Gardeners' World 2012: Brimming Buds

At Pig Row, we have just returned from Gardeners' World Live 2012. The strength of this show, as with all RHS shows, are the independent nurseries.

The Floral Marquee was brimming with one of the most wonderful display of Pelargoniums from Fibrex Nurseries. We purchased Attar of Roses, an old cottage garden favourite which has now found a home on our sunken cloister at the back of the house. The flowers undercover romped away with some great stands from such exhibitors as Barton Nurseries (, Eagle Sweet Peas, Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants and Cath's Garden Plants. Cath's is based in Cumbria and as we are just South of this region we couldn't resist buying Paeonia 'Duchess de Nemours', a wonderful cream white flower on languid stems with dark foliage. We saw this Paeonia bobbing through the crowds at the show in the hands of happy gardeners. We couldn't resist and it took us an hour to track this bobbing beauty back to its source. 'Duchess de Nemours' is also in the cloister hardening off with the 'Attar of Roses'. Though the plants may be hardened off by the nursery, it is always advisable when you have bought a plant to harden it off to your climatic zone. What was hardened off in Cornwall may turn up its toes in North Yorkshire. Our modest spending spree (we set ourselves a budget of £60 for the entire show) continued with a purchase of a Jasmine Officinale from Tynings Climbers. The staff here, as on all the stalls, were so helpful in their suggestions. We purchased this Jasmine due to its romping nature (it grows up to 30 feet), we have a 12 foot shed and 80 foot hedge for it to weave through over the years and be layered into. We wanted scent and we have got it thanks to good advice from a great nursery. 

This is the beauty of shows and small nurseries, the level of knowledge is greater than that you will find in the 'tea and wee' garden centre. Though chain garden centres are useful to some gardeners, they are not in the same league as independent British Nurseries. People who run these Nurseries are passionate about plants and growing. This tends to translate into a greater wealth of knowledge and the ability to solve some of your problems. If you have a dry spot in the garden, turn to a British Nursery, they have the knowledge, they have the passion. They are not just staff, they are growers. 

You will find plants and seeds in small nurseries that you won't find anywhere else. A good example of this was on the stand from Pennard Plants, the staff here had put on a great display of heritage plants grown in a small allotment. There was rack after rack of seeds that you may never have tried from vegetables to flowers. One of the stand out trees on their stand was the Ice Crystal Fig, with deeply divided leaves that would grace any south facing patio or border giving summer interest and fruit. The Botanic Nursery's stand ached with colour and stature. Here on this stand was the flower of Gardeners' World Live 2012 for Pig Row. The Botanic Nursery's Alcea 'Apricot Halo' was breathtaking. There is only one word to describe it, frilly. You wanted to run your fingers over the hollyhock. If you don't believe us, see the photo below and defy you not to sigh. We bought some seed for this hollyhock so we can have it in our borders at Pig Row.

This is just a mere handful of exhibitors who were at Gardeners' World Live 2012 and over the coming months we hope to feature more of them on Pig Row. We have barely scraped the surface of what was an extensive Floral Marquee that brimmed with scent, foot fall and bags full of plants in happy hands. We are not the only people passionate about British Nurseries, Gilly Pollock from the British Plant and Nursery Guide (see video below) has gone from strength to strength bringing British Nurseries together under the banner of British Plant and Nursery Guide.

This wonderful organisation will help you find nurseries close to you (and their list is constantly growing) and can also offer you jolly jaunts. The idea behind this is a day out in glorious surroundings, in beautiful areas of the country, providing you with suggestions of where to stay, what to see and where to buy. This delightful way of shopping for plants pushes aside the dismal 'tee and wee' centres, brushes off the drab coffee shops, the stack them high displays and the dull, dull plant selection that can be found in any chain garden centre from Land End's to Inverness. British Plants want you to explore not just your local nursery but the local community.

Gardeners' World 2012 is a more family orientated than other RHS shows. The Floral Marquee is easier to get around in with children in prams and there were tailored events for children and adults. I recommend the Grow Your Own Garden and free talks, see photo above. Whether you are new to gardening or a dab hand, there is something new for you to learn, see and discover in this sprawling exhibition.

The show closes on Sunday the 17th June 2012. Tickets are available at Gardeners' World Live.

There will be more reviews from Gardeners' World 2012 soon.

We were given tickets to Gardeners' World 2012 free of charge for review.


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