Thursday, December 21, 2017

Derry Watkins: nursery, garden and friend in England's west country

Derry Watkins
Colleagues and friends are always suggesting I have them along on my trips as porters or perhaps even packed in the bag. I must confess that sometimes I almost envy myself when I spend time with the likes of Derry Watkins! Derry--together with some other special gardeners in Kent--organized a lecture tour for me last April in Britain which has been glowing in my mind and heart all year. Now especially in the depths of Colorado winter, the  days spent with Derry, and wonderful spots near Bath we visited, warm the winter days with their memory.

Derry's nursery and garden are open to the public--do click on Special Plants Website to see what the hours are--and you can even sample some of the plants you'll see in this posting sold at her nursery and also mail order as seed from her seed company.

Coronilla glauca 'Citrina'

The pictures you see here were taken over a period of several days in mid April when we visited and toured the West country. Derry's is a wonderful year around garden, however, with extraordinary design (she was helped in that department by her husband who is an eminent Architect). Their home is as gorgeous as the garden--lovingly restored outside and thoroughly modern inside!

Rhodiola rosea

Smyrnium perfoliatum

Peltoboykinia watanabe

Corydalis sp. ign.

Caltha palustris var alba

We'll get a closer look at the Clianthus shortly...

I'd heard there was a blue Lathyrus vernus, but this was the first time I'd seen it!

Paris quadrifolia
Oh, to have a spread of THIS in my garden!

Even veggies tucked in here and there!

An iconic view: come to think of it, there are iconic views all over this wonderful garden!

Like this one out our guest room window. (I am a lucky guy!)

I went nuts at the nursery: mostly because I couldn't buy everything and bring it back. I daresay two thirds of what Derry sells is not in the U.S. market! Harrumph!

Wish I could take this Coronilla back!

Entryway to their home..very welcoming and gorgeous!

I'm a sucker for unfurling croziers...

Several pieces of garden art were simply stunning.

Clianthus puniceus
Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens'

Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'
There always seems to be a smile on Derry's lips, and the garden is full of humorous touches...

I'm also a sucker for lichen!

The pond is covered with wonderful waterplants
Including one of my favorites, Aponogeton distachyos--from South Africa. Which I must remember to try in my pond!

Many visitors don't realize the extent of the garden--there are naturalistic sections that gradually blend with the surrounding countryside.

Aesculus hippocastanum
Tuckekd along the side of the house is one of the largest horse chestnuts I've ever seen: it was just budding up to bloom--the place is full of surprising delights for those who look!

I am such a nursery junkie: I can't resist stopping at random nurseries when I travel (I always find something I can't live without)--and being in a rare plant nursery like this is HEAVEN!

One last look at the outrageous Tulip pots...

Thank you Derry, for a fantastic visit: I felt so utterly at home! I felt as though we've known one another from a past life! And I can't wait to lure you hither before too long so you can see that America does have some horticulture worth noting, although I agree our political scene is perhaps the most depressing I've experienced in my life time: I am confident we'll change that soon!


  1. Absolutely amazing. I go back and forth between envy and admiration but in the end I'm just inspired. Maybe someday the smallest corner of my own garden could compare, and maybe someday I can copy that awesome undulating boardwalk path!

  2. Small world, horticulturally speaking! I visited your wonderful botanic garden in Denver for the first time in 2017, as well as Derry Watkins' fabulous nursery near Bath -- and the plant I did attempt to ship back home via UK post was that coronilla (it expired). This dismal political moment would be just about unbearable without such inspiring people and places.

    1. Your last sentence, Denise, plucked my heartstrings--you are so right: plants and plant people do much to gird us to the "reality" of those who live by lies and wallow in cupidity, stupidity and mental tumidity. I think we both know who I'm alluding to! Oh well--the plants will far outlive him and us, thank Heavens!

  3. Just what I needed on a cold, gray day. Such an inspiration no matter what aspect of her garden one considers.


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