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I never knew that... I never cease to be amazed at the sheer breadth and depth of knowledge and experience at a Plant Hunters’ Fair. It isn’t just our hand-picked nurseryfolk but also the enthusiastic customers. Last year I learnt about planting alpine bulbs, variegated Eupatoriums, how to stop vine weevil getting into large tubs and troughs and so much more at our fairs. People must have got bored of me saying “I never knew that”. It’s an old adage gardeners only stop learning when they stop gardening and there’s not many gardeners who stop; even when the body ceases to be willing the mind is still planning and anticipating the changing seasons.

The theme of this spring’s newsletter is sharing knowledge and experience and as always our nursery mem and women have come up trumps with a wealth of interesting articles with something for every gardener to enjoy. In 2014 a couple of our nurseries had the privilege of sharing their knowledge and gardens with a national TV audience on Gardener’s World. You can read about some of their experiences in this issue. We also welcome new nurseries and artisans to our line-ups for 2015 including Studio 8 Pottery who hopefully will be putting on some demonstrations of clay pot throwing at some of our fairs this year. Dr. Steve Reynolds will also be back with his “What’s Up Doc” plant clinic at Arley Arboretum in July. We have six new venues this year— Carsington Water in Derbyshire, Donington Le Heath Manor House in Leicestershire, Middleton Hall in Staffordshire, Arley Arboretum in Worcestershire, Abbeywood Gardens in Cheshire and British Ironwork Centre in Shropshire —all very different and great days out. We are also returning to Arley Arboretum in Worcestershire after an absence of five years—it’s great to be going back there. We hope to see lots of you there this year. Best wishes

Martin Medieval lore from the herb garden at Donington le Heath Manor House We really enjoyed our visit to the medieval manor at Donington le Heath to arrange our new plant hunters’ fair and w e w ere much taken with the herb garden and the plant labels explaining the historic use of the herb. We have reproduced some throughout this newsletter. As the saying goes: “don’t try this at home….”


ugle (Ajuga reptans) “Drinking results in strange fancies, strange sights in the night or voices”

Medieval lore from the herb garden at Donington Le Heath Manor

New Faces: Paviour & Davies Mark and Susan introduce us to their exciting new nursery

Our aim is to re-acquaint the gardening public with an expanding range of delightful plants. The geographic spread of plants such as the podocarps, eucryphias, aristotelias from South America in to Australasia offers an exciting expansion of this theme.

Paviour & Davies Plants

Phone: 01568 770005 Mobile: 07966 580812 email:

Tunnel of reassures at Paviour & Davies Nursery

Office: The Dame School Castle Street Wigmore Herefordshire HR6 9UA

Scopolia stramonifolia

We also have a developing a range of less often offered plants of more global distribution; those that we hope to be of interest for supply to horticultural/ landscape design work, or are just interesting or quirky for example Scopolia stramonifolia, (known as Nepalese yak fodder).

Jovellana violacea

Given appropriate soil conditions and consideration to siting here are plants that offer the opportunity to try something a little different. Alternatively, many are suitable for terrace or conservatory. So, things to look out for over the coming year include Azara patagonica, Latua pubiflora, and Lobelia bridgesii from Chile, Myrteola nummularia from Patagonia and the Falkland Islands and Callitris rhomboidea from Tasmania.

Drimys winteri

We are a small plant nursery based in North Herefordshire and South American plants particularly those from Chile are the focus of our nursery. Some of the plants we grow will be familiar, while others may not, as they have remained on the fringes of the British horticultural landscape or disappeared from cultivation altogether. Plants introduced in the mid 1800’s by collectors such as William Lobb, George Downton and Richard Pearce were sometimes inappropriately regarded as ‘stove-house’ plants, being considered less hardy than they have latterly indicated to be

This interesting and unusual semi-deciduous, late winter and early spring flowering shrub is a Chilean native and only found scattered in the coastal cordilleras and Chiloé Island.

Latua pubiflora flower detail

Paviour & Davies Plant Profile: Latua pubiflora

First collected by William Lobb on Chiloé in 1848 and successfully introduced a decade later by another of Veitch’s collectors, Richard Pearce from a mainland collection to the north of Lobb’s. It figured in the Botanical Magazine in 1863 and was included in several other publications of the time. In ‘Hortus Veitchii ‘1906 it was included in the chapter of ‘Stove and Greenhouse Plants’ and it was also touted as a possible wall shrub before disappearing from gardens. It is a shrub up to height & spread of 2.5 metres with spiny shoots and light green leaves bearing beautiful magenta flowers typically in February-March (although can be a month either side). Semideciduous, the majority of the leaves at flowering time are small clusters of much reduced size leaving the flowers prominent. Flattened spherical pale-yellow fruits follow. Latua is a member of the Solanaceae family. The name Latua is derived from the Mapuche Indian name Latué -‘causes something to die’, while the Spanish name of Palo mato -‘the tree that kills’ points to its standing in folk lore. It is often referred to as ‘The sorcerer’s tree’ in modern literature. Thus, careful siting and handling should be considered, as for other commonly grown ‘toxic’ garden plants such as yew, monkshood or laburnum.

In Herefordshire, it has shown itself to be hardy to at least -8°C as a wall shrub and as equally hardy as a free-growing plant in a sheltered position with good sun and protection from cold winds. It grows best in a rich, moist, free-draining soil, and is quite a heavy feeder. A deep layer of mulch applied in autumn will help protect the base of the stems and roots, and should it be damaged by cold will re-shoot from the base.

Mark and Susan will be at our fairs at Bodenham Arboretum this year Garden Safari with SpecialPerennials: Rhinoceros Ever seen a rhinoceros in your garden? Probably not. Well Janet found this one hiding under a pot in our garden last summer. It’s a rhinoceros beetle (Sinodenron cylindricum) . It is a flying beetle mainly active between June and autumn with the larvae living in dead wood, often stumps. This is a male—the female lacks the “horn”. Puzzled by the strange surface its on? - it’s Janet’s rubber glove!

Keeping us all even and regular at Hodnet Hall (and more besides!) Ross Underwood gets things moving in the peach house Like many of you I have been watching the comings and goings of the Crawley family in TV's "Downton Abbey". Yet I am left with just one question, 'where are all the gardeners?'. Every large house was supplied with fruit, vegetables and flowers. Hodnet Hall still retains its kitchen garden. Our acre is surrounded by wonderful red brick walls and still does everything that it always has. Vegetables are grown on organic principles which go to supply the house whilst orchids, peonies, sweet peas and chrysanthemums in succession fill the rooms with colour. This past winter we have been concentrating on the fruit grown in the garden. This also finds its way to the kitchen in the 'big house' where much is used for jam making and other preserves. We have removed some unproductive plum trees that had been trained on the walls. These were probably planted 50 years ago and had come to the end of their productive lives. After cutting down the trees a cubic metre of soil was removed and replaced along with copious amounts of manure and compost. Of our new trees one is a green gage, one is of course 'Victoria' and another is 'Marjorie's seedling'. We have also been making strenuous efforts in the peach house. This was originally used for vines but at some point in the past “The traditional method (which we these were removed and replaced with peaches. This must have adopted) is to plant figs in a box that been some time ago as they had grown into venerable specimens. contains the roots” Recently these trees had been suffering from bleeding canker, a bacterial disease, which had encircled the main trunks and killed the plants. They obviously had to be removed but replaced with what? In the end we decided to go with figs. Figs do not need to be grown under glass but they will produce an early crop if given protection. Figs are generally pest and disease free but they are vigorous. Naturally they come from areas of the world where drought, poor soils and aridity are features of the climate. In cultivation those conditions have to be replicated as far as possible otherwise the plant produces growth at the expense of fruit. The traditional method (which we adopted) is to plant figs in a box that contains the roots. We used 3ft x 2ft concrete slabs reclaimed from one (Valeriana officinalis) “An excellent medicine for loosening of the houses on the estate. We made the bowel and for hysteric complaints” three such boxes into which we will put brick rubble Culpepper and loam. This will restrict the roots and concentrate the plants efforts on fruit production. Medieval lore from the herb garden at



Donington Le Heath Manor

In nature figs are pollinated exclusively by a species of wasp which completes its entire life cycle on the plants. However figs do not need a pollinator. The flowering parts are actually contained within the fruit (that is what you eat). 'Brown Turkey' (the variety with an AGM) which we have planted has all female flowers and can produce two crops per year by parthenocarpy or without sexual reproduction. Syrup of figs anyone?

