Nurseries in Britain have got pretty boring of late. An explosion of small nurseries mostly selling perennials in the early noughties has meant that new and ‘ordinary’ gardeners now have lots of choice. Trouble is – they sell nearly all the same stuff and the plantsman gets increasingly frustrated in their search for the new and unusual. “They all sell the same plants because they buy them all from me” is the comment of one of the country’s leading supplier of small plants – in other words they are buying in, not propagating themselves.
Derry Watkins of Special Plants near Bath www.specialplants.net was, is and, inshallah, will continue to be a great source of the new and good. She still does a few plant sales, as much as to pounce on new plants from other nurseries, as much as to sell, I suspect. Walking around her sales area her transatlantic whoops and screams of enthusiasm about her new plant varieties makes customer heads turn. For example, she has a form of Ranunculus aconitifolius ‘Flore Pleno’ which she says, “doesn’t just die out, but is really vigorous”. Derry has always done a lot of tender/half-hardy species – and her range is just as lively as it always was. On the edge of a wonderful stretch of country too.
Kevock Garden Plants <www.kevockgarden.co.uk> I have not been to yet, but their plant selection online looks really good. Lots of stuff I’ve not seen before, and of course many which thrive in cooler northern climates. Particularly good on Himalayan primulas, with quite a few recent introductions. Can’t wait for a trip up to Edinburgh and get to see them.
Beeches Nursery in Essex www.beechesnursery.co.uk appears whenever you do an RHS Plant Finder search – their list is absolutely ginormous. But I have always been sceptical about how much of it they actually have, so on the way back from Stansted airport last week I dropped in. Still not sure about how much of their list is actually available on the nursery, but it is a huge selection and the site is nice and tidy, a pleasure to look around. I found a lot which was totally unfamiliar. Well-established plants too. From now on, every trip abroad via. the infamously inconvenient airport will include a visit here.
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