A beautiful sunny day for Great Dixter’s plant fair yesterday. And it’s still on today…
I squeaked in just in time for Marina Christopher’s talk on Plants for Pollinators. Umbellifers were a key player. Here she is (below) showing a cow parsley – their more bitter scent appealing to flies more than butterflies, they are a valuable plant to attract overflies. She also pointed out that their hollow stem makes a good overwintering spot for hoverflies, and so it is worth leaving some standing until Spring.
William Dyson of Dyson Nurseries at Great Comp spoke next, with a useful discussion on Salvias, their relative merits and issues. Amongst those for sale one of my favourites, Salvia discolor, with its stunning black flower and green calyxes. Like many it is tender so one to take care of over winter and use for cuttings early in the spring.
A new nursery to watch is one started up recently by the Salutation‘s Steve Edney and his partner Louise Dowle. They are growing some of their favourite plants tested over the years as head and deputy head gardeners. I bought Aster ‘Salutation’, a clean pink novi angliae type with a lovely yellow centre and some seeds of stunning annual Panicum ‘Frosted Explosion’.
The Belgian nurseries often come up trumps with innovative plants, and De Hessenhof had some irresistible ones. I was tempted by a lovely umbellifer with sparse feathery foliage – however its rather delicate look made me worry about how it fared with competition. Hans confirmed that it prefers a spot to itself, so I left that one, although I would be interested to hear others’ experiences of it. He also had the Berkheya which was the star plant of Sue Wilmott and Adele Ford’s Coastal Drift garden at Hampton Court.
I eventually chose some Dienanthe bifida, a herbaceous hydrangea-type with large leaves and here in its rare pink form. It likes moist shade with plenty of humus, so will be great in a damp woodland spot.
I also bought several Vernon glauca – a lovely variety that flowers slightly later and has a smaller footprint than the more normal V.angustifolia.
At the end of the afternoon I wandered through the gardens to see what Fergus and the team have been up to. Some characteristically Christo combinations, with pink and yellows and purples and oranges. Love it.
If you don’t make it to the Plant Fair today, Marina is hosting a visit from The Garden Museum to Bury Court Gardens next Wednesday 10th October 2012. Tickets available on the Garden museum website. Or I will be taking a group to see her next year, if you can wait that long!