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Plant writings, gardening thoughts & observations of Paul Hervey - Brookes, Award Winning Garden Designer & Plantsman.
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Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Garden Design

I have had a number of emails and comments about this blog since may when I decided to finish writing it.  If you have read it and enjoyed it you can read my new guest column at Garden Design Magazine's website by Clicking Here. Once agin thank you. Paul

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Chelsea Flower Show 2010 & GoodBye

The Chelsea Flower Show was rather an amazing experience by any standard.  I was very lucky to be next door to some lovely people whilst creating the Biodiversity Garden for Bradstone which was awarded a Silver Medal.   The garden set about highlighting biodiversity issues whilst being a beautiful place to escape into from our modern busy lives.   Luckily for me this combination and some what simple approach was in tune with two lovely gardening television presenters from Australia and Austria who decided to do lengthly pieces on biodiversity from the garden.

The garden highlighted simple nectar rich flowers planted in shades of purples and yellows.  These colours are, through our eyes, particularly attractive to bees and pollinating insects according to research carried out at Universities.  The planting was also multi-layered as we know that different layers are in habited by different insect life.  Towards the rear of the garden larger foliage plants created dappled shade for small mammals and a Hornbeam hedge acted as the wildlife alternative to the motorway as a green corrider connecting the urban space back out to the countryside.   The garden also had decomposing log walls for stag-horn beetle and I designed the classically inspired portico which was bespoke made by Bradstone to encourage crevice nesting birds such as House Sparrow which has declined in numbers by over 70% in the last 20 years.

These messages were endorsed by the Wildlife Trust and Trees for Cities, two charities who are passionate about wildlife and the importance of urban greening.

One of the really important aspects of the garden for me was that it be beautiful.  In order that people looking at the garden were to go home and recreate some of the habitat spaces we were talking about I felt strongly that people would need to feel it was something they could live with and then almost by default the important messages would become second nature.  I really hope that idea worked and I would like to say thank you to all the well wishers and people who took the time to stop and be so lovely and encouraging throughout the show.

The Chelsea Flower Show also marked the end of my time as Chris Beardshaw Scholar and I  hope that Maria-louisa really embraces the opportunity and runs with it.  My year has been challenging, exciting and went very fast and I am intensely proud of it.  It is one of two very important mile stones in my horticultural life so far and the other caught up with me in the most unexpected way at Chelsea this year when I met George Anderson, former Head of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It was a sheer delight to be able to talk to him again, tell him what I have been up to these past years and simply listen to snippets of his incredible plant knowledge.

Now lastly I started writing this blog as a diary of my year as Scholar, it has actually turned into something very different, a diary of plant based thoughts, but now my year is over and my work load has increased so dramatically I think its a good time to call time on it.  I will still be writing for Garden Design USA as a guest contributor as well as a few other publications.  So thank you for following the journey, I hope it was an enjoyable read I have certainly enjoyed writing it.  Best wishes Paul.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Off to Chelsea

(Photo: Wormcast Garden, Chris Beardshaw) Well at last the day has come.  After spending a great deal of last night packing, after a very fun afternoon with the children who are creating a show garden based on Renoir's Umbrella's at Painswick Rococo Garden, everything is packed, wrapped and labelled stretching down the drive ready to go to Chelsea Flower Show.

Its been a bit hectic, Wednesday onwards I was a guest of the 3 Counties Agricultural Society at the Malvern Spring Gardening Show, where on Sunday I also was asked to do the afternoon slot in the Project Pavilion.  This actually was huge fun talking to gardeners about their gardens, plants and design ideas.  The afternoon was gone before I had even got comfortable in my 'experts' chair.  The new Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholar was chosen on Press Day and I think Maria will make a fantastic Scholar and she has a truly unique and exceptional year ahead of her.  I hope and I know she will seize the year  really gaining from the guidance and creative stimulus it provides.

Yesterday morning we spent a couple of happy hours wandering through a woodland on a private estate making our final selections of rotting timber for our decomposing wall and then the afternoon as I said with the children sowing seed and weaving willow.

