Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Grab your Raincoat and head for the Beeches!

What to do on a rainy day!??

Meconopsis paniculata
It was only on my last blog post I mentioned that we have barely had time to undertake any nursery visits recently so it is with irony that I'm writing this post on our recent visit to Beeches Nursery last Monday. We were intending on spending the day mainly gardening on Monday but it was raining non stop, and perhaps we were feeling a little bit lazy too, so we decided on an impromptu visit to this wonderful nursery in Essex.

Neither rare or unusual but I do love the pink flush of this Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata'
Any old excuse to have a day out! I'm sure there were plenty of other things we could have done if we had really wanted to stay at home but we were due for a spring visit anyway so we just opted to grab our raincoats and head for the Beeches!

My blog post about this nursery last year was a visit on a very sunny day, this time it's the opposite of that as it was a very rainy day instead but the treasures to be had there remains the same, if not a bit more than last year.

A dazzling selection and not a weed in sight!
We have been several times but still it never fails to amaze what sort of new surprises we find there every time we visit. And as always the place remains pristine and immaculate.

Beeches is great for rare and unusual trees, shrubs, and climbers. So many to choose from and so many varieties. 

Even they stock these now - Schefflera rhododendrifolia
Magnolia laevifolia
Sophora x molloyi 'Dragon's Gold'
New growth on the Himalayan plant Euonymus lucidus

But for me, the best attraction is their outstanding selection of herbaceous perennials and shade loving woodland plants. The section for these types of plants are right at the top of the nursery and it always gives me a sense of excitement every time I approach this part, thinking and anticipating the rare gems to be had there. On our visit that day we spent an hour and a half browsing on this section alone.

Now this is what we mainly came here for!
Cardiocrinum giganteum
Lobelia tupa
Spot the difference! This group of Alchemillas (Lady's Mantle) was an instant reminder that even with familiar plants that always seem to look the same there are lots of varieties out there...

The colour of the new growth on these Paeonies is fantastic! Almost worth growing them for the early spring colour of the foliage alone.

Pretty and invasive Petasites japonicus var. giganteus 'Nishiki-buki'
Eremurus selection
The nursery has a large selection of Eremurus or more commonly known as Foxtail Lilies. Eremurus are one of those cross over plants that look good in different styles of garden as long as you provide their cultural requirements of full sun and a well drained site, preferably on a nutrient poor soil too. Although admittedly I tend to see this plant more in cottage style gardens or courtyard gardens of heritage properties rather than more contemporary ones. With their preference for full sun and drainage, as well as having an attractive foliage and habit I think they would also associate well with alpine and xerophytic plants in rockeries and gravel beds. Their flowers are certainly lovely but like other plants I'm drawn to them mainly for their foliage and I'm intending on planting a few in our raised bed, should look good with the green slate mulch!

So what did we bring home in the end? Here's some of them:

After a few hours browsing we came back with a relatively small but well chosen haul. Some of them we have already (for you can't just have a few of a good thing, you have to have several!) but most were new ones for this year like the Eremurus, Jeffersonia, and Iris.

Glaucous leaves and sun loving, this lot are destined to go in our first raised bed with slate mulch.
Are they butterflies or a plant? The delicate foliage of Jeffersonia diphylla. This shade loving perennial appears in the spring and goes dormant again by summer.
Inspired by our recent acquisitions we still managed to do  some gardening when we arrived home even if it was still drizzling. Spending time away from the garden sometimes gives you even more urge to do a bit more given the chance despite less than favourable conditions.

Nevermind, I'm actually glad of the rain and would actually prefer if it carries on being rainy here for a few more days. The garden needs it and there is something endearing about April showers.

Mark :-)


  1. Mark, oh my goodness, what a great nursery. Looking at your photos makes me green with envy. It is awesome to have a place like this close by with so many plants to choose from. Again, you came home with a lovely selection of plants. Can't wait to see how they will look in your garden! By the way, I will put your blog on my blog list so that I can see your new posts immediately :-)! It is always such a pleasure to read them!

  2. Another fantastic nursery! I think gardeners in the UK are more discriminating than here. In the U.S. the majority of homeowners are happy to shop at the big box garden centers instead of seeking out specialty nurseries with their far more interesting offerings.

    By the way, I still have yet to spot a hardy scheffleria in a Northern California nursery...

