The nursery instinct.

One of ‘those’ June evenings…  Cooling down a bit, the air still, the garden smelling of roses, honeysuckle, and a wonderful, dreamily perfumed, dianthus called ‘Loveliness’.  The Cheviot hills, far beyond the end of the garden, are grey-blue, grey-violet in the valleys.  Am whacked; not gardened so intensively for three decades, and had almost forgotten quite what a wonderful way it was to spend time – see ‘Bang in More Nails’.

Been clearing out the bit of the new kitchen garden that acts as a nursery at the moment, but next season, should be where strawberries and gooseberries grow.  At present, a jumble of box cuttings, bits Paeonia delavayii waiting for a good home, Iris ‘Holden Clough’ likewise, together with Euphorbia palustris, and, my big prize, six perky young plants of sweet box (Sarcococca species.. as yet unknown).  Those I keep.  Have been wandering around determining where they should go.  That wonderful smell in the deeps of winter is so worth having.  Perhaps down by the seat in front of the outdoor fireplace – which, all wrapped in blankets, we use on starlit frosty nights.  Or perhaps by the old blue garden seat that catches the last of the sun on a winter afternoon?  Or, even better, once we’ve cleared away a couple of square yards of a thuggish epimedium throttling all sorts of more interesting stuff, then just outside the garden room doors, so that opening on a winter morning would bring in a gust of that delicious smell.  Two things: I wonder what Chinese insect is abroad at that season in China to be seduced by that smell; second, it’s well worth keeping almost any sarcocca you have to spare in a pot, say, 6″ diameter minimum.  Grow it outdoors in a shady corner, to be brought inside in January.  Once the flowers open, they will delight you for weeks.
Having once owned a plant nursery, and having also eventually given it up – eighteen hour days, narrow margins, and dealing with customers (lol – not my strong point) – it’s odd to see that we simply cannot let a good seedling/cutting/promising pod go.  And no – never, never again.  Fortunately, there’s no longer room, though we do look at the adjacent abandoned garden with a certain amount of desire.


About david stuart

garden writer and journalist, and occasionally a designer, with a garden in the Scottish borders, and his pal's gardens in Edinburgh, London, and Lincolnshire. They keep both of us very, very busy. Books I've written listed on my website, and dozens of articles and garden and plant pictures. Currently working on several new projects. One of these was to return to painting - see the blog - and which is proving exciting! or, more fun, have a look at
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