Lastly I would just like to say to anyone planning to visit the Chelsea Flower Show it will be a privilege to meet you and say hello outside of the electronic world.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Garden Design Magazine

You may remember that a month ago I said a I would be writing a guest blog on the website of the one of America's most popular and informative garden design magazines, Garden Design.

The people at Garden Design have recently had a total overhaul of their website making even more informative and it looks really fresh.  My blogs can now be found under this link and I will adding more over the coming days to bring it up to date.

There are some other really fun guest bloggers currently with lots of interesting ideas, along with galleries of mouth watering gardens from across the world.

Sunday, 18 April 2010


One of springs 'love it or hate it' vegetables which is in season now is Rhubarb.  Dreadfully sour or deliciously sharp depending on your taste buds there is no denying its return to favour over recent years.
(Photo: Rheum palamtum var. tanguticum)
Traditional culinary Rhubarb is a hybrid cross classified by the Royal Horticulutural Society as Rheum x hybridum, but one of its parents is Rheum rhabarbarum.  In England and similar cooler climates Rhubard is forced from early spring to produce sweet pale shoots before being left to grow naturally for the rest of the growing season but interestingly the same plant will produce good edible shoots all year round in warmer climates.
(Photo: Rheum officinale) In China Rhubarb has been grown for 1000’s of years as a traditional form of medicine and was written about as early as 2700BC in The Divine Farmer’s Herb-Root compiled by the Emperor Yan.  Its roots are rich in anthraquinones a strong laxative being used for well over 5000 years and it also has an astringent effect on the mucous membranes.  For this reason Rhubarb has occasionally found itself fashionable as a slimming agent.
Rhubarb also naturally occurs along the banks of the river Volga but it is technically a separate species and known as Russian Rhubarb.  During the Mediaeval period Rhubarb was so expensive to transport from these far flung places to Europe that it cost several times that of cinnamon, saffron and opium and it was in the Tangut Province of China that Marco Polo, rather excitedly found it being farmed on the mountainous hillsides.
Rhubarb was first introduced to the United Sates in the 1820’s first arriving in Maine and Massachusetts before traveling with early settlers across the country.  In England Rhubarb was first grown in the 17th century with the advent of cheap sugar to improve its sharp taste and was most popular in the interwar years.
(Photo: Rheum palaestinumThe name Rhubarb is derived from the Greek for the Volga, rha and barbarum.  As a genus it belongs to the Polygonacea family which includes Rumex, Muehlenbeckia and Persicaria.  Within the Rhubarb clan there are some stunning showy plants which given a large herbaceous border make a fantasic addition, Rheum Palmatum has a number of garden worthy selections, but outside of some of the most unusual species plants Rheum palmatum var. tanguticum with its deeply cut rich red leaves which age green and its huge plumes of blood red flowering bracts would be my plant of choice.  Although thought of as an ornamental we grow this one to eat first and become decorative later in the year, finding its stems naturally a little sweeter then the better known culinary Rhubarb.

(Photo: Our Rhubarb Fool)  If I have made you slightly curious about Rhubarb and you want to try it another way than crumbled to death this really is a lovely Rhubarb Fool Recipe, which we made today.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Woody or Fluffy

