Saturday, 4 May 2013

Hocus Crocus - now you see it.

Rosa banksiae ' Lutea'
I’m a long term fan of Crocus, but surprisingly and probably disappointingly for them I've never made a single purchase from their website and tend to use it for inspiration purposes and then source my plants elsewhere. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I just like to see exactly what I’m buying!

Anyhow, I was in the market for a Rosa banksiae 'Lutea', (a thorn-less rambling rose, displaying abundant beautiful small yellow flowers at this time of year) and noticed that Crocus were opening their doors to the public for a day, so I took the opportunity to check out their operation with my family and make a direct purchase.

The Crocus story appears to be a remarkable one; it started in 2000, with sales of 15 plants in the first few months to becoming one of the leading online plant retailers in the UK whilst also supplying a succession of highly acclaimed designers and achieving 'best in show' at Chelsea for 5 out of the last 6 years.

Remarkably my three young children enjoy a day out at a plant nursery, always keeping themselves entertained and today was no exception, particularly when my wife suggested ‘if you look hard enough among all those bamboo varieties you may find a panda.’ So off they hunted!

Crocus - Rose area

The site is large and with claims of providing in excess of 4,000 plant varieties, the selection is quite overwhelming. Amazingly I quickly found my desired rose and was delighted to discover that all 3ltr pots of roses were £10 each today ‘I’ll have two then.’

One little warning, if you do intend to make a visit to Crocus on an open day, be aware that they are not set up as a ‘retail’ nursery, so point of display pricing is pretty non existent and whilst the staff are extremely friendly and helpful, the numbers of visitors they're dealing with can hinder your attempts to quickly locate plants and their cost.

Further exploration of the entire site, with olive and lemon trees to wow my four year old and a abundance of large box hedging for the children to hide between, we eventually discovered the RHS Chelsea preparation area, with some truly inspiring plants.

Crocus - RHS Chelsea preparation 

Luzula Nivea
Centaurea 'Jordy'
Briza media

We were particularly impressed with the evergreen perennial 'Luzula Nivea' displaying beautiful white tuffs of flowers which would blend beautifully with the deep purple flowers of the Centaurea 'Jordy', and if you’re into a wild flower meadow display then Briza media is the perfect grass.

Look out for all of these in either the Telegraph and Laurent Perrier gardens at SW3 this year. I’ll certainly be back for the Crocus ‘Post Chelsea Show’ open day in early June to pick up some of my favourites to finish a small garden project - full details will be published in a future post.

Will I now buy online from Crocus? Well if it’s good enough for the likes of Tom Stuart Smith, Jinny Blom, and Andy Sturgeon, it’s good enough for me!

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