Claire Austin’s Celebration of Flowers

Marking 25 years of her award-winning plant nursery, Claire Austin celebrates with a packed 5-day event featuring leading expert speakers.

© Clive Nichols

Nurserywoman Claire Austin announces ‘A Celebration of Flowers’, a 5-day programme of ticketed talks, workshops and NGS open days to mark the 25th anniversary of her award-winning perennials nursery – Claire Austin Hardy Plants – near Sarn, Powys.

The daughter of the world-famous rose breeder, David Austin, Claire Austin first trained as an illustrator before joining her father’s nursery in 1983, which then consisted largely of peonies and irises. When David Austin’s English roses launched that same year to great acclaim at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show becoming the business focus, she volunteered to take on the perennial collection. “My ‘apprenticeship’ lasted for 15 years,” explained Austin, “by which time I had written and designed enough catalogues and grown enough perennials to feel confident enough to establish my own nursery.”

Claire Austin Hardy Plants

Austin founded Claire Austin Hardy Plants in 1999, first in Shropshire and now based at White Hopton Farm in the Welsh Borders. Looking at her first plants catalogue, she said “When I look at the plants in this edition, many of them are still for sale. At that time some of our most popular garden plants were uncommon and only a few varieties were available to gardeners”.

Twenty five years later, the nursery’s 25th anniversary catalogue includes a ‘25 Plants for 25 Years’, featuring the best perennials offered in 1999 and introduced into the catalogue since. The anniversary catalogues features plants such as Achillea ‘Terracotta’, Calamintha nepeta ‘Blue Cloud’, Geranium sylvaticum ‘Mayflower’,’Lysimachia punctata ‘Firecracker’, Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’, Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain’, Stachys byzantina ‘Big Ears’ and Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Pink Glow’.

Today, Austin runs the peat-free nursery with husband, Ric Kenwood and together they have developed a much-photographed perennial garden and hold both the National Collections of Herbaceous Peonies, as well as Bearded Irises. A leading authority on herbaceous perennials, peonies and bearded irises, Austin is a Member of the RHS Council, a regular contributor to gardening magazines and has won acclaim for her self-published books: ‘Peonies’ and ‘Claire Austin’s Book of Perennials’.

A frequent feature at RHS Shows, Claire Austin Hardy Plants has won coveted Gold medals for their exhibits at RHS Malvern and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

A Celebration of Flowers

Marking the milestone anniversary, Austin has organised a 5-day event, taking place on the 10th-14th June at White Hopton Farm, Newtown in Montgomeryshire.

The event features an impressive programme of leading expert speakers, including; author and garden historian Advolly Richmond, garden photographer Joe Wainwright, flower farmer Rachel Siegfried of Green & Gorgeous, environmentalist Professor Chris Baines and garden designer Chris Beardshaw. Local artist, Amanda Hillier, will also be hosting nature-inspired printmaking classes in the gardens.

Talk attendees will be treated to lunch made from local and artisan produce, set in the gardens and have the chance to explore Claire’s private gardens and the fields of the National Collection of Herbaceous Peonies.

The celebrations also include two nursery open days at White Hopton Farm for the National Garden Scheme.

Further information about the event and details for booking tickets can be found here.