Well now that the sun is out, I for one am a bit more inspired to get out too and do some garden visiting. And over the next couple of months there’s a great selection of places to visit where you can combine looking at gardens with a bit of horticultural retail therapy. Many houses and gardens now hold plant fairs and other garden events which give local specialist growers the chance to sell their plants to a wider audience. It also means that you can often pick up more unusual plants which are rarely available at the garden centre, (not to mention an often eclectic mix of garden ornaments and accessories).
Here’s just a taster of some of the many plant sales and garden events taking place this summer (with highlighted links to relevant websites in the text – see how I spoil you?).
This weekend (7-9 June 2013), there’s The Garden Show at Stansted Park near Rowland’s Castle in Hampshire. Always very popular with a wide range of stalls (plants, garden products, gifts, country food….).
Also this weekend, for Our Friends in the North (hello mum!), is the Gardener’s Fair at Burton Agnes Hall in East Yorkshire. This Norman manor house boasts a walled garden, a jungle garden, woodland walks, a maze and giant games for children and adults alike. It’s a garden I’ve heard great things about but never had the opportunity to visit unfortunately.
(To find more plant fairs taking place over the summer in the north of England you could also check out the Flower Power Fair website to find an event near you.)
On Sunday (9 June) you can visit the Rare Plant Fair at Waterperry Gardens, near Wheatley in Oxfordshire. And while you’re there, you can take a wander around eight acres of gardens too.
A real favourite of mine, and just up the road from me, is the Unusual Plants Fair which takes place at Gilbert White’s House & Garden in Selborne, Hampshire. It’s on from 15-16 June this year and is in a lovely setting just below the ancient Beech woodlands and next to the home of the renowned 18th century ecologist, Gilbert White. It’s always a nice day out.
Also that same weekend you can visit Burford’s Secret Gardens. The beautiful Oxfordshire town of Burford (a quintessential Cotswolds town if ever there was one) holds an arts festival every 2 years. As part of the celebrations (but on 15 & 16 June only) you can visit over 20 private gardens of all shapes and sizes. Sounds intriguing!
And this year for the first time, plants will be on sale from a number of specialist plant nurseries from the local area.
On 22 June, the 15th century Cothay Manor in Somerset holds its annual Charity Garden, Plant & Food Fair. And when you’ve had your fill of plants and food, there are 12 acres of gardens to enjoy.
In July of course there are two more RHS shows to visit – at Hampton Court Palace (9-14 July) and Tatton Park in Cheshire (25-28 July) – and for what is billed as ‘one of the South East’s premier plant fairs’ you need go no further than The Plant Fair at Chenies Manor in Buckinghamshire on 21 July. Or, if you are in or near Surrey, you can also visit The Garden Show at Loseley Park just outside Guildford between 19-21 July. I’ve never attended the show there, but the gardens are certainly worth exploring.
So, lots to enjoy over the next couple of months, but if you’re anything like me when it comes to buying plants, it might be wise to leave your credit cards at home! And of course, if the gaps in your garden are too big to fill with a visit to a plant fair, feel free to get in touch to see if we can help you!