Recently I saw the most rigid plant its curious almost stunted growth make me think it had grown up in a draught.  The plant is question was Ilex crenata ‘Tee Dee’.  
(Photo: Ilex aquifolium 'Lichtenhalii)
I have to admit I was rather smitten by it and at the other end of the spectrum its cousin Ilex aquifolium ‘Lichtenhalii’ was also a ‘to die for plant’.  In fact recently I have found my self liking and wanting to collect and grow a number of woody plants.  For a firm herbaceo-file (I have made this up) its been rather an odd experience swooning over Danea and obscure crataegus sp. and a wonderful Chinese Betulus to name a few.
Therefore I have had to be strict on myself and think about a few really fluffy herbaceous plants which capture my attention and none seem to do that currently as much as the wild free flowing types, such as Epilobium angustifolium ‘Album’.  The white flowering form of the rose bay willow herb just screams ‘Love me’. Its soft elongated green foliage and tall spikes of simple white flowers are made for the garden and being slightly invasive it also means it grows fast and will make a good sized plant.  Of course such a beauty which spreads like wildfire can become the ‘Plant Gift’ we all seem to give at dinner parties.  Sometimes you get something really thuggish, after all if you are digging something up to give it alway its never because its the most precious plant you have! But in this case you will be forgiven by 90% of the people you pass it on to.  
(Photo: Epilobium angustifolium 'Album')
It naturilses well also colonising those places which you want to look nice but don’t hit the radar as the place to weed, such along the edges of drives and banks.  Another delicate looking beauty which colonises well and looks stunning in combination with the Epilobium is Anthriscus.  Now I can remember when dark purple form of this  plant was still rather unheard off and customer to the specialist nursery I started out at almost had kittens upon seeing it.   It is a beauty the lovely fern like leaves of Queen Anne’s Lace but in rich maroon topped with frothy white umbells and all coming true from seed makes this something special and tough in the garden.   You can raise it easily from seed or buy a couple of plants from a nursery or increasingly a garden centre and let it seed merrily around.  A bit like the purple leaved celandine, Ranunculus f. ‘Brazen Hussey’, I can’t imagine you would get to the point where you needed to start removing it from the borders.
(Photo: Daucus carota)
So the combination of white spires of the Epilobium with the dark foliage and white umbells of the Anthriscus certainly do look good but I would add to this naturalised bank another Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) to the mix and its something you can go into the hedgerows and collect.  Its soft grey-green fern like foliage has a slightly transparent edge to it which catches the sun and the fluffy creamy-white flat topped flowers make this really worthy of being in the (rougher) garden.  In England we call Daucus ‘Bishop’s Lace, and I say this because I know in parts of America Daucus is known as Queen Anne’s Lace and I have already mentioned that.  But Daucus carota makes for a lovely plant in these slightly wild free parts of the garden.  If eaten when young the wild carrot is perfectly edible and a teaspoon of crushed seed has long been used as a form of birth control, first recorded by Hippocrates over 2000 years ago.  I have to admit there is a point just after flowering when the flower begins to pull inwards on itself that I really love this plant.  The outer most flowers are just still in flower but the centre has been pulled down forming a a bowl or bird nest like shape.  For a short second its like a black hole in the center of a plant.
(Photo: Todaroa montana)
Sticking and also ending on a carrot note the last plant I might add would be Todaroa montana, the Giant Mountain Carrot.  We have been growing this plant from collect seed for a couple of years now and it is such a fun plant.  Native to the Canary Isles it reaches up to 2.5m and is reliably perennial given rich soils partial shade or sun.  The only difference here it its a rich acidic yellow but towering about the pastoral scene I rather think it would add a touch or drama or at least humour to the scene.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

The Starting Pistol

Easter weekend is the traditional start to the gardening year.  I never fail to be excited by the thought that this is the real beginning, the soil is warming and the days are longer, nature herself appears to want to get growing.  The Sorbaria at the nursery seems to be breaking bud as we watch and Thalictrum, Astrantia and Geranium to name a few are stirring.

I read over the weekend that two of England's most well known and respected Garden Centre groups planned to open on Easter Sunday.  Hillier, a distinguished named which needs no introduction and Wyevale both said they would open, in Hillier's case only its planteria's and Wyevale only to its garden club members.  I have to admit if I had not been busy potting on at our own Nursery then I think I would have made my way to the garden centre and had a little look.  I love unusual plants and finding something new to me, however this does not always have to happen in an obscure seed catalogue or from making collections abroad.  Often under our own nose's new exciting introductions along with the everyday gardening essentials can be found in a garden centre.  Once at one of the above mentioned I found a staggering array of Pseudopanax an evergreen New Zealand native with roughly 20 species rare to cultivation in England and perhaps not so surprising but equally staggering in sheer quality of plant a vast array of Hamamelis.  At this time of year they are stuffed with a mass of exciting plants from vegetable plugs to fresh shrubs and a staggering choice of seasonal plants.  Most importantly you can actually smell growing at this time of year in garden centre's and nursery's, its terribly exciting and I often think it does not matter what we grow as long as we enjoy it and can stand back at the end of the day with a cup of tea and reap enjoyment from our gardens.

