Follow the crowd

Galanthus 'Magnet'

Like getting out of the Underground at Sloane Square during Chelsea week, we didn’t need directions to Brandy Mount in Alresford.  We just followed the line of determined and well wrapped up enthusiasts making their way to see Michael Baron’s Scientific National Plant Collection of Galanthus.  Despite the sub zero temperatures, Gill and I were soon taking our turns to crouch down and view the exquisite snowdrops growing in clusters all around the one acre garden. 

Everything is labelled so if you are lucky you will be able to buy a pot of your favourite at the sales table.  But don’t delay, the plants go very quickly.  I loved the ‘Marmite’ approach of this label and when I saw a specimen in the garden was able to nip back and buy the last plant.

Michael spent some time with us explaining how he segregates new plants in a cold frame to check for disease and allow the material to increase in size before planting out into the garden.  Viruses are a serious issue for galanthophiles and Michael has written an interesting article on the subject in the latest NCH newsletter.

Even if snowdrops aren’t your favourite plant there is plenty to see in the garden.

Hamamellis pallida

Alpines in glass houses or stone troughs.

A beautiful potager with rhubarb forcing pots.

A National Plant Collection of Daphne.

Daphne kamtschatica

and the all important tea and cakes, which last year raised over a thousand pounds for a local charity.  Asking about the rosettes on the walls we also found out that most of the Daschunds in Alresford are related and there are regular birthday parties for the dog families.

Gill put Michael on the spot by asking which is his favourite – not a moments hesitation – Galanthus ‘Lulu’ was the answer.  I suppose after thirty years of collecting, you know your plants.
This is Michael’s last season of Open Days, so get there while you can – NGS opening, Saturday 11th February; Snowdrop Open Day, Sunday 12th February; Open to raise funds for restoration work on the Bells at St John’s Church, Alresford, Sunday 19th February.  11.00 – 4.00. 

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