Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cottesbrooke Gardeners' Fair 2012

That time of the year has arrived once again for the wonderful Cottesbrooke Gardeners' Fair which is one of the biggest plant fairs in the country, and up there as one of the best. I was really looking forward to this and was rather quietly excited about going again this year, so much so that the predicted adverse weather conditions on the days of the event were not enough to dampen my spirits about this fair.

For our readers outside the country, most of you are aware by now that we are not having the best of weather recently, and the weather on the day we went (Friday) was no exception. In fact it was typical of what we've been having recently. Bearing this in mind we came prepared for the worst, so out were the aspirations of light cotton clothing for promenading at the fair and in were plastic macs and wellington boots!

Fabulous weather....not!
And boy was I glad we wore wellington boots! Mud, glorious was everywhere! It's not entirely surprising though that this was the case, considering all the rain we've been having and the plant stalls are on the open, grassy grounds. And with the high traffic this fair generates, it was inevitable that mud, lots of it, would turn up.

Seemingly the only patch of green left is the one under the sign!
Mud, mud....
and more mud!
Nevermind, it was all part of the fun and charm of this year's event. Of course I would have preferred if it was sunny and warm, much like last year. If that was the case it would have been a perfect place to have a picnic too, in between plant shopping (which was exactly what we did last year). But to be honest this fair is so good that no rain or mud would be enough to deter any plant lover from attending and browsing at all the nursery stands. 

You can expect a fine selection of nurseries participating at the fair, here's just a few of them...

Mallett Court Nursery
D'Arcy and Everest
There's me browsing away...
Swines Meadow Farm Nursery
Crug Farm Nursery
Coton Manor Garden
Oska Copperfield
Cotswold Garden Flowers
Slacktop Nursery
A little tip though to some of the nurseries participating: if you didn't have one (fortunately most of them did) I think it's almost essential to have a card machine especially in this day and age, despite the additional charges having one incurs. Very few people carry wads of cash with them nowadays, and based on the feedback I heard from other fair attendees, those without the machines are likely to have missed out on big purchases. I agree...

Anyway, the highlight of the event are the beautiful plants of course, and loads of it! I could have spent ages taking lots of plant photos but the constant drizzle made it inconvenient to do so. Not just having rain drops on the lens but also potentially damaging my trusty old snappy snap sort of camera (which is due replacing really, maybe in the winter...) which is the last I'd want to happen. But of course I still managed to take a relative few, here's some of them:

Sempervivums galore! (D'Arcy and Everest)
Not very 'exotic' I know but on a dull day a shot of pink from these Primulas are a welcome sight! (D'Arcy and Everest)
Almost variegated, just about!
Now you're talking!
Alpines galore, gorgeous little beauties! (Slacktop Nursery)
and more! (Slacktop Nursery)
But before I proceed with more plants, here's a little break with some notable accessories at the fair...

Birds... (Olive Grove Nursery)
more birds (and pigs!).
Bespoke, hand made wooden furniture
Metal furniture
and Willow...
And now back to plants...

Bright Heucheras (Swines Meadow)
Even brighter Sambucus racemosa 'Plumosa Aurea'
Oreopanax floribundus (Crug Farm)
Lush and succulent selection (Cotswold Garden Flowers)
Just as an extra note, I was pleasantly surprised at the selection of succulents CGF has bought with them at the fair. They bought in loads of unusual Puyas, Dyckias, and Hechtias, some of which are still unidentified and are just collection numbers. Even more surprised at the amount of people that were actually buying them, thinking that these plants would only appeal to an even more limited market (the photo above is just a fraction of what was originally there earlier in the day). Not for me personally but for those who are heavily into these sort of plants this would have been a treat.

A little tray of xerophytes (Cotswold Garden Flowers)
Impatiens omeiana with much longer leaves than I'm used to seeing (Crug Farm)
Sumptuous! Sphenomeris chinensis (Crug Farm)
Very blue! Eryngium x zabelii 'Jos Eijking'
Begonia sikkimensis (Crug Farm)
Pinellia cordata (Edulis Nursery)
We left the fair by mid afternoon and decided to stop over to a nearby pub for a few drinks just to wind down after hours of treading on mud. Our plant fair haul is a lot more modest than what the photo below looks like, as we were also given several Ricinus by a friend who met us there at the fair...

But look at this big beauty we got from Crug Farm, with my hands underneath the leaves for scale...

Rodgersia sambucifolia
Once we arrived home we unloaded the car of the plants and gave everything else a quick mud inspection, which seems to get everywhere despite being careful. Once we have settled back home I thought wow, what a fantastic day! It was a blast and I can't wait for next year already, rain, mud, or shine!

Mark :-)


  1. That is really a fantastic setup. How nice to be able to have so many choices from so many different nurseries. You're right about accepting cards. That is a must.

    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. Looks like you had a wonderful time despite the rain and mud. Thanks for your comment on my blog!

  3. You definitely need a bigger car - great range of plants.

  4. Excellent haul!

    I had a similarly wet plant adventure over the weekend, and also felt a little hesitant to pull out the camera. Thanks for risking what you did...looks like a very fun time!

  5. You poor things. Like Glastonbury and just look at the state of their lawn!!! Wouldn't like to have to try and resuscitate that! Looks like you had a fine old time despite our glorious English summer. D

  6. Hi Cher, its great to have so many nurseries in the same place at the same time!

    Hi Angela, we just had to make the most of it, and not worry about the mud. Still had to clean the car the following day though!

    Missy, a bigger car would be handy :)

    Loree, it was a fun time indeed, hopefully next year will be sunny though!

    David, Glasto for plants :) The fine June weather didnt dampen our spirits!

  7. Guys, I am green with envy that you have plant fairs like this one in England! Simply amazing, rain or shine! Looks like you brought the Jack Pot home with Rodgersia sambucifolia. What a leave!

  8. Christina, The Rodgersia is lovely. Whilst we had our plants ready for puchase a couple of other people tried to take that one!

  9. All that mud! Still gardeners have to do what gardeners have to do! What did you buy?

  10. hhe selection of plants is incredible! I wish we had something like that here. The closest we come are plant sales at garden shows but the selection is much smaller than what you showed in your photos.

  11. Hi Faye, we bought several woodland plants to fill in gaps in the jungle area and a Schefflera.

    Gerhard, Cottesbrook does have a reputation as one of the best garden shows we have, its on a very large scale compared to many of the plant shows we go to.

  12. One day I will get to Cottesbrook - sadly its a little bit far away from where I live. It looks like you picked up some great plants and I found all your images of what was available really interesting - I think it would be hard to practice restraint!


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