Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Going Off-Liste In The RHS Halls

February is the month when gardeners dust off their winter torpors, cast aside coffee-stained catalogues, grab their most capacious shopping bags and venture intrepidly beyond the garden gate to attend the Royal Horticultural Society’s first show of the year.
Carefully compiled shopping lists in specially selected gardening notebooks and hastily scribbled notes on the backs of envelopes are soon jettisoned in favour of a new must-have plant or garden item. It is difficult to ascertain quite what causes such retail fervour. Perhaps it is the heady scent of spring blooms, the choice plants whispering "buy me" (please don't pretend that you have never heard a plant speak) and the sudden splashes of colour which render the lists futile. I have never skied off-piste, not least because I am too scared, but when it comes to challenging pursuits such as shopping, I fearlessly venture off-liste on a regular basisGoing off-liste is a gardener’s folly and prerogative and if you can’t go off-liste at the first show of the season, then when can you? 
With all the floriferous wonder of spring filling the halls, you might imagine that I was to be seen dragging several laundry bagloads of stunners back to Norfolk; but no! My retail therapy was dramatically curtailed by Basil (the puppy, not the plant), who had travelled to London with me, although not the show (perish the thought). Since Basil is hardly pocket-sized, my shopping had to be, so I turned my back on scented Pelargonium and Pulmonaria to die for, in favour of tubers. I have enjoyed growing oca and yacon for a while now*, so I was delighted to stumble upon ulluco and mashua at the show. The ulluco tubers are pretty enough and I am excited about trying them, but they are hardly going to win the snowdrop beauty parade.
Ulluco
Oh to be a galanthophile in the wintertime! Imagine wandering into the RHS halls and coming face-to-face with the snowdrop of your dreams. I save myself a lot of heartache in the Galanthus department by examining all the price tags before looking at the snowdrops and then thinking (although not necessarily believing) that I will get as much pleasure from a glorious sunlit swathe of good old Galanthus nivalis as I will from a single, cherished, eye-wateringly expensive one. Of course, it would be lovely to have the opportunity to test this theory, so if I should ever find myself in possession of the winning lottery ticket, we can forget yachts and jets; I shall have rare snowdrops.
Gardening can be a solitary activity. This is part of its attraction for some. Time alone in the great outdoors is a pleasure to be cherished, but so is the sense of community we can find at allotments, horticultural societies, the internet, plant fairs and garden shows. If you have never been to a show or a plant fair, why not visit one near you this year? Please ensure that you take the time to compose an extensive wish list prior to your arrival at the venue. After all, if you don't know what you are supposed to be buying, how can you fully experience the guilt and joy of going off-liste?

*http://www.thegardeningshoe.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Yacon#!http://thegardeningshoe.blogspot.com/2013/10/kitchen-garden-multitaskers.html

Details about The RHS Shows may be found here: https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events

52 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. We all need a little spontaneity in our lives.

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  2. I'm rarely an impulsive buyer - the exception is when I'm shopping for plants! I don't even know why I take a list with me. There is something about the spring flowers with their fresh scents and bright colours that is irresistible.

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    1. You are right about spring flowers. In my own (not at all scientific) research, I have observed that I am at least twice as likely to impulse-buy flowering plants in spring than at any other time of the year.

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  3. You're so right about feeling the guilt and the joy - and then the joy and frustration walking around the garden thinking where (in earth) am I going to plant this?

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    1. I had forgotten about the frustration! I think we have to look upon that particular challenge as a re-designing opportunity.

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  4. I try to stay on the skipiste, but I often ski off-piste in case of plants! Lovely post. Groetjes, Hetty

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    1. I think it's the only way to be at this time of year! Thanks Hetty.

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  5. It's easy not to stray off liste just don't make a list. I have found that when I make a list I just end up being disappointed at not being able to find the things on it. Why can you never buy the things that look so attractive in photographs on the Internet? Likewise the gardens that we visit never seem to have the plants that have particularly taken note of for sale in the plant area.

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    1. I have been disappointed with garden plant sales areas too. Some are excellent - Beth Chatto has a particularly good nursery. I honestly don't think I have ever left there without the plants on my list.

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    2. I've never been to her nursery but have ordered from her website

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    3. I think you would enjoy wandering around her garden, Sue. It is good at any time of year. When I go in summer, I pop to Frinton in the morning for a bit of sea air, then head to her garden when the tide comes in (it always seems to be around lunchtime!)

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  6. What self-control!
    My plant-shopping has been severely curtailed by a move to a neighbourhood that is plagued by urban deer. Until we fence I will keep my hands in my pockets and out of my purse - visiting shows and garden shops only for inspiration.

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    1. My sympathies. How frustrating. When I started the gardens here, my entire budget for the first year or so was blown on rabbit fencing (which has also stopped the deer coming into the garden). You are wise to keep that purse tightly closed until you have fencing. Deer are beautiful creatures, but they are notoriously bad at reading, so they don't know which plants are deer-resistant.

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  7. Hi Sarah, what an enjoyable post to read! I really envy you about your RHS shows in Britain. As far as I know we have nothing that comes even close to them here in the US.
    I have a hard time understanding the snowdrop frenzy in the UK, but I certainly would have grabbed some of the iris reticulata. They are so drop dead gorgeous!
    Never heard about ulluco, how brave of you to try it out. It looks very appetizing, though!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. I adore Iris reticulata too - have you tried 'Blue Note'? The falls are exquisite. I will let you know how ulluco and I get along. I have yet to grow a vegetable or fruit that I don't like, so fingers crossed ulluco will be delicious.

