Dinner Meeting Monday 13 February 2023

President Deborah welcomed Jacqui Clifft, guest and former work colleague of Shelagh Bird, together with our speaker, Rosy Hardy, founder with her husband, of Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants.

Her presentation entitled From Back Garden to Gold at RHS Shows takes us along the road from her back garden to many gold award-winning Chelsea Flower Show gardens – 24 in total.

Rosy Hardy describes herself as an inquisitive child, an outdoors girl who learnt from her mother the name of every wildflower in the surrounding countryside.  She wanted to work on a farm but was refused as she was the wrong sex! After taking a degree in horticulture, and then working in vegetable production, she met her husband, Rob, who was a skilled landscaper.

Having seen plants being sold at car boot sales, Rosy and Rob decided to try their luck with the same sales pitch – in reality, an economic necessity as they didn’t have premises. Their beautiful plants were always harmoniously displayed in different growing conditions – damp, dry, sunny, and shady. This allowed prospective buyers to select the right plants for various locations in their gardens. 

Rosy’s love of face-to-face contact with her customers, her extensive knowledge, plus the “right plant in the right place” soon made the name of Rosy Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants respected and well known. This led to the acquisition of a walled garden in Hampshire.  Everything in small pots graduated to strong, mature plants in large ones. Rosy insists that her plants withstand a variety of weather conditions, in northern as well as southern gardens of England. The speciality of the nursery is growing hardy, herbaceous perennials.

Rosy’s Chelsea Flower Show history is long and successful – 24 gold awards.  As she explained, gardeners compete against a standard, not each other. The setting up,  plant transportation, garden decor, lighting, plant labelling, maintenance, manning and planning, requires a huge amount of imagination, and energy. and finance. During the creation of the gardens, Rob’s landscaping skills complement Rosy’s planting vision.

Rosy and Rob never repeat a design. As Rosy says, “The stars of the show are the plants”.

Thank you, Rosy, for an interesting and illuminating presentation. You are also a star. 

Diana Brooks

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