Aberconwy Nursery. 12.07.13

I find that lunch has remarkable restorative powers as the temperatures rise in summer. We returned to the road filled mostly with glee and for one giddy moment I thought that Gloria might start to sing. To my knowledge she only knows the one song, and that from the 'Sound of Music' so I opened the windows widely and on we went. She does speak fluent Italian and knows all of the roles from many of the minor operas but as Gloria says, that is art and can't really be called singing. Nobody ever disagrees with her. We were off to Aberconwy Nursery in the hills above Colwyn Bay.

It is an immaculate small nursery that specialises in rare alpine plants. Astonishingly after thirty years on the site and an international reputation for the quality and range of their plants, they still get enquiries for bedding. People are such sheets.
Gloria says I mustn't make jokes like that lest I offend our generation. Gustav and his young friends can't be with us on this trip, but I am sure he would have been amused even if she isn't. (She is amused, she just doesn't like it to show.)

Scutellaria laeteviolacea comes from Japan and likes a moist but well drained soil. I read that from the label, I don't know the plant at all. Scutellaria are newly fashionable and are testing the waters beyond the depths of their obscurity. Gloria has captured it beautifully and has found something that you or I might struggle to see.

This is a compact white flowered form of Lithodora diffusa called 'Pete's favourite'. The blue flowers of the species are its greatest attribute so the loss of colour is unfortunate. The compact habit is a great advantage. The original wanders around unpredictably like a teenage lad's hands in the back row of a cinema.
Do teenagers still go to the cinema or do they do something terribly digital with their lust? If I knew who 'Pete' was, I would ask him and append his comments to the plant's description!

There is a single polythene tunnel on the nursery, my favourite corner for it seems to house all of the unexpected treasure.

Rhododendron nakaharae is a small growing Japanese azalea that blooms reliably in July and sometimes August. This one is 'Mount Seven Stars' but all the cultivars I have seen have been small and scarlet. I like them, but we saw them earlier in the week at Wakehurst Place looking like the last gasp of a floundering fish. It is clear that they need careful positioning.

On the way to Wakehurst Place we were forced into a short diversion through Kent and felt a little out of place. Here in North Wales we find Calceolaria integrifolia 'Kentish Hero', a startling orange form of the species. I am regretting driving away without one but these are the decisions we have to live with.

There are some wonderful landscaped alpine beds threading through the commercial benches that reveal the passion of the owners. We had to hurry away to our next engagement but Aberconwy Nursery had furnished some delightful treats for the garden at home.

If you have any comments you can e-mail us: