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Maybe it’s because I’m fed up with the winter (and who isn’t) but I’m in the throes of planning the area around my pond at the moment, and I’m going for the tropical jungle look.

It’s partly inspired by the seed distribution list I’ve just received from the Friends Society of the Ventnor Botanic Garden. I love these horticultural groups – at the very least, you meet lots of other enthusiastic and knowledgeable gardeners, and often, if the group is attached to a botanic garden or similar, there’s the sheer delight of a seed distribution. I have a particular affection for Ventnor, too, and make a point of visiting it at least once a year to see its fabulous semi-tropical and mediterranean displays. It’s on the Isle of Wight, which is well worth a visit in any case as it has its own microclimate and they can grow some wonderful plants there which are borderline hardy in the rest of the country. The gardens there are wonderful.

Other seed distributions are pretty good – I did the RHS’s wonderful seed distribution this year, mainly for a client who wants to stock up her garden at minimal cost, and it was like being a kid in a sweet shop. But the Ventnor distribution list is something else – a horticultural odyssey through the wierd and wonderful, from every corner of the globe. You always find something you never knew existed but sounds utterly sumptuous. How about Myoporum sandwicense? Ever heard of it? Me neither – but it’s a gorgeous plant, tiny pink or white flowers and big leathery-looking leaves. Another one I might try is Sinocalycanthus chinensis – I read about this just recently in an article by Roy Lancaster and thought it sounded absolutely fabulous. And here it is for free… can’t believe my luck sometimes!