Frolicking with the Freefolk!

Can you believe that even after 20 years of drooling over Rosy and Rob Hardys plants, heading straight for their stands at EVERY show I’ve EVER been to since I started my career in Hort, totally fangirling and completely admiring them both that I have NEVER been to their nursery…. Seriously!? Can you believe that!

Its a shocking admission to make but however a perfect storm of events stuck a rocket up me and I made it down to see their latest creation.

2021 was to be their last Chelsea, their perfect record still stands unblemished and sadly with the way things are its just not possible for Chelsea to be held live at the moment. However Rosy and Rob have created one last hurrah for Candides ‘Festival of Flowers’ which is being held throughout the month of May. So on May 17th Candide unveiled Hardy’s Final Stand!

I popped down to see what it was all about and managed to catch up with the lovely Rosy and Rob and also an unexpected Rocky Coles in between showers!

Work was still going on when I arrived, as I was cheeky and snuck in before the great and the good of Horticulture came, it was totally worth it and despite mercurial weather it was still breathtaking!

Now whilst I appreciate the design, and I really do, as I’m sure you all know I’m a plants person deep in my heart. The hard landscaping is to me a backdrop for the real design that is the wonderful painting in plants that Rosy has a special skill in achieving. That said, the wonderful skeletonised upturned hull of the boat reminded me of some kind of ancient burial mound stuffed with treasures of a long dead king!

How apt then that the first plant I was to fall in love with would be this fabulous soft gold Trollius x cultorum ‘Taleggio’

Trollius x cultorum ‘Taleggio’

Looking so good as a backdrop to the classic silvery Veronica ‘Tissington White’ a cultivar found by Rob Hardys own Grandfather! This has long been my very own favourite since I introduced it into the planting scheme at Ryton.

Veronica ‘Tissington White’

And another pic of it purely to indulge myself!

Veronica ‘Tissington White’

A plant that never fails to achieve sunshine even on the greyest of days is the irrepressible gold of Euphorbia palustris

Euphorbia palustris

Next come the Jewels! The incandescent fire of the Rubies represented beautifully by Geum ‘Red wings’

Geum ‘Red wings’

Then the rhodolite garnet, treasured for its beauty and rarity represented by Centaurea montana ‘Joyce’.

Centaurea montana ‘Joyce’

What would a Chelsea garden be without the inclusion of Iris. The soft Sapphire of Iris ‘Jane Phillips’ with its classic beauty blending in a fabulously architectural way with the wooden ribs of the arch behind.

The exceptional, exquisite topaz blue of Corydalis which is always a show stopper.

Finally the diamonds in the crown of this treasure hoard of plants fit for a king, or queen!

Allium ‘Mount Everest’ living up to its name to challenge the intense blue of Anchusa for ascendancy!

Allium ‘Mount Everest’

The beautiful unfurling, rain spangled, flowers of Phlox divaricata ‘white perfume’.

Phlox divaricata ‘white perfume’

The delicate scented froth that is Myrrhis oderata studded with the amethyst of Lathyrus vernus

Myrrhis oderata

and last is the incredible, delicate, icy white of ragged robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi ‘White Robin’. One of the very first plants I grew from seed, it still has a place in my heart.

Lychnis flos-cuculi ‘White Robin’

Now I have always been convinced Rosy was godlike but she proved it by walking on water!

The planting choices, as always, are utterly stunning but this year a very special plant was included on their stand. A few years back Peter Seabrook had a wonderful Glandularia (sometimes called Verbena) named after him. ‘Seabrook’s Lavender’ which was a sport from ‘Homestead’.

Glandularia ‘Seabrook’s Lavender’

Sadly Peter recently lost his much loved wife to Alzheimer’s, he has named a sport from his plant ‘Margarets memory’ and its a truly wonderful tribute. I think its only just been released for sale and that proceeds go towards supporting Alzheimer’s charities.

Glandularia ‘Margarets memory’

These are however, just a scratch on the surface of this beautiful creation and you can book a ticket to see it for yourself by clicking on the link below

Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants | Buy Tickets | Candide (

Dont forget the proceeds from ticket sales will go to Rosy and Robs chosen childrens charity Naomi House & Jacksplace

Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, Priory Lane, Freefolk, Whitchurch, RG28 7FA

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