Friday, 03 May 2013 10:41

First garden show of the year

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It was small but almost perfectly formed. It was the Spring garden show at The Garden Museum at Lambeth Palace.  On Sunday a friend and I paid a visit. Entry was cheap at £5. The show consisted of about ten plant stalls - some outside and some in the church, plus a number of other stalls selling things of interest like greeting cards with fabulous photos of plants which made me very jealous and were only £1.50 each - see

The event was well attended though I have to say the lunch and coffee tables seemed the busiest places but that may have been because we arrived at about 11.30am and the attendees were inevitably somewhat on the older side.

There were three real highlights for me. The first was that the outside stalls were set amongst the fabulous churchyard which is so evocative. Ancient tombs and stones surrounded by ‘wild’ planting in one section (daffs, tulips, Brunnera, grasses) and the other stalls amongst the formal box beds of the knot garden with a fabulous range of interesting plants.


And all surrounded by modern office buildings on one side and the ancient palace on another, a little green haven amongst the busy roads around Lambeth Bridge and St Thomas’ hospital.

The second highlight was that a number of the exhibitors were small nurseries you don’t find at the larger shows and some had some very specialist plants.

The third was that, having thought I’d buy nothing, I bought four plants. For those of you who know me this will not be a surprise. I am a sucker for plants and just can’t resist when I see something lovely or different and interesting. This time I think I have real spaces for at least three of the four.

Two were from a nursery specialising in glasshouse plants – a Solanum laciniatum which is destined for my terrace fence and to climb up the South facing kitchen wall, and a pretty, small, pink flowering, shrubby thing which I have subsequently been informed by the nursery is Boronia cremulata.  I have researched it further and it turns out that it is a shrub, it's native to SW Australia, is evergreen, may be in flower for most of the year (wow!), is hardy to minus 3/6 C and can grow to about 1m both ways, so I'll have to move it into a bigger pot at some point. At the moment I am treating it like Thyme!

My only complaint is that this nursery did not name their plants, either with labels on the pots or with ties or even plastic tags. I had to ring and email them to identify the Boronia and I had to search online to identify the Solanum. All I was told was that it should be hardy enough to survive London climates. I worked out from Google images and various websites that it is Solanum laciniatum and I have checked its hardiness out. It is hardy to US zones 9 – 11 (which to us Europeans means to minus 3.9 C and even possibly minus 6.7 C), so she should be right. Its Australian common name is Kangaroo apple (it has toxic fruits too) but, as we all know, it is part of the potato family. It has large purple flowers with yellow centres and lovely black stems and is similar to the much more tender Solanum rantonnetii and has much larger flowers than the more normal Solanum crispum ’Glasnevin’ so it’ll be fun to see how it goes. Apparently it is equally rampant and its stems will turn woody – but that’s fine by me.

I also bought a Clematis viticella to go through the new Camelia at the back of the pink bed (C. Abundance AGM) from Priorswood Clematis and a new, very pretty and old fashioned, cottage-garden-looking pink Salvia called ‘Dyson’s Joy’ from Dyson’s Nurseries at Great Comp. It’s two shades of pink/purple with small flowers and a shrubby appearance. No photo yet because it is not in flower (but they had one on display). It’s in the cold frame hardening off for a couple of weeks at their instruction. I’ll keep you updated.

So, altogether, it was a lovely couple of hours in an amazing setting and I’m very pleased with my purchases - even if I didn't know exactly what I came back with to begin with - but that's part of the fun, isn't it? And now I know what they are I am even more excited about them, and they all look great.

Read 54586 times Last modified on Wednesday, 01 October 2014 09:22