So the starting pistol has been fired and the growing year is upon us.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Plants & Then More

I am going to nail my colours firmly to my flag pole.  Recently I have been delighted to be invited to a number of really fun gardening clubs and societies.  Talking about plants with people who really enjoy their gardens and the collections of plants they make is endlessly rewarding.
It makes me feel very strongly that firstly I am a gardener.  It was getting my hands in the soil which got me hooked and it was growing some dreadful plants in equally unpleasant combinations during my teenage years which make me know that this was for me.  Later when I developed taste, and learn’t how plants work I became increasingly aware of how they make you feel.  
(Photo: Arley Hall, a garden I love to visit) After studying plants I went to work in Europe.  I was quite lucky to work in large estates and in all cases the garden’s were about feel.  This sense of place and mood cannot be created without the key ingredient - plants!
To my mind you cannot successfully design with plants without knowing them intimately.  The equivalent would be like asking someone to build a house without knowing the components or who they work with each other, their lifespan, durability etc.  
With plants its more than simple training. An untold desire to be around plants is needed, to know them as seedlings, young plants with juvenile foliage and later in their maturity.  I don’t believe any beautiful garden can be created by landscape material’s alone.  They play a hugely important role but they are the framework from which the garden will hang, if you will - the stunning model without the Channel dress.  Once you combine the two you have something near perfect.
That ‘perfect’ is always a rather relative and sometimes very private thing.  Often we walk past gardens, particularly at some of the great summer shows and think hideous!  I am sure some of us will do that this year and there are some golden rules which apply to aid us in deciding what is truly hideous and what is truly inspirational. 
However in my opinion the really beautiful gardens will be created by designers who are plantsmen first, who can combine plants in a way which appears effortless and is a joy to behold.  They will have the magic touch which makes our mouths water and want to take the garden they have created home with us.  Hopefully not in those irritating small plastic cube trollies however you can’t have everything                (Irritating because I seem to have a habit of standing backwards into a passing cube or am shinned by them in copious numbers). I must stress here that by plantsman I don’t mean simply having a qualification, I mean something deeper than text book knowledge.
Even if you only use an extremely limited palette of plants in a scheme the choice and they way they relate to each other will tell a story, good or bad.  

(Photo: Bryan's Ground, extremely exciting open after being closed all of last year)
Plants which appear jumbling, jar in colour and confused will highlight all that is wrong elsewhere with a garden.  Its instant, somewhere in a gardeners brain with or with out design knowledge, they will know why plants don’t work together and why ultimately the garden as a space will fail.
Don’t get me wrong good design will always shine and should be sought out, however the plants used will make that good design, if used well, just shine that little brighter and that little bit more joyfully.
I am rather looking forward to seeing some truly stunning gardens, private through the Yellow Book and in the ‘Show’ setting this year.  I have avidly gone through the said Yellow Book and marked gardens which from the description alone sound like a plant heaven and we shall set off in the 2cv for countless jollies across the country - can’t wait!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Win a Chelsea Flower Show Garden

If you are popping out to purchase a weekend paper today, make sure its The Times.

Today Bradstone with the Times Newspaper have opened a competition to win the Bradstone Biodiversity Garden created for Chelsea Flower Show 2010.

The garden is to be given totally free to one winner who will be invited down to Chelsea Flower Show.  The winner will be shown around the Show by myself before I arrive in their garden to recreate a little piece of Chelsea Magic.

Below are the links for the Times terms & conditions and the RHS Chelsea website preview of the Bradstone Garden.

Times Online Terms & Conditions

RHS Chelsea Flower Show - Bradstone Biodiversity Garden.

Should you purchase the Times today, you will also get to read an interview with me - there had to be a down I hear you cry!

