Monday, April 09, 2012

Pretty Plants and Bob Brown

Yucca rostrata is on the 'list'
For the last few weeks I've been itching to go plant shopping in a specialist nursery but alas I have had to restrain myself as life in general has been busy and tidying up the garden has taken priority above everything else. After all getting cleared up first puts you in a better mood to think about the growing season ahead and in an even better mood to go plant shopping.

We have been to Crews Hill several times in those past few weeks but I regard it more as a place to acquire bigger items as opposed to smaller, more obscure ones you can find in specialist nurseries. And speaking of Crews Hill, the weekend before last we met up with fellow garden bloggers Victoria, Julia and Paul, and Rob for a spot of shopping in the area as well as some needed pub lunch. The fab Victoria has just written a blog post about it and you can read it here.

But back to the itch to visit a nursery I had a little reprieve last Saturday when we met the lovely Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers (CGF) at our local Hardy Plant Society meeting, and we were able to buy some of the plant treasures he had brought with him. We also heard his talk about his favourite plants from a 'Plantsman's Perspective' (i.e. devoid of emotions, objectively selected based on performance and garden worthiness, etc.) and it was interesting to know what his criterias were and how many on his list we have got in our garden already. And more importantly how many we don't have yet and might be worth acquiring for our garden. I always welcome ideas and suggestions from various sources, and most especially from esteemed plants people like him as you get a good insight of great performing plants or simply get to know ones you haven't heard of before.

Say cheese!!!
As for the ones in his list that we have already in the garden; Beschorneria septentrionalis, Trochodendron aralioidesCobaea pringlei, and Yucca rostrata were there. A lot more weren't of course and of the ones that appealed to us I have jotted down their names to be included in our wishlist so can keep an eye on them on our future nursery visits.

Bob Brown, as mentioned above did bring lots of plants with him grown at his nursery and not just the ones on his favourites list, loads of other plant treasures too that caught our eye and made their way back home with us, here's just a few:

Saxifraga nipponica 'Pink Pagoda'
A pretty shade loving, woodland plant. I'm not that fussed with the flowers but rather attracted to its foliage.

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex 'Plena'
Ok, we have a few of this plant already but I thought it would look nice introduced somewhere else. Upon picking it up I was immediately told it doesn't travel well as the petals of the flower are delicate and falls off at the slightest touch. Again, pretty the flowers may be I grow it mainly for its foliage.

Primula auricula 'Matthew Yates'
I found this primula very attractive with its dark purple, almost black flowers and rounded grey-green leaves that would look great with green slate mulch. A plant for one of our new raised beds!

Helianthus salicifolius
This is a fantastic foliage plant with fine, filigree like leaves that grows really tall and sways as it catches the wind, lovely! Not much to look at now but as the season progress the growth rate should accelerate too. This plant is included in Bob Brown's list.

Saruma henryi
One of my favourite woodland plants that grows reasonably large leaves later in the season. Again a plant that we have already that I thought would be nice introduced somewhere else in the garden.

CGF is definitely up there as one of our favourite nurseries and we have visited several times before through the years, and more likely visit again several times this year. So it was a pleasure to meet the plants man responsible for this wonderful nursery and discuss a few plants that we both grow in our gardens (and some of them were originally bought in his nursery!). It was not a substitute for a visit to his nursery of course, rather it has whetted my appetite and I'm even more raring to visit again very soon!

Mark :-)


  1. You got some lovely new plants. You'll have to do photos where they're planted out now. A pretty bloom here and there is not going to take away from your beautiful exotic garden. :)
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. Hi Cher, we will take a few pictures as they get planted. We are not always as good as we should be at documenting when we plant things out!

  3. Hi - I love Saxifragas their leaves are great, I don't understand why more people don't grow them as I think they are more attractive than Heuchera.
    Bob Brown's place is just 20 mins from me - I must visit this year.

    Glad you had a nice shopping trip

  4. So much awesomeness... :)

    That primula is to die for! I have been planting a red-and-orange border at my parents' place in Michigan and I am going to have to go look for one of those for that ongoing project. That Saruma henryi is lovely as well. Do you by any chance know what its range is hardiness-wise?

  5. Great post - I love the saruma and I'm going to go and look it up right now. I'd love to visit CGF. But the only time I've been over there is when I've been at the Malvern Show, and then of course CGF are at the show too!
    I so enjoyed meeting you guys at Crews Hill. We must do another outing.

  6. Brilliant 'cheese' photo, Mark. You look as pleased as punch - which you obviously were. And a pub lunch to boot, sounds like a perfect day. Dave

  7. Excellent loot, Mark! Plus it is always wonderful to meet people in the plant world.

  8. Hi Helen, I agree, and there are such varied forms, Saxifrage can be used in so many different styles of gardens.

    CG - As soon as we saw that primula we just knew we had to have it, the colour is stunning.

    Victoria, the Saruma is another interesting plant,will send you an email about another trip!

    David - it was good to meet Bob and chat with him about the plants directly. Always good to pick up a few tips on the plants you are buying.

    Bom - glad you liked the plants, and yes its always nice to meet more plant people!

  9. It's always enlightening to listen to people who really know their plants, isn't it. The name caught my attention. Bob Brown (in Australia) is my favourite politician. Your Bob Brown so looks charming and friendly. No wonder his nursery is one of your favourites. say nothing of the plants....

  10. I was going to say the same as Missy...Our Bob Brown is the leader of the GREEN party in Federal Parliament.

  11. Hi Missy, Hazel, that's interesting to hear, and how appropriate too, Green Party! :)

  12. ...oh and I forgot to say...he's out and proud!

  13. Mark, you and Gaz certainly have acquired some lovely and unusual plants! I really admire that you search for the more rare beauties and it must be so much fun, as well. Except for roses I am a totally "mainstream gardener" up when is comes to selecting plants up to now, but you inspired me to look for plants that not everyone has in her/his garden!

  14. Lots of great plants there, and you definitely need a Yucca rostrata -- such a beauty! I met Victoria in Seattle last summer at the Garden Bloggers Fling. How fun that you all get to visit together on a regular basis.

  15. Glad to have inspired you Christina :) We do enjoy going through nurseries and spotting those unusual beauties, even better if they go home with us.

    Hi Pam, glad to see you here! We try and get together but not as often as we would all like, life gets so busy most of the time. But when we do its good fun!


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