Gardeners’ Holy Grail: Nursery Open Day

With the dogus in tow, one very determined gardener hustled down the motorway to attend the last open day of the year, at the renowned Crocus nursery. As Crocus is not open to the public, with sole access to their wares available online, the open days are normally a prominent fixture in my calendar.

Our garden is simply chock-full of delightful Crocus horticultural offspring, and offspring thereof. Consequently, being able to visit the mothership itself, is a real treat. There is nothing quite like wading through aisle after aisle, brimming with fantastic plants. Subsequently, the purchase of excessive quantities of plants, including plants one never heard of, nor ever expected to purchase, is very much on the cards here. Unstinting wallet in hand, emptied car, here we go…

It is difficult to recall where shopping is as easy and relaxed, as it is here. On arrival, one is presented with a number printed on a set of stickers. As you make your way around the nursery, find a plant of choice, you simply mark the desired specimen with your number and the rest, as they say is history.

Crocus Open Day
Handsome Sedums touting for a new home
Crocus nursery open day
Stunning array of plants for purchase
Crocus nursery open day
Crocus' finest for purchase
Crocus Nursery Open Day
Extensive selection of plants & varieties
Crocus Nursery Open Day 2011
Crocus employees picking selected wares for collection
Crocus nursery
Plants on their way to new owners
Panicum Virgatum Rehbraun
Proud new addition to the garden; Panicum Virgatum Rehbraun
Crocus Nursery Open Day
Crocus employees picking selected wares for collection

A team of friendly, orange clad Crocus employees, swiftly collect all numbered plants and bring them to the payment area. Once there, the plants are carefully placed in corresponding numbered trays, ready for payment & collection. Genius. No need to push around trolleys, or carry anything during your visit. I wish airports could work as efficiently as this. Mind, with this system, purchases are very easily made, as there is no physical contact with one’s mountain of plants, steadily swelling at the exit.

The attraction to come to one of these open days is not just in the friendlier pricing, but very much the layout and organisation of the plants in the nursery grounds. One is met with stunning, praire-like, sways of flowering plants, in the respective blocks of colour, all beautifully arranged. Indeed, one can always go to a garden to see this, but like yours truly, there is usually a strong itch to purchase the new (or revived) favourite. That is joy of this exercise; you can actually buy the display! Very much in the style of the last day of the Chelsea Flower Show, but without the throbbing crowds or the tedium of having to carry anything.

Like many I am sure, it is inspirational to see collections of plants and respective varieties clumped together in such numbers. The effect is stunning. For most of us, difficult to emulate through lack of space, but some elements can be incorporated, be it on a smaller scale. The rows of flowering sedums seen at last years visit have subsequently led to a very popular Sedum hedge in our kitchen garden.

At home, our bookshelves are bulging with books on plants, but there really is no better introduction to plants than to see them in the flesh, so to speak. There are always new plants and varieties to admire at the open days. Now that need not mean, that yours truly heads to Crocus simply for a mindless plant binge. On the contrary, a list of plants is a prerequisite, but one keeps an open mind. For instance, for some time, I have been toying with idea of grasses in the border, but never quite found one that I liked or one that would ‘fit’ the Greenhouse Borders. Until yesterday, that is.

Meet my new addition; Panicum Virgatum Rehbraun, commonly known as Panic Grass. Simply stunning plant, with deep purple and green spikes, which will provide structural interest and great autumn colour in the border. According to the gospel ‘Dream Plants for the Natural Garden’, by Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritsen, the Panicum Virgatum is a robust plant, good in any garden soil given full sun, late season grower, and the leaves of which start to turn red/purple in summer. Quite a tall plant, growing to 1.25-1.5m, so will probably find itself somewhere in the back end of the border. I’m delighted to have it. Dudley (dog) certainly approved as he was all too happily nibbling at them, over the back seat of the car, on our way home.

Now, it would be untrue to say that the Panicum (x3) were the only purchase. I am proud to say that some restraint was successfully exercised, so fewer plants came home than usual, but still a fairly good haul; Veronicastrum Virgicum Album (x1), Lysimachia ephemerum (x2), Echinacea Purpurea Magnus (x1), Aster Umbellatus (x1) and Eryngium yuccifolium (x1).

Now all I need to do is plant them…

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any comments?

Comments: 13

  1. It sounds really beautiful and as I am looking at the pictures.. they look simply splendid!
    Different purchasing options are just organized as it should be.

  2. looks like you had a cracking day out there! You will have to visit us too when we open up our nursery. Chris – Gardening Express

  3. I am so envious of anyone that is able to actually visit Crocus and buy plants. They are expensive but then they have a good product and the quality shows.

  4. Petra, such restraint indeed! looks amazing-gorgeous photos-maybe next year, although current square metres already choc-a-block. Off to Great Dixter specialist plant fair this weekend-more temptation, but great to see the garden itself this late in the summer too. Naomi

  5. Wow, I didn’t know Crocus had open days. Where can you find out when they are open, I’d love to go? Although saying that I’ve run out of space for new plants and I don’t think I could restrain myself surrounded by all those lovely plants. I’d have to hand over the credit card to my husband!

    • Hello there Wellywoman! Love that name. I adore wellies too, so understand the title. This was their last open day of the year, so your credit card is safe. They open 3 times a year, around april, June/July and september. Dates for 2012 have yet to be made public, but they post it on their website. As per usual, once known I will put it in my events list also. Hope that helps!

  6. If I manage to do well with the Lsyimachia Ephemerum and it produces seed, I will send you some! Our borders have heavy soil, which gets pretty wet after raining/watering. Hopefully they will like it and thrive! It is such a lovely plant.

  7. I've not heard of this nursery before, maybe fortunately I didn’t when I lived in England as I would certainly have overdosed on plant buying. I used to grow Lysimachia ephemerum, and I grew it from seed but I haven’t been able to find a supplier since buying it years ago. I’m sure you’ll love it in your garden; it needs the opposite growing conditions to Veronicastrum Virgicum Album which I love but can’t grow here in Italy. Christina

  8. Ah, the lovely sedum indeed. Great pics. I made it to the July open day and it was lovely, though I had to be very restrained in counting my stickers so as not to splurge too heavily. All my purchases have settled in nicely, though.Sara

  9. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. What a wonderful day, and I like your choice of plants. How lovely to be able to shop in this way, no heavy pots to carry around.

  10. What a fantastic place, Petra. I'll need to look it up and try and get there next time. The sticker idea sounds a little dangerous though; at least if you have a trolley you have some idea of when to stop!

  11. It sounds like a wonderful day, Petra, and I like the way it is organised. Good luck with your new plants :)

    • Thank you for all your kind comments. Mo & Steve; The organisation is genius. One is left to browse and shop with ease. David; Have no fear, you can always change your mind as to a purchase at the exit. Though, I never have! Certainly worth putting in one's calendar for next year. You'll find me amongst the tall perennials….Jo; Glad you liked the plants. I am really pleased with them. Sara; I knew I was not the only one enjoying a Crocus open day. This must have been my third year, though can't quite remember when I went in previous years. Restraint is a lesson I am learning. There is just so much and all so lovely! Apart from two of the Panicums, all the plants are in. Am moving some plants around to make way for my new proud grasses. Just love them!