Join us at the 60 acre Hodnet Hall Gardens on Saturday 30th & Sunday 31st May 10am-5pm Entry is just ÂŁ3.50 Guided tours for pre- booked groups of 20+ Hodnet Hall Gardens, Hodnet, Market Drayton, Shropshire TF9 3NN Phone: 01630 685786

Pottertons Plant Profile: Trillium kurabayashii Rob Potterton on a Trillium worth waiting for Trillium kurabayashii is a desirable species of Trillium. Here its seedlings have been lifted out of the soil by recent frosts, after the photograph (1) was taken we covered them over with a mix of bark, gravel and soil. These are 1-2 years old, usually it take 7 to 10 years from the seed sow date to reach flowering size. Rob is at most Plant Hunters’ Fair or buy by mail order from

1, new seedlings 2. growing on 3. Flowering size

Double delight at Dearnford Lake Spring and summer fairs at this Shropshire haven. Our first fair at this lovely Shropshire destination was a great success with plant lovers, nurseries and the venue so we’ve decided to run two fairs there this year.

We kick off our plant fair season at Dearnford on Sun 22nd March and then return on Sunday 2nd August. We all look forward to the first fair of the season and its great to be first to discover the new plants in the nurseries ranges. Potterton’s alpines should be looking good with plenty of early flower to inspire you.

SpecialPerennials start heleniums in late winter for a flying start in spring

It’s not just spring flowers you’ll find at our early fairs—it’s the ideal time to plant late season plants to give them a good start. Martin from SpecialPerennials, who always have a great selection of late bloomers says “don’t forget that late flowering plants can be planted now as well as in the autumn and the they will get away quickly to give a good show by the summer. People are always amazed that tall herbaceous perennials will grow from a few inches high in March to their full flowering height all in the course of a single season”.

Saxifraga Jan Preisler—one of Potterton’s little gems

The fairs completely free to visitors including easy parking, lakeside walks and access to the restaurant.

We have a brilliant line-up of nurseries to browse as well as vintage garden tools from the ever popular Fair Field Garden Bygones and hand-thrown pots from Studio 8 Pottery. So get ahead of rest and get down to Dearnford in March.

Sunday 22nd March 10am-4pm and Sunday 2nd August 10am-4pm Free entry, free parking. Dearnford Lake, Tilstock Road, Whitchurch, Shropshire SY13 3JQ phone: 01948 258639 email: website: Twitter: @dearnford


ady’s Mantel (Alchemilla vulgaris) “A wound healer. A sprig placed under the bed bringeth sleep”

Medieval lore from the herb garden at Donington Le Heath Manor

For peats sake Susan Norman on the big switch to peat-free at Conquest Plant Nursery In the summer of 2013 the post arrived at the nursery as normal, sometimes an hour earlier; sometimes an hour later but what was different was the glaring headline on the front cover of a large compost supplier newsletter flyer. “The Government deadline for the elimination of peat use by public sector bodies is looming”. This was then illustrated with an image of a clock ticking showing 2015 – not that far away! We had been talking about going peat free on and off over the last few years and had even done some trials some years ago when it was first mooted and The National Trust “The results were amazing, vibrant foliage, decided overnight they weren’t stocking plants grown in good root action in almost the same time as peat. Besides which we like to be a bit conservation and before and really healthy plants”. wildlife friendly. Unfortunately, this early trial had been unsuccessful with plenty of lush growth on top but little root action underneath, a nightmare to water and feed and so we had resorted back to our peat mix compost. So what was different this time? The image on the flyer certainly captured our attention and with us growing a majority of shrubs we needed to allow time for plants to root in time for 2015. Our local supplier had mislaid our compost formula and our compost mix had never been quite the same, besides which the wetter winters were causing saturated pots on our standing beds preventing adequate drainage for plants roots. After attending a trade show and visiting a number of compost supplier exhibits for research it was evident that major advances had been made in the last few years to provide more consistent peat free compost and we made our decision to go peat free starting from last year. We decided to use the company Melcourt and their Sylvamix® Special compost a mixture of composted bark fines and coir, incorporating a slow release feed and a bioinsecticide for vine weevil control. The reason for choosing this compost is that it doesn’t contain green waste which can sometimes result in inconsistent quality of compost and plant growth. After all our cuttings supplier was using the same Sylavamix® compost and we hadn’t noticed any lack of quality.

“shrubs (excluding acid (ericaceous) loving shrubs) into peat free compost and all are showing similar results.”

We started trialling it on herbaceous perennials. The results were amazing, vibrant foliage, good root action in almost the same time as before and really healthy plants. This was also emphasised by the public’s comments and reaction at plant fairs last year. We then moved onto potting herbs which appear to love the free drainage compost and have produced the best herb plants we have ever grown. Towards late summer last year we potted our shrubs (excluding acid (ericaceous) loving shrubs) into peat free compost and all are showing similar results which should be ready in time for our plant fairs this year. Did we make the right decision – we think so? This professional peat free compost has proved to have many advantages besides producing excellent growing results. We have


found it light to use and this means pots are lighter for general handling and to load the van for plant fairs than peat or loam based compost. Weeding has been reduced and there is less moss and liverwort on top of the pots due to the better porosity of the compost making a tidier looking plant. The biggest change has been in re-educating ourselves in how to water plants grown in peat free compost because although the plant may look dry on the top of the pot and the pot itself is generally lighter it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is in need of water. Having that inch of dryness on the top of the pot does help to reduce weed seed, moss and liverwort growth and because of the peat free compost structure it is naturally free draining so will only hold sufficient water to sustain the plant - easily checked by randomly tapping the plant out of the pot. Less water and more often appears to be the way which means you don’t waste water by having it run out of the pots or leeching fertiliser. If the pots do become dry they re-wet easily. For the small nursery it is available in smaller bulk quantities making it ideal, as well as supplying the needs of the larger scale nursery. So why am I telling you about this? You would think we were receiving a commission, which we are not. It’s because we are so impressed with this product we thought “No moss and liverwort”. we would let you into a secret that Melcourt have also launched professional peat free compost called SylvaGrow® specifically for the amateur passionate gardener to use. So if you like the way our plants grow and whatever your reason for changing to peat free compost whether to reduce the environmental impact on peat bogs, grow better plants, provide better plant drainage or like the fact you are using a sustainable product why not enquire at your local compost supplier and you can be growing plants as good as ours. We look forward to hearing your comments at future plant fairs. Anthony and Susan Norman Conquest Plants Nursery Leek Road, Bosley, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK11 0PP Tel: 01260 223793 email:

New Faces: Bridge Farm Plants Derbyshire’s Bridge Farm Plants are our newest perennial specialists Alison Farnsworth runs a small nursery specialising in, well quite a variety of plants, being an incurable plant addict! Alison says “we have a wide selection of rare and unusual plants including: Shade Loving / Tolerant Plants including rarely offered Pulmonarias, Brunneras, Lamiums, Epimediums, selected Hellebores, Asarums, Aconites, Acteaes, and ferns, Variegated Plants, Green flowering plants and shrubs, Large selections of Digitalis, Nepeta, Sedum, Thalictrum, Borderline Hardy / Tender perennials including Salvias, Heliotropes and Scented Geraniums.” “We propagate and grow most of my plants - in fact this all started as a result of our hobby and love of plants!” You can meet Alison and her plant addictions at of the fairs in the east of our region—see our website for details.

