Opportunities Posted on February 15, 2013

I’ve given up even trying to make a list of plants I simply must take to our new garden. Too many painful decisions, for a start  – but also the feeling that it’s wrong to hang on. Do I really want to walk round one garden remembering another? If I have discovered that a plant is good, grows well for me, fills a useful role and provides moments of real excitement as it shoots, or buds, or flowers, or when the leaves turn, or even as a winter tuft of hope, I’d like to take it, or a cutting or a wodge in a pot. But not at any price. Nurseries are full of unexplored opportunities.

Thinking about moving, though, has made me remember quite humble commonplace things I rely on and would miss. I was thinking about my favourite campanula, the peach-leaved C. persicifolia: what an easy loyal friend it is, self-seeding generously and then, unlike plants that go to ground, hide for the winter and only remind you they’re there in spring, outfacing the frosts with a neat evergreen rosette of leaves from which, suddenly and vigorously, its summer spire shoots up. Then what wild-flower beauty it achieves with its clear porcelain bells, either white or a pale bluebell blue. Just imagining it, on a dire February day, gives me goose-pimples of anticipation.


There are flowers I forget between seasons. The snowflake is one; you may think it just a snowdrop with pretensions, but when it rises among and above them (as it does by the logshed path) with its leaves not grey-blue but bright summer green, not bashful like the snowdrops but almost brazenly open for business, it feels more like a visiting stranger than the streamside native it is.

Hugh’s Gardening Books


Trees was first published in 1973 as The International Book of Trees, two years after The World Atlas of Wine….

Hugh’s Wine Books

Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book

I wrote my first Pocket Wine Book in 1977, was quite surprised to be asked to revise it in 1978,…

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