Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A Trip to Larch Cottage Nursery

When we were away for a long weekend in Cumbria a couple of weeks ago we were staying just 5 miles from one of my favourite nurseries. On the way home on the Monday we stopped in to have a wander and buy some plants (of course). I first visited this nursery in 1986 not long after it opened in 1984. Even back then when I was 16 and about to start a career in horticulture I could see this place had something special. It ends up being several years or more between visits (although I have ended up there twice in the last two years) but each time it is better and better. 

One of the many archways

So what is special about Larch Cottage Nursery? Well it definitely is quirky (no wonder I love it). It is full of garden statuary for sale and as features in the gardens, from classical to modern and everything in between there is a garden ornament or container to suit your garden style. The gardens and nursery are full of re built walls, windows, arches, door ways and follys using recycled stone work and reclaimed masonry. The owner Peter Stott and his team are creating a real gem inspired by Italian archetecture, softend by beautiful and interesting plants. Their latest project was a chapel, built in time for his wedding last year, now that's love.

The beautiful early flowering Cornus mas

Cornus mas

They have an amazing selection of plants, many rare and unusual species and culivars, well grown and looked after, the sales area and gardens are always clean and tidy. Plants are easy to find and the staff are helpful and pleasant and will go searching if you can't find your desired plant. Although it was early in the year to visit, the early shrubs were in full flower and a delight to see. There is a gorgeous mature Cornus mas on the way to the restaurant, its yellow flowers striking against the blue winter sky. The Hamamelis were also out in flower with their elusive scent.

Hamamellis intermedia 'Diane'

Hamamellis 'Moonlight'

I of course went with a wee list of plants I wanted, having looked up their excellent website to see if they might have them available. You can see the web site here: www.larchcottage.co.uk I got four out of the six I was looking for which was great. I was tempted by a Hamamelis and a Salix, but have to bear in mind we are in the in between garden, so everything has to be pot bound for a few years. I was restrained, not like me!

Looking back towards the main buildings

We had a wander around the nursery and gardens, unfortunately we couldn't walk down to the chapel as that area is only open at certain times. All the gardens had been tidied and the labels were all neatly lined up waiting for their plants to start into growth. I found the plants I was looking for and took some photos and some of a couple of plants I have added to my list of plants to get. One of these is Salix chaenomeloides  'Mt Aso' with lovely fluffy pink buds.

Salix chaenomeloides  'Mt Aso' 

The photos are a bit washed out as it was a beautiful sunny day, but that made it even more of a pleasant visit. There were plenty birds singing and hopping about enjoying the feeling spring is just around the corner.

Looking down into one of the sales areas

There is also a lovely gallery full of lovely arty craft nice things we could quite happily have taken home if we had the money or space. We contented ourselves with a visit to the excellent Greenhouse Restaurant for a coffee which turned into mega hot chocolates and cake! The nursery also have a good Facebook page where there are often photos of new amazing cakeness. It would be rude not to partake while we were there. David was all for resisting until he discovered there were cheese scone... He had a Green and blacks hot chocolate, I had the full monty! I didn't eat for the rest of the day.

My full monty hot chocolate

After stuffing ourselves with cake and hot chocolate I paid for my plants and we made our way home meandering back through Gretna green and up the M74 in the winter sun. It was another fabulous weekend away together in a lovely wee cottage with the fuzzy dog too. 

Here are some photos I took of the nursery when we visited two years ago in April 2013

Acer and urn

Peeking through the foliage

The pot area and part of the sales area

Another statue in a niche in one of the walls

Spring colour in the gardens

A statue for every style of garden

Hiding amongst the Acers

If you are ever travelling near Penrith this place is definitely worth a wee detour to the village of Melkinthorpe, have a wander and definitely have cake and hot chocolate.

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