Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Shoes, plants and aardvarks

I used to have a thing about shoes. These days I get the same sugar-rush when I see gorgeous plants that I simply have to have. Invariably (as with the shoes), I have no room for them, nothing to pair them with and probably can't afford them. The good news is that plants are a lot cheaper than shoes and there's no risk of turning my ankle on impractical but gorgeous heels. So I don't have to make so many excuses, or end up with a big credit card bill.
Over the past week I've lost count of the number of plants I've bought. A week off work, holidaying at home included a visit to Beth Chatto's with husband and dog. It was a freezing day, so her immaculate gardens - amazing ferns and epimediums this time of year -  were the perfect reminder of spring and helped combat the bleakness of the Essex skies. Husband admired a lemon-drop yellow troillus and a pieris, and amused himself with the latin labels, christening a giant, perfectly clipped yew cone: 'cornetto invertus'.
Meanwhile, I went shopping. I stuck to my planting script in part, coming away with an intended Miscanthus gracillimus (one of my favourites), and a Ranunculus 'Brazen Hussy' which I have coveted mostly for its name (one day I will plant it to nestle at the foot of a Rosa 'Rambling Rector'). But I was seduced by the lovely heart-shaped foliage of a never-encountered-before Maianthemum and a few other items and the lady at the till smiled knowingly when I dashed back for a camassia. Back in London I popped in on a lovely riverside garden in Chiswick open to raise money for Macmillan nurses and promising plants for sale. I was late and most of the best had gone, but I couldn't leave empty-handed, so tucked four dwarf broad beans into my bicycle basket. A Capel Manor open day in Gunnersbury park a day later had an irresistble 3 for a fiver deal, so two echinaceas and an echinops slipped in. I'll find a spot for them.
Luckily my plant buying was tempered by some zookeeping at Colchester Zoo. This was an inspired Christmas present from my husband, and although there wasn't much about plants involved, I did find out that Lemurs like eating goat willow. And I got to pat a rhino and tickle an aardvark.


  1. What a wonderful gift from your husband! It's not every day that one has a chance to tickle an aardvark!

  2. what a lovely article...the brazen hussy at the foot of the rambling rector sounds a good idea!

  3. Hello there - I've added a link to find out more about the zookeeper day if you want to add it to your Christmas wishlist.
    Thanks Hazel for the compliment - there are some plants you just gotta have for the names alone!