If you decide to go for it you will need to purchase the newspaper (Open to UK Residents only) -  And Good Luck, fingers crossed I will see you in May!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

2 Thank You's

Thank you to everyone who has emailed me thanking me for giving my talk at the RHS Halls in London recently.  It was fun, I really enjoyed the other speakers subjects.  It was a really interesting day with a great mix of people speaking.

Secondly I wanted to thank everyone who came last night to hear me speak at Wotton Under Edge Gardening Club.  I was so pleased to have been invited.   What a fun, informed, plant loving crowd.  I hope your spring sale goes well and look forward to meeting those of you who are coming to Chelsea Flower Show and the rest of you at other horticultural places over the summer.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Retrospectively February

February - I shall remember you as a month of bitter cold and snow.  Having said that the snow at the nursery last week came as a total surprise as I had been working in Hampshire, which was a fantastically enjoyable experience, but under glorious sunshine.   
I did spend a day as an invited speaker at Vincent Square and even there through the windows of the horticultural halls  I could see a mixture of driving rain and sleet descending on London.
Its hard to think about plants during such dreary weather especially if you cannot get outside to see them.  This is such a pity as February had some wonderful plants to offer us.
At the Rococo Garden, in between the showers, I have been cataloguing the different Galanthus in the garden on behalf of the Trust.  Amongst the varieties in the garden I found pleasingly large collections of :
Galanthus atkinsii - Named after John Atkins who lived on the Painswick estate. 
Galanthus atkinsii ‘James Backhouse’ - The charming irregular form which is my current favorite.
Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’ - Lovely large blunt outer petals slightly lifted.
Galanthus ‘Lynn’ - Most people agree this is superior to G. atkinsii, being larger and hanging beautifully.
Galanthus ‘John Sales’ - slim and understated.
Although some clumps are small, the garden has one of the United Kingdoms largest natural plantings of both G. nivalis and more dramatic on sight, G. atkinsii.
Of course February is also one of the best month’s for Witch-hazel, and outside of species collections in Botanic Gardens one of the most stunning collections can be found at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens just outside of Romsey.
(Picture: Hamamelis sp)
I first fell for the subtle charms of the witch hazel whilst studying horticultural taxonomy at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh and I have found it an endlessly interesting genus ever since.
The horticultural name means, ‘together with fruit’ as the fruit, flowers and next years leaf buds all appear on the branch simultaneously, quite unusual in the plant world.  For a long time the Persian Ironwood was treated as a Hamemelis, but it is now known in its own right as Parrotia persica.
One of my favorite yellow flowering species is Hamamelis virginiana which is native to North America predominantly from Nova Scotia to Minnesota.  Like all Hamamelis it makes a stunning deciduous large shrub.  The branches whilst not horizontal do produce a distinct inverted vase shape with time.  The flowers are pale yellow to intense butter yellow with a wonderful fragrance.  The bark and leaves were used by native Americans in the treatment of external inflammations. I am also very found of Hamamelis virginiana var. mexicana, it just looks special. 
(Picture: Hamamelis virginiana)
Hamamelis virginiana  is most likely the origin of Pond’s Cream.  A healing cream invented by a scientist called Theron T. Pond in around 1846.  Pond extracted a tea from Witch Hazel with which he could heal small cuts and ailments.  
In 1925 Queen Marie of Romania visited the United States and enjoyed the product so much she wrote to the Ponds company requesting more supplies, the letter was used as a precursor to the modern day ‘Celebrity’ endorsement in an advertising campaign.  Pond’s today is owned by Unilever.
(Picture: Hamemalis vernalis)
Another American species I am fond of is Hamemalis vernalis, often occurring with H. virginiana it does not cross pollinate and hybridise and can be easily identified as it flowers in Late winter.  Also the leaves are dark green with a glaucose underside and most tellingly the flowers are bright red to orange.  This species has a number of popular cultivars selected from it including H. ‘Red Imp’ which has strong red petals with orange tips.
Many of us will know Hamamelis mollis, this genus is native to China, particularly in the East.  H. mollis with its golden autumn colourings was first introduced to the United Kingdom in 1879 by Charles Maries and the form H. mollis ‘Coombe Wood’  which has a more spreading habit and larger than average flowers is the form he originally brought back.  Later H. mollis  was also introduced by Ernest Wilson and the form H. mollis ‘Jermyns Gold’ is believed to be one of the forms he brought back in 1918. 
Crossed with Hamamelis japonica to form Hamamelis x intermedia, it has gone on to produce some of the most well loved garden Witch Hazels.
(Photo: Hamamelis japonica)
After spending so much time talking about Witch Hazel it may come as a surprise that I don’t have a single plant in my garden.  I claim as an excuse the fact that we are scaling down our garden and collection of plants in an attempt to move but rest assured when space allows they will make a welcome appearance.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Creating a Garden on 3 t's

