Plant hunters’ rare forest finds to feature at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Crûg Farm Plants – Grand Pavilion

An intriguing glimpse into the mysterious world of modern-day plant hunting will be offered by Crûg Farm Plants at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, with an exhibit of rare and exotic specimens being shown in public for the first time.

Unusually most of the plants, collected by Welsh nursery owners Sue and Bleddyn Wynn-Jones on expeditions to Vietnam, Taiwan, Korea and Japan, have been trialled for hardiness and can be grown outdoors in the UK, so are ideal for ordinary gardeners wanting something unique in their borders.

Propagated from seed collected in remote parts of the world, the specimens being showcased will include the perfumed, evergreen larger flowered climber Holboellia brachyandra, grand architectural Scheffleras, forest floor-covering Saxifraga stolonifera ‘Kinki Purple’ (collected from the Kinki District of Japan) and the unusually bold Ophiopogon caulescens from northern Vietnam.

The exhibit will feature a fisherman dressed in a traditional outfit made from the palmTrachycarpus, looking as though he has just met Sue and Bleddyn in the field, sitting next to a still pool of water and sifting through their horticultural finds of the day. His verdant forest backdrop will be filled with Disporums (fairy bells), Mainanthemums (false Solomon’s seals) and Polygonatums(Solomon’s seals).

Sue, who with her husband Bleddyn, has climbed mountains and volcanoes, explored hidden canyons and dodged armed bandits to seek out the elusive specimens, said: ”We want to broaden people’s minds as to what they can grow in their gardens as you can use so many exciting plants. Our collections might look tropical but most of them are able to withstand our British winters and can be easily grown.”

This is only the second time Crûg Farm Plants has exhibited at RHS Chelsea. In 2011, the nursery won a gold and the prestigious President’s Award. “We were so overwhelmed and humbled by people’s reactions to our plants the last time we were at Chelsea, we can’t wait to exhibit again, and in the show’s centenary year,” added Sue.

Unusual plants on display will include –

Rhodoleia – it is sad to think that not long after we collected the seed of this gorgeous small evergreen tree the bulldozers buried it, making way for a new road. Here it had formed a classic shaped tree only 5-6m tall, well branched above the vertical trunk, with ovate to broadly ovate thick parchment textured leaves to 16 × 10cm, dark green glossy above whitish silver below.

Piper – our first offering of this primitive genus which we collected in the steamy forests of Guatemala in 2001, on our second expedition there. It was so dramatic that we just had to try it, for its sensational large orbicular rugose peltate foliage, on metre tall bristly knobbly stems of what appears to be an evergreen sub-shrub. Bearing long palest green to white flexuous pendant catkin-like branched inflorescences, from May ripening by autumn early winter. Hardiness not tested, yet, but has grown well in a frost-free polytunnel, that is kept shaded all year.

Aesculus wangii – this has conkers the size of cricket balls. We brought the collection home from Vietnam and ended up paying $800 US excess baggage for these conkers!

Daphniphyllum aff himalense  – a puzzling species collected in the forests on Fansipan, the highest mountain in northern Vietnam in 2007, where it formed a small tree 7-8m tall, well branched with a broad outline, young branches red. Clothed in large oblong-elliptic acuminate thick textured leaves 20-25 x 6.5-9cm, dark green above with prominent veins impressed, glaucous white below.

Gunnera killipiana – originating from one of our collections on our first expedition to Guatemala in 2001, where this architectural species is fairly common between 2000-2500m particularly in moist shaded area. Where the plants form colonies, of this small trunked individuals with large palmate leaves with red spiny venation to 2m across held on deep red spiny stems to 2m long.

Crûg Farm Plants is based on the edge of Snowdonia near Caernarfon in North Wales. Covering almost 20 acres, the nursery specialises in unusual herbaceous perennials, climbers, trees and shrubs, and hundreds of the plants on offer are propagated from over 15,000 seed collections gathered on well over 50 expeditions by Sue and Bleddyn. These range from Anemone to Zelkova and everything in between.

As only a small number of people in the UK do this, their collections are much sought after around the world and the nursery has become a Mecca for keen gardeners. The primary goal of their collecting work is conservation and so they provide plants to a range of institutes involved in ex-situ conservation as well as award-winning show gardens, Royal and Botanic Gardens and National Trust collections.


For further information contact Emma Mason at Emma Mason PR on 07762 117433 or