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May 2012

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She who hesitates is lost!

Shirley Lanigan was guzzumped in Tipperary

If there is commandment you should observe when going to a plant sale it must be: Thou shalt act double-quick. Forget that rule at your peril. It was a rule driven home to me recently at a plant sale held in Bellefield, Angela Jupe's great garden in Shinrone, Co. Tipperary. Three times in the first hour, due to dawdling, I lost out.

The first instance involved a sturdy little variegated lavatera. There were two plants of it at Deborah and Martin Begley's Terra Nova stand. Its furry green and cream leaves really stood out. Noting them well, I told myself to come back for one of those boyos once the other stands had been checked out. Sauntering along through the other stands there were little asparagus plants bought to replace winter losses bought at the Herbs on Thyme stand from Rathangan in Kildare. There were also some nice big blackboard plant markers from a stand run by Rainbow Gear of Dromineer in Tipperary. Too much time was spent finding out that the white pencil would be indelible until washed off with white spirit. There were other purchases in the shape of a big yellow spotted hellebore and a pretty little dirty pink Helleborus lividus. These then had to be lugged back to the car.

Getting back to the stalls a stop was made to admire a metal plant stand. I was busy inspecting its undercarriage when a woman slipped in, caught the eye of the lady at the stall and bought it out from under my nose. The stall lady commiserated and I moved on. There was an unusual and pretty little plant called Synthyris missurica at Sandy McCarthy's ‘Perennial Plants Nursery' stall. Jimi Blake of Hunting Brook Lodge was looking at it too. He asked about it and was told that there was a clump of it in the woodland garden adjoining the courtyard where the plant sale was being held. On the next trip to the car I took a look and true enough there was a good big clump of heart shaped leaves with a generous display of grape-hyacinth like flowers. If that was what the miniscule little plant was going to grow into it was a must-have.

Whipping back into the sale table an order was put in. "Oh they're both sold." I groaned. Meeting Jimi later, he smiled too as he had one of them. The time had arrived to go back to the Terra Nova stand to retrieve the lavatera. "Oh, Helen Dillon bought both of them." I went home with the consolation prize of knowing that I have an eye for a good plant. It is of little consolation.

Never mind. There will be other days. There are special plant fairs being held throughout the summer and around the country. Next time, I'll be ready to pounce.

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