Whenever I go plant shopping, lingering time is built in. The notebook, pencil and camera tag along. There is nothing quite like a good nursery to give ideas for planting combinations. Or to offer up a completely new herbaceous ingredient. Experimental candidates in pots make it into the car boot to take home and trial. Compulsive plant buying, kept at bay for a decade, is on the upsurge. But now as a designer, it becomes duty.
There are nurseries out there that I could waste days in and so now starts an occasional posting on such places. To me, they are the delicatessens of the horticultural world. A twist of sumach, a sliver of chorizio or however that translates into roots and shoots.
My number one favourite is Woottens of Wenhaston, in the far-flung Suffolk, not far off the road to Southwold. Woottens operates out of a sleek black shack, clock-topped by a sythe wielding mannikin. I think he sends down a hoseful of water on the hour. That might be a dream though. And there is a busy packing station right there in the back for their on-line business. Copious quantities of starch potato chips are used.
The owner, Mike Loftus, will give you snippets of wisdom - what goes with what. These are tasting menu suggestions that are worth savouring.
Parking up, visitors find themselves in a nursery jam brimful of pots - there is pretty much always a rainbow display in staging, colours chosen to be set off by the black background. The grass collection and variety of hardy geraniums are good - Mike has fields of daylilies and bearded irises which are wonderful for a visit in season. There is a polytunnel of pelargoniums (geraniums of the pot type to you and me). The rest of the site is laid out for shade and sun. A handy piece of guidance this.
Never an empty-handed visit, Scuttelaria incana
made it away with me last week, Mikes words "it looks good with Echinacea purpurea Ruby Gian
t' echoing in my ears.