Fill those garden gaps at Bodenham Arboretum The free to enter Plant Hunters’ Fair returns to Bodenham Arboretum on Saturday 11th April w ith the brilliant selection of plant nurseries and sundries that local gardeners have come to expect. It’s a great time to give your beds and borders a spring clean and plant something new to fill those gaps. With every type of plant from alpines to acers, clematis to centaurea, geums to grevilleas and most things in between there’s always plenty to tempt even the most experienced gardener, and for the new gardener there’s plenty of free, honest advice to be had from the expert plants people.

This April the fair welcomes back old favourites like SpecialPerennials from Cheshire with their great range of plants for a nature-friendly flower garden including their National Collection of heleniums that so delighted Carol Klein on BBC Gardener’s World last summer. Another TV featured nursery travels all the way from Cornwall: - Roseland House always have lots of lovely climbers including Clematis, Honeysuckle and old roses. New to the fair are Paviour & Davies from Herefordshire who grow many rare and unusual southern hemisphere plants. Lyneal Mill Nursery with wild species plants are another new face. Studio 8 Pottery are first-timers too with their own made hand-thrown pots, planters and kitchenware. RHS medallists include Potterton’s Alpines all the way from Lincolnshire; Packhorse Farm (Acers) from Derbyshire; Hall Farm Nursery from Shropshire and local stars Cotswold Garden Flowers, The Cottage Herbery and Hillview Hardy Plants. In all we have 19 stalls lined up to date. So whether its alpines, trees, shrubs, bee-friendly perennials, plants for shade, climbers, herbs, spring bulbs, pots, garden furniture, variegated and foliage plants you are sure to find something to fill those gaps and creating a blooming brilliant garden this year.

Bodenham Arboretum is situated between the A442 and A449 just north of Kidderminster – use postcode DY11 5TB for SatNav. The fair is open from 11am to 5pm. Entry to the fair and parking is free as is access to the restaurant. The arboretum is open and optional entry is at normal ticket prices.

Bodenham Arboretum Wolverley, Kidderminster, Worcestershire DY11 5SY Phone: 01562 852444 Website:

Saturday 11th April and Saturday 5th September 11am—5pm Free entry, free parking.

Spring superstars Paul Green with spring’s stalwarts and rising stars Brunnera:

macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ is certainly not new or rare. Blue forget-me-not flowers in spring are the bonus; the leaves are the stars for me. We rate this highly and will keep it in the range, as well as adding other good silver marked forms like ‘Looking Glass’ and ‘Sea Heart’. ‘Diane’s Gold’ has gold tinged foliage. They are hardy perennials for moist, shady borders. Cut back everything after flowering and the new leaves are then big and bold.


One of those plants that has seen a great deal of interest recently. Newer varieties we grow include: ‘Pink Poppet’ – a lovely compact one with pretty large pink flowers. An excellent bet for containers or the front of borders. ‘Monet’ – it’s a steady grower, always compact. Pink tinges on the white variegation are much stronger than other cultivars.


“Jacob’s Ladder”. Here are a couple of exceptional cultivars we grow. Neither will seed around, this usually being one of the vices of the genus. Exceptionally hardy and easy, they just need reasonable soil that doesn’t get too dry. They can be cut back after flowering to encourage more flowers. ‘Heaven Scent’ – a fairly new and quite exceptional one. Leaves are purple early in the season, turning greener through the season. The pun in the name tells you it’s scented –not the strongest, but nice.

“For abundance of blooms, I reckon Helleborus ‘Emma’ will take some beating. ”

‘Northern Lights’ – much smaller leaves of paler green colour. Sweetly scented blue flowers are really special.


‘Anna’s Red’ and ‘Molly’s White’ are great newer varieties with mottled leaves as well

as stunning flowers. For abundance of blooms, I reckon Helleborus ‘Emma’ will take some beating. This one has

lovely dark green foliage. Paul & Helen Green 36 Ford House Rd, Newent, Gloucestershire GL18 1LQ tell:01531 820154 / 07890 413036 website: Email:


(Achillea ptarmica) “to treat fatigue, flatulence and toothache” - Culpepper


Medieval lore from the herb garden at Donington Le Heath Manor

Medieval lore from the herb garden at Donington Le Heath Manor


acob's Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum) “for trembling palpitations of the heart and the vapours” - Culpepper

Come on a Shropshire Safari All in a good cause at the British Ironwork Centre Our newest Plant Hunters’ Fair at the British Ironwork Centre near Oswestry in Shropshire promises something new and completely different. The British Ironwork Centre not only boasts a working smithy and a showroom featuring the biggest choice of quality British ironware for both indoors and garden use but also the Shropshire Sculpture Park featuring a safari in ironwork that has to be seen to be believed! The fair will also raise money for a very worthy cause—all the entrance monies will be donated to Hope House Children’s Hospices. Hope House provide specialist nursing care and support to life-limited children, young people and young adults from Shropshire, Cheshire, North and Mid Wales. Your help is vital so that Hope House can provide the care and support that the children, young people and families so desperately need. They must raise over £4 million every year to maintain their services and receive just one month's funding from statutory bodies. So come along and enjoy the safari, smithy and of the plants and help raise funds for this worthy cause.

The British Ironwork Centre Whitehall Aston , Oswestry Shropshire SY11 4JH E-mail: Phone 08006888386 website:

Sunday 17th May 10am-5pm Entry to plant fair £1.00 in aid of Hope House Free parking.

Get carried away at the N.M.A. So many temptations at the National Memorial Arboretum Our three annual plant fairs at this inspiring and constantly developing venue are becoming increasingly popular with plant lovers. And why not? There’s always so much to choose from, entry is free with just a small parking charge, and there is always something new to see at the arboretum which is growing before our eyes. Coming to the arboretum at regular times I get to see a snapshot of the growth and development. The trees along Yeomanry Avenue are now giving us some shelter from the sun and wind and there are always new artworks and memorials to discover and admire.

Our three dates start with Saturday 28th March—slightly earlier than usual followed by our traditional Chelsea Flower Show weekend date of Saturday 23rd May. Our final visit of the season is on Saturday 1st August. The N.M.A. makes an idea stop-off point to break a longer journey and we always get visitors from all over the country at these events.

The plant fair is on Yeomanry Avenue not far from the visitor centre and restaurant. There is good flat access to the fair.

Free entry means the fairs are just as suitable for a quick browse and a cuppa in the restaurant as it is for a whole day’s outing. Whatever your plans you can’t avoid getting carried away with all the wonderful plants! National Memorial Arboretum Croxall Road Alrewas Staffordshire DE13 7AR Tel: 01283 792333 Email:: website:


oapwort (Saponaria officinalis) “Rubbing the plant with water produces a gentle soapy later. Also gives beer a foaming head”

Medieval lore from the herb garden at Donington Le Heath Manor

28th March, 23rd May, 1st August. (these are all Saturdays) 10am-4:30pm Free entry to arboretum and fair. (Pay and display parking)


oodfuff (Galium oderatum) “Dry leaves deter insects. Treateth circulatory disorders”

Medieval lore from the herb garden at Donington Le Heath Manor

Taking stock Jane Allison of Mayfields Plants takes us through her garden in mid winter Spring seems a very long way off when looking out on a windbattered garden in early January. A walk up the borders can be quite dispiriting at first glance, but look harder and all sorts of things have been happening. The big clumps of silvery Lychnis ‘Angel’s Blush’ have doubled in size, with the central plant dying off, and producing a ring of neat seedlings which will provide the new season’s white flowers with their characteristic dab of pink in the middle. A circle of Lunaria ‘Corfu Blue’, which I planted too late last year for it to flower, has put on a lot of new growth, thanks to the mild run up to Christmas. Their dark blue flowers will provide a beautiful ‘skirt’ around the sundial in late June. All the potentillas have died back to form tight rosettes of new leaves which have gamely survived the first hard frosts. ‘Arc-enCiel‘, ’Jean Jabber’, ’Monsieur Rouillard’ and ‘William Rollison’ will provide vibrant reds and yellows in various combinations for the front of the border, vying with the geums which have plenty of new green growth curled secretly beneath the old brown leaves. You can’t beat geums for early season colour, and I have my favourites! Pale yellow ‘Lemon Drops’, ‘Poco’ with its lovely open, deep gold, cupped flowers, and ‘Beech House Apricot’ which was one of the very first geums I bought to start my stock, and has been showing off its pale apricot flowers ever since. Monarda ‘Gardenview Scarlet’, which lies in a rather damp (but not waterlogged) part of the border, has spread out into a a low cushion, and will love the extra moisture. The cardoon (Cynara cardunculous) has developed a strong basal shoot, and I haven’t cut off the seed head yet, as the goldfinches are enjoying the seeds, along with the teasel heads. I have left the small quinces where they have fallen from the Chaenomeles ‘Geisha Girl’, and the blackbirds are steadily demolishing them. This is a great shrub for early colour, with its salmon-pink, neatly cupped petals putting on a very good show up the fence.

