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A Day Out In The Cotswolds


By AndrewR


Yesterday was the official launch of Evolution Plants, a new plant nursery near Bradford-on-Avon. As if that wasn’t reason enough to visit, Dan Hinkley was giving a talk.

Who is Dan Hinkley I hear you ask? He’s an American plant hunter, probably best described as a cross between Roy Lancaster and Indiana Jones! He and his partner ran a nursery on the West Coast of America at Heronswood, stocked with his discoveries, before selling up and moving to a new location on the coast. I have two of his plant books, and his sense of humour shines though in his writing, so I was looking forward to hearing him speak.

We set off at 9am, intending to look round the nursery, before the talk at midday. However, we got stuck in traffic – there was a major accident in Chippenham, and a festival of Japanese cars at nearby Castle Coombe, so we were nearly an hour late arriving. We decided to head straight to the talk venue, Belcombe Park (about ten minutes away from the nursery) where we had a very quick look at the grounds, before grabbing a cup of coffee and getting a seat in the packed hall (250 tickets had been sold for the event).

Dan didn’t disappoint. He held us spellbound for almost an hour and a half, with stories and pictures of his expeditions to China, Vietnam and Myanmar. Appalling weather, terrifying mountain climbs, giant leaches and snakes were just some of the obstacles he faced, but the plants – well, I was in heaven.

Then it was back to the Plant Nursery for a ‘souvenir’, before returning home (avoiding Chippenham). Evolution Plants is very small so far, but I am sure it will grow over the next couple of years. The plants are interesting and obscure, but the labeling needs improving as none of the staff seemed to know how big the plants were or what conditions they needed (although they were continually checking on the nursery website to answer questions). As well as receiving a complimentary plant (hypericum interior – see, I told you the plants obscure), I bought a dwarf lily with orange Turkscap flowers, and napaea dioica (which has rhubarb type leaves, and small, white mallow flowers).

A great day out.

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Sounds like a wonderful day out - and you get the excuse to bring home a few plants! You can't travel all that way without at least buying something can you?
Whenever you now look at the plants it will remind you of a great day out, even if you spent some of it in a traffic jam.

11 May, 2014


Andrew sounded like a good day, I am watching with interest almost on my doorstep have seen his catalog only thing putting me off are his prices but feel they will have to change if he is to succeed.
He is well tied up with the AGS and the Westbury mob are well heeled but he will need more.

11 May, 2014


Glad you made it in time, would have been tragic to miss the talk, I would imagine it was very difficult for you to find something that you do not grow in your garden!!

12 May, 2014


Not at all. Like Crug Farm, they sell stuff that nobody else does as the owner goes off to far-flung places and collects the seed himself. But you take the chance you haven't bought a weed that's going to run beserk or self-sow everywhere. The dwarf lily is OK, but the jury is out on the other two.

12 May, 2014

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