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Hot off the press, exclusive, never-before-seen…. the plants which will feature this year at Chelsea.

Well, all right, it’s not giving much away. Of course at this time of year nothing’s in flower as there’s a month to go before they’ll reach their peak of perfection. But it was really wonderful to see them all there in one of Crocus‘s six polytunnels’ worth of Chelsea gardens, just waiting for their moment in the spotlight.

This was all because Crocus opened up its nursery today for one of their open days – they’re held three times a year, and they’re a bun fight. Hundreds of people descend on the nursery to snap up loads of bargains and, it being Crocus, some wonderfully well-grown plants.

I must here declare an interest, of course, because I do work for Crocus, though on the kitchen gardening side so I was there just to have a good nose around like everyone else.

Crocus wrote the book on supplying plants to Chelsea, and has to some extent cornered the market: they’re doing the plants for Tom Stuart-Smith’s garden (sure to be utterly awe-inspiring) and Andy Sturgeon’s too: talk about working for two exacting taskmasters. There may be others, too (though that’s a state secret. Well, they’re not telling me, anyway.)

As well as the polytunnels they’ve got what looks like several acres of plants outside, too. So… what can I reveal?

Well, not a lot. But Onopordums (those enormous great big Scotch thistles) look like they could be in for a starring role:

…and outside there were a lot of very dreamy phloxes…

I’m not entirely sure they should have been in flower, but here’s a close-up anyway.

Pretty, aren’t they?

And here’s another entirely random shot of some gorgeous big cuddly box balls all rootballed up and ready to go.

As usual, I found all those serried ranks of mouthwatering plants impossible to resist, though I did try to be restrained and sensible. So I came home laden with:

3 Monarda ‘Beauty of Cobham’
3 Anchusa ‘Loddon Royalist’
3 Agapanthus roots
1 Molinia caerulea ‘Transparent’
1 Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’
1 Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’

Those last three because I’ve always felt that one Stipa gigantea – albeit large and well established – and one Anemanthele lessoniana – ditto – was less than a full quotient of grasses, so my garden has always required more. That should do it.

I highly recommend Crocus’s open days: brilliant for a bargain and for a bit of snooping around (in the nicest possible way!) The next one will require you to sharpen your elbows before attending though – it’s the Chelsea sell-off on June 6th.

Wonder how much they’ll want for one of those onopordums…