“Potentillas will provide vibrant reds and yellows ”.

In the shady border, I do not expect to see the astrantias or corydalis for a while yet, but there are plenty of seedlings from the former, which I was careful to avoid when giving the border its last weeding of the season. Epimedium x warleyense still has plenty of waxy green leaves amongst the brown, and I will be cutting those off next month so that I can see the lovely sunset coloured flowers. The Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ has already sent up some fresh new growth under the contorted hazel (Corylus avellana contorta ‘Red Majesty’), and there is a beautiful display of Arum italica beneath the bare stems of the roses. My favourite geranium Geranium oxonianum ‘Lace Time’ has produced quite a lot of new growth, after being cut back very hard in October, and, as usual, hasn’t been worried by the frosts. Growing beneath three vigorous roses, and a high fence, this will produce its perfectly shaped mounds of fresh green foliage and plenty of white, delicately laced with pink, flowers from spring onwards.

“’Lace Time’ has produced new growth, after being cut back hard”.

I planted lots of foxgloves here in September, and they have produced some strong clumps in readiness for bursting into a glorious display of apricots, whites, lilacs and yellows in June and July. ‘Sugar Plum’, ‘Snow Thimble‘, ‘Pam‘s Choice’, ‘Apricot Delight’ ‘Speckled Spires’ to name just a few of them. Right against the fence is D. ferruginous gigantea, which will shoot up to 5’ like an exclamation mark. This will be one of the most bee-visited parts of my garden. My asters performed well last season, particularly ‘Alma Potsche’, which attracted lots of latearriving Red Admiral butterflies in September. A closer look reveals plenty of strong basal growth. Cont.….

So: not as dispiriting as it first appeared! The one concern, of course, is that the early new growth will be blasted by a series of hard frosts, so we must all cross our fingers. However, I deliberately grow very hardy perennials for sale: no-one wants to invest in a ‘whimp’! I will be at many of the Plant Hunters Fairs’ lovely venues this coming season, and the majority of the above mentioned herbaceous perennials will be available on my tables, together with lots of other ‘goodies’. I have a new talk in preparation, which garden societies can book this year for their 2016 programmes. During this year I will be going on a number of country walks, and will be photographing the flowers of rivers and stream sides, meadows, woodlands, ancient churchyards and rural cottage gardens. A little bit of ‘old England’ in fact! Please have a look at the Talks section on my website. Mayfields', Birch Lane, Stanthorne, Middlewich, Cheshire CW10 9JR Phone 01606 841591

SpecialPerennials Plant Profile: Centaurea orientalis Of all the varieties in our National Collection of Centaurea perhaps the most eye-catching are the yellow-flowered types. Of these Centaurea orientalis is the perhaps the best garden plant. Admittedly she has smaller flowers than C. Macrocephala (Giant Knapweed) but she has more grace and poise, is shorter and, most importantly, has a far longer flowering period. Hailing from southeast Europe she revels in a sunny site and dryish soil. Given reasonable conditions she will flower from June through September and will be hardy through the winter. Her height is about 1ft 6in—2ft by the end of summer. SpecialPerennials are at most of our fairs or you can buy by mail order from

Garden Safari with SpecialPerennials: Hummingbird The first time I spotted a hummingbird hawk moth for a second I was fooled and wondered where this exotic bird had escaped from, Then I realised it was far too small and was in a fact a hawk moth. They are common in garden in early summer and unlike most moths they are active in the daytime. Watch out for them visiting plants with tubular flowers—their long tongues enable them to get to nectar out of the reach of other insects. In our garden they especially like Nepeta and Salvia.

“Digitalis ferruginea gigantea, will shoot up 5’ like an exclamation mark”.

Restoration and renewal at Weston Park Head Gardener Martin Gee on the continual effort for the perfect stately garden Over the last 20 years the gardens at Weston have been going through a programme of restoration by the Weston Park Foundation, the charity that owns and maintains Weston. Work started in the Formal Gardens in 1991 where we re-instated the box hedging and parterre and re-designed the Rose Garden. We then moved onto the Teardrop and Rose Walk which were restored to their original glory. Over the last two years my team and I have been busy creating two new gardens of memory on the estate. Lady Anne and Lady Joan were sisters to the 6th Earl and while Lady Anne lived to the grand age of 94, her sisters life was tragically cut short at the age of 19 in 1931 following a riding accident. Following Lady Anne’s death in 2009, her family made a generous bequest to the Foundation to create a garden in her memory and to restore Lady Joan’s cascade garden in Temple Wood.

These gardens are now starting to reach maturity and are beautiful places to stroll through and feature flowering trees and shrubs, a restored water cascade and water loving plants. In line with the work undertaken in the gardens we have also been busy over the last ten years restoring the Parkland to Capability Brown’s original vision in readiness to celebrate the 300 th anniversary of his birth in 2016. We are fortunate to have one of only five remaining examples of a Brown Pleasure Ground in the country, Temple Wood, and we have dredged Temple Pool, removed rhododendrons and opened up views and vistas across to the Knoll Tower in the distance – whilst remaining sympathetic to the legacy of previous generations.

The Walled Garden hasn’t been forgotten either! This area is already home to a yew hedge maze, apple and pear orchards, chickens (whose eggs are delicious!) and rare breed sheep. In the northern corner we have started work on a contemporary garden which includes sculptures and a wild flower meadow. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors in May and for our new date in September - there is so much for them to explore and I will certainly be on the lookout for new additions to Weston’s gardens from the nurseries attending.

Don’t miss the wonderful gardens, 1000 acre parkland, bluebell walks and so much more. The house is open from 1pm (separate charge) Early May Holiday Sunday & Monday 3rd & 4th May 10am—5pm £3.00 Sunday 13th September 10am-4pm £2.50

Weston Park, Weston-under-Lizard Shropshire TF11 8LE Phone: 01952 852100 Email: Website:

The second season Charlie Pridham of Roseland House Nursery in search of the Holy Grail

Cestrum newelii, with the mild winter last year this is coming up to 12 solid months of being continuously in flower, the flowers are very showy but the stems leaves and fruits are quite attractive as well. Not 100% hardy its long flowering season definitely makes it worth the effort as a wall shrub.

Akebia, all the Akebia will produce these edible fruits in the Autumn, you do tend to get a better crop if you grow two unrelated plants close together. Holboellia do much the same and are more evergreen than the former.

Lastly Vitis ‘Purpurea’ grown of course for its leaf colours all summer long, but being a grape vine is perfectly capable of producing heavy crops of dark red grapes along with the intensifying leaf colours of autumn

An elephant in the garden might cause some problems, but elephant hawk moths in both adult and caterpillar forms are always welcome in our garden. The caterpillars feed on a variety of plants include the weed rose-bay willow herb. The adults are often found resting in the daytime and are one of the most beautiful of all British insects.