At last the sun has shone down on the garden at Painswick and the snowdrops are looking stunning.  I have to admit I have a new favorite in the form of Galanthus atkinsii ‘James BackHouse‘ its abnormal growth habit makes it look rather quite jolly and indifferent to the perfection of other types such as G. ‘Magnet’.

(Photo: The 3 Counties Showground)
I Travelled to the 3 Counties Agricultural Society Show Ground last week and was struck by the rich brown colours of the hedgerows, I wondered if against the moody backdrop of the overcast Malvern Hills the foreground colour’s were enlivened, seeming to almost leap out at us along the way.  It would be naughty of me to spoil the surprises in store for Spring Gardening Show visitor’s this year, but I can say it is very exciting.  I also notice the large number of Wellingtonia, or correctly named, Sequoiadendron giganteum around Eastnor Castle. 

Sequoiadendron giganteum is the sole species of the genus and one of 3 species which make up the group of plants known as redwoods.  All in Cupressaceae, the others are, Seqouia sempervirens & the rather beautiful Metasequoia glyptostroboides.  Growing to a towering average height of 280ft, 85m in the English landscape with the sun behind them Sequoiadendron giganteum dominate in an electrifyingly prehistoric way.  The oldest recorded specimen is 3500 years old and on average each tree bears 11,000 cones dispersing 400,000 seed annually.  In 1853 John Lindley gave the tree its invalid name of Wellingtonia gigantea.  Wellingtonia had already been given to Wellingtonia arnottiana, in a different floral family.  

(Photo: Sequoiadendron giganteum)
Wellingtonia is the most common name for this plant in England but sadly it was not the last, in 1854 Joseph Decaisne renamed the tree as Sequoia gigantea but again this name was invalid for the same taxonomic reasons and later in the same year it was renamed as Washingtonia californica, which you will guess was invalid as the name Washingtonia applies to a genus of palms.  This naming process carried on until 1939 when it was final given its current name.  Sequoiadendron first appeared in Britain in 1853 and spread through Europe from then.  The great plant collector William Lobb collected a large amount of seed in 1853 for the Veitch Nursery.  In England it is a fast growing tree, reaching at Benmore, Scotland 177ft, 54m in 150 years.
(Photo: Sequoiadendron giganteum immature cone)
That is my first T, my second was an amusing encounter I had in Thomas Cook, not very plant orientated you may say, but I was actually trying to book flights for a plant observation and seed collecting trip we are beginning to organise.  There is a lot of, and rightly so, paperwork and planning needed to ensure we are doing things correctly.  I digress.  So I approach a sun kissed lady and asked if she knew about direct flights to Tel Aviv from the United Kingdom, to which she replied ‘No I don’t know really, its not a beach destination is it?’  Suffice to say we are now flying British Airways.
My last T for this imaginary garden of T's is slightly tenuous but is linked by travel and my writing if not person are travelling abroad this month.

