Fibrex Nurseries, Warwickshire

If you’re into ferns you’ll certainly have heard of Fibrex Nurseries, they also hold the national collections for Hedera and  Pelargoniums, helping change my opinions of these plants. Over the years I’ve admired their stands at RHS flower shows and have bought many ferns from them. When we were in the area earlier this year I couldn’t resist popping in to see their HQ.

As a long time Fibrex fan seeing this sign and turning into the driveway was immensely exciting. Inside was even better.

The nursery is pretty vast and though open to the public has that wonderful empty vibe that most online independent growers have. Walking around we had the many large glasshouses to ourselves bar the occasional team member watering.

To a gardener, few views are better than rows upon rows of perfect plants.

I could have easily spent all day wandering around looking at everything. Here I’m in one of the smaller glasshouses, each with different conditions to suit the plants. Chris however…

We visited in early spring when the Pelargoniums were laden with buds just starting to open.

What I love about National Collections, awarded by the charity Plant Heritage,  is that they’re living catalogues. If you ever think you know and dislike a genus or species of plant, look at a National Collection. Almost certainly you will like at least one species or cultivar you’ve not seen before.

Pelargoniums are a case in point for me. In the past I wasn’t that keen, they were too ‘hanging basket’ for my liking, big chunky leaves and small yet blousy flowers. Thanks to growers like Fibrex who love Pelargoniums, my view was flipped on its head! We also had a mini lesson on scented pelargoniums from Gardener’s World presenter Nick Bailey on a tour around Chelsea Physic Garden when he was the head gardener there.

Some Pelargonium leaves are interesting too. Though I’m mainly interested in that combination of contemporary looking flowers and scent, particularly for eating. Thankfully, the choice is endless.

Of course, I came for the ferns. Catching them in their unfurling stage – to me the best part.

Our garden is tiny so I tend to grow the smaller ferns but I absolutely love Osmunda regalis, seen above. It’s a large, moisture loving fern with beautiful glowing stalks and axis. The crown forms quite a woody looking mound over time too, giving it a primeval look akin to tree ferns.

One plant family often overlooked is the ivies. Loathed by many, loved by me. I have to hand it to Fibrex for sticking up for ivies and promoting them on their show benches, growing them as standard shrub-like plants. I walked away with a couple of dwarf ivies for our garden.

Quite a restrained haul, all things considered.

If you’re in the area of Stratford-Upon-Avon, do pop into Fibrex and in the meantime, take a look at their website. They have open days each year with exhibits and their famed Pelargonium cake I’m yet to try but am assured is divine!

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Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

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