‘I’d like the wisdom of an old oak!’
The first plant I ever grew
I can’t remember, it’s so long ago! It was probably something a bit boring, such as radish or carrots.
The plant that shaped the gardener I am today
The giant redwood,
Sequoiadendron giganteum, is a truly awesome tree. I raised one from seed in 1960, planted it in 1964 before my wife Rosemary and I met or had any thought of where we might build a house. From my kitchen window I can now look up at this seedling, planted 53 years ago, and it’s a magnificent 100-foot tree! From California to Bressingham, ‘awesome’ is right beside my home!
My favourite plant
Although I’d never make such a choice, if I were pressed to choose I think I’d go for slowgrowing paperbark maple, Acer
griseum, with year-round appeal, which, unlike many, gets better and better with age.
The plant that shaped my life
To some extent this would be
Potentilla fruticosa ‘Red Ace’, which catapulted me and our nursery into the first major launch of a new plant back in 1976. It was one of the first to be protected by Plant Breeders’ Rights, the first to have a security guard at the Chelsea Flower Show, and began our involvement in promoting new plants on an international scale.
The plant that made me work the hardest
What a hard question! I can think of weeds, and among these would be the deep-rooted and impossible to eradicate horsetail,
Equisetum arvense. I once dug up a perennial from my father’s Dell Garden in midwinter, which inadvertently had dormant horsetail in it. Within four years it made itself at home on the edge of our pond. We’re still working to control it. Any ideas?
The plant of which I’d love to grow more
The startling blues of Meconopsis
baileyi and its various forms. Even if you can get them going for a year or two, they seldom succeed for long in our dry, East Anglian climate. This also applies to Gentiana sino-ornata. Both succeed in acid soils and in much wetter climates.
The plant I am in human form
I’d like to be not quite so tall, but straight as a redwood, with the wisdom implied by an old oak tree! Neither witches brooms nor contorted plants appeal, so how about something I might pine about, rather than spruce up for? The plant I would always give as a gift
Perhaps hardy geranium ‘Rozanne’, as I know it will grow well in almost any garden or in any container for a patio. For versatility, winter fragrance and attractive evergreen foliage, I’d also give sweet box, Sarcococca confusa.
Young Adrian discusses conifers with famous father Alan (right) and late brother Robert Adrian has spent his life developing Foggy Bo om Garden, near Diss, Norfolk