‘Plants Grow in Dirt’ by Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers. 14 September 2018.

The hall was full for the welcome return of Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers Nursery near Evesham, which stocks a wide range of unusual plants. The catalogue makes for an interesting read. He is a world-renowned gardener and garden writer (Gardening Which).

Before the start of his talk there was a sales area with a variety of plants from his nursery, which he started in 1990.

His talk was designed to stimulate and provoke. He gave us lots of information, which I admit seemed a bit random but the tips and topics were varied:

  • Plant Nerine bulbs in spring, but on no account should you mulch them.
  • Agapanthus cultivars including ‘Navy Blue’ which is very hardy, can be planted in January, but do not apply a mulch otherwise the bulb rots. ‘Silver Moon’ is a good variegated sport from ‘Headbourne Hybrids’ that flowers well.  Agapanthus need room to grow, food and water for them too flower and sometimes struggle in pots. Most are hardy and they need sun on the neck of the plant (like Nerine) to set seed. Only 5% are not hardy. Replant just as the new growth appears.
  • Camassia look like Agapanthus!
  • DO NOT DIG the ground (life is too short!) – do not bury compost in the ground but put it on surface – the worms do all the hard work of incorporating the compost. When there is a clay soil mix compost with sharp sand and grit (including builder’s sand) and cover soil with a layer 3 – 4 cm deep.
  • TOP DRESS – pelleted chicken manure is less attractive to foxes.
  • Herbaceous plants with the exception of grasses and Michaelmas Daisies, can be planted in Autumn; not in clay unless improved. If plant in Spring need rain to get established.
  • Growing in pots – slugs hide amongst the crocks at the bottom;  whilst it allows water to drain the result is often that the compost dries out. Capillary matting can overcome this problem. If I remember correctly, when it comes to pot feet it is on in winter to prevent water-logging and reduce the risk of frost damage, and off in summer.
  • Slug pellets – concentration matters – 2 pellets/m2 – and not next to the plant because the slugs will eat the soft shoots. Fine grit may help. Other remedies include garlic spray in the greenhouse and keep chickens. Apparently slugs eat slugs so my tip of drowning slugs in water and using the water to deter other slugs doesn’t work!
  • PLANTS THAT GROW IN DIRT  include Spanish Bluebells, Ash, Sycamore…
  • Remember to clean secateurs – use methylated spirit, but the best advice of the evening was:

Images from cgf.net.

Alan Wilson gave the vote of thanks and wished Bob and his wife all the best on their 50th wedding anniversary.