Friday 6th May 2022

This week Friday Group set off for Laughton in East Sussex to work for the morning at Pelham Plants – a wonderful nursery owned by Paul Seaborne, a long-time friend of Garden House.

An opportunity to work in a very special garden under the eagle eye of a fantastic plantsman. Daunting, but exciting.

We congregate,

drink coffee and chat

and are welcomed by Paul, who’s been busy selling his plants at various Plant Fairs recently. That’s in addition to running the nursery, propagating plants, and managing a sizeable garden as well.

Good job The Fab Friday Group are here to lend a hand!

We set off around the garden to discover some amazing plants and also what tasks he has in store for us. And, right at the entrance to the garden, we’re greeted by this –

Malus transitoria

What a tree! Exquisite blossom in profusion and small, ovate leaves which turn yellow in the autumn. Will grow in most soils. Ht. 4-8 m. It’s pretty much the first thing we see and it’s immediately on everybody’s ‘All the Plants I Covet’ list.

Euphorbia epithymoides ‘Midas’

Paul describes this as ‘aptly named’ due to its vivid lime-gold bracts, which emerge in late spring. An easy plant, which likes a partially shaded site, it’s quite unassuming in its habit – but is nevertheless considered a ‘must-have’ by Pelham Plants. Buy, plant, enjoy.

Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’

This one is at Peak Performance Point. Gloriously showy, with white blossom held on horizontal, tiered branches and prominently veined, dark green oval leaves which turn purple in the autumn. This deciduous shrub will grow in most situations, but is clearly flourishing in the fertile clay soil here. A.G.M. Ht. 2.5 – 4 m

Viburnum opulus ‘Sterile

A deciduous shrub which, in the spring, is covered in small, snowball-like clusters of white flowers. The fresh green leaves develop autumnal tints later in the season. Best planted in full sun to partial shade in fertile, moist, well-drained soil. A good, ornamental shrub, attractive to pollinators. A.G.M. Ht. 5 m

Camassia leichtlinii subsp. suksdorfii ‘Electra’

The label reads as follows: ‘Rarely offered 1 m tall hybrid with electric-blue flowers. Its vigour and sterility lends itself to safely planting mid-border.’ The fact that the plant is sterile means that it doesn’t produce seeds and is therefore not cross pollinated by other Camassias. Individual star-like flowers grow up the stem of each plant, and the bulbs flourish best in rich, damp, heavy soils. This cultivar is twice the size of other varieties. Plant deeply in borders or maybe naturalise them in an area of rough grass.

Acer griseum

The Paperbark Maple, so- called because its cinnamon-brown bark peels away from the trunk like paper, leaving brighter chestnut-red wood beneath. When lit by the sun, the bark glows, becoming almost translucent. A good four-season tree, which grows particularly well on clay soils. A.G.M. Ht 6 – 9 m.

Friday Group in full learning mode

The tour of the garden takes in the nursery as well –

complete with polytunnels

Jobs for the day

Weeding. Adding leaf mould to beds. Planting. Sowing. Potting on.

(This all sounds quite familiar!)

On your marks, get set –


But, the question on everyone’s lips is…. does he stop for cake?

Of course he does. He’s a gardener!

This is a job we excel at

Back to it – there’s work to be done –

Looks biblical!

Removing Spanish Bluebells and deadheading English Narcissi

Potloads of planting

Removing forget-me-nots; not forgetting to leave seeds behind for next year’s display

Nearly there!

What’s that interesting-looking shed there on the right? It’s in such a beautiful setting

It’s a private privy for plants-people. Complete with a very appropriate wash basin…

We all want one of those too

Just time to explore the nursery in more detail – leading to the inevitable retail experience

Ah! There’s that Camassia!

Not to mention Actaea, Achillea, Aconitum, Agapanthus, Agastache, Allium….. and that’s just the ‘A’ group. Oh, heck.

A wonderful time was had by all. Huge thanks to Paul for a great morning.