Nursery Tales

Another walking holiday in Devon, so another opportunity to visit some National Collections en route.  Tale Valley Nursery at Clyst Hydon was just off the road on our way down to Dartmouth and Chris and Lorraine Birchall welcomed us to see their collection of Rhodohypoxis and x Rhodoxis.  Flowering was finished for the year but we were able to see the goings on of a small nursery.

The Rhodohypoxis NC

I had assumed that the interest in Rhodohypoxis came from their interest in alpine and woodland plants, but it was the other way around.  Limited by a small garden, Chris’s Mum used to grow Rhodohypoxis and Chris and Lorraine have developed their nursery around this spark.

With plants in tunnels, shade and in the open a wide variety of types can be accommodated.

The nursery is tucked away down a lane and is immaculately laid out with raised beds to improve the growing conditions – the soil is solid clay.

Raised beds with Colchicum and short bearded iris

There is no mains water or electricity so they take some water from the local stream, collect rainwater from the nearby roof and use a small pump to get the water to the plants.

A particular interest in South African plants has led the Birchalls to take trips to the Drakensberg to see the native flora.
Kniphofia erecta and Cotyledon orbicularis growing in their poly tunnel.

Chris and Lorraine do all of their own propagation, with stock beds to bulk up bulbous material and a cuttings bench for the rest.

We left them planning what to take to the Malvern Autumn Show, their penultimate event of the year, the last being an AGS event in Loughborough – this Nerine would certainly be eyecatching.

To see pictures of the National Collection in flower, go to the post on their exhibit at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.