Seen at the Festival of the Tree

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

Monday, 12 May 2014

Evolution Plants Open Day

My update this month is slightly different as I'm going to tell you about the nursery's first open day rather than having a chat with Tom. He was rather busy last Saturday, so didn't need me hounding him all the time. As you can see, Evolution Plants has had quite a makeover since our last visit...

... well actually, that's Belcombe Court, a jaw dropping garden just outside Bradford-on-Avon on the road to Avoncliff. I won't take you round the garden in this post, as this is Tom and Evolution Plants' story. What I will say is this garden is very rarely open to the public and part of it was designed by Arne Maynard. If you want a peek, then the only chance you'll have this year is on May 25th, when the garden is open in aid of the Red Cross.

My day started at Belcombe Court because this was the location for Dan Hinkley's talk, a rather juicy part of Tom's arrangements for the open day.

It was the third time I've heard Dan speak and this time it was a fascinating account of his plant hunting travels in Vietnam, China and Myanmar. Quite a lot of the great and the good of the gardening world had turned out for the day and chatting to various people, I was surprised at how far they'd come - from Durham, Wales, Cambridge and Devon at least.

I *may* have eaten a slice of rum and coconut cake too - well, it would have been rude not to.

And so on to the nursery, which was reached via the local golf club and a massive blustery shower of rain. This didn't seem to dampen people's spirits though, as they found the perfect excuse for more cake. I *may* have joined them with a slice of stem ginger cake. Well, I needed reviving after getting soaked.

It was great to see people at the nursery, browsing the plants on display and making their purchases. I overheard Tom say the nursery is now open to the public - from Thursday to Sunday each week until late October, 11am to 6pm.

I think this is a wise move - Evolution Plants is no more difficult to get to than the Botanic Nursery at Atworth and Terry there seems to cope with just as small a car park. There were a couple of people absolutely loaded with plants and discussing the need to return - 'It's OK, he's open Thursdays to Sundays, so we can easily come back'. Here's hoping they and others do.

Here are my purchases. Well, one of them (the Uvularia perfoliata at the back) was in my goody bag at the talk, to which I added a Beesia calthifolia and an Eryngium agavifolium. The first two are destined for my Gardeners' Question Time border makeover and I've always wanted the Eryngium after seeing them at an amazing cafe I visited with Esther a few years ago. The Beesia is a nice link with Saturday as I've since found out it's a Dan Hinkley find reintroduction from his travels in China Japan.

So, a quality garden and talk, catching up with gardening friends, lots of plants and oodles of cake. Pretty much a perfect day in my book, here's hoping it was for Tom too.

My next visit to Evolution Plants will be in July. In the meantime, Tom will be at the Borde Hill Plant Finders Fair on 27-29 June as well as opening the nursery.

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  1. Glad you had a good day. Dan Hinckley found Beesia in a nursery in Japan with Bledwyn Wynn-Jones. It was originally found by George Forrest in China and named after the nursery of one of his sponsors, so I suppose Dan really reintroduced it

    1. I see you read the article in The Guardian too Helen :) You've reminded me that the plant was named after the famous Bees nursery who George Forrest was collecting for at the time of discovery. There's a really interesting book on the owner, A Bulley (A Pioneering Plantsman) and his garden is now known as Ness.


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