Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Thursday, 17 October 2013

In the Footsteps of Plant Hunters: Evolution Plants


Yesterday was extraordinary. A new plant nursery was launched right here in Wiltshire and after a tough couple of years for the garden industry, it's great to have some unexpectedly good news to tell you. On a personal note, I'm pleased to have another quality specialist nursery so close to home.

Evolution Plants is owned by Tom Mitchell. He's a plant biologist by training, who like me languished in the world of banking until he woke up and saw sense. Well, he did admit his 'waking up' was whilst suffering from clinical depression, and all the people he consulted along the way to help make his business work said 'DON'T'.

But when a passion takes hold and no matter what the head may tell you, sometimes you have to follow your heart.

So, Tom became a plant hunter and travelled the world for 5 years collecting seeds from 3,000 plant species, some of which - including at least one new Genus - have yet to be named. Those precious seeds are now being grown on, ready for customers to place their first orders.

Tom's aim is to discover and introduce the widest possible range of plants, so if you want to grow something unusual, then Evolution Plants is for you. Tom's interest is more in the species line rather than hybrids, though he admitted he will be conducting some hybridisation work with the Hellebores he's so passionate about.

The nursery is open by appointment, with the bulk of business conducted over the internet. The aim is to embrace new media and the website is a treasure trove, not just for the plants on offer. Tom writes extensively about the plants and his travels (he wants to evangelise and inspire, and there's also evidence of a dry sense of humour at play), so it's a place to ponder and learn as well as to buy.

There are currently 500 species on the website, with a high proportion of them unique to Evolution Plants. Plans are in place to increase this number substantially, with part of the nursery dedicated to growing the 'pipeline' plants earmarked for introduction over the next year or two.

There's also a fine supporting blog called A Tangled Bank, which is a rather neat quotation from Charles Darwin connecting the new nursery with Tom's former professional life. Here tales of the nursery rub shoulders with musings about taxonomy and traveller's tales about the plants he's found.

So on a blustery, unpromising day in October, a new evolution in plants was launched. I hope the sunshine we saw after the rain bodes well for this bold new venture.

Other plant hunters' footsteps:

16 comments:

  1. Wonderfully inspiring and impressively presented. (The layout of the nursery, that is - though I've also been made jealous by how speedily your pages load!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw thanks Esther :) Tom's website is impressively presented too and I've just found out his Hellebore and snowdrop catalogue in my goody bag is more like a book :)

      Delete
  2. Have had a quick peek at the Evolution Plants website VP (looks most exciting) and have bookmarked it for a thorough browse. How fortunate for you to have such a treasure trove on your doorstep. Hope that Tom's business flourishes and that we may get to see his plants at shows at some point in the future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anna - Tom's aim is to get the mail order side of things up to scratch in 2014, then he's looking at the 2015 show/plant fair season

      Delete
  3. Another bookmark here too. It's a gem, thanks VP. I am always on the look out for something a bit unusual so I will enjoy searching this site. The trilliums on the header had me hooked.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aren't those Trilliums gorgeous? One of the polytunnels is being used to grow them in the ground rather than pots. It'll be interesting to see how they fare

      Delete
  4. Looks interesting so I've bookmarked the links to have a proper browse later. Flighty xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Flighty - I'm sure you'll enjoy Tom's Traveller's Tales :)
      xx

      Delete
  5. Wow, great to have this amazing nursery and passionate plantsman on your doorstep! I've had a look at the online nursery (love the layout and specific data on each plant) and got a feeling I'll be revisiting it often. Lots to inspire here! Let's hope that the nay-sayers are wrong and that Tom's business goes from strength to strength.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Caro - yes, inspirational is the word. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the future...

      Delete
  6. The very best of luck to him, I do hope his business is successful. How wonderful to find your passion and make it your job. And lucky you living not too far away!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi CJ - yes, I'm very lucky :)

      Delete
  7. Add another bookmark from me, there is a beautiful white monarda on the front page that is apparently mildew-free, and I'm hooked. How wonderful to have it on your doorstep - and how potentially expensive! I wish Tom the best of luck, the professional look and feel of the website augur well, easy to find your way around and so many lovely things...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Janet - I have my eye on that Monarda too as I was thinking of planting some in my revamped terrace bed. Hope there's enough for both of us!

      Delete
  8. It is exciting to have a new nursery and this one sound marvelous.Victoria Summerly bought a plant from him that hails from my state (Tennessee) that I sure wish I had in my garden. Have fun shopping there VP! xogail

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gail - I thought of you instantly when he mentioned he'd collected the seed close to Nashville! I've given my plant to Karen at Artist's Garden when I visited her last weekend. It seemed a neat triangle to give a Nashville sourced plant to her when I know how well you two get on :)

      Delete

I love reading your comments and welcome thoughtful conversations :)

Comments aiming to link back and give credence to commercial websites will be composted!

22/12/2014 - Anonymous comments have been disabled over the Christmas and New Year period.

15/11/2014 - I've allowed Anonymous comments again as Google have recently added some extra security to prevent spam. Let's see how it goes...

If you're having problems leaving comments, you can contact me using the Contact Form at the foot of this page, or via vegplotting at gmail dot com, or @malvernmeet if a quick tweet is more convenient for you. That way I can get things sorted.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...