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UK Debut for White Salvia at Welshampton Fair (3rd May 2013)

A charity plant auction in a North Shropshire village hall on Bank Holiday Monday (6th May 2013) will be the first time a brand new variety of white salvia has been offered for sale in the UK.

The Salvia 'Wollerton White' plant - a seedling off Salvia microphylla 'Cerro Potosi' - has been donated to Welshampton Fair, to be held in Welshampton Parish Hall from noon to 3pm, by Mr and Mrs John Jenkins from Wollerton Old Hall Garden, Wollerton, Market Drayton.

"It's the first white form of Salvia microphylla and its arrival has caused quite a stir in the plant world," explained event co-ordinator Gillian Eleftheriou. "Head gardener Andrew Humphris put in a batch of the normal pink salvia and out of it came these two white seedlings.

"This is going to be no ordinary plant sale. The special plants auction at 1.30pm will be really special because plantsmen have been so helpful and generous."

Also included in the auction is Hosta 'Unduly Graced', named because of its origins - the garden of Elvis' Presley's Graceland mansion, where its parent resided beside his swimming pool - which has been donated by Tim Saville, who lives at Penycae, near Wrexham.

Proceeds from the event will be divided between Shropshire Macmillan Cancer Support and St Michael and All Angels Church in Welshampton.

Fine art auctioneer Andrew Beeston from Halls, Shrewsbury will conduct the 1.30pm special plants auction of 30 lots, which have been donated by private national collection holders, specialist nurseries and leading plant specialists across North Shropshire and the Welsh and Cheshire borders.

Visitors to the fair will also have a rare chance to pick up tips from Shropshire's gardening guru Margaret Thrower, who will be joining award winning garden designer Richard Lucas to answer visitors' questions on this year's 'Ask the Experts' panel.

Quiz prizes on offer include tickets to Shrewsbury Flower Show, family passes to great venues and every visitor will also be able to enter a draw to win B&B in a top Lake District hotel.

"The fair provides a unique opportunity to buy specimen plants, from personal national collections and private gardens, that are not generally available to the public," explained Mrs Eleftheriou.

"The fair tends to attract local people, visitors and plantaholics because it offers such an unusual selection of plants. In the grand plant sale alone, we will have well in excess of 1,000 plants on offer, all grown by a dedicated team of six people. We are planning even more space in the grand marquee for plants and people this year."

The event, which has donated more than £25,000 to charities over the past seven years, will also feature quality cake, preserves and craft stalls. Entry and car parking are free.