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Do You Take Plastic?


By AndrewR


Three times in the spring, and once (or twice) in the autumn, the RHS hold small Flower Shows at their halls in London. Although the crowds are thinner these days, there are still some good plants to be had if you look carefully. I nearly didn’t go to the one today, but in the end decided to go and look at the small bulbs in flower, with a view to buying some more cheaply in the autumn. But then pots kept jumping off the tables and somehow followed me home.

First off was chrysoplenium macrophyllum. The leaves look a bit like those of a bergenia, but the flower is completely different. It should form a clump about two feet across in dry shade.

I first saw echium russicum at Inverewe Garden in 2010. It is a red-flowered relation of our native viper’s bugloss. It’s a biennial (or a short-lived perennial), and although hardy (it comes from Russia), it does need a well-drained soil in sun to help it through our wet winters.

I wasn’t going to buy any more hellebores – until I saw this one – it’s labelled as helleborus x hybridus dark shades. The foliage will take on more green hues as the season progresses, but the brighter the spot, the darker it will remain. I just need to decide whether to plant it with white-flowered hellebores, or beside a form with silvery leaves.

Next was a shrub, illicium simonsii. This is another woodlander with pale yellow flowers. I discussed this one for a long time with Sue Wynn-Jones from Crug Farm (who were selling it). Her label says it reaches two metres, but the one I saw at Plas Newydd, near her nursery, was closer to five meters. We decided it was a slow grower. This was a bit of an impulse buy, but by moving two other shrubs, discarding some crocosmia and an overgrown carex, I will have just the right spot for it. My only book that mentions it, remarks on the purple stems, but this was the only one with this attribute on the stand.

I am trying to build an assortment of lobelais in a damp spot in my front garden. So this one, lobelia x gerardii ‘Vedrariensis’, with blue/purple flowers was another good find.

Finally, another ground-cover plant from Crug Farm. This is pachysandra axillaris ‘Crug’s Cover.’ It has white, scented flowers, reminiscent of sarcococca. It likes shade but not dry (unlike pachysandra terminalis), and may prove invasive in ideal conditions.

With cold weather due to return, it will be a few days before these get planted.

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Good shopping!! it's nice to pick up some more uncommon plants.I particularly like the Chrysoplenium!

19 Feb, 2013


All very interesting plants Andrew, as usual.

19 Feb, 2013


Sounds like an excellent shopping trip! I love that dark purple hellebore. Hope you have better luck with the lobelia than I have with mine, I can't keep the slugs from devouring them, stripping the stems when I'm not looking.

19 Feb, 2013


Plants do have a habit of choosing their owners Andrew........
I,d say that they chose well.....

19 Feb, 2013


something different there to the normal plants, a good shopping day Andrew :o)

19 Feb, 2013


That's what I call shopping.

19 Feb, 2013


nice haul there Paul. love the seeds nicely all over my garden.

19 Feb, 2013


Very nice selection, thats my ideal shopping trip..

20 Feb, 2013


@Sandra - Paul? Errr, that's my brother and he isn't the gardener in his family

20 Feb, 2013


By coincidence, I just spotted the RHS show you went to in a magazine - 'too late' was my reaction. I'd love to have gone - lucky you!

Wonderful selection. :-)

20 Feb, 2013


too far away from me.lovely selection. like the pachysandra too.

20 Feb, 2013


By the way, did they take plastic? lol.

21 Feb, 2013


Yes, they did :-)

21 Feb, 2013


LOL. Whenever I go to a plant fair or show, my husband aks if I've got mine with me! I think he knows me by now. ;-D

22 Feb, 2013


Lucky you Andrew, I'm getting desperate to buy new plants. Those hellebore leaves are lovely, but I suppose we'll have to wait until next year for the flowers? I'll be interested to see your illicium in flower, not one I know. Is the chrysoplenium perfumed? That pachysandra looks to me as though it has evil intent lol I should keep an eye on it:-)

24 Feb, 2013


I think the one you'll have to keep your eye on Andrew is the chrysoplenium, does wander & creep here, but I love it, and as Sandra says the echium is gorgeous.

3 Mar, 2013


Pam - it's welcome to creep. I've planted it at the foot of an Irish yew which ought to keep it in check

3 Mar, 2013

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