include some.

Then there are the trends in planting, Kokedama seems to increasingly popular.  Liz has them scattered throughout the nursery

Anyone in the UK interested finding out more about Kokedama, UJ are are holding a demonstration on the 1st of June, details can be found here. There is also an edible jungle, but at this time of year it is just being planted and so not worth photographing.

Obviously the true test of a good nursery is if you leave with any purchases,  which I always do.  This time was slightly different as with a whole garden to fill, it was not the usual spikie plants I was after.

The cinodendron hookerianum (chinese lantern tree) was a suggestion for the shade garden.  I have been looking for plants to espalier and someone suggested it may be something different to try.  I also picked up a couple of different arisaemas, again it was great to see several varieties available.

Here is everything, sorry for the elongated line up, my neighbours little girl loves to come over and help when I am in the garden and she decided the plants had to be lined up to display them.

All said, a very successful weekend of shopping, with something for my obsession and a few things ready for when I can get planting in the garden.


  1. What a lovely weekend! I enjoyed seeing more of the Urban Jungle and good for you inspiring the neighbors child and letting her arrange your plants!

    1. I took inspiration from your nursery visits and write ups. And next doors child is going to hate it when the fences go back up and she can't see when I am outside and just wonder over. She has asked if I can put a gate in that she can use.

  2. I have that Crinodendron. It should do well in your climate. In mine, not so good. Now, off to look up Kokedama!

    1. I am sure you could have great fun with kokedama Loree.