Sometimes I can be quite good when I’m shopping. Sometimes I can be quite discriminating. Sometimes I can be quite restrained. And sometimes I cannot.
I mean, could you resist this?
Ahem. I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s the excitement.
And anyway, that summary isn’t entirely fair. I can generally manage to stay within a budget and, when it comes to buying things that I need but which fail to interest me, I can manage to walk away and do something more involving (like, if I’m supposed to be clothes shopping, cleaning out the grout on the kitchen floor). Last year I even managed to extend this philosophy to plants and the wonderful plant fair at Crug Farm. Kept to budget, bought four plants, planted four plants, all four plants flourishing. This year I just set a bigger budget…
And so three of us set off. Everything is much delayed, so we weren’t at all sure what would be available; there were even still pockets of snow on the mountains above Crug:
But this is one of the best plant fairs I’ve ever been too (I’d definitely put it on a par with the ones at the Tradescant Trust that I used to go to when I lived in London), so we knew there’d be something fab…
And it is a truth universally acknowledged that a trio of women in possession of a plant-buying budget must be in want of a cup of tea, and possibly also a slice of cake, so we were off to a promising start
before hitting the plant stalls, even if the cups were polystyrene and would not meet with Mrs Bennett’s (or Miss Austen’s) approval.
I knew that I wanted plants for the long bed at the bottom of the garden which P and I have been clearing. In my mind this bed – which has a beautiful red acer and a glorious-in-autumn ginkgo in it – was going to be fundamentally red, orange, yellow and with lots of autumn colour, so I made a beeline for Special Perennials and their selection of Heleniums.
Unfortunately, this bed is also shaded for parts of the day and, though some areas are sunnier than others, it soon became clear that my original Helenium dream would not really work. Time for adaptation, and I did manage to find one which could cope – Helenium ‘mahogany’. I snaffled it quickly, adding an Echinacea ‘white swan’ – seen in the Artist’s Garden and much admired. Then I moved away before I bought the rest of the stall.
And it went like that. From the stall above I bought – and I’m not entirely sure I haven’t lost my mind – a Geranium macrorrhizum. I know, I know, I’m constantly trying to get rid of my G. macs, but they’re G mac album, and the one I bought has bronze foliage and is called ‘espresso’. Lovely thing.
What else did I get?
Well, the epimedium at the start of the post; couldn’t resist that. I’d just bought something else which took me to budget, then changed my mind and went back and swapped it. Then I found the ‘something else’ on another stall – an Actaea simplex atropurpureum – and decided I really, really wanted it. Quick recalculation and there was still money in the budget, so I bought it too. And a scarlet Monarda, and a Phlox stolonifera – ‘Franz Purple’. Eventually we were all carrying so many plants that we had to find a wheelbarrow to take them to the car.
Time to go.
And then we then stopped off at Fron Goch garden centre, ostensibly for a break on the journey back but really for a look round. This resulted in the purchase of a sweet little Dicentra (me) and a lot more plants (the others) and the second tea of the day:
and a final tally…
Well, I didn’t do badly, only exceeding my budget by – er – 20%. That would be the Dicentra – too sweet to be left – some organic plant food and the refreshments, but none of that counts. Honest.
Doesn’t look that much, really. Roll on next year…