L. subaquelis

Holboellia coriacea

Vitis purpurea

Garden Safari with SpecialPerennials: Elephant

Lonicera periclymenum

Charlie and Liz Pridham Roseland House Chacewater Truro Cornwall TR4 8QB Phone:01872 560451 email: website:

Abekia quinata

Lonicera or Honeysuckles often have bright orange or red fruit depending on species, our native L. periclymenum has some of the best and the more unusual Lonicera subaquelis has a darker red fruit that the birds tend to ignore.

Bomarea edulis

Bomarea, in particular Bomarea edulis is a long flowering and free seeding climber which succeeds in looking as good in autumn fruit as it does in summer flower. Perfectly hardy anywhere the ground doesn’t freeze to depth, grow it like potatoes

Cestrum newelii

It is I suppose the holy grail of planting schemes that you get more than a few weeks interest from the plants you chose, especially those plants that are in someway structural or permanent. So although I am happy to grow climbers that have 6 weeks of flower or interest in summer, I always consider it a bonus when later in the year the fruit or leaves give me more. Here are a few that have caught my eye whilst writing this during the colder part of the year.

To the manor born Were coming to Donington Le Heath Manor for our first foray into Leicestershire It’s really exciting to bring Plant Hunters’ Fairs to a new county. This year we are coming to the heart of Leicestershire to the wonderfully evocative venue of Donington Le Heath Manor House near Coalville. The Medieval Manor House dates back to 1280 and has a fascinating history and was owned by one of the Gunpowder Plotters!

Leicestershire’s Medieval Manor House

Donington le Heath Manor House is a surviving example of a family home built around seven hundred years ago and modernised in 1618. Surrounding the Manor House, are period gardens and woodland planted as part of the development of the National Forest. The gardens, re-created in a 17th century style, include flower and herb gardens, an ornamental maze and an orchard. The Old Barn Team Room will be open serving home baked cakes, light lunches and a range of hot and cold drinks. The whole site is steeped in history and access to everything is included in the £1.00 entry charge, all of which goes to the Friends of the Manor to help continue The recreated 17th century herb garden their work in maintaining and restoring the site. Of course we have a great line-up of nurseries, all looking forward to coming into Leicestershire with their brilliant, nursery-grown plants. Make sure you visit the herb garden for some of its medieval lore.


ervain (Verbena officinalis) “for jaundice, dropsy, gout, worms, coughs, wheezing and shortness of breath. Use with honey for ulcers and fistulas”

Medieval lore from the herb garden at Donington Le Heath Manor

Saturday 9th May 10am—4pm Entry to plant fair, house , gardens and grounds just £1.00 which goes to The Friends of Donington Manor

Explore Tudor style rooms and everyday life

Donington Le Heath, Coalville Leics LE67 2FW E-mail: Phone: 01530 831259 website:

Phlox for Foliage Martin Blow of SpecialPerennials on how phlox offer more than fragrant flowers We make no excuses: we’re phlox fanatics and we can’t get enough of these beautiful old fashioned border favourites— and it is the border varieties that I go for. Janet and I started growing phlox about 10 years ago and now we have over 70 varieties in our garden in south Cheshire.

What’s not to love about them? - they have elegant, long lasting flowers,, coupled with a garden-filling fragrance especially on warm evenings.

Those with red or bronze foliage have their best colour from the first until just before flowering these include Sandringham, Kirchenfürst, Tenor, Newbird and in my opinion the best, Blue Paradise.

Some like Starfire and Logan Black keep their foliage colour right through the flowering season. There are also variegated phlox with more new varieties coming every year. Norah Leigh is an old favourite and Elisabeth as a newer type (by the way she seems to be identical to the variety Becky Towe).

We will have a great range of phlox especially at the early season plant fairs—they sell out by summer! We specialise in border phlox and have over 40 varieties for sale this year.

Phlox Starfire

Some say that the variegated leaves clash with the flower colour but I love the combinations available as they go with both pastel and bold colour schemes.

Phlox Blue Paradise

Phlox Anne has almost beige leaves in spring and Miss Pepper dark purple.

Phlox Sandringham

They are easy to grow, tough and long-lived but one thing that often gets overlooked is that many have very attractive foliage from the moment they poke though the soil in early February until at least mid-summer and in some cases beyond.

You can meet us at most Plant Hunters’ Fairs this year or buy by mail order from our website

Phlox Norah Leigh

Phlox Elisabeth

Seventh Heaven at Adlington Anthony O’Grady, head gardener on history and change at Adlington

The benign environment that is the ‘Wilderness’ will be at a peak of beauty when the Plant Fair is on with the Bluebells in full bloom, do not miss out.

The Father Tibor water garden

We have subtly changed many aspects of the gardens since last year but even if we had not it would be different. The long history of the gardens at Adlington is evident in many ways but none more so than when admiring the many mature trees and shrubs planted throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Keen plant hunters will be able to spot rare forms of Oak, Beech, Sycamore, Holly, giant specimen redwood and Chilli Pine. The Chilli Pine is better known as the Monkey Puzzle tree and the species at Adlington are said to be largest in Cheshire. However, more significant is the fact we have today discovered a self sown seedling Monkey Puzzle near the river in the ‘Wilderness’ occurrence indeed.

The bluebells in full bloom

This year will be the seventh time we have hosted the Plant Hunters Fair at Adlington which is a sure sign of a successful event. Part of its success is due to the layout with the nurseries displaying the plants on the cobbled east courtyard of the Hall. This leaves the surrounding gardens free to be explored by the visitors in their own time or on one of the many free guided tours I conduct throughout the day. I am delighted that a great many visitors are now regulars at the fair and even on my guided tours. Such people realise that a garden is not a static thing to be seen and appreciated once but a constantly changing and inspiring natural work of art.

Adlington Hall, Mill Lane, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK10 4LF

NEW DATE: Sunday 10th May

Tel: 01625 827 595 Email: website:

Entry to gardens, grounds and plant fair £3:00 (half normal garden price).


Free parking. Dogs on leads welcome.

New Faces: Studio 8 Pottery Nathan Bettam and Al Higgins handmake and fire traditionally thrown ceramics at their Staffordshire pottery. Al told me about how it all came about: “Nathan and I got together as a potting duo when, I initially needed help with the packing and firing the kiln (I have a back injury). My Daughter, Immy, also a potter, knew of this very able chap living a couple of miles away who had graduated from Cardiff the previous year. “ “Whilst firing the wood kiln we got to respect each other’s capabilities, and realized we had very similar values and enthusiasms, i.e. a love of throwing big practical pots, and the superb effects you get by firing with wood. We formed a cooperative (we remain the core of the set up, but with occasional help from friends and neighbours).” “We decided upon a strategy of making garden wares in the spring and summer, complementing this with very traditional cookware and country kitchen staples sold at farmers markets during the rest of the year.” “I`ve always loved gardening, I was one of those sad kids who read seed catalogues under the blankets rather than literature of a more dubious nature. I hope this translates into understanding of what I is required. Our range includes many sizes of alpine pans, auricula pots, chicory and rhubarb forcers, lots of wall pots, and we also stock a goodly few bonsai pots in stoneware. “ “Everything we make starts on the wheel, the Staffordshire clays are fired to a temperature more than sufficient to ensure good frost strength .Our extremely efficient 70 cubic foot two chambered kin uses salvaged wood than would otherwise go into land fill or be burnt unproductively on an open bonfire. We are happy to accept commissions for small runs of a specific pot, but they have to be round!!! Please look out for us, we`ll be one of the rather less green and leafy type of stalls!”

Nathan and Al will be at a lot of our fairs this year and where practical they will be giving demonstrations of how to throw a pot on a traditional wheel. 8 New Buildings Stafford Road Coven Heath near WOLVERHAMPTON WV10 7HF Phone: 01902 785 309 email: Website:

Tap into Carsington Water Get set for spring with our free plant fairs We couldn’t have found a better venue for our first foray into Derbyshire than Carsington Water, or should I say the venue found us! When Carsington Water contacted us with the idea of a plant fair at this Severn Trent Water reservoir we weren’t sure, but all our reservation evaporated when we arrived for a reckie. The site was always intended as a country park and the reservoir looks like it has been in the landscape for millennia and not just a few years.

