At Thorncroft Clematis, both the Chelsea stand and the nursery itself are very much a family affair. The nursery started with Ruth Gooch’s father Geoff Tolver, and in the past few years Ruth and husband Jonathan have handed on the reins to their son Peter, although all three are still very much involved in Chelsea.
“It’s vital to our business as a predominantly mail-order nursery,” explains Peter. “It generates a huge amount of interest in us and in clematis generally, and that is on-going throughout the year.”
Last year saw a new look to the display, with a ground-level, walk-in area incorporating a rustic garden shed, as well as the massed clematis display which has been their signature feature for many years. The shed was created by Jonathan, made to store not only handbags, lunches and a few thousand catalogues, but also created with a false bottom to store the several hundred bamboo canes which support the plants in growth and in transit to the show. “We take them off to go on the stand,” says Jonathan. “But when we sell the plants off at the end of the week, people understandably want their plant on a cane so they have to go back on.”
Feedback from both judges and public was enthusiastic last year, so the shed is making a reappearance for 2016, and the trio are looking forward to this year, after a nail-biting start waiting for their show acceptance. “It’s never a foregone conclusion,” says Peter. “Apparently there has been a bit of a shake-up this year, but we were lucky, and now we’re right back on track.”