Each time I’ve done the watering during the last few months I’ve caught myself wondering why there were so many unsold plants in the sales beds. Then I’d remember that there have not been many people coming to buy them. I have two theories about this. Number one is that it was a mild winter so people didn’t lose any plants to winter frosts, also its been a fantastic year for tremendous growth on everything, therefore gardens are full. The second reason (maybe) is that all the supermarkets have had plants to sell outside their entrances. They may not be in the best of health but they are generally cheap and its so easy to pop a plant or two in a trolley when doing the weekly shop.
As a result of having too many plants left over this year we have decided to have a grand sale. There are lots of plants which are just £2 each, some of them are quite large specimens although I suspect that they will be scooped up very quickly. Then there is 20% off everything else. One customer today filled the car with 17 shrubs which cost her the grand total of £34! It grieves me to have to let things go so cheaply but I need to be grown up about it and offer all of you who read this (is it 3 or 4 people? I have no idea because I get no feedback) the opportunity to grab some amazing bargains.
It was maybe three years ago that my friend Felicity gave me a rooted cutting of a rose which she had rooted successfully herself but had forgotten the name of it. It is a super plant with seemingly disease resistant leaves which are glossy green. The large cluster of flowers are pale apricot colour at the bud stage and then open to white. There is a hint of pink as they fade. They are scented (why have roses with no scent?). Mine has grown into a large shrub and has been oblivious to all the extremes of weather and is doing very well on our heavy clay soil. Today we had visitors to the garden and the name has now been revealed by one of them as Rosa Sally Holmes. I shall definitely take some cuttings so hopefully there will be some for sale in the nursery.
Today was the day for digging up the garlic and weeding at the same time. When I planted it way back in the autumn the ground was extremely wet and soggy and I half expected them to rot away. But no, they grew well and, although they aren’t as large as last year, there is plenty for our needs. I shall sort out some of the bigger ones to hold back to plant out this coming autumn. My veg beds are really rather neglected and so there are plenty of sow thistles and annual rose-bay willow herb, also a lot of groundsel too so it felt quite good to be getting rid of these weeds. I had to call a halt though because we had a few of those rare species known as customers who kept coming in and needing help. So some of the weeds are still there, waiting to self seed and annoy me next year.
Temperatures yesterday were in the high 20′s. We shared doing the watering and then did very little else except lurk in the shade. Had quite a few customers, very small sales though but we’re grateful for anything right now.
There was a little bit of rain in the night which won’t have been enough to water the sales beds but might have freshened up the garden.
A visitor who went round the garden said it was ‘random and informal’, I’m still trying to work out if that was a compliment or not. He expanded by saying he was bored of some of the National Trust gardens and their formality. I feel that our garden sits easily in its surroundings, there is a blurring around the edges where the less managed bits blend into the wild areas. There’s a trend for encouraging wildlife and we do that without trying.
I hadn’t realised that the sky was ominously dark over to the east and south because I had my head down weeding in the garden. We packed things up at 4.30 and got home just before a heavy downpour happened. If we’re very lucky it should mean that we won’t need to do any watering tomorrow.
The plants continue to grow with gusto, the verbena are taller than they’ve ever been, the day lilies are flowering extremely well in spite of the gall mite on some of the buds (which I picked off and burned) and some of the bamboos have sent up very tall canes. This is the time of year when many plants need trimming so I’ve filled many wheelbarrows of clippings from various shrubs, also spent flowers of foxgloves and poppies. There are still many plants which have yet to flower including asters, helianthus and heleniums not to mention the ornamental grasses which should start to put up the seed heads next month. Lots to look forward to.
I did a total of the donations we’ve had so far this year for the National Garden Scheme and it comes to approximately £500 which is pretty good. It would be brilliant if we could double that before the end of the year. We do appreciate those of you who have put their £2.50 in the box.
The rain that was promised has arrived which is most fortunate because the poor plants at Bridge Nursery didn’t get watered yesterday. The trouble is that is was very windy so quite a few were blown over. I’m a bit like a child who doesn’t want to do their homework in that I will avoid doing the watering if I possibly can, it’s so monotonous.
I did some planting last week, adding in some Salvia uliginosa, some sanguisorbias and some penstemon so the rain will help settle them in.
