Thursday, 3 April 2014

RHS Great London Plant Fair

I filled in a survey for the RHS a few months ago. Some of the questions asked whether RHS membership was good value for money or not. I realised it is very good value for money, provided you make use of it, which I haven't really in the three years I've been a member.  So I vowed to make more of an effort and visit its gardens and partner gardens more often, and go to the London shows held in the RHS Horticultural Halls (which are free for members).

So after a heavy day of co-facilitating group counselling, followed by supervision, I got a train to Victoria and walked over to the halls, passing several people with narcissi-filled bags on the way!

The displays and the plants for sale in the Lawrence and Lindley Halls were a wonderful taste of spring, while the Early Daffodil Competition filled a wall with daffodils large and small. The RHS also ran tours of the Lindley Library in keeping with the theme of the show - gardening in a changing climate. We were shown huge, painstakingly written and preserved books and artworks from different eras, starting with the 1580s, and going all the way up to this century. It is amazing that botanical drawings were copied by hand, losing details and accuracy along the way. Some images, such as a drawing we saw of a banana plant, were not drawn accurately in the first place, and subsequent books featured hand-drawn copies of the same image - all with the bananas growing upside down!

I bought some cowslips (Primula veris) from Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants. I love Hardy's - they always put on a beautiful display at shows, like this display at Hampton Court in 2013. The poppies in the second photo are Papaver commutatum and the stunning white flowers in the third photo are Campanula 'Jenny'.

I've yet to visit their nursery in Hampshire, but it is on my to-visit list, not least because it is near the real Watership Down. Richard Adams' fantastic, epic novel was set in the surrounding countryside, and I long to visit the area one day, as the book and the 1978 film have been favourites of mine since childhood. Cowslip features in the book as a coveted source of food at the beginning, and as a bizarre rabbit in the middle.

I was advised to plant the cowslips in a grassy but unmowed area, and hopefully they will spread. Fingers crossed - I would love to have more of these beauties!

I got some lemon thyme and Moroccan mint from Pennards Plants - another showstopper. These photos are also from Hampton Court last year.

The lemon thyme smells incredible. I bumped into a friend on the train home and got him to smell these amazing herbs.

Finally, I was there for the plant sale before the show finished, when you can buy some of the plants that have been used in displays. I got a Primula auricula from the Silver Gilt medal-winning display by Cath's Garden Plants. I think this is Gold Lace.

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