Monday, 20 February 2012

Salacious thoughts, RHS shows and Helianthus

It may be cold outside, but inside I’m heading to RHS shows and buying lots of plants!

On Tuesday I went to the RHS spring show and was very pleased to meet up with the lovely Mark and Gaz. I had thought we may be fighting for the same plants, and arm wrestling for the last Fatsia polycarpa but it was all very amicable, and it was great to be able to talk plants with other people that understand!  Do check out their great blog about it, as they are proper bloggers they remember things like cameras to take pictures!

The show was very different from my usual experiences in that I went first thing on the first day (usually I go last thing on the last day) so it was packed and everyone was all keen and enthusiastic. No old ladies had yet fallen asleep on the chairs up the top, and I bumped into other friends including the lovely Leslie and Dr Dick. Being there when it was busy also meant that I spent more time perusing, although I was very strict about buying plants as I had pre ordered a load from Crug only being distracted to get a giant thistle.

For me the Crug stall was by far the best, as taste wise this was bang on and their stand was littered with many things which I had no idea what they were. Theirs is exactly the type of gardening I like....rare, unusual, big leaved and I am rather poorer financially as a result!

I was very pleased with my Crug haul... my top plants being a Schleffera taiwanna, a very deep cut Fatsia ploycarpa, and an amazing Rubus lineatus which has these beautiful large palmate leaves that are like a cross between a horse chestnut and cannabis....indeed when I got into a taxi to go home the driver leaned over and looking at the Rubus said ‘bought some special plants then mate?’  

Besides Crug, my other plant lusting have mainly been around Helainthus salicifolius and Eryngium pandanifolia both of which I hopefully now have on order.
A small one in a French square...thei planting is a lot more exciting than our carpet bedding of red geraniums
Helianthus is a family where it is the humble sunflower that is the child which is the centre of attention, distracting you from the other great members of the family.  I am a lover of annual sunflowers both for cut flowers and for fun as there is something magical about growing a very tall monster sunflower. Last year I grew a mix of sunflowers for cutting from Chiltern seeds which had a particularly good lemon yellow variety. I also grew a variety called moonwalker which had dark red/browny flowerswas ok, but I’m not growing this year as the flowers all looked down a bit and didn’t stand out as much as I would like.
Sunflower Moonwalker

My sunflowers for cutting (at the back)
However Helianthus has more than annuals in it, and in France last year I kept seeing Helianthus salicifolia and was captivated by its tall stems, with thin leaves giving it a different look, indeed its common name is the Willow leafed sunflower. It is a perennial, mainly grown for its foliage reaching 8-10ft in its native North America.  It is a little similar to Eupatorium capillifolium (dog fennel) which I also developed a little obsession with last year, finding some at the last RHS show and buying 2 plants which I’m keeping safe in the greenhouse until spring. This can also grow 1-2 metres tall and has that same elegent and slightly odd foliage.
So pretty! let me rub my hand up and down your body....
The other Helianthus I like is the common Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosa)..... many people dont realise it’s a sunflower until it flowers when the link is suddenly clear.  I got a large bag of these last year due to their previous owner realising that eating them was the cause of a large amount of wind in their flat and thus removing them from his allotment.  I like them as they grow quickly and bushy, with them reaching about 8-9ft last year making them an effective screening plant, although they can be a little susceptible to mildew. So this year I will use them as temporary screens to try and hide the neighbours with vast amounts of them to be consumed at the end of next year!
Jerusalem artichoke in the middle forming a very neat clump!
Finally I wanted to show you a good use for an old fork which I found when digging out the old pond. Who knew it would be perfect as my trident for when I was Neptune at Stevens seven seas themed birthday party!
Ahoy...I am king of the sea


  1. It was lovely to meet you and had a fantastic time at the show, due to both plants and company :) it was great to see your haul but special mention to the particular Rubus you got, stunning! I've added it to our wishlist including the Helianthus which your post reminded me how nice this plant is.

    You look fetching in your costume and the fork looks authentic as it looks like its been corroding under the sea for years!

  2. I will do a cutting for you ;)

    thanks for costume tips, I think I will wear it out shopping as I may be able to que jump as God of the sea!

  3. Yes please!! And I've got a few bits and pieces for you for next time we meet.

  4. And did you ever get forgiven for leaving the costume on the train...


  5. I will never be forgiven! and that trident is very metaphorically wedged into me! he did however make for a very fetching pirate!