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The Spring Plant Fair at RHS Wisley, which this year runs from 22nd to 24th March, is a lovely way to launch the show season and celebrate the start of Spring. 

Wisley’s Spring show takes place in a marquee within the gardens and is very relaxed and friendly so I always have lots of opportunities to chat to gardeners and share my tips on growing hardy plants. I love to hear other people’s experiences and ideas and I like to find out about their growing conditions so that I can help them choose the right plant for the right place. 

This show happens just ahead of the peak season for Camassia and Uvularia which are in full bloom in April and May so it’s a chance for gardeners to buy some potted up ready to plant in their pots and borders for an almost instant display over the weeks that follow. I can promise plenty of spring and early summer inspiration and a good selection of hardy plants from my nursery which will be available to buy, including some of my favourite varieties of Convallaria with their characteristic English country garden scent which are always a joy in springtime. 

If you can’t get to Wisley, I am happy to arrange private nursery visits and April is a lovely month to come for a look round and see the Camassia and Uvularia in bloom. We are not a retail nursery so are not open to the public but we do take bookings for pre-arranged visits. Book early for April and May as these are our busiest months. We also have open days, which are in May, August and September.  We’re in the pretty village of Alne near York in North Yorkshire. 

Wisley is the first of a busy schedule of RHS shows for Hare Spring Cottage Plants. To find out where we’ll be in 2019 visit our events page.

Nursery Open Days will be held on May 4th and 5th, August 10th and 11th and September 21st and 22nd. All are welcome to visit on these days. To arrange a visit outside these dates please contact via email – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

I’m always full of anticipation at this time of year as the first tiny shoots of life push through the soil to remind us how much there is to look forward to. 

This year will be my third full season of RHS shows and I’m going to be celebrating the wonderful resilience of hardy plants as I think back to the Easter floods of 2018 which nearly scuppered my grand plans for Chelsea. 

On Easter Monday night flood water descended on the nursery and my polytunnels ended up beneath three feet of river water just weeks before I was due to supply Chris Beardshaw with significant numbers of Camassia for his Chelsea Flower Show garden. 

I can’t remember how many hours I spent rescuing plants and painstakingly cleaning every little bit of silt off each individual leaf and bud, but the task seemed endless at the time. Thanks to my obsessive plant cleaning, Camassia’s  love of water and the remarkable toughness of hardy plants they didn’t just survive – they sparkled - and Chris won Best in Show with my Camassia stars sparkling in his garden. This year I’m not taking any chances and the plants are all on raised platforms just in case. 

The planning for RHS Chelsea and the other shows starts a good 18 months in advance so by this time of year I know exactly what needs doing and which plant combinations I’m going to have on my stands. Malvern and Chelsea are perfectly timed for my Camassia which will be in full bloom and displayed alongside complementary hardy plants. One of my favourites to plant alongside Camassia is Veronica gentianoides ‘Tissington White’ with its crisp white flowers which look stunning with blue Camassia. 

I’ll be sharing plenty more planting ideas and updates from the nursery as the seasons unfold. 

Happy Gardening!

Stella Exley

Hare Spring Cottage Plants