HOME AND AWAY
One of the joys of being a plantsman is the opportunity of growing unusual plants or different forms of more common ones. For example, did you know there is a near prostrate form of the shrubby potentilla? It’s a variety called ‘Manchu’ that grows a metre across but only reaches a third of that in height. The downside to this obsession is often, after deciding what the ideal plant is for a spot in the garden, discovering there is no supplier nearby (or sometimes not even in the country). Abutilon ochsenii and pelargonium schlecteri fall into this latter category.
After moving some paeonies last autumn, I decided the vacant spot would be ideal for a rhaphiolepis, an evergreen shrub from southeast Asia. It is disease and pest free, has dark green leathery leaves and white flowers with a pale pink tinge in early summer. There is also a cultivar called ‘Spring Song’ with flowers of a more definite pink, carried over a longer period. But I set my heart on ‘Coates Crimson’ with blooms of a darker colour. Where could I get one?
I checked the RHS Plant Finder and found a nursery in Hertfordshire who did mail order. Bingo. Then I looked at their website and discovered they only send out smaller plants. The rhaphiolepis only came in large pots and would not be delivered. It looked like a long trip was on the cards.
But this afternoon I nipped down to our local ‘cheap and cheerful’ Garden Centre to order my supplies of compost, grit, etc for the coming year and, lo and behold, nestling among their shrubs was rhaphiolepis ‘Coates Crimson.’ So now I have it – but perhaps it’s not so rare as I thought. I’ll have to find that abutilon to make up for it.
- 11 Feb, 2008
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