Monday, 10 December 2012


Ranunculus calandrinioides
Ranunculus calandrinoides

Ranunculus is an amazingly varied genus and I have a bit of a thing for them. This is one of the species found in the Western Mediterranean region with glaucous elliptical leaves (almost like a small Hosta) and gorgeous white flowers, slightly pink tinted. This species (from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco) is winter green and winter flowering and although cold-hardy, is not generally recommended for outdoors. Word has it though that it will grow in dry shade, perhaps peeking out from under a myrtle or bay into the low winter sunlight. Perfectly easy in a pot in an unheated greenhouse, kept dry in summer but well watered and fed when in growth. Very few.
1L pots ~ £8

Ranunculus cortusifolius
Ranunculus cortusifolius

The Madeira buttercup – a splendid species- bigger and bolder in all its parts than normal buttercups, and flowering for months from late winter to early summer. Not generally regarded as terribly hardy, I’ve not tried it outdoors here yet. One thing is for sure, it starts into growth very early (in autumn in fact) and those big lush leaves do look vulnerable. If you want to grow it outdoors, my feeling would be to try it in a moist, shaded, sheltered spot, but failing that, keep it for the cool greenhouse. Gardeners in Cornwall or Brittany should give it a go.

Update ~ these plants have passed the winter evergreen and unscathed in the tunnel with just a fleece over them, so evidently they're hardier than we've been lead to believe. I'm going to plant one out in the open next. Watch this space...
1L pots ~ £7

Ranunculus platanifolius
Ranunculus platanifolius

A very easy and adaptable, and frankly just very lovely white flowering buttercup. Fresh and easy, and did I say lovely? Suitable for any retentive soil in sun or semi shade. Not even slightly invasive.
1L pots ~ £6

Thursday, 20 September 2012


All these plants are in large pots now

Helwingia chinensis
Helwingia chinensis
A peculiar evergreen woodland shrub which makes its flowers on the upper surfaces of the leaves (the flower stem is fused to the midrib). This on its own makes it a botanical curio, but it is also a pleasant and intriguing species with dark glossy leaves, maroon tinged when young, and an attractive upright habit.
Helwingia chinensis
In good years, red berries will appear, also attached to the leaves. An excellent small to medium sized shrub, best in moist sheltered woodland. Hardy but better with shelter from too much sun and wind.
sold out

Helwingia himalaica
Helwingia himalaica
A slight variation on the above. 
Helwingia himalayensis
Equally nice but with leaves a little bigger and if anything, the new foliage is even glossier.
Hardy but best in moist sheltered sites. Hates freezing winds.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Iris milesii

Iris milesii
A really choice relative of I.tectorum and japonicum with tall branching sprays of remarkable, frilly, purple speckled flowers.

Easy on any sunny freely drained soil. Extremely nice.
field grown ~ £8

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Iris fulva

Iris fulva
A legendary Iris (is that too strong a word?) from the deep south of the USA with flowers as close to red as any. This species is cold hardy but does have a reputation for needing more heat than we typically get in the UK. Nevertheless these seedlings have proved quick to flower here and very vigorous. For shallow water in full sun, so that it heats up quickly in spring. Thoroughly recommended.
lifted roots ~ £8

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Rhamnus ludovici-salvatoris

Rhamnus ludovici-salvatoris
A terrific dense twiggy shrub endemic to the Balearic Islands, and almost never available in the UK. The literature tells us that it is probably not hardy but these have been undamaged by recent winters here. These are from seed collected on Ibiza and are remarkably variable (I'm not totally convinced they are not hybrids with some other local Rhamnus ) but generally they have small leaves, some more or less spikey (like a tiny holly), some more or less glaucous, some turning glossy green with age.
Rhamnus ludovici-salvatoris
For sun and free drainage.
Would make a great little pot plant, or even (why not?) bonsai.
Thanks to Frutos and Susana Torres for the seed.
2L pots ~ £9

Monday, 20 August 2012

Dipelta ventricosa

Dipelta ventricosa
A gorgeous and very choice member of the Abelia group. A tall upright deciduous shrub, as easily grown on chalk as on acid soil, in sun or part shade.
Dipelta ventricosa
Beginning to flower in late winter, the main display is in mid to late spring. Attractive deciduous leaves and peeling papery bark. Fully hardy. rare, I think, only because it's slow to propagate.
4L pots ~ £14

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Euonymus nanus turkestanicus

Euonymus nanus turkestanicus
A creeping evergreen species, quite different to the others with small narrow dark green leaves along wide-spreading stems. The leaves turn rich red brown shades in winter.
Codonopsis rotundifolia angustifolia
The flowers, though small, are plentiful and well worth looking out for. Small red spindle berries may follow.
Euonymus nanus turkestanicus
Excellent in dry shade but very adaptable.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Alloberberis (Mahonia) nevinii

