Great Dixter Plant Fair - another success!

4th - 5th October

It was that time of year, the plant fair that's full of amazing nursery men and women presenting top quality plants, now with a spring version, newly tried out this year. Growers who love what they grow or at least definitely know a thing or two about them. Specialisms or just good garden worthy plants, there is room for the plants person and for someone who just wants to get some nice plants for their garden. The nursery men & women themselves were excited about being there as much as the visitors going there. I almost suspected that having a stall was just a pretend front and really it was a chance for them get together and to buy plants from each other. That definitely seemed the case when Billy from Binny Plants who specialised in peonies zipped past me & snapped up an Euphorbia sp. from Cotswolds Plants proclaiming how much he loved them.

I felt that there was even more of a buzz about this year, Dan Pearson had written a piece about it in The Observer, and I remember myself the 30 or so bags of plants that were outside his tent last year, an inspiring sight especially from someone who's work I strongly admire, with so much experience, yet still share a joy of buying & trying out new plants. It has been a year since I had last been at Dixter, since my influential traineeship there and since the last Plant Fair when I was also put on bbq serving sausages in a bun duty. It's all hands on here, even Fergus is on parking duty! My head was reeling with the amount of people that I hadn't seen for a long time that I wanted to greet & talk to. On the Saturday a storm came and blew us about a bit, but Sunday was lovely and sunny and by that point I had settled down a lot more, and able to tend to my appetite for plants with gusto - this included purchasing a tree dandelion - Sonchus fruticosa from Madeira, a possibly hardy one, Ugni mollinae - the Chilean Guava tree that has beautiful red berries that taste like strawberries, a wonderful small Thalictrum yunnensis & Hepatica sp. from De Hessenhof nursery.

Hans Kramer from De hessenhof nursery giving a talk.

One of the perks of this fair is that some of the nursery men & women do a half hour talk of the plants they raised & reared themselves, expert advice straight from the professionals. I didn't get to see all of them but they are all online - videos. De Hessenhof is a nursery I have long awaited to experience, Hans Kramer takes it in turns to come to the fair with Coen Jansen again another excellent Dutch nursery. Other highlights were Dino Pelizzaro who was spur of the moment driven up from France & personally invited by Fergus, Crug Farm & Evolution Plants with their plant hunting treasures, Chris Ghyselen who unlike the model of having a garden to show off plants of a nursery, has been doing it the other way round, breeding plants like Persicaria sp. to make good plants for his landscape design, Marina Christopher and her unusual umbels and passion for wild life friendly plants, plus so much more. All five of the Christopher Lloyd scholars past present & future were present, which called for a photo op. A chance for all people who have been connected with Dixter to come together for a moment, as well as people from Chelsea Physic, Kew and Wisley.

At the end of the Saturday Fergus builds a huge bbq about 3m long out of bricks & large metal grates and rustles up a feast, thirst is well slaked and tums deeply satiated. And if that was not enough - the privilege of being able to sit in on a spontaneous presentation by Takana Fumiaki - the landscape architect behind the Millenium Forest Project stirring my desire again to work and visit there…

Dixter's Long Border looking wonderfully relaxed in its full blown maturity.

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