Pan-Global Plants: a nursery offering something different

In some ways, it’s apt that the road to Pan-Global Plants should be somewhat unnerving. A turning through imposing gates leads quickly into a winding, narrow track through trees. There’s a sense of exploration that’s fitting for the route to a nursery founded on unusual plants from across the world.

Pan-Global
I loved the colour of this Salvia serboana

Pan-Global Plants was started by Nick Macer in 1997 and moved to its current site in a one-acre 19th century walled garden in Frampton-on-Severn 16 years ago.

“It was literally a pigsty,” he recalls. “It had Gloucester Old Spots here.”

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The bamboo is thriving

Today, it’s a thriving nursery with rows of tempting plants, polytunnels stuffed with even more and paths, partly obscured by huge clumps of bamboo or tall perennials, leading out into permanent planting.

“I don’t have time to garden so it’s a little like a wilderness area with a few interesting bits in it,” Nick says with a smile.

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The dainty Allium wallichii

He describes his ethos as providing the “beautiful, unusual and interesting in equal measures” and admits he gets “stressed” by the fact people can be put off by the term rare.

“I get a number of people who come in saying ‘We couldn’t grow it, we’d need specialist knowledge’. People think rare and unusual means difficult to grow.

“There are literally thousands of rare plants that are hardy and easy to grow, as well as many more that are more of a challenge.”

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The bees were loving the Colquhounia coccinea

The nursery covers everything from herbaceous, shrubs and trees to ferns, hardy exotics and bamboo with annuals and alpines among the few things not covered.

His stock is constantly changing with around 200 to 300 new things every year. In the past, he collected some of that in the wild but complex legislation means he now limits himself to what he calls plant exploring.

“There’s still stuff to be discovered, looked at, photographed and documented.”

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Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Merveille Sanguine’

So, what did I discover? Well, the first thing to catch my eye was a beautiful range of hydrangeas, a mass of soft pinks and dusky reds. In particular, H. macrophylla ‘Merveille Sanguine’, which grows in a pot by the suitably colonial-style office. It has stunning rich flowers in red and purple hues against leaves that were taking on dark tints.

It’s only drawback, Nick tells me, is that the flowers fade to an unattractive brown.

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Fabulous colour on Euonymus phellomanus

I’ve always loved the quirky fruits of the spindle tree and those on Euonymus phellomanus were stunning – a combination of pink and red rather than the pink and orange more commonly seen.

And how about Desmodium elegans for some late summer colour?

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Desmodium elegans Dark form

The range of tulbaghia are also worth a closer look with flowers in shades of lavender and purple.

Nick believes gardeners should be more adventurous when it comes to choosing plants and came up with some ideas for interesting varieties to add something different to a border.

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Tulbaghia ‘Moshoeshoe’

Hydrangea aspera ‘Bellevue’ is a new form that he thinks deserves to be grown more widely. It makes a large shrub up to 4m tall with hairy leaves and a lacecap bloom of white flowers around the central rich mauve-blue.

Unusual philadelphus are another suggestion. One is a new cultivar that he has named ‘Casa Azul’, which was found as a seedling at Pan-Global Plants.

“I dug it up and grew it on as I thought it had to be something interesting as the only philadelphus I had were interesting Mexican species.”

The resulting plant has a weeping form, dainty foliage and cup-like white flowers with a soft purple basal blotch that give off a particularly sweet scent.

Pan-Global
Roscoea purpurea ‘Red Gurkha’ has a stunning colour

And for something exotic, why not try Hedychium, or ginger lily? With their colourful blooms and large leaves, they look as though they will need TLC but are actually tough.

“People don’t think they’re hardy whereas some are totally bone hardy, even in the worst winters” explains Nick, adding that four different types in the nursery garden came through the harsh winter of 2010 completely unscathed.

He recommends planting them with contrasting foliage, such as ferns, or using them as statement plants on their own.

“They add a really exotic touch to a garden.”

Pan-Global Plants is open from February 1 to October 31 and from November 1 to January 31 by appointment. The nursery also runs a mail order service. For more information, visit the website.

