Back in England for a couple of weeks, and first stop (after stopping off at the RHS bookshop at Wisley to sign copies of the Encyclopedia of Perennials) is Monksilver Nursery near Cambridge.
This nursery boasts an outstanding range of unusual plants, mainly perennials, with many new introductions discovered by owners Joe Sharman and Alan Leslie and an very wide range of variegated plants.
The vincas roaming through the borders round the car park were wonderfully colourful and at this early stage of the season the many selections of the lesser celandine, Ranunculus ficaria, were flowering cheerfully. Although invasive in some areas in the North America, these superb early plants are valued for their early single and double flowers from white, through many yellow shades to copper and orange. Their foliage is also outstanding, and can be green or bronze with a myriad of pretty patterns enhanced with silver mottling.
Pulmonarias, arums, vincas and a few unusual bulbs are other spring stars with asters, sedums and old fashioned chrysanthemums for later in the season. You can find a full list here, but there are often a few plants of rarities to be had.
However, it’s only fair to say that this is not the tidiest nursery in the country and that their website is rudimentary. But the range of unusual plants they have available is very impressive.
On Saturday, 17 March, the nursery hosts their Spring Thing, where their plants will be available and there will also be four visiting nurseries: Graham Birkin’s 39 Steps, specialising in American woodland plants including Trillium, Arisaema and hardy orchids; familiar and rare trees and shrubs from Bluebell Nursery, spring bulbs from Triffids nursery and hellebores and peonies from Will McLewin’s excellent Phedar Nursery. There will also be secondhand books available from Keith Larkin. There’ll be a marquee and hot drinks too. Well worth a visit.
For full nursery details and catalogue costs check here.