I was alerted from the Sunday Times last week that there was a plant hunters fair at the National Memorial Arboretum today and not only do these fairs never seem to be anywhere very local but we had not yet visited the memorial, despite it being only 10 miles or so away from home. And what an amazing and poignant place it is! We will be returning on a less cold and damp day for a longer visit as the site is huge, but even today there were probably hundreds of people around and mostly not for the plant fair. The things that struck me most were the comprehensive inclusion of memorials around the site for every organisation or group involved in the various conflicts, but also the names….. thousands upon thousands of service personnel who have lost their lives in conflict or as a result of terrorism since the end of the Second World War……. over 16,000 I believe – very poignant indeed…….
On a more mundane note, I could have been like the proverbial child in a sweet shop at the plant fair, but had come with neither any preconceived ‘wants’ nor much cash, so had spent up by the second or third stall. At least I now have a good idea of the stalls that were there and the ranges they carry, and several said they would bring specific plants another time if requested, there being two further fairs here this year. It was certainly good to see things that were a little different and unusual – and parts of some national collections too (phlox, helenium and centaurea I think). Today I came away with two teeny tiny hostas (‘Cracker Crumbs’ and ‘Lime Fizz’), a large hosta with an indecipherable label which I have since emailed the seller about, the striking dark leaved fragrant Polemonium ‘Heaven Scent’ and a small Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’ before the cash ran out….