Opened by the Queen in 1992 Carsington Water has become a popular place for tourists and locals alike and today welcomes almost a million visitors every year. Carsington has several miles of well maintained tracks that can be explored on foot. There are three recommended circular walks that all begin from the visitor centre. Most of the tracks around are surfaced and suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. The variety of wildlife at Carsington Water makes each visit such a special day out. For bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts there is a wildlife centre a short walk from the main visitor centre where you can learn more about the different species of birds that make their home here. In the spring and summer warblers, terns and waders return to breed on the islands, rafts, meadows and woodlands. The licensed Mainsail Restaurant will be open offering a wide range of meals, drinks and snacks. Situated on the top floor of the Visitor Centre, the restaurant offers stunning views across the water and in fine weather, there are places to sit and eat on the balcony terrace. Our first fair is on Easter Saturday (4th April) which is a great time to get out, get some plants and then get planting!

Big Lane Ashbourne Derbyshire DE6 1ST There are brown signs to direct you from Ashbourne Phone: 01629 540696 email: Website:

H Manor

ops (Humulus lupulus) “to treat “tetters”, ringworm and spreading sores” - Culpepper Medieval lore from the herb garden at Donington Le Heath


Saturday 4th April (Easter Saturday) Sunday 26th July, 10am-4pm Free entry to country park and fair. (Pay and display parking)

alad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor) “A friend to the heart and liver” Culpepper

Medieval lore from the Herb Garden at Donington Le Heath Manor

What’s Up Doc? Steve Reynolds highlights one of the more unusual questions during last year’s Plant Hunters’ Fairs plant problem clinics. Question : A number of my trees, shrubs, pea sticks and currant stems are covered in pink cushion-like spots. Am I seeing things ? Is there any cure and how should I dispose of them ?

Answer : Phto by Lairich Rig

First the good news, there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight ! This is a particularly destructive fungus which relishes the damp conditions we’ve experienced recently. Related to cankers, Coral Spot (Nectria cinnabarina) is to be found on dead wood of many plants – Acers, currants, fig trees and magnolias, amongst others, are especially susceptible. The most obvious symptoms are the raised spore-filled pustules on the bark which are often a rich coral pink or red colour. Spores are spread around via water splash. Adopt good garden hygiene by collecting all diseased wood which should then be burned or put in the green wheelie bins so that the high temperatures at the Council refuse tip can destroy the fungus and its spores. In recent years (perhaps aided by greater use of wood chip mulches) it has spread and can become parasitic attacking living wood, rather than adopting its usual saprophytic dead wood mode. The diseased tissue is cankered and sunken, often appearing a dull greenish colour beneath the bark. If the disease is on shoots dying back then prune back to at least 3-4” (7-10cm in new money!) into healthy wood.

This year Steve will be holding his drop-in “What’s Up Doc?” clinic at Arley Arboretum near Kidderminster on Saturday July 4th If your gardening club is looking for a lively, knowledgeable and professional speaker then we can highly recommend Steve to you. Please see Steve’s page on the Plant Hunters’ Fairs website garden speakers directory. You can contact Steve to book a talk: Phone: 01588 660 618 Mobile: 07929 303 425 email:

Thinking ahead Barry Grain, head gardener at Cholmondeley Castle, looks to the long term People often ask me what the “5 year plan� is. I usually reply that the length of time in question is un-realistic. At this they usually look perplexed and assume I am working to a much shorter time frame. Their looks then turn to amazement as I tell them that the 5 year plan is really a 20-30 year plan! Now when considering garden management for any term you need to think big, as the lifespan of the garden will be much greater than your own. I think we should always look at least 20 years ahead as a minimum, in garden terms that is as long as it takes to establish a young tree within a garden or landscape, and no matter how many head gardeners work at the plan during that time frame, the plan should remain constant. Gardens of course should evolve over time and never stand still in terms of management, as by their process of maturation, a garden is always on the move and not always as we would like. Development and tweaking should be continual both on large and small scales, always refreshing interest, and with one eye always on the future. The gardens at Cholmondeley have been extensively developed by Lady Cholmondeley herself over the past 60 years, indeed when she first arrived apart from an ornamental lake in the temple garden, everywhere else was largely mature trees and lawns. Even now after all this time she still remains a driving force in the garden, and continues to develop it with one eye firmly fixed ahead. Last year for example she instigated the Lavinia Walk project, which is a new feature within the garden, where a long walk of fastigiate Yew trees lead you along the path between the herbaceous beds and the Temple Garden. There were, it seems Irish Yews lining this path in the past which were looking very old a bit scruffy by the time Lady Cholmondeley arrived. She had them removed back in the 1950’s but felt that it was now time some new ones went in to return this area to Stone Seat before... former glories.

The Lavinia Walk project

...and after renovation

It is my job as head gardener to continue this spirit forward, and visitors to the garden this spring will see lots of much needed changes to the garden. The team have been working tirelessly over the past two seasons tidying areas up and renovating certain areas that have not had proper attention for some good years. We have many plantings of Laurel and Rhododendron ponticum around the gardens which were planted to give shelter some years ago, but are now in dire need of management. Bit by bit these areas are being renovated which is not only tidying up vistas but also offering new planting opportunities, particularly in and around the Temple garden. Most notable are the beds around the gatehouse to the Temple garden which have long been untidy and overgrown with Lamium. These beds have been completely overhauled and re-modelled to give a better blend of planting, but also to extend the season of interest. Diseased Hydrangeas have been Cont...

removed and replaced with Philadelphus ‘Mexican Jewel’ and P. purpureus, Hemerocallis and Hosta groups have been repositioned and a new range of shrubs are being introduced. And the Lamium here is being removed altogether as it just isn’t right for the location, excellent ground cover though it is. There are also fresh plantings to be found through the glade and throughout the Top Terrace with a new blend of interesting plant such as Agapanthus ‘Purple Cloud’, Leptospermum and Crinodendron to name a few. As well as this new trees can be found at various locations throughout the gardens. The Silver Garden

However in essence, no matter what scale you garden on, the tweaking and re-modelling are equally necessary, it is only the scale that differs. Indeed I cannot think of a gardener who is content for his or her “patch” to stay just so, and as soon as the promise of spring is with us the creative juices inevitably start to flow, it’s just a question of how far ahead to think. I personally am already on spring 2016.

Come along to our Plant Hunters’ Fair on 12th April (11am-5pm) and see how the gardens are evolving. Special event price of just £3.00 applies for this day only and this includes entry to gardens, parkland and lakes and of course the plant fair. Free parking. Dogs on leads welcome. Cholmondeley Castle Malpas Cheshire SY14 8AH Tel: 01829 720383 website:

Whatever your colour, you’ll find it at Plant Hunters’ Fairs this summer Our next newsletter will be out in June with more news about our summer and autumn fairs and great items from our expert nursery folk. We are really excited about our fairs at Abbeywood Gardens in Cheshire on 23rd August and Arley Arboretum in Worcestershire both offering half price entry for these special events.. We also have our second fair at our new Derbyshire venue—Carsington Water and a new autumn date at Weston Park. Each fair is different and the nurseryfolk always manage to surprise and delight with something different and exciting. Whatever your colour (or shape, size, situation or soil) you’ll something special for your garden at a Plant Hunters’ Fair.

Fifty shades of green Sylvia Marden spills the beans on husband Tony’s shady secrets We live in a lovely valley not far from the town of Painswick in the Cotswolds. Tony has run his small nursery in the garden of their house for about 10 years now, selling mainly from plant fairs. Tony has a passion for plants suitable for shade. Two of the more unusual plant families he grows are Arisaema and Podophyllum. Arisaemas are his favourites and he has many varieties and he grows them in a separate tunnel house continually expanding the collection. He propagates by division and seeds which is a 3 to 4 year process from seed to flower. The flowers are well worth waiting for as they are extremely unusual and look magnificent in the shady areas of a garden, if you are fortunate enough to have a free draining soil. In the wild, they mostly live in mountainous areas for example the Himalayas, Japan and Taiwan. Therefore they are hardy plants and suitable for the shade garden. Podophyllums are another unusual herbaceous perennial plant for shade. They are not difficult plants to grow, but are very slow to propagate, as seed is rarely produced and difficult to germinate. The most well known are Podophyllum "Spotty Dotty" and p. Kaleidoscope with spectacular large marked leaves. These are produced by tissue culture and are subject to Plant Breeders Rights as they are sterile hybrids.

