What do you do…


when it’s a Bank Holiday weekend and it’s freezing and you’re snowed under with work?

You garden, of course.

Because there was the annual plant fair at Crug Farm Plants, and a trip was planned. Unfortunately not so planned was my ability to take everything I needed, and I managed to leave my spare camera batteries behind. So there are no pictures of Helen (The Patient Gardener), Karen (Artist’s Garden) or Jane (garden blog commentator extraordinaire), or exciting plant stalls. Or cake.

I was even quite sensible. I had a budget and, astonishingly, managed to stick to it. I even managed to hold back a little as we were calling at a garden centre, the wonderful Fron Goch, on the way home. My purchases were rather ordinary compared to the others (though why Helen needed anything, I’m not sure, as the mantra for the day was ‘I’ve got one of those,’ with which we all took to joining in, and even saying of plants in our own gardens). But she did buy some wonderful plants.

So did I, even if they weren’t so – um, unusual. As you can see:

There’s a big Salvia pratensis in front which I bought at Fron Goch in defiance of my ‘don’t mess with the meadow’ ethos. I vaguely remembered a tiny mention in Christopher Lloyd’s Meadows: ‘We saw a good deep “blue” form of Salvia pratensis. I wish I could get hold of that. Its colouring is so often weak and muddy.’ Well, I’ve had the weak and muddy before – in my last garden – but I thought this one looked promising; I’d love a blue in the meadow. It was also huge, and I thought it could be split. It has been, and is now installed in place. We’ll see on the weak and muddy front.

Behind it are some of the other purchases from Crug – a pyrethrum (I’m so predictable), some lovage (my seeds didn’t germinate), and the thistle head of Cirsium rivulare atropurpurescens which I bought from Special Perennials, who had a wonderful stall. I also bought an iris from them – the old intermediate, Braithwaite. Deep purple velvety falls. Let’s hope it flowers this year…

And I bought this little lovely:

An Erodium trifolium. Isn’t it gorgeous? I just want to admire it!

I’m keeping it safe in the greenhouse at the moment, because we are still getting some nasty cold nights. And that’s a task I haven’t got round to – no, not arranging the weather, arranging the greenhouse. It is a bit of a mess, I admit it. There’s a backlog due to the horrible overnight temperatures. The plants in the cold frame should have gone out; the ones in the greenhouse should have gone into the cold frame, and they haven’t; the seedlings in the house badly need pricking out and moving into the greenhouse. And the tomatoes need planting up.

Is there a warm weather version of  a rain dance? Please?


28 Comments Add yours

  1. paulinemulligan says:

    You sound as if you had a wonderful time. We visited Crug Farm when on holiday up there a couple of years ago, and yes, we did come home with the car full of lovely plants! Your weather sounds very much like ours, although I think we are going to have it sunny on Saturday!! I can sympathise with regards to potting on seedlings, will just have to do some today, it is pouring down, so can’t work in the garden, so its off to the green house for me!

    1. kate says:

      We had a great time – and I must, must, must go back to Crug and have a proper look – not surprised you filled the car at all. I did pick up a copy of their 2012 plant list, so that’s being pored over and highlighted. So far I want the lot (almost).

      Saturday good!? I’m inside all day, spinning at a Green Fair near here. Sigh – but at least they have a plant swap stall, so I can take my surplus Black Russian tomatoes – they’re looking very tall and leggy and desperate for WARMTH, like me…. I can’t get in the greenhouse properly at present, and a friend’s just turned up with 6 pepper plants. Agh…

  2. Christina says:

    I wish I could have been with you too; such fun to visit gardens and show with like minded friends. you were very restained with your purchases. You might find the Erodium doesn’t like your wet soil. Christina

    1. kate says:

      Oh, it was great. And I haven’t seen cars so full of plants since my days crashing down the Chelsea Flower Show stand (where it was just criminal to leave things in skips). I had been thinking about the erodium… I’ll give it a go in a dryish bit (part of the new bed may work) and swatch it like a hawk. It could maybe live in a pot if necessary.

      1. Christina says:

        I think it would like a pot. Do you have a free draining bit of soil anywhere, it will take some wet as long as the soil is ok.

        1. kate says:

          At this precise moment I’m not sure ‘free draining’ would apply anywhere – it’s rained for over 18 hours. The pot thing is looking inevitable; I’m glad you think it would work!

  3. wellywoman says:

    I’ve always wanted to visit Crug Farm. Sounds like you had a great day and well done on the restraint. It has felt milder here over the last 2 days but it looks like a cooler weekend is forecast. I’m not sure what would constitute a warm weather dance. I know that if we have ever bought garden furniture or warm weather gear then you can guarantee the sun won’t come out again all summer so I’m trying to think of what would be the opposite of that. Maybe if we all booked foreign holidays!! It’s dry here at the moment but bracing myself for another deluge. If Pauline has it at the moment in Devon it won’t be long before it’s raining here in Monmouthshire.

    1. kate says:

      Oh, Crug is great – I do hope you make it. Really inspirational.

      You’ve given me an idea. I’ve not bought any garden furniture, and I don’t really intend to, but maybe I could go to somewhere like Homebase and pretend I was seriously considering doing so. Maybe I could look at big gas-guzzling barbecues too, even flex a credit card in their general direction…

      With us, the weather generally come from Ireland. So if I’m talking to a friend over there, and they say ‘it’s just started raining’ I know I can go and get me cagoule, wellies and kayak ready.

