For Several years now I’ve been promising myself a trip to Ashwood Nurseries and for the last three failing to accomplish this mission. However yesterday I felt the need for a serious horticultural jolly. Yes indeed, it is possible to be serious and jolly at the same time.
So armed with my list, credit card and Mother (I’d also been promising to take her to Ashwood for several years) I set off. The sky was blue and the sun shone, which given recent precipitations was in itself no less miraculous than the trip itself. We prepared for all eventualities waterproofs and brollies were packed, however when we arrived the sun still shone and the sky was still blue so we duly left them in the back of the car.
Ashwood nurseries, for those that don’t know, offer tours of their production areas twice a year. You get to look at (but not touch) their stock plants and have a good gawp at their plants in production. The reason for the not touching, as our tour guide explained to us, was to stop accidental pollination occurring. It’s here that the Ashwood magic occurs with cross after cross hopefully resulting in stunning new strains. As he was telling us this I watched a bee fly in through the open vent and get busy amongst the blooms*, I may have smiled.
The range of Hellebores is stunning and the pictures below hardly do justice to the hundreds of colours and forms in this one glasshouse alone.
The second part of the tour takes in a smaller, yet perfectly formed glasshouse, where there’s a fine display of Cyclamen and other winter flowering bulbs and shrubs offering up a good selection for fragrance and winter interest.
Now it was here, dear reader, that things started to change. The Light levels dropped and a rather loud, yet distant rumble could be heard. At first I put the noise down to the vents being hurriedly closed around and about, but as we made our way to the Sales Area it became apparent, as lightening flashed across the sky, the rumble was most definitely thunder.
Comments about the sky being black over Wolverhampton and wondering if Bill’s mother had taken her washing in were made as our guide fought valiantly to continue with his nursery narrative. Given the ferocity of the storm it was a battle he was never going win, with his words inaudible over the hammering of rain on the pollytunnel, it was like being trapped in a kettle drum during a never ending paradiddle.
Now if it hadn’t been for this well timed hailstorm (surely a clever marketing ploy) I would have only purchased those items on my list….
…which was namely a white hellebore and Helleborus foetidus ‘Wester Flisk’. However being trapped here for a prolonged period meant that by the time we got back to the car I seemed to have acquired a few more assorted Hellebores and the odd cyclamen or three.
*they put the following disclaimer on their seeds “We do our utmost to keep our hybrids pure however, due to the natural intervention of insects, colours and forms cannot be guaranteed”
The Cyclamen by Arlo Bates
Over the plains where Persian hosts
Laid down their lives for glory
Flutter the cyclamens, like ghosts
That witness to their story.
Oh, fair! Oh, white! Oh, pure as snow!
On countless graves how sweet they grow!
Or crimson, like the cruel wounds
From which the life-blood, flowing,
Poured out where now on grassy mounds
The low, soft winds are blowing:
Oh, fair! Oh, red! Like blood of slain;
Not even time can cleanse that stain.
But when my dear these blossoms holds,
All loveliness her dower,
All woe and joy the past enfolds
In her find fullest flower.
Oh, fair! Oh, pure! Oh, white and red!
If she but live, what are the dead!