Nick Macer is the guest speaker at Cheltenham Horticultural Society’s 75th anniversary lecture on Friday October 6, 2017. He will talk about plant-hunting in ‘Plants From Around the World’ at Balcarras School, Cheltenham. Tickets cost £6 and are available on the door or in advance: contact Yvonne Gregory on yvonnetgregory@yahoo.co.uk

Read my conversation with Nick about design, Gardeners’ World and why gardeners get a raw deal here.

Cotswold gardening talks 2017

Gardening experts are heading to the Cotswolds this year offering advice on everything from early spring bulbs to the meaning of flowers.

Want to know how to build a pond and plant a bog garden, or perhaps pruning trees is a puzzle. Workshops, lectures and a garden festival will give gardeners ample opportunity to pick up tips and advice.

Here’s a round-up of the gardening talks on offer.

Allomorphic

Stroud-based home and garden shop Allomorphic is also the setting for a series of day courses and lectures with lunch.

Award-winning designer and RHS judge Paul Hervey-Brookes will be sharing his design expertise in three courses covering planting for winter, gardening in a small space and the basics of creating a show garden.

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Paul Hervey-Brookes on his gold medal garden at Hampton Court

Other courses include how to make beautiful hand ties, summer door wreaths or arrangements to suit every celebration.

The ‘Queen of Herbs’, Jekka McVicar will be sharing her knowledge of plants medicinal and culinary while container planting expert Harriet Rycroft will explain how to have pots that look good all year-round.

Dates, details and prices here.

Gardens Illustrated Festival

The magazine’s second festival at Westonbirt School has a line-up of some of the gardening world’s best-known faces.

Designers Cleve West, Tom Stuart-Smith and Arne Maynard are among those who will be looking for paradise, exploring the health benefits of gardens and the use of beautifully crafted materials in gardens, while Sarah Raven will be showing how to combine colour in borders.

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Westonbirt School hosts the Gardens Illustrated festival

The roses of Sissinghurst, how to be a green gardener, and the canals and water gardens of Birmingham are just some of the subjects that will also be explored during the two-day festival.

The event on March 25-26 also has tours of the garden and a plant and design clinic alongside the gardening talks.

For details, see here

Highgrove

The Prince of Wales’ garden is hosting a lecture and lunch with Shane Connolly, floral arranger for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding.

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Highgrove is the setting for talks and workshops

He will show how to create arrangements that convey particular sentiments while explaining the historic symbolism of flowers.

The garden at Tetbury also has courses with Caroline Tatham and Kate Durr of the Cotswold Gardening School on planning and planting borders, container gardening and garden design.

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Caroline Tatham of The Cotswold Gardening School

For more details, see here

The Generous Gardener

The Generous Gardener near Cirencester is launching a new series of evening lectures alongside the usual daytime gardening talks.

Among those speaking at the evening events at The Coach House Garden are Bob Brown, of Cotswold Garden Flowers, with advice on new garden-worthy plants and Helen Picton talking about growing asters.

The lecture days, now in their fifth season, include two speakers and lunch. Among the double acts are Alan Street from Avon Bulbs talking about early spring treasures and Tony Kirkham, head of Kew’s arboretum, giving advice on everything to do with trees.

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A series of lectures are being held at The Coach House

Leading designers Julian and Isobel Bannerman will take you through the making of their gardens while Derry Watkins, of Special Plants nursery, will tempt you to grow plants that are borderline hardy.

Designer Rupert Golby shows how to bring the garden indoors and writer and plantsman Stephen Lacey will suggest plants to introduce scent.

Bog gardens, ponds and how to create and plant them is explained by Timothy Walker, former director of Oxford Botanic Garden, while Telegraph columnist Helen Yemm will be choosing plants for a stunning summer show.

Plantsman Roy Lancaster shares his lifelong passion for plants and Helen Dillon will give an insight into the making of her famous garden in Ireland.

For dates, prices and more details see here

Cotswold Talks
Bob Brown is one of the speakers

Cheltenham Horticultural Society

Renowned plantsman Nick Macer, of Pan-Global Plants, will be the speaker at a special anniversary lecture in Cheltenham in October.

‘Things that turn me on – confessions of a plant freak’ is being organised by Cheltenham Horticultural Society as part of its 75th anniversary celebrations.

Nick, who is also on the BBC Gardeners’ World presenting team, will be talking at Balcarras School in Charlton Kings.

Tickets will be on sale later in the year. For details, see here

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