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  8. Oh, the delight of ignoring the liste! Sometimes I even forget to consult it anyway when faced with so many new offerings at the peak of bloom.

    The blues in your photo are stunning.

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    1. The great thing about strong blues is that they stand out even on the darkest February days.

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  9. I have a mental list of spaces I can shoehorn plants into - and a paper wish list - March will be the Kirstenbosch Plant Fair, April the Rare Plants Fair.
    My two chances!

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    1. I feel certain that you will make the very best of those opportunities!

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  10. My list is long enough that I can almost always find something that's on it. But impulse buying is one of the great joys of life. Buyer's remorse? Nah! My remorse almost always strikes when I leave something ymmy behind.

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    1. I agree with you about remorse. I cannot think of a single plant that I have regretted buying on impulse, but I can remember plenty that I regret not buying.

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  11. What fun! And, you have a jump on us on the other side of the Atlantic. Gardening lists.....it's so much fun looking at catalogs and websites to see what is new.....There are certain flowers I'm a fool for. Daylilies and IrisesI ...keep telling myself I have plenty and when they are divided I have even more but, then a new color comes out....

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    1. If the daylily/Iris thing gets out of hand, you can always think about applying for national collection status... then you will have an excuse to grow every one of them.

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  12. Since I don't often get to a plant sale (they are so rare here!) making a list beforehand is always exciting and increases the anticipation. My joy at finding things on the list is one thing, but finding something not on my list that fulfils all the criteria for a special spot in the garden is even better! A lovely post Sarah!

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    1. Thank you! What a shame plant sales are a rarity for you. I have started to develop off-liste traits in my internet plant shopping. There isn't quite the same drool factor, but it does help me to discover new beauties.

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  13. I am definitely an "off" kinda gal. The thing is that we don't know what we want (need) until we see it. Then we must strike before the opportunity has passed us by! :)

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  14. I stopped having a list after all the criticism I used to receive from certain quarters for going off it. Now I am encouraged only to "have somewhere to put it" which of course I do. The number of plants currently heeled into the veggie beds stands in testament.

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    1. Filling the kitchen garden's hungry gap with off-liste ornamentals? I like your thinking.

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  15. I was there last week on Wednesday! Did you see the 'flowerpot' men? I didn't have a liste, but a vague idea about finding out more about hellebores. I found out more about Chelsea instead, does that count as going off-liste too? ;)

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    1. I did see the flowerpot men! The Chelsea display was excellent. I thought it was fascinating - and so very well put together.

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  16. I have no a list at all visiting fairs and nursery Sarah. I always thunk: there is no spot to plant anymore but I go to see something interesting:)
    And I purchase 2 or 3 plants, having no idea where to plant them.

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    1. I bet you find a space for them.... eventually.

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  17. Those potatoes are beautiful and must be quite tasty. I will have to find a source for Illuco,oca and yacon!

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    1. I hope ulluco will taste good. At the moment it is planted in small pots in my office. If it's slow off the mark like the other tubers, I will be looking at pots of compost for a while yet!

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  18. Going of liste is a failure of many gardeners, the result is, where in the garden do I plant this new plant?

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    1. It is a failure and a folly - and at some point in our gardening lives we are likely to fall prey to the lure of the off-liste plant!

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  19. I think going off list is compulsory, isn't it. I love OCA, now I have to read up onulluco and mashua...

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    1. Oca is such a pretty plant too. Even if I didn't like it as an edible, I would enjoy its foliage.

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  20. I am definitely a serial impulse plant buyer. I sometimes think scientists will eventually discover some kind of chemical, like a pheromone, that plants release in garden centers that attracts unwary shoppers.

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    1. Like the smell of home baked bread when you are trying to sell a house, or the scent of Hollister wafting across the shopping centre? I think you may be onto something.

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  21. A garden show is an inspiration and starts my mental garden wheels whirling, but I confess I go "off list" almost every time I visit my favorite nursery! It is a real problem.

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    1. I must confess to visiting a couple of nurseries with the intention of discovering a new plant for my borders. It is impossible to stay on-liste at these nurseries, so I don't even bother trying.

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  22. I never stick to my list! I buy everything on it and then a bunch of plants that weren't. But that's the fun! :)

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    1. I would expect nothing less of a spirited gardener!

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  23. You're so lucky to have so many wonderful garden shows in the UK! Ours in Southern California are, frankly, pathetic by comparison. However, spring does arrive very early here and the garden centers stock up to tempt people like me that suffer from a serious plant addiction problem. I have nursery outings planned with friends both this week and next and, although I have a long list to carry along, I've no doubts whatsoever that I'll be off-list from the moment I step through the doors.

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    1. We are very fortunate to have the garden shows. We are also blessed with many inspiring gardens which are open to the public - not just the famous ones, but those open through the NGS, Red Cross or other charities. There are often plants for sale there too - it is virtually impossible to be a UK gardener and stay on-liste. I hope your nursery outings have yielded some fine purchases!

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  24. Hello Sarah, I never go off-liste because my list for plants is simply, Clematis, roses, anything cheap, anything on offer, anything that looks nice and is winter hardy, anything easy. Very rarely is there something that I really want that doesn't fit at least one of those.

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    1. That's fortunate - especially as you have a new garden to fill!

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  25. I don’t need to view the plants, sniff the heady scent or see the splashes of colours – all I need to do to get tempted into buying plants is to go online to nurseries and see what they have on offer, and tempted I get, list or no list!

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    1. The great thing about internet plant shopping is that we can compare prices, so at least we can congratulate ourselves on being thoughtful and considered about our purchases.

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