Crug Farm Plants. 12.07.13

It would be a sad thing to spend time in the north west and not make the expedition across north Wales to visit Crug farm Plants. The nursery is the main attraction, packed with unheard of plants from distant corners of the globe.

The outer garden is a fascinating collection of shade tolerant plants under an established woodland. We have never visited in the spring, when I am sure it is at its best. We arrive with the summer, generally hoping to slip in and out before the schools break up and the roads become an adventure. For me this is a garden of perplexing leaves. I look at things that seem familiar but which don't manage to surface from the memory.

This Anemonopsis macrophylla was a great triumph. It was in flower, and I could identify it. It is a great beauty, though it isn't easily pleased. Gloria was tutting because she woud like more light for the pictures, and she isn't even a great beauty. I will receive a cold glance when she reads that. I will await it patiently.

The walled garden stands next to the house and is filled to overflowing with those plants that favour less dense shade. It is like walking around the gardens of a monopoly board, each move a step through valuable properties and the sense of promise. Gloria has looked over my shoulder so here it comes. She says I am an idiot. It is a stock garden in the culinary sense. Every conceivable ingredient has been packed in and then simmered gently to concentrate the effect.

This is one of the spicier occupants of the skillet. Tigridia orthantha 'Red Hot Tiger', a striking scarlet flower that has clearly been hardy here. Last years small plant has become a small clump. The blooms are few in number but very telling.

Among the leafiness grows Trevesia burkii KWJ 12217 which we can hope will make a large shrub in time. It is said to be slightly hardier than the lovely Trevesia palmata and will possibly be suitable for the milder gardens.

The walled garden contains a shade stucture that was originally intended to protect some of the more fragile plants. It has been consumed by climbers and now acts to emphasise the theatrical transitions from light to shade. (Sour face from the wings. If she had wings, the face would hardly matter.)

Thalictrum delavayi might seem like a strange way to end our jaunt through the garden, but it has caught the light and my esteemed photographer friend's eye. It is T.d. var mucronatum DJHC 473, collected by Dan Hinkley in Yunnan in 1996. All that remains is to pay for a few lovely things and look for some lunch.

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