Over the years, Great Comp Garden in Platt, close to Sevenoaks, has gained a reputation among plant hunters and plantsmen alike as being Kent's finest spring garden.
The extensive collection of Magnolias and ever increasing collection of early flowering perennials and spring bulbs have made a visit there a must at the start of the gardening year. it is also building a reputation among specialist growers as a benevolent friend keen to support their endeavours in struggling economic times.
The annual "˜Spring Fling' plant fair, held this year on Sunday April 14, will feature specialist and multi award winning nurseries from across the South East.
The delightfully quirky garden is the creation of the late Roderick and Joy Cameron who moved to the 17th Century Manor in 1957 with the idea of developing the garden into a plantsman's delight.
Roderick and Joy rolled up their sleeves and created an eccentric hide away in Platt, complete with an Italian Garden, explorable ruins and a garden which now boasts one of the best displays of Magnolias, Azaleas, Salvias, Crocosmias, Dahlias and other exotic plants in the region.
Plant fairs such as 'Spring Fling' at Great Comp have provided a lifeline to specialist growers in difficult economic times. Colin Moat, owner of Pine View Plants, Sevenoaks and Chair of Great Comp Trustees said: "The number of specialist nurseries are diminishing.
"There are some extremely good Nurseries and nursery people, remarkably knowledgeable and experienced, who struggle to make a living. Without these plant fairs a lot of small specialist nurseries wouldn't exist, a large number of plants wouldn't be available and the impact on the public would continue to be: lack of choice. Specialists quite often sell plants at these events produced in the local area (therefore suitable to local conditions) providing completely different plants unavailable anywhere else. In addition they can access the knowledge from the plantsman on the day."
Ann Barnard from Rose Cottage Plants, in Essex says: "Plant fairs are an important opportunity for gardeners to buy direct from nurserymen & women who have a real expertise in the plants they grow and who offer a more exciting range of plants than is usually available at garden centres."
Open to the public from the April 1 daily, Great Comp Garden is a wonderful place to learn about plants while enjoying a cup of tea and some homemade cake in The Dairy Tearooms on site.