  3. aloha,

    what a great nursery, would love that pink yucca! its funny schefflerias in hawaii and weed trees and we just cut them down or they take over :)

  4. Bravo on the Jeffersonia! It's one of my favorite woodland plants.

  5. Amazing nursery. It makes me feel better to know that someone else is spending money! I was at Architectural Plants today - with a shopping list. Came home with two things that were on the list, and three things that weren't. How did that happen?

  6. This nursery looks wonderful, and I can't think of a better thing to do with a wet day. I think it says a lot about a nursery when the pots are weed-free, I've stopped visiting some garden centres where the weeds are having a better time than the plants!

    But you do need to get your priorities straight - you omit to mention the catering facilities at Beeches, which surely is just as important as the plants! Were there scones to be had, and proper coffee? Essential prerequisites for me I'm afraid...

  7. That nursery looks fantastic. Isn't it hard to choose though when there are so many plants? I would have a difficult time restraining myself.

  8. You're right- April showers are the best! What a great selection of plants. It had to have been hard to make your selections. There's nothing like new plants to revive the excitement of gardening - even in the rain!

  9. How come you guys get all the fun stuff!!? Naturally i'm speaking of the schefflera jealous!

  10. Nice haul! I really like Eremurus too and use it as a good bridging plant as it comes up fills a gap and then dies back as the other more late summer things begin to do their thang..

  11. Boys, boys, boys - your garden is finite! How many more plants can you buy? I'm guessing lots. Dave

  12. Thanks for choice words Christina! This nursery is not that close to us, over an hour's drive but is so worth it for the treasures they have. I have added your blog on our blog roll too.

    Hi Gerhard, it is a fabulous nursery indeed! The owner and his son are very enthusiastic plants people and it reflects on the amount of gems they have, not to mention the overall neatness of the place and health of their stocks. UK is such a gardening nation too, and with so many plant enthusiasts there is a market for more unusual plants and a need to satisfy the demand.

    Aloha Noel! Hardier Scheffleras are still relatively new here. Maybe in time they will become weeds here too :)

    Tom, I saw several more Jeffersonias at the London Plant Fair the other day but didn't have the room to hand carry them home, so had to leave them behind. I'll have the chance again but it will have to be next year now as they'll go dormant soon.

    Victoria, one other good thing about this nursery are their very reasonable prices, you get so much more bang for your buck in this nursery. And that's the way it is with plant shopping most of the time, despite ones best intentions of only getting a few you always end up buying more. But there are so many lovely plants out there so why not :)

    Martin, it was a fabulous activity on a rainy day, time well spent! Their tea room was closed but I think they open it in the summer. It looks promising but I have yet to have nibbles and tea there.

  13. Bom, the key is to make sure you are well fed and well watered before you browse the plants. Puts you in a better mood to shop and you're able to choose better too, and makes you feel more relaxed with the process. Saying that I always still miss one or two plants despite my best intentions. More good reasons to go back in the future!

    Holley, you're so right, acquiring new plants is such a reviving activity and puts you in a better mood to garden when you get home :)

    Loree, it's all those passionate plant lovers here that like to prop and sell new and unusual plants all the time :) I won't be surprised if those Rhododendrifolias will make its way there very soon. They're spreading like wildfire here now, so should get there very soon.

    Clive, I wouldn't mind a few more eremurus on the raised beds and it other parts of the garden it makes a good bridging plant indeed.

    David, it's all about creative planting ;) and yes there's always room for more!

  14. Hi Guys, Thank you for visiting my writing blog. From this post I can see that we're kindred spirits. I love your haul but wonder why you didn't nab that Schefflera. Perhaps you already have it. Or maybe, like me, your garden is so crammed full of plants there's no room. Anyway, great post.

  15. Pleased to hear that Grace :)Always nice to know people that are of the same wavelength. We didn't get that schefflera, have several already but I still gravitate towards them whenever I see them.

  16. Wow - what can we say!! Many thanks Mark & Gaz for your splendiferous comments and photos of Beeches Nursery. Good to see you again and to enjoy our shared enthusiasm for the plants you added to your collection yesterday - how many more can you squeeze into your 'jungle' - hopefully lots LOL! Thanks also to the other commentators on your site - please introduce yourselves when you next make it to Ashdon. Alan, Kevin & Philip


Thank you for taking the time to reply to our post, we love reading comments and hearing your views.

Due to the increased level of spam, please note comments on older posts are moderated and only published after approval. All new comments are read and any spam is deleted.