Part of the Arisaema tunnel

Tony has collected plants of P.Versipelle and P. Pleianthum from different sources to try to obtain a number of different clones . This year he has hand pollinated the flowers and has been rewarded with a good seed set, so can now experiment with germination. Podophyllum Hexandrum roots are used as a resin for an anti cancer drug and they are being removed from the wild in China in large quantities. Nurseries have been set up in India to try to produce commercial quantities. For a woodland area the American Podophyllum Peltatum with its creamy white flowers and creeping rootstock can look magnificent Podophyllum Delavayi has stunning mottled green/brown leaves and red flowers. All Podophyllums need shade and moisture retentive humus rich soil. They will in time reward you with a magnificent display.

Tony & Sylvia Marden Upper Doreys Mill, Edge, nr Stroud Gloucestershire, GL6 6NF, Phone: 01452 8121459 email: Website:


owslip (Primula vulgaris) “The flowers remedy vertigo, nightmares, false apparitions, frenzies, palsies, and falling sickness”

Medieval lore from the herb garden at Donington Le Heath Manor

The times they are a -changing Don’t miss our earlier date at Staffordshire’s Consall Hall After a couple of years in mid-May, we are moving our Consall Hall event back to it’s traditional April date—Sunday 19th April in fact. The entry price remains at £2.00—we think this is the best value gardening day out in the Midlands giving you the opportunity to enjoy this rarely open 70 acre garden with over 4 miles of paths. What I love about this fair is the way its runs along the main avenue of the garden with each stall easy to access and browse even at the busiest times. We have a whole crop of first-timers this year! Bridge Farm Plants with a wide choice of perennials will be coming from Derbyshire. BBC TV featured Roseland House, all the way from Cornwall will be on hand with their National Collections of Clematis and lots more desirable climbing plants. ShadyPlants from Gloucestershire and The Gobbett (flowering shrubs) from Worcestershire make up the new nurseries. We also welcome for the first time at this event Fair Field Garden Bygones with hand-restored vintage garden tools and Studio 8 Pottery with hand-thrown garden pots and food wares. Of course all your old favourites will also be there. The garden should be awash with spring bulbs and early flowering trees and shrubs. Let’s hope for some warm spring sunshine as well. Consall, Wetley Rocks, Staffordshire ST9 0AG Phone: 01782 551947 email: Website:

Sunday 19th April 10am—5pm £2.00 for fair and gardens. Free parking

Plant Hunters’ Fairs at the BBC Gardener’s World visit two of our nurseries In 2014 BBC 2’s Gardener’s World when they selected two of our nurseries as the plant experts on Carol Klein’s “Plants and Their People” feature.

Liz Pridham shows Carol Klein how to get the best from honeysuckles

Charlie and Liz Pridham of Roseland House Nursery showcased their collection of honeysuckles explaining how to get the best from them. You can watch them on BBC i-Player p021blrq Martin told us the story of their day with the Gardener’s World team. “We had really great time with Carol, Ben, Becky. Sam and Ray Martin from SpecialPerennials showed Carol around their National making us feel relaxed about Collection of heleniums the whole process.

The team arrived just after 8:30am and spent a little while admiring the garden and deciding on the best places to shoot from. Each "scene" is filmed several times - firstly so I could "get it right" but also because the camera needed to capture different angles and close-ups.

So I had to remember which flower I pointed to on a wide shoot, so I could do it again in close up. The most difficult thing for me as a trained "presenter" was not The team started the day by planning where shoots would happen and adjusting the outline story for the piece looking at the camera!

Carol really helped me with feedback and praise making it a really enjoyable experience. We talked about growing heleniums, where they come from, planting combinations and new varieties. There was quite a lot of technology on view, from the professional cameras, lapel mics and tablet computers to review shots straight after shooting plus the “dolphin” to get the camera to a high vantage point. Fortunately the weather held and the only interruption came from the occasional plane or helicopter.

The “dolphin” took the camera where no camera should go!

The day finished at around 6pm—9 hours filming for 6 minutes of programme.

This wasn’t the end of it though. Just before the segment was aired I was asked to pick my top 10 heleniums for the BBC website— never an easy task. Our local press were intrigued by the story and we ended up doing 2 photo shoots and had a front page story and centre spread in one paper.

I also received a request to appear on a BBC local radio chat show—I managed to put this off! But perhaps the best outcome from Carol and Martin, relaxed between shots by chatting about our garden and plants. my TV stardom was the impact on numbers of people coming along to our charity garden opens. We didn’t know until the day of screening whether or not our garden open dates would be mentioned—as it was Monty Don encouraged everyone to come along on Sunday—and they did!

Normally we have about 500 visitors spread over 12 days of opening in the summer. On the Sunday after appearing on Gardener’s World nearly 600 people descended on our small, plant-packed garden. To this day we don’t know how they all fitted in. Thankfully our friend Liz rallied around at short notice to help take the ticket money while we tried to cope with all the visitors wanting information and plants. We raised just short of £4,000 for the NGS charities. You can see our 6 minutes of fame at

So much to see at Middleton Hall Our new event in Staffordshire has so much to offer At just £2.00 per car our latest plant fair venue is such great value. The entry fee, which all goes to the trust that runs the Hall and grounds, includes entry to the plant fair, the hall, gardens, the wildlife rich lake and the courtyard shops and cafes plus free parking on site. The grounds are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) including a nine acre lake, noted Walled Garden and a children's play park. Adjacent to the grounds are the RSPB reserve, Middleton Lakes. We spotted a Little Egret when we visited in 2014. Middleton Hall has a special place in the history of our understanding of plants. It was the home of Francis Willughby, the naturalist – an original Fellow of the Royal Society – and it was here that he brought his teacher and friend, the first great English naturalist, John Ray. Ray compiled his Catalogus Angliae here, one of the first attempts at a comprehensive listing of British plants. Today there are large and small walled gardens, herbaceous borders, orchard and sunken garden. There is an adjacent Craft Centre, with specialist shops and cafe. There is also a lovely tearoom in the hall. We have a line-up of nurseries from nine counties including the National Collection of clematis viticella all the way from Cornwall.

Middleton Tamworth Staffordshire B78 2AE

Saturday 18th April 10am—5pm

Phone: 01827 283095 email:

£2.00 per car for fair, gardens, grounds and hall. Free parking


Step into history at Sugnall Walled Garden Saturday 25th April at Sugnall Walled Garden near Eccleshall, Stafford is as always a great spring day out. We have our normal, high-quality of nurseries and artisans and visitors will love the walled gardens with apple blossom and free-roaming in the bluebell woods. The gardens are steeped in horticultural history. Lord Glenorchy, decided to establish a walled kitchen garden in the dip between the old hall and the main road. In 1738 brickmakers set themselves up in a field not far away and supplied over 250,000 bricks to Glenorchy. He purchased plants and seeds from a Bluebell woods at Sugnall Hall London nurseryman and by the summer of 1738 he had a fully functioning kitchen garden. The walls remain after 280 years in remarkably good condition, and two of the original doorways remain. A later owner (1837) Walter Williams had a passion for exotic plants. He built new glasshouses including a lean-to double peach house planted with peach and nectarines, an Azalea House, a fernery, a Camellia House, a span roofed cucumber house in two compartments, an adjacent plant house, an orchid house, a stove house, a range of ten-light pits, and ranges of cold frames. Williams also converted the cellars of the Old Hall to a glass-covered fernery. If you would like a guided tour of the gardens, grounds and woods taking in their full history then there is one at 1pm (additional fee).

