Jun 022015
Judas tree

Bradford on Avon

You don’t see Judas trees much in this country, so I always like to stop and admire one when I see one – this one was in Bradford on Avon last week. Now I finally have one of my own, bought cheap at the plant sell-off at West Kington Nurseries a month or so ago. It’s a little multi-stemmed number and I’ve planted it in the widest area of my border, replacing a Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’, which has now been relegated to a large pot on the patio.

The Public Sale Days at this wholesale nursery are famed locally – a wide range of perennials, climbers, shrubs and trees are sold off at bargain prices. Perennials are a few quid, roses are £10. My neighbours have got the sale down to a fine art – get there when it opens at 9am (the all-important wheelbarrows run out pretty quickly), head straight for the expensive stuff (trees and shrubs), know exactly what you’re looking for, and don’t get sidetracked. It’s hard to not get carried away, stuffing everything you can get your hands on in your wheelbarrow. It’s odd what people walk out with – lots of people were buying big pots of daffodils in flower, which would have gone over in a few days.

As the morning wore on, the wheelbarrows ran out, and people were picking up each other’s by mistake. It was a thoroughly British affair – there was some loud tutting at wheelbarrows blocking routes to the plants, some pointed querying as to whether someone had jumped the queue to pay, and some light stalking of people heading back to their cars with their purchases in order to get their wheelbarrow. But it’s all good fun and well worth it – for about £70, I picked up the Judas tree, a decent-sized Hydrangea paniculata, one of my favourite roses, ‘Compassion’, and around ten perennials. The next sale is on 4 July, and while I’ve got little room left in my garden now for anything new, I’ll definitely go back.

Oct 092011


Yesterday I went round to Mel’s for afternoon tea. Before we all got a bit giddy on prosecco, smoked salmon sandwiches, scones, crumpets, chocolate brownies, jelly and ice cream and ginger cake* (phew), I had a nosey around her garden. Mel is chairwoman of Plant Heritage’s London Group and her garden, not surprisingly, has the mark of a plantswoman. It’s packed to the gunnells with interesting plants and she often opens it for the Yellow Book.

The peachy-coloured rose that you can see in the foreground is ‘Compassion’. It smelt amazing and Mel says it hasn’t stopped flowering since early summer. She’s pruned quite a lot of it back but leaves some to climb up the house – a prickly burglar deterrent.

*Mel’s ginger cake came courtesy of the National Garden Scheme website – they’ve started publishing recipes on there, which is a nifty idea.