RHS Great London Plant Fair – RHS Halls, Vincent Square

As an RHS member (I’ve been a member off and on for the last 15 or so years) I get free entry to the Great London Plant Shows.  I’ve been a bit remiss about going to these, because in prior years I’ve been tied up by work and not able to get there.

Now I’m a lady of leisure (ha!) and having something else to get up to town for (Mark Gattiss & Gawn Grainger in conversation @ The Donmar) it seemed a reasonable proposition to hit up the Great Plant Fair before the theatre visit.  Also sneaky planning on my part, going to the theatre after the plant fair meant I couldn’t Buy More Things for the garden. Clever, eh?

The fair was really interesting – in one hall they had the main plant displays and competitions: Kai bonsai, tulips, the Alpine Society show, and the Daffodil show. The other hall – just a few quick steps across the road – had all the trade stands selling plants, books and other goodies.

I spent about an hour and a half wandering round the first hall and taking many pictures (here’s my Flickr photostream of the event). For gardens, plants and flowers I find one picture is indeed worth a thousand words of cribbed notes. Here’s a view of one of the alpine tables:

Bonsai Kai had two tables of displays.  My uni degree was in Forestry (which I studied many moons ago at Bangor in North Wales)  so I see the attraction of the long view and in planting trees. Alas I am rather impatient and impetuous by nature and like my rewards to be a bit more immediate.  So though I admire the perfection of bonsai (and teeny tiny trees in miniature!) and the art involved in their creation I know don’t have the patience (or skill) to do it myself. This 45 year old Pinus parvifolia was lovely though!

There were a couple of tables reflecting the joys of tulips. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with tulips.  I love the colours and the blooms but but hate how fragile they are and how one heavy shower can leave you with a bare stalk. I’ve always tended to go with the darker varieties (I’m very fond of Queen of the Night) but have branched out this year (photos in a later post).  However I do love the dwarf tulips which brighten up my window boxes and I was rather taken with the ‘Duc va Tool’ tulips on display, particular the ‘Red and Yellow’ (see below).

There were several tables of alpines – including Sempervirums, Pleione, Lewisia and many, many others. I’ve never really grown many alpines, but am currently toying with the idea of making an old strawberry/herb pot into an alpine display.  I really liked this little Ipheion – lovely foliage and gorgeous white flowers (above right).

Then there was the Daffodil show. Serried ranks of tables and daffs & narcissi by the hundreds.


So many varieties – pure yellow, yellow petals with a white centre, yellow petals with an orange centre, white petals and orange centre, all white.  My mind was boggled, and I saw hundreds of varieties I would like to grow but don’t have room for. So I took copious photos as I’m intending to persuade S to let me plant a lot of bulbs in his garden this autumn!

I really liked Jason’s Bay (left) and Dr Hugh (right)

So that was the flower show section.

I trotted across the road and spent another half an hour pottering around the trade stands, scoping out plants which might be suitable for a shady bed for A’s Cambridge garden.  Cue lots more photos and came away with a lot of ideas.

Left just as the bell sounded for closing of the show, which left me plenty of time to wander from the RHS Halls via St James’ Park to The Donmar for the Mark Gattiss in conversation with Gawn Grainger event.

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