I could be forgiven for thinking I had slipped into heaven this morning when I visited Marchants Hardy Plants in East Sussex, on the first day of their autumn sale. With only two weeks to go until they close for the winter, there is 25% off all plants and I did not come home empty handed.
It was the perfect October morning, with warm weather in from the Sahara and brilliant blue skies offsetting perfectly the beautifully textured grasses and hardy perennials that Marchants specialises in.
Graham Marchant, a former opera singer turned acclaimed horticulturist, grows all the plants himself from cuttings with the help of a small team. As well as the nursery there is an inspiring garden, with planting worthy of Piet Oudolf, which costs a small extra fee to visit.
I was shopping for plants for an empty border and a couple of empty patches around my garden, as well as for a friend who I am helping with her garden. She wants a palette of pinks, purples, whites and blues, and I largely stuck with this as these colours will suit my bare patches.
I bought a pink Persicaria for both of us. Graham helped me find just the right colour and size as I was being quite particular. Then I chose three purple Salvia ‘Caradonna’ for my friend as well as a Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’. I was after a Stipa tenuissima for both of us, but this being the end of the season, there was only one left, so I bought it for my friend and opted for a reddish tipped Miscanthus ‘Adagio’ for myself. To go with the swishy Miscanthus, I chose a starry Aster ‘Little Carrow’ – you can see this combination in the picture above.
I was blown away by this dreamy clump of Salvia uliginosa or Bog Salvia, so I bought one for myself and will give it plenty of space to grow.
Graham and his team grow their own varieties. I have been looking for a blue geranium, so opted for a Geranium pratensis ‘Southease’, named after a local village. I also bought a couple of Marchants’ own Astrantia major – one for me and one for my friend and I couldn’t resist a blue campanula favoured by the late Christopher Lloyd.
Once my mum and I had made our selections and paid for them – packing them away in boxes we had brought with us, as Marchants ask customers to bring their own boxes if they can – we took a stroll around the gardens. They couldn’t have looked more stunning than they did on this early October morning and it was great to see some of the plants we had just bought in situ.