I am at the gardens of Beth Chatto, just out of the whist and twiffle of the seaside ozone and beyond the breath of roaring Colchester. I haven't been here for ages and it is quite simple: NO personal shopping is allowed at all. Today's visit is simply to pick up some plants for a customer nearby and, perhaps to scribble down the name of some lovelies. The embargo is straight-forward. We have the rampage of out of control ground elder in our newish garden. A drought is upon us and the chickens and dog are kicking up a rumpus. An absolute NO to impulse plant buying. But I can make a list for autumn shopping.
And yet, I can't even get out of the carpark before lust has overcome me for this browsing line. Drool over the impossibility of this set up. No room for such a hedge or a eucyalyptus of such girth. Not in my garden. No customer looking for this effect. Camera, notebook and pencil at ready, poised for learning. Colours, leaf shapes, planting combinations. I am in hunter mode.
The plants tend to be neatly labelled, or failing that there is always a checklist to be had by walking the aisles in the nursery...and so I do. It is hell on the mental taste buds. These flowers are in such little pots. Surely I can sneak them past myself. In mind transported to the best gelateria in Piedmonte or to the vitrine of the local deli.
I hear a voice that reminds me of my upbringing. "Look but do not touch". The escape is made with vows intact, but only just. Below march the four plants that nearly crumbled my resolve. They are in order: Narcissus bulbicodum 'Citrina
', Saxifraga dentata Vinca minor 'La Greve'
and Anemone fulgida.
Roll on autumn.