September 19th, 2010


Plant Pron

Photo Ashwood catalogue

If you visit a garden centre and see Hellebores labelled ‘Ashwood Hybrids’, they’ve been bred at Ashwood Nurseries. Most of the best ones never get as far as the garden centres as they are snapped up as fast as they can be produced at the nursery itself. Yesterday I went to hear the owner, John Massey, give a talk to our local NCCPG/Plant Heritage group (aka The Plant Snobs). As happens every month, it was a beautiful afternoon and there were all we gardeners stuck indoors. Luckily, it was well worth the effort. Not only does John Massey know everything about Hellebores (and lots of other plants), he has met almost everyone in the horticultural world (Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd, for example) and has plenty of anecdotes about them.

While slides were shown of the beautiful plants he’s grown or photographed in the wild, there were ‘oohs’ and groans from the audience which were later described by our chairman in her vote of thanks as ‘orgasmic’. I think she was getting her own back for being referred to so frequently as ‘a dominant lady’ but I did mutter to my neighbour quite early on, ‘This is pornography!’ Beautiful and funny: what more could you ask of a lecture? And I want lots more Hellebores in my garden. I'm not keen on all the new doubles but those picotees...

John Massey manages a cheerful grin for my camera.