Crug farm nursery: proper plants for proper gardeners

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Crug Farm is about six miles from Bangor, set high in the Welsh hills overlooking the Menai Straits. Originally established as a beef farm by the owners Bleddyn and Sue Wynn-Jones it gradually transformed into a plant nursery and has traded as such since 1991.  My perception of Crug is that they come from the same mould as any local producer; just because they produce plants and not cattle, lamb or vegetables they are no different in my eyes and their battle against the ‘giants’ (in this case B&Q rather than Tesco) to keep a foothold in the market is just the same.

In the case of Crûg things are going pretty well. It has a bit of reputation for being THE place to go for extraordinary plants and is a plant hunters Mecca. They specialise in the unusual; in fact if you are hunting for anything weird and wonderful they are likely to have it and if they haven’t their extremely knowledgeable staff can probably tell you all about it, find something similar, or get hold of it for you.

Once you have visited a dedicated plant nursery you will see how different an experience it is to nipping in your local B&Q. The sterile, impersonal ‘one shop fits all’ approach is nowhere to be seen and unlike superstore staff that can only offer basic advice,  adopting a pale blank expression if you happen to ask for a Schisandra rubriflora, at Crug you will get a helpful, informative service.

And even garden centres can’t top a really good plant nursery. OK, so they are a better bet than B&Q, but they are still in the garden ‘super store’ mould, often stocking everything from wellies to patio sets, snacks to perfumed candles. Nurseries are a different breed altogether and Crug is in a league of its own.

Listed by The Telegraph as one of the top twenty mail order plant nurseries (yep, they have an online mail order service), they are even better to visit.  Not only can you browse and buy beautiful plants, you can totally immerse yourself in horticultural heaven as you wander through lush native woodland, brush past dense foliage and find yourself at a small secret entrance into their walled garden. Here rich with colour (even at this time of year) and texture, hundreds of examples from their plant collection jostle for space. I admit my knowledge of plant names is woefully inadequate and I don’t visit Crug nearly as often as I would like (when I do I’m sharply reminded why I should), but I never come away empty-handed bringing home something beautiful for my garden.

The day I  visited was a special open day, well a plant fair actually, where lots of others join the nursery with their own stalls. Think of it as being a bit like a farmers market but for gardeners.

Plant sales are a great time to visit a nursery because you will find lots of different growers selling a variety of plants often for bargain prices. One of my reasons for attending was to see Moelyci, but also to have a browse and see what I could pick up. This sale was particularly nice and quite unexpected as it threw together gardeners, plant sellers and artisan crafters plus several stalls with vintage house and garden paraphernalia.

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Hand turned kitchen ware

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Vintage Hungarian grain stores (I bought one I loved them so much) from Shop Cwtch

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I also fell in love with their garden chairs

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Vintage trunks and garden paraphernalia

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Along with my Hungarian pot I bought a chocolate mint plant, but sadly had little cash on me after an earlier trip to another market. I will just have to go back another day to seek out more lovely thing for my garden.

The nursery opens between March 28th – September 14th 2013, Thursday til Sunday (9.30am – 4.30pm) but also encourages customers to arrange appointments at mutually convenient times throughout the year, especially if they are planning a sizeable order.

To contact Crug use the contact form on the website. They can also be found on twitter @crugfarmplants

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