Plant Fair or Rare Plant fair? Arley Hall May 2012
Uncomfortable whispers surrounded the gathering stalls, “was this a plant fair or rare plant fair?” I can assure you this was advertised as a Plant Heritage Plant Fair. But conversations were herd to examined the nursery plant stalls. The plants were very frustratingly comparable to garden centre plants with a disappointing range of genus. More than fifteen stalls sat saturated in mid-day sunshine with the stall holder wind bitten to the core in a dreadfully exposed court yard. There was a vast number if herbaceous plants with a suggestible hint of Alpines and Shrubs. I am more than happy to remove and open my wallet for the plant fair nurserymen because I appreciate the hard work, dedication and moral hardship in aid of locally grown , hardy plants. But I am not buying a herbaceous plant just as an expression of gratitude. I want to see the hard core, regular plants people serviced. I appreciate nurserymen need to supplement their livelihoods with reliable sales material but please don’t forget us select, exclusive members.
For the day, Arley Hall had reduced the garden admission which was excellent value. The gardens were heaped with colour and displayed some spectacular specimens.
Two Snowdrop Trees, ‘Halesia carolina’ were flowering at their best. Each tree more than five metres high and thickly clothed in white hanging bells from the grass to the sky. The ground was certainly moisture retentive and the aspect was subtly protection from the afternoon sun. Two Halesia species have personally grown well for me, Halesia carolina which is more widely available with smaller flowers, and the more spectacular Halesia monticola, with twice as big flowers and growth of substantial vigour.
It’s always a special moment when a plantsman recognizes a plant of distinction for the first time. For me it is hard to contain myself, because I do look a little unsophisticated jumping on the spot pointing and shouting at a pure white, species hybrid of Cornus florida x Cornus nuttallii. A Cornus Named C. ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ for me it is like watching a major football game and not joining in with the crowd.
Cornus ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ was hybridised in America but grows here in the North West of England very reliably and was seen here today in mid-May at its most excellent. Huge white bracts which are mistaken for flowers intensely covering the whole plant, I now need to return to Arley Hall in the autumn to witness the spectacular autumn colours which are reliably produced on this amazing Cornus.
The rarely seen Staphyllea pinnata, commonly called The “Bladder Nut” was something of highest perfection. Standing over five metres tall with the leaves hardly visible, covered in Berberis looking white panicles. Staphylea is a very close relative to Stachyurus which is often noticeable in the individual flower structure, an easy shrub to grow in many soil types, sun or shade. Unfortunately rarely sold at nurseries which is astounding considering plants germinated readily from seed. However if you find the right adoring nursery you may find a Staphyllea at a ‘Rare Plant Fair.’
Kevin Pratt at email@example.com
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