Fritillaria imperialis 'William Rex'

Avon Bulbs: 36 of the best plants from the Somerset nursery

Well known for its award-wining displays at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Avon Bulbs in Somerset offers a range of stunning plants for all seasons. Words Matthew Reese, photographs Jason Ingram

Gardeners will know Avon Bulbs as a regular of horticultural shows, where it is renowned for its excellent Gold medal displays. I remember its immaculate stands at the RHS London Shows in Vincent Square, the snowdrop displays were legendary – so carefully laid out as if plucked fresh from a woodland floor.

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Bridget Wheeler
© Andrew Montgomery

When the doors opened to the show, throngs of people would make a sudden sally for its stand in a bid to purchase the rarest, most choice plants before they sold out. At the RHS Chelsea Flower Show the stands were more luxurious with drifts of tulips, lily-of-the-valley, gladioli and alliums (to name but a few), each flower in flawless condition. It’s no surprise the nursery has won 30 RHS Chelsea Gold medals, in addition to Gold at Malvern, Birmingham and Hampton Court Palace.

Key plants from Avon Bulbs

Avon Bulbs is a long-standing, family run, mail-order nursery specialising in bulbs for the flower garden. Owned by Chris Ireland-Jones and managed with Alan Street, it’s located near South Petherton in Somerset, a stone’s throw from the famous garden of the late Margery Fish at East Lambrook. The nursery was originally set up by Walter Stag, a former UK representative for the bulb giant Van Tubergen, in 1979, and Alan joined soon afterwards. It moved twice before settling near Trowbridge on a site overlooking the River Avon, after which the nursery was named.

Key plants from Avon Bulbs