The Plant Hunters’ Fair at Hoghton Tower

The sun had got his hat on most obligingly yesterday, as Hoghton Tower was hosting a plant fair. I arrived shortly after 10.30 to find the place bustling. Parking was free and the entry fee (£1 per person) allowed admittance to the fortified manor’s  walled garden. There were plant staples, novelties, rarities and bargains on offer and a line of early bird gardeners had formed in front of the plant stands, hoping to catch a worm or two. I did not judge this was a good point to start taking pictures, so the ones I have are from later on when everything was more sparse. Come between Lancastrians and their plants at your peril!

In any case, I was hunting for something too – a plant I could have bought by mail order or at many garden centres, but wanted to find here. I was not disappointed.

Why did I want to buy it here? To state the obvious, you don’t pay P&P at a plant fair. Plants are priced to sell, you can check their quality and size, get expert advice across the plant bench, and bask in the feelgood factor of directly supporting an independent, specialist nursery that grows more for love than money. Continue reading

A celebration of our gardening differences

Cactus nursery

We went to a meeting of the cactus society recently. My sweetheart wanted to find out more about succulents that survive outside in cold, wet climates, such as here in the North of England. Though we met some lovely, welcoming people, I couldn’t help observing that the presentation featured a lot of remarkably similar small, green spiky things.

So why am I posting this picture, taken earlier this year at a cactus nursery – Cactus King – in Texas? It’s to celebrate differences between gardeners, and our wild enthusiasms for particular genres of plants that others frankly find just okay. I might not be in any danger of going wild over cacti myself, but it wouldn’t do for us to be all the same, would it?  Continue reading