I’ll admit it – I’m a sucker for the village plant sale. Any village plant sale, to be honest. While I can walk round a garden centre quite easily with my hands in my pockets and remain untempted by all the glories on display, there’s nothing like a trestle table full of miscellaneously potted plants, some labelled, some not, to get me forking out the cash. Throw in a tea and some home baking and it’s an afternoon made in heaven as far as I’m concerned. Last year the village plant sale didn’t happen, so this year as soon as it was announced I had it in the diary and yesterday afternoon I set off in the teeming rain on the Brompton to get there before the vultures descended.*
It was a miserable afternoon but the turnout was pretty good and the plant selection was wide if a little random. There was a very knowledgeable gardener manning the stall which was helpful as nothing was in flower and despite working for over a decade at Kew Gardens, my plant identification skills have not advanced much beyond ‘legume’ and ‘not a legume’. As the prices ranged the gamut from 50p to £1.50 it didn’t really matter what I bought anyway. The good thing about these sales is that people mostly donate plants that have grown well and spread themselves in their gardens so you know that most things will do well in the prevailing conditions. This is also the bad thing about these sales – one punter did sail off with a tray full of Lady’s Mantle which spreads itself like wildfire, despite even the woman manning the stall trying to dissuade her. Still, one person’s invasive nightmare is another person’s useful ground cover and as long as there isn’t too much ground elder and bindweed root lurking in the pots I should end up ahead on points.
So here’s my booty – whatever it is. I’d have bought a lot more but the Brompton basket was getting quite full and I had to leave room for the home baking. Plant stall lady did tell me what most of them were but my brain refused to retain the information – it can’t remember people’s names, why on earth would it manage with plants? One of them is a shrub with berries that blackbirds like. Two of them are ‘special’ foxgloves, reason for specialness not entirely clear. One flowers in July, which is useful and was described as a ‘really good doer’. One had other sterling qualities that seemed enticing at the time but which I have now forgotten. And one of them was a mystery both to me and Plant stall lady, but at 50p was worth a punt. Waiting to see what emerges is half the fun…
* you’ve got to be quick: theoretically it started at 2:30 but I knew all too well that the people bringing plants arrive earlier and get first dibs of the good stuff, so I was there by 2:15 and it was already heaving. They just don’t do fashionably late around here.