  4. patientgardener says:

    I bought my Erodium last year and only put it in the greenhouse when it got very cold over winter. It has been planted out for a couple of months now and is flowering its socks off. I think your should do well in your new border. I think that Sage will be much nicer than the other one with the dandelion (no sorry oak) leaves! The Cirsum is lovely and you will get lots of fab fluffy seedheads

    1. kate says:

      There’s no doubt that the S. pratense looks at home in the meadow and the other one would have looked stark staring mad, so thanks for putting me off it! (And anyway Karen’s given me a calmer version which can go in a bed.)

      Thanks for the encouraging eurodium words – I am quite in love with it and keep showing it off to people. Mind you, they usually say ‘it’s a geranium’… humph.

  5. Oh I dont think your plants were ordinary at all – I wish I had spotted the Erodium trifolium I think it is charming – and Cirsum is one of the plants on my “I will buy this one day” list.

    I am in a real pickle here with moving things from house to greenhouse to cold frame ….. and back again, fed up with this cold weather I want some May weather please, well actually I would just like some consistency in the temperature 😦
    PS The salvia will look fab in the meadow

    1. kate says:

      I’m doing the greenhouse waltz too, and very irritating it is. There’s so much stuff in there I can barely get in to move things about, mind. Grrrrr. If my friend is up there now working the weather, I wish he’d get his act together!

      I split the salvia and, though it looked grim at the start, it’s now looking fab. Just into two – but I can split it again if I need to…

  6. PPS I for one an just a little bit pleased that you had no camera batteries given what a dreadful picture Helen took of me!

    1. kate says:

      You do realise that you’re tempting Helen into posting that shot? If she does, she should cut off the part with me looking as though I’ve developed a hideous goitre.

      (It’s a big scarf. It was cold.)

  7. PPPS – I have just discovered that it is quite hard to buy an Erodium trifolium online!

    1. kate says:

      But there were several stalls with them – how about Hall Farm? They had several… and a really lovely stall, too.

  8. croftgarden says:

    Rain what rain, come to the Outer Hebrides for sunshine in the spring but you’ll still need your thermals!
    Salvia pratense one of my star garden plants, what’s all this nonsense about muddy blue colours? Plant in drifts and it will wave like a blue river in the gales. Incredibly easy to grow from seed and it will self seed. If you don’t end up with a good blue form, remind me later in the year and I’ll send you some seed.

    1. kate says:

      Sunshine? Sunshine????? Hah! And you’d need your thermals here too. Humpf.

      That’s exactly the effect I’m after with my S. pratenese! Thank you for your offer – I’m hopeful for my plant (it looks good so far), but it won’t be long before I know for sure. Providing I can get out in the garden without a team of huskies and/or fishermen’s thigh waders.

      1. croftgarden says:

        I’d not realised that gardening was that tough in Wales, I feel positively wimpish.

        1. kate says:

          It’s not that tough. If you like 26 hours of continuous rain.
          (It’s just stopped, everything is sodden and there are pools of water everywhere. I bet we can’t beat your gales, though.)

  9. Dobby says:

    You made me laugh at Fron Goch the way you put plants in your trolley and then put them back on the shelve 10 mins later! Restraint didn’t come into it. It was will power of the first order. You have my deepest admiration.
    All my plants are in and getting a good watering and sunshine is on the cards for the weekend.

    1. kate says:

      That’s not willpower, it’s self-employment!

      I’m afraid not all my plants are in yet, but they’re certainly getting a good watering. Not my doing, mind.

  10. elizabethm says:

    I love the idea of salvia in the meadow! I love salvia though so am a bit inclined that way. Still haven’t done the cirsium but must. I am not sure where Helen puts things. I have seen her (entirely charming) garden and of the many things you could say about it, “How big this is!” is not one.
    Wish I could have come. I was dog and child sitting.

    1. kate says:

      It would have been lovely to have seen you too – but I’m sure you had a great time anyway, and think how much money you’ve saved!

      I’m really keeping my fingers crossed for that Salvia (or maybe it should be ‘those salvias’ now I’ve split it). A bit of blue in the meadow will look lovely….

  11. Anna says:

    Sounds the perfect recipe for a grand bank holiday outing Kate and you have some lovely living souvenirs as a memento. Hoping to get to Crug some time this year – by all accounts I’m in for a treat 🙂

    1. kate says:

      Oh, it was – and it even avoided raining for the day (making up for that now).

      I heartily recommend Crug; I’m going back for another, more considered look. I really want to get hold of a delightful small geranium which I lost when I moved, and I’m sure Crug is the place to track it down. All I have to do is work out exactly which one it was (ahem)…

  12. hillwards says:

    Ah, I bought the same lovely thistle at my favourite plant stall at a farmers market last weekend too, already planted in the garden and in glorious dark red bloom. And a couple of other purchases, oops. Practicing our plant-carrying ready for Malvern this weekend, perhaps…

    1. kate says:

      What good taste! Mine’s going in this afternoon, as it’s stopped raining…

      Malvern… oo, wouldn’t dare. Mind you, there’ve been some impressive displays of restraint lately (most uncharacteristic), so maybe I’d be fine. Um – better not find out!

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