|More loveliness that caught my attention!|
Top: Thomas Broom in action; watering cans à la mode; natural brush and pan
Middle: Ash wall planter (using wood from Ash dieback felled trees); Erigeron planter; Ash wall planters
Bottom: Succulents; Oak swing seats from Green Oak Furniture; Rabbit cushion (Thornback&Peel)
At the risk of over-egging the pudding, I've got to reiterate what an utterly brilliant time I had at the Grow London show last weekend. I chatted to design gods of the gardening world, Cleve West and Tom Stuart-Smith, quaffed some very nice wine, learned which flowers will make an edible bouquet, had my head filled with so many good ideas, watched how to make a delicious nasturtium pesto which I sampled over a huge tomato and an edible flower salad and then came home with a car boot full of beautiful plants.
|Purchased plants! (Hosta flowers are top right corner; bright pink Bletilla is centre.)|
I'd just finished cataloguing all the plants I'd bought at the show and was back indoors when the heavens opened and rain poured down. Win:win - I was dry, the plants were watered. The plants will live outside until I can plant them at the end of the week; they're destined for a client's part shady garden. I can't tell you how much joy I've had researching and choosing plants without spending any of my own money. Beauty without penury - bliss. I've been smiling all week.
I thought the real bonus of the show was the talks and demonstrations. I cherry-picked the ones of special interest to me - Cleve West talking about healing gardens, referencing his past work, specifically Horatio's Garden in Salisbury which he designed for patients with spinal injuries. Thomas Broom, the highly respected florist and Horticultural Manager at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, was another must see. He was putting together a bouquet made up entirely of edible flowers. Definitely one not to miss! Many anecdotes were told and tips given as he worked. He made it look so easy and yet the result was masterful and beautiful. (There will be a short follow up post soon on this subject.)
|Thomas and the finished bouquet|
I also dipped into Helen Yemm's talk about problems in the garden but the thought of plant shopping was distracting me. Sooooo many gorgeous plants! This is one of the brilliant things about attending a show like this - the growers are there to advise you so there's no guesswork - you tell them the site and situation of the planting area and suggestions are made. Looking at the size and condition of the plants, you know exactly what you're buying - something you don't get with mail order. The nurseries at the show were all specialists, offering plants that you're unlikely to come across in your local garden centre. I came home with my car boot stuffed with Astrantia 'Roma', Adiantum and Dryopteris ferns, an Abutilon vitifolium, Astilbes and Aruncus, Penstemons, Lavatera maritima, Bletilla striata and an Anemonopsis macrophylla. Whaaat? It took me a good half hour just to learn how to say it! The must-have plant though is Hosta rectifolia, a Japanese woodland plant said to be able to withstand slug onslaught - I was more than slightly sceptical but I'll be happy to be proved wrong. It's a pretty little thing, with long slender ribbed leaves and purpley-pink flowers so I hope it makes it. Wool pellets and gravel at the ready.
|Damian's pesto and salad demonstration|
Shall we have one last mention of the edible flowers cookery demonstration from Petersham Nurseries?Petersham restaurant's Head Chef, no less, Damien Clisby, showed us the ease of making a pesto from nasturtium leaves. Tiny baby leaves, a pinch of salt, some excellent flavoursome olive oil, some parmesan and pine nuts. Ground together with pestle and mortar and spooned over a huge beefsteak tomato. It was stunningly delicious. A salad of thinly sliced raw beetroot, broad beans, radish, leaves, pea shoots and coriander was dressed with olive oil and lemon - and a complete lack of vinegar. That guy really knows how to make fresh food sing. It was sublime. Sadly the prices at Petersham's restaurant are way beyond my budget but I can take inspiration from this demo and look with fresh eyes and interest at the food growing in my garden. More of which in my next post … :o)
My unusual plants came from Evolution Plants, a nursery I was very impressed with and would say is well worth visiting online or in person. A few more of my plants came from Glendon Plant Nursery and Hardy's Plants.