Don’t forget our second plant fair at Sugnall will be at the completely new time of Sunday 5th July—a great chance to see the garden at a different season of the year. Sugnall, near Eccleshall, Stafford ST21 6NF Phone: 01785 850820 email: Website: Saturday 25th April 10am-4pm Entry is just £1.00 Guided tours at 1pm (extra charge) Sorry no dogs allowed in the garden

The garden is full of history

A new book for 2015 Kim Hurst of The Cottage Herbery on the Hidden Histories of Herbs. “Hidden Histories: Herbs” brings together the extraordinary and largely forgotten stories of 150 special plants that are still put to culinary, medicinal and cosmetic preparations today. The book includes traditional tips for flavouring a medieval pottage and how certain plants are ideal for poultices and what plants ward off evil spirits. Kim a nurserywoman since 1976 runs the Cottage Herbery with husband Rob. She is a Chelsea gold medallist, RHS judge, lecturer and plantswoman. This is her second book. The books is published on 5th March.

Watch out for our next newsletter More to read in June. We will be publishing our next newsletter in June with news of our new events at Abbeywood Garden, Arley Arboretum and our new autumn date at Weston Park, plus other events this summer. There will be news from our nurseryfolk plus some exciting announcements about new venues for 2016. If you don’t want to miss out then subscribe on our website at Best wishes Martin.

Easter at the Dorothy Clive Garden So much to see and enjoy The 12 acre Dorothy Clive Garden will have plenty on show for visitors with massed plantings of spring bulbs, hellebores, early blossom and rhododendrons and much more. Nurseries will of course come loaded with spring flowering plants plus plenty of later flowering plants to get planted now. We welcome back Brian and Steph from Avondale Nursery with a wide range of perennials including plants from their 3 National Collections. We also have the excellent Roseland House Nursery from Cornwall holders of two National Collections, Clematis viticella and Lapageria rosea cultivars, they also grow a wide range of other exciting climbing plants and conservatory plants.

Other nurseries not to be missed include: RHS Chelsea Gold Medallists Hall Farm Nursery (Shropshire) specialising in perennials and alpines; Packhorse Farm Nursery from Derbyshire specialising in acers and other ornamental trees and shrubs; Pottertons Nursery from Lincolnshire specialist grower of alpines, dwarf bulbs and Woodland plants; Green’s Leaves from Gloucestershire with choice and rare shrubs, foliage plants, choice grasses and dark leaved plants; Special Perennials specialising in summer and late flowering perennials and National Collections of helenium and Centaurea; Chris Cooke Plants from Gloucestershire specialising in species plants and bulbs; Shady Plants from Gloucestershire specialising in plants for shade including arisaemas, roscoea, hostas, ferns, disporum, polygonatum and Podophyllums; Wildegoose Nursery who are specialists in Violas, old and new with a collection of over 140 varieties. Don’t miss Fairfield Bygones with his great range of vintage garden tools, implements and accessories for those who appreciate the quality, design and tactile character of wonderful old garden tools from a bygone age. Plus many more great nurseries to get the new gardening season off to a great start.

Willoughbridge, Market Drayton Shropshire, TF9 4EU Tel: 01630 647237 email:


Easter Sunday & Monday 5th & 6th April 10am—5pm £3.50 for fair and gardens. Free parking

avender (Lavendula angustifolia) “for headaches, faintings, nausea, cramps and convulsions”

Medieval lore from the herb garden at Donington Le Heath Manor


ungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) “Sootheth the throat and chest. Checketh bleeding and diarrhoea”

Medieval lore from the Herb Garden at Donington Le Heath Manor

Plant Hunters’ Fairs You can contact us by: Email:,uk Phone: 01270 811443 Twitter: @plantfairs Find us on Facebook as well. Website,uk Details published in this newsletter are we believe correct but please do check on our website or with the venue before travelling as occasionally arrangements do have to change. All views expressed are those of the authors. All text and images in this newsletter are copyright to the respective authors. Please ask before republishing anything from this newsletter. You can subscribe or unsubscribe on our website or by email.

2015 Plant Hunters’ Fairs March Sun 22 Sat 28



Sun 29


Dearnford Lake, Whitchurch, Shrops. SY13 3JQ 10am-4pm

National Memorial Arboretum Alrewas Staffs. DE13 7AR 10am-4:30pm Ness Botanic Gardens Wirral, Cheshire. CH64 4AY. 10am-4pm

April Sat 4


Carsington Water, nr Ashbourne, Derbyshire. DE6 1ST 10-4pm

Sun/Mon 5th / 6th Dorothy Clive Garden, Newcastle, Staffs TF9 4EU 10am-5pm Sat 11th Bodenham Arboretum nr Kidderminster, Worcs, DY11 5SY 11am-5pm

Sun12th Cholmondeley Castle, Malpas, Cheshire. SY14 8HN 11am-5pm Sat 18th Middleton Hall, Tamworth, Staffs. B78 2AE. 10am-5pm Sun 19th Consall Hall, Wetley Rocks, Staffordshire. ST9 0AG 10am-5pm Sun 19th Penrhyn Castle, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 4HN 10am-4pm Sat 25th Sugnall Walled Garden, Eccleshall, Staffs. ST21 6NF 10am-4pm Sun 26th Norton Priory, Runcorn WA7 1SX 10:30am-3pm

May Sun / Mon 3




Weston Park, Shifnal, Shropshire. TF11 8LE 10am-5pm

Sat 9th Donington Le Heath Manor House, Leicestershire LE67 2FW 10am-4pm

Sun 10th Adlington Hall, Macclesfield, Cheshire. SK10 4LF 10:30am-4pm Sun 17th British Ironworks Centre, Oswestry, Shrops. SY11 4JH 10am-5pm Sat 23rd National Memorial Arboretum Alrewas Staffs. DE13 7AR 10am-4:30pm Mon 25th Stonyford Cottage Gardens, Cuddington, Cheshire. CW8 2TF 10am-3pm Sat / Sun 30th/31st Hodnet Hall Gardens Mkt Drayton Shrops TF9 3NN 10am-5pm

June Sun 7


Burton Manor, Burton, Wirral. CH64 5SJ. 10am-3pm


Sun 21 Whittington Castle, Whittington, Shropshire. SY11 4DF 10am-4pm Sun 28th Plas Newydd, Llanfairpwll, Anglesey. LL61 6DQ 10am-4pm

July Sat 4th Arley Arboretum, Near Bewdley, Worcs. DY12 1XJ 11am-5pm Sun 5th Sugnall Walled Garden, Eccleshall, Staffs. ST21 6NF 10am-4pm Sun 26th Carsington Water, nr Ashbourne, Derbyshire. DE6 1ST 10-4pm

August st

Sat 1 National Memorial Arboretum Alrewas Staffs. DE13 7AR 10am-4:30pm Sun 2nd Dearnford Lake, Whitchurch, Shrops. SY13 3JQ 10am-4pm Sun 16th Bodnant Garden near Colwyn Bay, Conwy LL28 5RE 10am-4pm Sun 23rd Abbeywood Gardens, Delamere, Cheshire. CW8 2HS, 10am-5pm

Sun/Mon 30th/31st Dorothy Clive Garden, Newcastle, Staffs. TF9 4EU 10am-5pm

September Sat 5


Sun 6

Bodenham Arboretum nr Kidderminster, Worcs, DY11 5SY 11am-5pm


Sun 13

Ness Botanic Gardens Wirral, Cheshire. CH64 4AY. 10am-4pm


Weston Park, Shifnal, Shropshire. TF11 8LE 10am-4pm

Spring 2015  

Spring into the garden with our gardeners magazine. Lots of articles by nurseryfolk who are passionate about plants and gardens

Spring 2015  

Spring into the garden with our gardeners magazine. Lots of articles by nurseryfolk who are passionate about plants and gardens