The organisers of a popular annual charity plant fair in a North Shropshire village are excited about the rare quality of specimen plants being donated this year’s special tenth event.
Welshampton Plant Fair, which is being held on Bank Holiday Monday, May 4 from noon to 3pm in Welshampton Parish Hall, plans to have an even greater selection of fabulous plants to tempt gardeners.
Highlight of the event are a grand plant sale and a ‘Special Plants’ auction at 1.15pm, which will be conducted Andrew Beeston, senior fine art auctioneer and valuer at Halls in Shrewsbury.
“As well as the fab plants in this year’s 10th anniversary grand plant sale, I’m really thrilled with the wonderful specimen plants which have been so kindly donated by top plantsmen for the “Special Plants” auction,” said Gill Eleftheriou, event co-ordinator.
“They have been so generous with their treasures. It really is such a select, yet eclectic, list that it provides a wonderful opportunity for keen gardeners to obtain an unrivalled selection of superb plants – and all for charity!
“Most are really unusual, very rarely available and absolute gems and two are exclusively available at the plant fair – Pelargonium ‘Martyn’ and Abutilon, a brand new hybrid.
“We are most privileged to have been donated this fabulous Pelargonium ‘Martyn’,” added Gill. “Pale pink with a flush of rich pink, it’s a regal cross bred by one of the gardeners at Eaton Hall and so named after him. It’s exclusive to the Eaton Hall gardens and has been donated by the Duchess of Westminster.”
The Abutilon hybrid really is a one-off – so new, in fact that it is as yet unnamed! The seedling was found beneath Abutilon megapotanicum ‘Kentish Belle’ in the garden at Wollerton Old Hall, Wollerton, near Market Drayton.
“It is obviously a hybrid between this relatively hardy shrub with red/yellow flowers and possibly A. ‘Marion’ AGM, which is less hardy but has vibrant orange flowers for most of the year,” said head gardener Andrew Humphris.
Gill explained: “The cross has an attractive peachy flower and Andrew is growing it on to test for hardiness. In the meantime, there is a unique opportunity to acquire one of these increasingly popular plants to enjoy in your garden.
“Ideal for conservatory, summer patio or sunny summer border scheme, it flowers almost continuously. Give it shelter over winter and follow progress of its parent in the fabulous borders at Wollerton Old Hall Gardens.”
The event even has its own emblem this year with a beautiful butter-yellow floribunda rose, named Welshampton Fair, which has been donated to the auction by Mary Jinks from her selection at Country Garden Roses, Hadnal, in memory of her late husband, John.
The fair begins at noon with the grand plant sale and a dedicated team of growers aims to offer a huge choice, including annuals, vegetables, herbs and unusual perennials.
All proceeds are divided between Shropshire Macmillan Cancer Support and St Michael and All Angels Church, Welshampton. Last year, the event raised £7,600, taking the total donated to the two charities over the last nine years to £40,000.
For this year’s finale, there will be an informal talk, themed ‘My passion for borders’, by Jan Lomas, experienced head gardener at The Duke and Duchess of Westminster’s Eaton Hall. Responsible for a wide range of borders, from the acclaimed Long Border to the more intimately planted Rose Garden, she will have great advice to share with gardeners.
To mark the 10th anniversary, the hall’s entrance hall will be specially decorated by Ruth Clark, floristry lecturer at Reaseheath College and a home-made fruit cake, ready iced and perfect for a special event, will be raffled.
Back by popular demand is a giant sunflower competition, which was introduced last year to celebrate the life of Tom Hancock, a popular village teenager who loved growing sunflowers before losing his life to muscular dystrophy at the age of 19 in 2013.
Tom‘s mum, Heather, will sow sunflower seeds and sell the young plants to visitors in the Grand Plant Sale. Growers will then report back the height of their plants in September to the event organisers and the winner will receive a garden sculpture specially donated by Clive Knowles, managing director of British Ironwork Centre, Oswestry.
The fair team will also provide accompanying stalls, including home-made cakes and preserves, a Grand Draw with good prizes and delicious refreshments.
For more information about the plant fair contact Mrs Eleftheriou on Tel: 01948 710403.