Inspiration and Information
There are times when we all seek inspiration or information about our plants and gardens.
Visits to gardens and nurseries can provide both.
Gardens to Visit: Looking at the kind of plants in your neighbours’ gardens will tell you what thrives in your locality and village open garden days offer excellent opportunities to see and buy plants that will be “good doers” for you. These are often advertised in local press and newsletters.
We are also fortunate in Gloucestershire with some of the great gardens open to the public, including Hidcote, Kiftsgate, and Sezincote and two excellent arboretums, Batsford and Westonbirt.
The National Garden Scheme co-ordinates hundreds of open gardens of all sizes across the country It publishes annual details in its “Yellow Book” and in the free county booklets, often available in local garden centres. It also has a very good website, not only duplicating that information, but offering access to online talks and videos.
Plant specialists: There are also specialists in particular plant species or kinds of plant, both professional and amateur, who are often only too happy to share their knowledge.
The Plant Heritage site (https://www.plantheritage.org.uk/ ) lists those who nurture particular plants which might be linked botanically by plant group, or perhaps have a shared history or geography. National Plant Collections are made available for people to view, either by appointment, on special open days or as part of a garden open to the public. Access is often free or by a charitable donation.
You can search the site by plant name or location (eg county). In Gloucestershire, or just across our borders, you will find national collections of plants of interest to cottage gardeners including agapanthus; aster; cistus; echinops; euphorbia; geranium; hellebore; hosta; iris ; kniphofia; nerine; penstemon; rambling rose; saxifrage and tradescantia.
Specialist Groups: Cottage Garden favourites have their specialist groups and suppliers too. The RHS, for example, runs a lily group https://rhslilygroup.org/ Just outside Gloucestershire is the Cranesbill nursery whose helpful guide to hardy geraniums was circulated to members recently. In the CGS magazine you will find the details of its Snowdrop and its Aquilegia groups.
Of course, cottage gardens are not just for flowers.
Vegetable specialists are especially evident at the RHS Autumn Show at Malvern. For seeds of heritage, heirloom and ex commercial vegetables, see details of the Heritage Seed Library at Garden Organic just outside Woolston near Coventry CV8 3LG. www.gardenorganic.org.uk
Fruit: The Gloucestershire Orchard Trust (GOT) is a charity dedicated to the conservation and celebration of traditional orchards in Gloucestershire. https://glosorchards.org/home On its website you will find all kinds of information and details of events. Blossom trails celebrate the orchard legacy of our region, and are signposted. Traditional apple varieties can be seen at Charles Martell & Sons of Dymock (www.charlesmartell.com). The Three Counties Agricultural Society Worcestershire has perry pears planted around the Malvern showground. (www.threecounties.co.uk) and the Hartpury Heritage Trust has a young orchard of heritage perry pears too.
The Vale of Evesham is known for its history of market gardening and still has celebrations of its plums and asparagus with events including Pershore Plum Festival on August Bank Holidays and the Evesham British Asparagus Festival in April every year.
Literature: Then, of course, there are The Cottage Gardener, the quarterly magazines of the Cottage Garden Society, and numerous books, including those by our CGS Administrator, Clive Lane, such as his ‘Cottage Garden Annuals – grown from seed for summer-long colour.’ Tony Russell’s ‘The Cotswolds’ Finest Gardens’ could take you through 50 splendid gardens, all open to the public.
Explore and enjoy!