I had the customer from hell the other day, it was someone who was trying to get one over on me. They went and picked up an Arbutus which is £9.50 but swapped labels for something that was £3. I’m not stupid so he didn’t get away with it but if someone had been standing in for me they wouldn’t necessarily know the prices of everything.
It sounds like I’m always grumpy but some people do test me to the limit. Another example is the woman who came the other day clearly doing some research for plants for clay soil. It’s possible she is a garden designer. So she looks carefully at plants in the nursery all the while making notes then goes into the garden and then off she goes. I don’t think much of it until I see that she put just 4pence in the donation box. To have the nerve to use us like that is enough to cause me to despair.
If anyone reads this and if they were thinking of coming to visit us then I can recommend a stroll round the garden where the roses are wafting their scents which is quite intoxicating. It is still quite wet though after all the rain on Saturday so Philip hasn’t been able to mow the rather long grass. Hopefully it will get done this week sometime.
The nursery is full of many plants many of which can be seen growing in the garden. We always say that if it survives in our horrible heavy clay soil then it will thrive in good soil in a more sheltered position. We are very exposed to all the winds.
The moorhen has built a splendid nest on the pond and there are seven eggs which will hopefully hatch out soon. I wonder if mummy moorhen is going round the garden and eating all the slugs? They are quite shy birds so hurry off if they hear anyone coming but, strangely, they are not frightened of the mower.
End of May, beginning of June and a beautiful day today but where were the customers? We have an abundance of plants which are good, reliable and some are quite unusual but not enough people coming in to buy them. It makes me despondent because I have no idea what we are doing wrong. Are plant buyers going to supermarkets where there will be no helpful advice? Or the ‘sheds’ where plants are often dry or almost dead? Maybe some people are going to car boot sales where plants are for sale at ridiculously low prices, the sellers won’t be making their living selling plants, it will be ‘pin’ money. If anyone reads this I would welcome any reasons regarding why we are so quiet this year.
Equally slow are garden visitors, who are few and far between. Is there too much competition out there so that people are spoilt for choice with their leisure time? We would like to raise lots of money for the NGS who distribute the donations among a number of very worthy charities including Macmillan and Marie Curie cancer charities, close to our hearts this year because Philip is currently having chemotherapy.
Meanwhile I plod on because I don’t know what else I would do but it grieves me that we have such poor recognition.
We have lots of well grown plants for sale. We use expensive compost and fertilizer and the plants are well watered (a monotonous job). They are also reasonably priced compared with some other nurseries and garden centres. But there are few people buying them the moment and I’m baffled. The weather is fine and the soil is not too dry for planting. I’m blaming the supermarkets and the chain DIY stores where you can buy cheap but dry or dead plants which are displayed so that customers have to walk by them at the entrance. It seems to me that the supermarkets trying to cash in with things they know little about. Are there experienced staff to offer help and advice for the novice purchaser? I doubt it. So why are so many people buying these poor offerings? Is it because its convenient? Or maybe its because they are cheap? I wish I knew. I’d welcome your comments.
Its a good thing sometimes that we don’t know what’s coming up in the future. Looking back at my last blog we had no idea that P would end up in hospital for 11 days after the first lot of treatment. Fortunately, although there was a reaction to the 2nd course of chemo earlier this month, it was no-where near as dramatic and he was up and doing things a few days later. He does get tired though and has been known to make terrible mistakes on the card machine so if he should be left in charge do make sure he has added up your bill correctly!
Everything is growing incredibly well and I’m finding it hard to keep up with all that needs doing almost single-handedly. I’ve had two off-site consultations which are both a bit of a challenge in that I’m having to think through ideas for the two gardens and recommend suitable plants. Both have been/are good for me to use my plant knowledge so that I can advise which are most suitable for the two very different sites.
The cowslips I transplanted earlier in the year are all doing well and are flowering their heads off, hopefully they will seed around and there will be many more next year. They are all tall and looking very healthy, presumably due to the wet winter? The blossom on the trees has been abundant and there are many bees on the catkins on the willows. My ‘snowdrop’ lady brought me some more snowdrops earlier this month which I have planted and marked the positions so I can report back to her on their progress.
On top of all this my father has not been well which is a worry because I live 60 miles away. Fortunately my brother lives close by and can help out as necessary and the operation this coming week should solve my dad’s problem. I knew it wouldn’t be an easy year but this is turning out to be something of a challenge to keep up with everything.