Alloberberis nevinii 
Most of the Mahonias we grow in the UK are forest dwellers, preferring moist shady conditions, but there are quite a number of species from the drier parts of the USA - now known as Alloberberis - that are rarely seen but well worth having - especially if your garden is well-drained and without much shade.
Alloberberis aff.nevinii
I have plants on the nursery of A.nevinii collected from cultivated plants in California by Dennis Carvalho. The foliage has a marvellous colour and form - the pale veined coppery red new growth turning to sea green, and has an unusual thin scratchy texture. The flowers are a fresh soft yellow and are followed by red fruits.
Alloberberis aff. nevinii
Ultimately they will make quite a dense shrub eventually up to 4 or 5 feet high. Fully hardy and very drought tolerant.
1L pots ~ £16

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Hypericum kalmianum

Hypericum kalmianum
Hypericums can seem a bit ho-hum to most keen gardeners I admit but there are some interesting ones. In this case I think the appeal is in the distinctive low rounded habit and the contrast of the fresh yellow rounded flowers with the neat elliptical sea-green leaves.
Hypericum kalmianum
Like other shrubby Hypericums though, it's easy to please and flowers over a long period in summer. Not at all weedy, and completely hardy.
2L pots ~ £8

Friday, 20 July 2012

Calycanthus occidentalis

Calycanthus occidentalis
A lovely lush medium sized shrub from California with fresh green aromatic leaves and good sized rich pink flowers over a long period.
Calycanthus occidentalis
I have no real idea why, with the popularity of C.sinensis and its hybrids, this one isn't a lot better known
Calycanthus occidentalis
Easy and hardy in the garden.
5L pots ~ £22

Friday, 29 June 2012

Fuchsia hatschbachii

Fuchsia hatschbachii
Fuchsia hatschbachiiFuchsia hatschbachii
Closely related to F.magellanica but, to my mind at least, a much nicer plant with good quality narrow foliage, a graceful willowy habit and slender red flowers, giving a completely different effect. Reputedly about as hardy as magellanica – these came through the winter in their pots in the tunnel totally unscathed.
Update: hardy outside here, though not evergreen
2L pots ~ £8

Monday, 25 June 2012

Brighton Plants ~ the story so far

back garden aerial view
Our patio - 21st June 2011
It seems a very long time ago I put an ad in the local free mag, for anyone who might have a plot of land to rent somewhere in the Henfield area that might be suitable for setting up a new nursery. Some customers may remember our suburban back garden, full of baby plants. It was time to get serious.

Beginning to look like a nursery
Lovely weather - 17th June 2011
Actually it's less than 18 months ago, and it was only a year ago I began paying rent on part of the old Downsview Nursery site in New Hall Lane, Small Dole. With a bit of financial help from Mum and a small inheritance from Grandma, in mid June 2011 I got BB Muzeen of Henfield to turn a muddy weed patch into a more or less flat space on which to grow and sell plants.

2nd August 2011
The first thing I did was rabbit-proof it, then cover the ground with Mypex and build the packing and potting shed. You can see the tunnel frame there against the wall on the right.
Many thanks to Miss Green for her help with the financing.

the new tunnel
24th August 2011
Building the tunnel. That's all the plants that were in our back garden there to the right. Thanks to my brother Ian, Emma, Malcolm, and Emma's brother Steve for their untiring efforts.

19th September 2011
The tunnel complete - just in time for winter.
All safely gathered in, as they say.

Buzzard spotting at lunch time
13th April 2012

Spring time, and alongside the potting on and the pricking out there's the next phase of construction to do. Thanks to Ian, Iain Smith, and Olly for all their hard work.

xeric bed
19th June 2012
And more or less how it looks now - with the shade area there on the right and the xeric bed for chalk and drought-loving plants in the foreground (thanks again to Olly for his help with the shade). There's also a pond for marginals and an alpine bed.
I'm incredibly chuffed with it all.

Downsview Nursery entrance
The entrance
All it needs now is a sign on the gate to tell people they've arrived!

Directions can be found here

Monday, 18 June 2012

Visiting the nursery

The nursery is only open by appointment because my hours there are somewhat unpredictable. Please phone or text ahead on 07955744802 or email


The nursery is at:
Downsview Nursery
New Hall Lane
Small Dole

(Postal address available on request)


New Hall Lane
Brighton Plants

    Brighton Plants
  • New Hall Lane is a turning just north of the village of Small Dole on the A2037. 
  • It is well signposted: on the right two miles south of Henfield if you are coming from the north; or on the left, three miles north of Upper Beeding (not Lower Beeding, which is up near Leonardslee) if you are coming from the south. 
  • Downsview Nursery is about 200 yards down on the left (not to be confused with Highdown Nursery, which is 100 yards down on the right. They specialise in grasses and herbs and are also worth a visit.) 
  • The entrance is a rough track with a high wooden fence on either side. A bungalow called Downsview is immediately before it, then there is a small field, then our entrance. New Hall itself is immediately after, and is a large house set in a wooded garden. The end of the lane is just ahead and it's easy to turn around there.
  • nb. If you are coming from the north and using a Satnav it may well take you down another road - West Mill Lane. This links to the far end of New Hall Lane via a short but very rough track (see the map above).
Refreshments: If you've come a long way or just fancy a bite to eat I can strongly recommend The White Hart in Henfield or The Fox in Small Dole, or if it's just a coffee and a cake you want, then the Taste Deli or the Post Office in Henfield are both good places to try.

Access: The nursery surface is somewhat uneven but there are no steps. 
There is no toilet on the nursery.