I’ve seen this place signposted for some time, a brown “tourism” sign that says “special plants” on the A38 south of Gloucester. A sign that says “special plants” would normally pull me straight over, screeching to a halt in the car park and brandishing my credit cards, but for some reason I have held off for what is probably a couple of years. The only times I have ever passed the area have been days when I have been on duty, at work, and the place is about 25 miles from Bristol, where I live. Well I am on summer holidays, not going abroad, and I am a gardener who fancies an afternoon out – what could be better than going to a place called “special plants”?
It is a nursery in the grounds of a Georgian manor house. It is a very pretty location. The nursery itself, even though it is packed with polytunnels, is also very attractive. They have managed to aesthetically merge the modern, utilitarian polythene with the delightful warm brick of the landed gentry and their walled gardens. Your view into the place is one of herbaceous perennials, a wooden “log cabin” office and some excotic shrubbery. What catches the eye straight away are some blue leaved acacia plants.
The prices are the same as you would expect for plants in pots of the same size, ie, from £20 to £40 for the shrubs and trees, and up to a tenner for the herbaceous plants.
There is also a garden to the side which is all drifts of herbaceous perennials planted under a gravel mulch. It was a hot space with a silvery colour scheme. There were sea kales, bronze fennel and giant thistles, so you get the idea.
I am a sustainable veg gardener so what interests me are edibles and those plants that support the garden providing edibles. So the nitrogen fixing (they fertilise the earth with the help of bacteria) blue leaved acacias were nice and I also found a bush clover (nitrogen fixing also) which I have found nowhere else except in forest gardening books. Fruit tree wise, I found a Japanese persimmon (!) again a plant I have only read about. It also had fruit on it and it was only three feet tall and in a pot (double !). They also had a Chinese walnut, again a forest garden plant I had only read about.
In the lower down herbaceous area they had chinese chives and society garlic, the latter I had only read about in one book.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and have discovered several plants I could find nowhere else, so look them up and give them a go.
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