All Horts Away Day – Little Ash Garden, The Truth

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As promised here is my exposé of the All Horts trip to Little Ash Garden near Honiton in East Devon.  This is the garden of my friend Helen Brown and her husband Brian.  Those of you who are concerned that this report might be biased because she is my friend have nothing to worry about. In fact she gets on my nerves a bit because she is so clever.

We arrived a little early.  I had estimated the travel time on journeys previously undertaken in my Reliant Robin. As we were in Max’s souped up Silver Shadow this took a good 2 hours off the journey, in fact we nearly got there before we started out.  One advantage of being unfashionably early was that we got first dibs at the plant table, and dib we did.  Cephalaria, smilacina, ariseama all were bagsied and bagged before the locusts other All Horts arrived.  Soon familiar faces rolled up looking as sophisticated as ever, they had arrived from all corners of the earth, some from a far away land known Oxford and others returning for the occasion from Costa del Dorset.  After polite handshakes and pleasantries, all washed down with a nice cuppa and piece of cake, we were ready for the tour.

So we wandered and we wondered at the spectacle.  Botticellian borders bursting but not over stuffed, packed with interest for the curious, the academic or the aesthete.  From the colour themed borders where self-seeders are encouraged and weeds have no place, to the newly constructed alpine bed dotted with miniature marvels.  Patches of rattle strewn meadow, shrubs and trees that are never quite what you imagine they might be.  Foliage as vital as flower; variegation, golden, aubergine, all skillfully placed to enhance both themselves and their neighbours.  A deep dark aquilegia against buttercup leaved acer.  Purple cotinus entwined by a ruby clematis.  Then to the alder grove and monster caltha, gunnera and candelabra primulas the colour of opal fruits.  Every turn there were questions.  What? Where? And how?  When we got to the end we could have started again and spotted a myriad of missed gems.

After another pit stop at the unrelenting cake-feeding station, Helen announced that if anyone had seen anything they fancied that she had excess of she would dig it up.  I must tell you folks, the resultant maul was not a pretty sight.  Elbows out, the old and infirm crushed to the ground in the rush of the lustful. True to her word, and yet another indication of the kind and generous person she is, she set off down the garden. Like the Pied Piper the hopeful trailed after her dancing to the mesmerising horti-tune.  On the uphill return trip the gallant David pushed the full barrow, which was quite fair as it appeared that most of it was coming home with us.

The rain held off until just as we were leaving.  So who ever was in charge of climate control, I thank you.  Just before we left Helen said “no one ever notices the Vallea stipularis”.  There it was, in all its Chilean glory, flowering its blooming head off.  A very special way to finish this very special day.  Thank you Helen (you big swot). x

For those All Horts who haven’t yet been one of the organised trips I encourage you to do so.  The ones I have been on have been wonderful for many reasons.  You meet like-minded, gorgeous and very friendly people, you learn stuff, you see beautiful things, you are both inspired and encouraged.  And you eat cake.  Really, I don’t know what is keeping you away.  See you next time.

16 thoughts on “All Horts Away Day – Little Ash Garden, The Truth

  1. I didn’t realise you’d plundered the plant table. You devil you. I suppose I should be grateful you left me an ariseama. And that Helen found me another one around the back. And some seeds. I am replete. Yes indeedy, see you next time. Early. With elbows honed.. x

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  2. Wonderful description of your day.I am envious of all those lovely gardens you visit and your access to such a wonderful variety of garden plants through good nurseries.
    Perhaps it is just as well that I can on admire from afar as I would be even more insecure about my gardening skills.

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  3. Sounds great. We were wandering round a beautiful garden in Wales then. What they didn’t have in terms of plants for sale, they made up for with cakes….😊🌺

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  4. Sounds like a day full of delights…Good for you getting your plants early (note to self…arrive early. Fat chance). Can really relate to the sharpened elbows and general buzz at the hint of a choice bit of botanical booty…Helen’s garden sounds incredibly varied and full of interest…Wish I were able to attend an All Horts event. Sadly, must only savour vicariously though your account definitely transports one… Thanks for sharing : ) @bitjealous

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