(Photo: January's Garden Design Magazine Issue Cover)
From now until June I will be publishing a series of posts mostly relating to elements I am including in a Show Garden I will be creating at Chelsea Flower Show this year.  I have been invited to do this by the editorial team at Garden Design Magazine.  This is a fantastic American gardening magazine which has a great content formula not to mention their annual awards for design projects.  The online portion of the magazine is also fantastically interesting with a huge mix of content.
You can read my first contribution here.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

An Extraordinary Stroke of Luck

We have had a stroke of unbelievable luck, and as such we have been in and out of the house checking if it has really happened.
Normally such erratic behavior is the precursor to a batch of rare seed being sown and the time leading up to their germination.  However this is no plant and as such this is a blog which as a rule I rarely make.  
Recently whilst returning from a client we stopped in Minchinhampton for lunch and a stretch of the legs, in a shop window quite by chance, we discovered an advert offering a 1979 2cv6 for sale.  

Almost immediately I was carried away thinking about it, a sign I decided as I was born in 1979 and we had  had a 2cv before.  A 1984 special in bright red which we loved unconditionally but we were forced, reluctantly, to sell it.  We had always missed our 2cv and always  imagined owning one again.
The 1979 model is the first of the modern 2cv, complete with the body we all love and having the 6 window openings.

Over the past few days whilst top dressing and working on various projects we have began talking tentatively about the 2cv.  Our comical conversations would start along the lines of, ‘If I link the social characteristics of the space by creating unified street furniture could you imagine driving to Paris in it with the roof rolled down?’ or ‘Have you printed all the labels for the woronowii and how many crates do you think we could put in the 2cv if we took it with us when we give a talk?’  More and more the conversation left the real world and centered on the world of the 2cv.  We decided to go and view it on Friday afternoon.

The advert told very little of its condition or history, and the gentleman we met on a windy street in the cotswolds was slightly erratic to say the least.  He told us how he had owned it for 20 years and used it everyday.  He had replaced the chassis, a wise precaution to old age sagging.  We sat in every seat and felt quite comfortable, it seemed the wire hooks and rubbers which keep you upright were in good condition.
The old man rolled the roof back and even with a biting wind we felt rather excited at the thought of driving off in it, leaving the luxury of my mothers ultra modern volvo behind us.

A test drive did not take place, we had seen, and heard enough and asked if he would be happy to sell it to us.  Luckily for us he liked us and agreed so now we are the extremely happy owners, once again, of this little piece of motoring history, a dare I say it rather economical icon.
We have already begun to make plans of a trip through France into Italy for this August and several weekend trips to Cornwall & Suffolk.
I know this is a plant blog but I feel we will have many plant hunting trips and journeys of horticultural discovery in our new little car.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

One Year On

Swimming my lengths this morning at the gym I realised the past year has been a long journey in many ways but in reality a small time of a few months and I thought it would be interesting to look at the changes over the course of a year at our nursery.

We took over the nursery at the Rococo Garden last December and opened eagerly but knowing we wanted to do a lot more with the site over time.

(The Entrance to the Nursery January 2010)

During the closed period, November & December we ordered new tables from StageCraft and laid ton’s of hoggin, all by hand, a job which is much more satisfying retrospectively.

We incorporated a new show border, greenhouse, new signage and working areas.  To add to the tables we bought last year we purchased a further 8 and plan for a further 10 mid-season. 

Overall we are pleased with the shape the nursery has taken and since the Garden opened on 10th January we have seen a steady flow of customers, both new and old who have been very complimentary.

All this change means we can continue to trial plants in the borders and increase the number of plants we grow.  We will be going to a number of plant fairs this year which is really exciting.  One thing we are still undecided on is the creation of a paper catalogue, we keep an up to date on-line encyclopaedia, but I often wonder that there is something very magical about a paper plant catalogue and the ability to dream gardens into creation from them.

Every time we stop for a tea break we seem to sit and gaze out over our collection of plants which we have seen in most cases from seed to 2 ltr plant, we never stop feeling very lucky to have our nursery at the Rococo Garden, its a business, an escapism, a joy and an intrinsic part of our plant hoarding characters.

(The potted Snowdrops  - January 2010)

(Our dogs - January 2010)

(Buxus Balls - January 2010)

(Primula 'Lady Greer' & Scilla - January 2010)

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


Taking my last post about Snowdrops I have created using a great application called wordle this word montage.

I hope you like it.


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