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Tour features a candyland garden and a world famous nursery

Tour features a candyland garden and a world famous nursery

Posted: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 8:02 pm
By: By Jimmy Williams

Day 8 — Perennial Plant Association England Garden Tour
I’ve got to get going. Surely I won’t bore you much longer with this travelog.
Anyhow, this Day 8 started with boarding another ferry to travel the short jump from the Channel Island of Jersey to her sister island Guernsey. And, yes, we saw plenty of Guernsey cows.
First stop was a folk museum which depicted the history of the islands, under British occupation almost since there were any British. Then on to Candie Gardens, a huge public facility overlooking the English Channel and with a view to the distant French coast. A feature here was a perfect picture of a vegetable garden (“potager”), complete with assorted fruit trees.
Next morning it was another nursery, this one a unique facility that specializes in clematis. The Raymond Evinson Clematis Nursery is probably the largest breeder and grower of clematis in the world, producing 20 percent of the world’s output.
The Big Man himself, Raymond Evinson, gave us a personal tour and spoke at length on the finer points of developing new clematis varieties. He should know whereof he speaks. His clematis exhibits have won gold medals at the prestigous Chelsea Flower Show nine years running. Evinson was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honor for his work.
Evinson’s outfit has seven acres of glasshouses and does 10,000 crosses a year searching for the best. Of the 10,000 he might get 10 worthy of development and sale — a one in a thousand shot.
Evinson’s grossed $3 million in sales last year, down from $4 million the year before, due, he allowed, to the sour economy.
One of the newest varieties Evinson has marketed is Rebecca, a truly red with large flowers. He displayed one in a gallon container with several sumptuous blooms. I have got to have it, and it is available from some mail order sources in the U.S.
Our coach driver took us on the scenic route, down the coast to our departure point from the islands for sailing to the port of Weymouth on the mainland.
There, our mainland coach driver, Percy James (I could remember his name because mine is James Percy) drove us west to the old city of Truro in Cornwall, not far from the mouth of the English Channel, Land’s End and the Atlantic Ocean.
On the way, however, we had a stop at Forde Abbey which we found, unfortunately, closed. We did get to tour the famous gardens there, which are deserving of their reputation. Here another fabulous potager was the center of attention. The vegs (the Brits love that term) and fruits were augmented with brilliant dahlias.
The abbey is in mint condition, the huge pile dating back more than 900 years. It is a private residence and we observed some of the children biking about. What a place to grow up!
The building was formerly a Cistercian monastery. The monks there certainly grew vegetables for their own consumption, so the veg garden comes by honestly.
A late arrival at our Manning’s Hotel in Truro had us dining at 9 p.m., not my cup of tea (no pun intended), and our bedroom was smaller than the dining table.
Next: Truro area, Eden itself and a vivacious “Nutty” lady.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.

Published in The Messenger 10.25.11

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