Monday, July 9, 2012

Cornish nurseries

No gardening trip would be complete without visiting a few nurseries and returning home with a car full of plants. With Philip in America I don't have to make excuses for the expenditure! (Hope he doesn't read this!) I love the fact that many of the plants in my garden carry memories, either of the people who generously gave them to me or the places where I bought them.

I resisted the temptation to buy anything in the Hestercombe plant sales area on the way down but did stop at the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery near Lostwithiel. Although having its origins in a simple forestry nursery, it has for many years stocked a wide range of plants including many unusual species. (Would this be the influence of HRH?)It is a little surprising to turn off the main road and follow a very narrow single carriageway between high Cornish hedgerows and then to find a well-stocked and organised plant centre. This has recently been refurbished with a smart new building, car park,  cafe and greenhouse. I resisted buying much as this was the beginning of my week and didn't want plants sitting in the car for too long. However I was delighted to buy a very strong healthy looking plant of Sinocalycanthus raulstonii 'Hartlage Wine'. Regular readers will know of my desire for this plant and you can check back to the earlier 'Sinocalycanthus saga' of trying to obtain it. I also bought  Persicaria 'Golden Arrow' with sharply pointed golden leaves and deep pink flowers and a cerise Geranium called 'Patricia'. Both just right for my pink and yellow border in the front garden (I said I'd never mix those colours!)

My front garden - plenty of gold & purple but not much pink as yet! The golden Persicaria just in the bottom left hand corner.

The new Sinocalycanthus

The day of my visit to Burncoose Nursery was very damp and wet underfoot and maybe it was my mood but I didn't find much that either appealed to me or that I felt would be hardy in the Midlands. Strange - its a big enough nursery with thousands of plants! This nursery has exhibited at many of the major plant shows for many years and the interior of the building is plastered with awards, walls, ceiling - the lot! This is no mean feat, transporting plants all the way from the far end of Cornwall to get to 'mainland' shows  in peak condition. I know  - I did it when we ran Brockings! I did however buy an Ugni molinae 'Flambeau' (renamed from Myrtus) with pretty pink leaves and a delicate green Pittosporum with undulating leaves called 'Wrinkles Blue'. It seems to be the same as one I used to have that made a very fine plant and was hardy for many years. I want to use it to replace the eucalyptus in the front garden that is getting far too big. The previous specimen of this pittosporum made a small tree like an evergreen birch.

Ugni molinae 'Flambeau

Pittosporum 'Wrinkles Blue'
Then the highlight of my nursery visits was to Hardy Exotics just outside Penzance. For exotic plant aficionados this is certainly THE place for a pilgrimage. This is not a  tidy nursery and there is no cafe, toilets, gardens or any other facilities - just loads of plants. Although I say that it doesn't have a garden, it sits within an area absolutely overgrown with lush planting. Clive and Julie who run the nursery are dedicated plants people who have a wide knowledge of exotic plants. They have their own hardiness rating which consists of one to three stars on the labels which gives an indication as to whether these plants grown in Cornwall, are likely to be hardy in tougher areas.

First view of Hardy exotics
One of the sales tunnels

The surrounding landscape
And Gunnera thrives!

The pay point and the Pseudopanax that isn't a Schefflera!
My haul of plants may not be particularly rare but after recent winters I've become a bit cautious so I bought

Arundo donax (I've the lost the variegated one so many times!)
Fatshedera 'Annameike' ( I really want Fatsia 'Annelise' but can't get it)
Impatiens omeiana (fell in love with it at Heligan)
Persicaria filliformis (dark blotches)
Persicaria 'Compton's Form' similar but couldn't decide which to buy!)
Asarum 'Chen-Yi' - nice little ground cover for damp shady spots - no problem this year!
Cortaderia richardii - so much more delicate than the other pampas or is it pampi?

X Fatshedera 'Annameike

After a detailed conversation and dropping a clanger by confusing a Pseudopanax with a Schefflera, I was taken by Clive to his 'private' tunnel.  Amongst the many treasure he showed me was a small batch of Schefflera taiwanense - a plant I particularly wanted to find on this trip and he agreed to sell me one.

My treasured Schefflera taiwanense

Finally having driven through thick fog in the early afternoon, I dropped in to Trevena Cross Nursery. This place is so extensive with a huge range of plants. By this time I was aware not so much that I had spent a small fortune but that there really weren't any gaps in my tiny garden anyway. However I couldn't resist a chunky plant of  Cornus florida 'Rainbow' priced at £9.95. I have admired this plant for a while but resisted at the usual price of £30+. This time I bought it! Great price for a good grafted plant. Not sure how it will thrive in my Nottingham soil but I'll give it a try.

My bargain Cornus 'Rainbow'

Plants like these awaiting planting make a valid summer display
Some have now been squeezed in to my garden but most potted to grow on with the aim of replacing some of the seasonal planting this autumn with permanent. Well - maybe but I do love some annuals....................


  1. Looks like you had a great trip and a lovely haul too! Did you get to Lower Keneggy Nursery? Steve always has some great plants too.

  2. Very nice, and dripping wet! This looks like the nurseries that folks in the Pacific NW frequent, at least the ones with more discriminating tastes.