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Visitors to Waterbeach were able to see the world's largest hyacinth collection last weekend


By Ben Comber


Alan Shipp, Hyacinth Grower in Waterbeach holder of the National Collection . Picture: Keith Heppell
Alan Shipp, Hyacinth Grower in Waterbeach holder of the National Collection . Picture: Keith Heppell

Alan Shipp is the owner of the world's largest collection of hyacinths and is Britain's only hyacinth grower.

Alan Shipp, Hyacinth Grower in Waterbeach holder of the National Collection . Picture: Keith Heppell
Alan Shipp, Hyacinth Grower in Waterbeach holder of the National Collection . Picture: Keith Heppell

The annual public opening of his nursery at Waterbeach took place last weekend (March 25-26).

Alan’s stunning collection, which he began in 1989, now boasts 243 main varieties – some of which date back to the 1700s.

Alan Shipp, Hyacinth Grower in Waterbeach holder of the National Collection . Picture: Keith Heppell
Alan Shipp, Hyacinth Grower in Waterbeach holder of the National Collection . Picture: Keith Heppell

“I have an open weekend the last weekend in March every year,” explained the gardener, whose great-grandfather was born in Waterbeach. “This year we had about 450 visitors.”

Despite all his success, Alan takes pleasure in the simple joy flowers can bring.

Alan Shipp, Hyacinth Grower in Waterbeach holder of the National Collection . Picture: Keith Heppell
Alan Shipp, Hyacinth Grower in Waterbeach holder of the National Collection . Picture: Keith Heppell

“The most satisfying part is the pleasure that people get from them,” he said. “You just look at people’s faces and some of them are just swept away by the range of colours and the beuatiful shades.”

Alan grades the hyacinths out over summer and starts planting again in September for the following year.

Alan Shipp, Hyacinth Grower in Waterbeach holder of the National Collection . Picture: Keith Heppell
Alan Shipp, Hyacinth Grower in Waterbeach holder of the National Collection . Picture: Keith Heppell

He added: “I would describe myself as 79 years of age and semi-retired. I just work seven days a week for eight months of the year.”



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