Plant Heritage Plant Fair

5 May 2013

I haven’t had much time in the garden the last couple of days. As a volunteer with the Dorset Branch of Butterfly Conservation, I sometimes attend events to raise the profile of butterflies and moths – and, of course, the organisation as well. Today we were at the plant fair organised by the Dorset Group of Plant Heritage: previously known as the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens. It was heaven for a plantaholic like me – 17 local plant nurseries selling interesting plants for sensible prices. If you ever get a chance to attend one of these plant fairs, do take it: besides the plants, you can gain so much from talking to the stallholders, who have often grown the plants themselves, or at least know the supplier from whom they come – you won’t get the stock answers you find in books or online, you’ll get information gained from hands-on experience of growing the plants you are buying.

So what did I buy?

Left: Epimedium sulphureum. Centre: Uvularia Grandiflora. Right: Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost'.

Left: Epimedium sulphureum. Centre: Uvularia Grandiflora. Right: Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’.

Epimedium sulphureum – a dainty plant which likes shade, and has delicate yellow flowers. I’ve got an area in the garden where the boundary used to be marked by an old outbuilding and some scruffy leylandii; we removed both these, and put in a high chain-link fence, up which we’ve grown ivy (well, it’s largely grown itself!) It would have been nice to have had more hedge, but the garden is too narrow, so we settled for this “fedge” as they are called, being a cross between a fence and a hedge. As the ivy gets thicker, the shade becomes deeper, so I’m on the look out for plants which will like this situation.

Uvularia grandiflora. Another shade-lover, though it’s one of those which grabs the chance to flower before shade from decidious trees becomes too deep, so it goes dormant in summer – meaning I’ll have to find a place where I won’t accidentally disturb it, and to label it well. (Unlike the 50-odd bulbs I’ve got coming up, which I can remember planting, but I can’t remember what they are – at least it should be a nice surprise!)

Liatris spicata. One for sunny spots, it has purple bottle-brush flowers, which are unusual in opening from the top down – most plants open from the bottom up – think foxgloves. It is reputed to be good for both butterflies and bees, but I’ve never kept one long enough for it to flower as yet: I’m sure this year will be the year (perhaps).

Aloysia citrodora – otherwise known as Lemon Verbena. These are borderline hardy even is southern England, but I’ll take it into the greenhouse in autumn, where it should overwinter successfully. The smell of the leaves is gorgeous – lemon, but with a sherbert fizz. I shall have it in a pot on the patio, so I can sniff it frequently.

Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’. Another one which is not frost-hardy: I tend to treat them as annuals, though they might survive the winter if I took them into the greenhouse. Both foliage and flowers are very airy, and the flowers go on and on.

I hasten to add that I did also spend time on the Butterfly stall, and there were several other helpers to keep things going whilst I was indulging my plantaholic tendencies. We had a great day, talking to a lot of enthusiastic gardeners, many of whom said:  “you don’t see as many butterflies as you used to”, which is sadly true: three quarters of butterflies are known to be declining either in terms of how many there are, or in how widespread they are. Butterfly Conservation works to halt these declines, and all we gardeners can do something to help by growing plants they like.

We had glorious weather, and it wasn’t a bad place to spend the afternoon, as you can see below. This photo was taken from the stall of Martin Young of Nectar Plants in Weymouth, who kindly arranged for us to attend this event – thanks, Martin.

Athelhamton House

Athelhamton House

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One Comment to “Plant Heritage Plant Fair”

  1. That link should be .com instead of .org Lyn.

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