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A horticultural road trip - Appalachia to North Carolina

Last year in May I did to an epic trip through the Appalachian Mountains to North Carolina. I haven’t properly documented this anywhere yet, so I thought I would take the opportunity to do so.


My main impetus for going there was to see Plant Delights nursery and a horticultural friend of mine Ben Pick - who had recently bought a house and some land near Asheville and wanted to make something of it; possibly a combination of a garden and nursery with some agricultural activities. These were the seeds of reasons for going and then more and more good reasons converged - Will Hembree a former Interchange Fellow the American equivalent of me (who goes to the UK to work in different gardens for 9 months), was down there doing an interesting graduate programme in plant breeding, a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a good time of year for wildflowers - Virginia and North Carolina is the heart of the US Piedmont flora that I have strongly admired at the native plant garden Mt Cuba Center…
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Chasing Spring

Even without the constancy of a garden close to me at the moment, I am keenly aware of all the different growths that occur throughout the year. My senses are heightened from currently living on a canal boat, being closer to nature, and I feel this is all the more from having acutely experienced winter this year.


My obsession starts with snowdrops, as soon as I glimpse a stray flowering one in a graveyard or somewhere I suddenly crave to see drifts of them and set about seeking such scenes. I am not a galanthophile at all, my favourite is still Galanthus nivalis - common European one, and then maybe about four or five other curious ones (S. Arnott - fragrant, Hippolyta - a double, the curious crinkly one - Diggory and Trump the perfectly patterned almost ace of spades one). What I am always after is a good coloniser, and nothing satisfies me more than seeing flowers like these defy and disobey the laws of human control, not sticking to the defined fenced areas that they were designat…