Some plants first discovered a hundred years ago by renowned gardener E A Bowles, the founder of Myddelton House Gardens, will make a rare appearance and go on sale to the public at a unique plant sale at the gardens, in his memory, on Saturday 15 April.
Expert botanist and artist E A Bowles not only discovered a number of plants, including Bowles' golden grass (Milium effusum 'Aureum'), he also had several species named after him. Among the plants bearing his name are Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ and cotton lavender 'Edward Bowles' (Santolina pinnata subsp. neopolitana). All of these are now very popular plants and will feature in the sale.
Some of the unusual flora available to buy - including award-winning Dykes Medal irises - have rarely been on sale to the public since the days of E A Bowles, who was a keen grower of many varieties of iris.
The free Spring Plant Bazaar, on Easter Saturday at Myddelton House Gardens, from 11:00-15:00, will be open to all plant and gardening enthusiasts, as well as members of the public who would like to see and acquire some rarely available plants for their homes and gardens.
Following in the tradition of E A Bowles, Myddelton House Gardens has always been drawn to the unusual in the plant world. The gardens’ first Spring Plant Bazaar will bring together a number of local and specialist nurseries. So, as well as foliage that is out of the ordinary, there will be a whole range of bulbs, annuals, variegated and hardy plants to catch people’s attention.
Among the plants on sale, Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’, was hailed as one of ten ‘plants of the centenary’ in 2013 at the Chelsea Flower Show that year, in a shortlist of plants introduced between 1973 and 83. It was also chosen by the Royal Horticultural Society among "200 plants for 200 years" to mark the RHS’s bicentenary in 2004.
Many of the unusual flora available to buy - including award-winning Dykes Medal irises - have rarely been on sale to the public. The irises on sale will include ones that have been split from the original collection at the gardens. These are currently available at Glebe Nursery at Forty Hill and at Myddelton House Gardens, but most of them will not be commercially available anywhere else in the country.
In addition, a brand new concept is coming to the gardens - a chance to swap seeds at the gardens’ own seed swap stall, where people can bring along their own seeds and exchange them for some others! It is another first for the gardens, with few other locations in the area offering an opportunity like this.
James Hall, Head Gardener at Myddelton House Gardens, said: “We are very excited by having our first plant sale at Myddelton House Gardens, especially as some of the plants on sale will not have been seen in public for many years.
“The Dykes Medal Irisis an award-winning variety. As we only lift and divide the collection every three to four years, the numbers and the opportunity to acquire one of these specimens, is very limited.”
James Hall added that Bowles’ taste in plants was eclectic but he held particular fondness for Crocus, Cyclamen, Galanthus and Iris. “A spur of the New River ran through Myddelton House Gardens in Bowles’ day and the long border which flanked the northern bank became home to a wide range of irises,” he said. “The hot, dry and sunny aspect was ideal for masses of Iris germanica, particularly Iris ‘Florentina’ and other bearded Iris. The Dykes Medal winning National collection we have today mostly comprises bearded Iris.”
Entry to the plant sale is free, with proceeds from the sale going towards the ongoing maintenance of the gardens. Car parking charges apply.
Myddelton House Gardens
Myddelton House Gardens, based in Bulls Cross, Enfield, have a tea room and museum, plus restored glasshouses and Kitchen Garden. They are also home to a carp lake, a Victorian conservatory and a number of historical artefacts collected and treasured by E A Bowles, including pieces from the original St Paul’s Cathedral and the Enfield Market Cross.
The picturesque gardens situated at Bulls Cross, Enfield EN2 9HG, are open every day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Entry to the gardens is free.
For more information about Myddelton House Gardens, please visit: www.visitleevalley.org.uk/myddelton or call 03000 030 610.