Friday, April 13, 2012

An Afternoon Af-Fair

Last Tuesday I had the chance to pop round to the RHS Great London Plant Fair which was being held at the Horticultural Halls in Central London. It was a two day event and fortunately it was open up until 7PM on the first day so I had the chance to go after work. And as if I haven't been visiting plant fairs and nurseries recently, it was time again to check out another plant fair for yet more plant goodies.

My excuse though is that the fair was open till early evening and with it being roughly in the same area where I work I might as well pop round for a quick visit. Even though I didn't have anything in mind to buy it was nice to check out what the stalls had to offer as well as view the displays for this year.

It was an enjoyable visit and a relaxing activity to do after work. Much to my delight it was relatively quiet when I arrived, no hustle and bustle and no elbowing for those few precious plants so I was able to browse through the stalls at a more relaxed pace. It was quite late in the afternoon when I arrived and from what I heard it was manic in the morning where everyone was looking out for the rarer plants on offer often in limited quantities. Perhaps I may have missed out on those rarer plants but it didn't really matter to me, just happy enough that it was quiet and relaxed when I was there.

Trewidden Nursery stand
Leucadendron 'Inca Gold' - one went home with me!
Richard and Sheena Drane's stand
Echeveria x gilva 'Red'
Hardy's Nursery stand
Fibrex Nursery stand
Hedera 'Margino Maculata' - love or loathe? I go for the former!
A fantastic Bromeliad display, probably my favourite of the lot!
Plantagogo stand

Some fantastic Hostas were on display such as these that caught my attention:

Hosta 'White Feather'
Hosta 'Hadspen Samphire' - yep, the spelling is correct!
Hosta 'A Touch of Class' - this hosta rightfully deserves its name

It is spring after all. What would a plant fair be at this time of the year without spring flowering bulbs like these:

Fritillaria imperialis - love 'em!
Jacques Amand stand
Fritillaria meleagris 

And a myriad of other plants and flowers:

Streptocarpus 'Bethan'

Vriesea gigantea 'Nova'
Asarum maximum

One other thing about this event is that apart from the plant stalls and displays by each attending nursery there was also a concurrent plant competition being held, of various spring flowers and other plants, formally displayed then judged with awards given accordingly.

It seems strange to see plants and flowers displayed this way but that's the way it is with plant competitions and fairs. These are the standard ways of displaying them, depending on a particular type of bloom or plant, and it is with this uniformity that makes it easier for the judges to view and assess them objectively and make decisions from there.

Alpine Garden Society

After a good couple of hours browsing through I went home with just four plants; Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset', Leucadendron 'Inca Gold', and the two below: 

Syringa pinnatifolia - a Chinese lilac and is the only one with pinnate leaves
Buddleja glomerata 'Silver Service' - a South African shrub with attractive crinkled and silver coloured leaves

I had to restrain myself and be extra selective on what to buy as I had to hand carry them back home with me via several train journeys and on rush hour too. It was a small, select haul but I was very pleased with them and a nice cap on this brief afternoon af-Fair.

Mark :-)


  1. I loved the bromeliad display and especially that Vriesea - it looked like its leaves were drawn in pen and ink. And the gorgeous huge asarum - I didn't see that! I was too busy buying succulents...
    I loved the hosta display - it was nice to see them being partnered in a more unusual way. The lime-green 'Hadspen Samphire' looks wonderful with those primulas (Wanda?) and the 'White Feather' picks up the colour of the auriculas beautifully.
    It was a great show for buying stuff - will definitely put it in the diary for next year.

  2. No hustle and bustle at a plant fair? Unheard of! You were lucky.

    I like the variegated ivy, too. As you know, I'm an unabashed fan of variegated plants. Great hostas. I can only dream of growing such beauties here.

    And did I spot black mondo grass in that mixed succulent bowl? I must say that's quite inspired since mondo grass does look a bit succulent. I'll be sure to copy that idea.

  3. Oh my, what a great plant fair you got to visit! I don't think we have anything even close to that here in San Diego! The hosta 'White Feather' and the amazing variety in daffodils just blows my mind away! You definitely came home with two special treasures, again. Congratulation to your finds!

  4. Looks brilliant (and such restrained shopping!). Do you need to ask permission to take photos or are the exhibitors only to happy to have the attention? The daff competition photos are amazing - they're so perfect, they almost look fake. Dave

  5. Victoria, The bromeliad display was lovely, I sometimes wish we had a dedicated greenhouse for a permanent display. What goodies did you take home with you?

    Gerhard, I think the busy time had been in the morning, rather than after work, I was quite lucky to be able to look round when it was more relaxed. The mondo grass works well in a variety of displays.

    Christina, The white feather is lovely, although I would worry about how it would do in the garden, I assume it would need quite a shady spot to avoid it burning.

    David, it was very restrained! :) No need to ask for permission, I think most of the exhibitors are glad to get the attention. One of the stall holders recognised me... fame at last :) The daffodils looked plastic displayed like that, as you say, too perfect.

  6. You are so lucky living so close to all these places. The daffodils are amazing as you say 'too perfect' but quite amazing to see.
    Bromeliards are amazing, since I saw them at 'Will Giles' I have been a big fan and am slowly increasing my stock.
    Totally 'LOVE' Hedera 'Margino Maculata, I would be tempted to buy one but it appears it isn't 'hardy in the severest frosts' so will have to think about that one.
    The Hosta's are my new 'thing' if I can keep them from being eaten alive I shall definately increase these.

  7. Terrific pictures taken at the garden fair. Those Daffs are fairly standing to attention. I am sure to be on the lookout for the Hosta 'A Touch of Class.

  8. I couldn't go there. That had some really impressive plants and way too much that I would want to bring home. Love the Inca Gold you took home. That will look beautiful in your gardens.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  9. Looks like a fun place to visit and also take home some wonderful plant additions. I am glad you found some treasure to take home.

  10. This looks like a lot of fun and your photos are beautiful!

  11. Oh I feel like I've visited here with you as your pictures tell a great story all on their own. I love that Bromeliad display though I can remember attending the horty show at Essen in Germany a few years ago and they had their display suspended from the ceiling. I don't think I could have gone home without at least one heuchera - at least most of them are pretty hardy up here in Perthshire.

    First visit today - good to connect with you.

  12. Hi Libby, I much prefer to see daffodils in a garden, rather than in a show. We have also got into Hostas a lot over the last few years, there are some amazing varieties.

    Alistair, that hosta is now on our list too!

    Cher, I had to be careful not to try to take too many plants home on the train!

    Linda, thanks for visiting, the RHS have a number of shows during the year, the next big one is the Chelsea Flower Show.

    GardenEnvy, thanks glad you liked the photos.

    Rosie, the Bromeliad display is fantastic, just such a shame they need such warm temperatures. Glad you stopped by and enjoyed the visit!

  13. It looks like a fabulous event! Even better that you were there when it was less crowded. I went to Birmingham Botanical Garden's plant sale here a couple days ago. It was hard to appreciate the thousands of plants. The people may have outnumbered the plants!

  14. Hi Debs, the plant stall holders must have loved the big turn out. There something special about the buzz of being in a plant with loads of goodies :)

  15. I agree, the bromeliad stand is stunning. I also love the Plantagogo stand, as I'm a Heuchera fan.

  16. What a great plant fair! Your photos really show'd us what was happening! And I too loved the bromeliad display! Awesome stuff!

  17. Martin and Candy, glad you like the photos, the bromeliad display really was something special!


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