Mini April Newsletter

I’m sitting by the till writing this thinking about the poor folk who bought tomatoes, cucumbers, geraniums, lobelia and other basket plants and are now gazing upon a bunch of mushy stems.  It’s been very cold and even protection in an unheated greenhouse would not have been enough to have saved some of these plants.  Why were they for sale? being for sale the seal of legitimacy that they were available  at the right time – well they were for sale for profit, the consideration of the purchaser was not really a concern!!!  We have taken some stick here the last two weeks for not having some of these plants for sale, ours won’t be ready until the beginning of May when having been grown slowly and in cold conditions they will be fit for outside.   The sale of plants at the wrong time has concerned me for many years and I have my annual rant.  It’s because the disappointment of plants dying but believing them to be legitimate through being for sale totally breaks the trust between the retailer, even the industry, and the consumer who will eventually give up.  I hope the trust between the garden centres who sold these plants and the purchaser is indeed broken as frankly they don’t deserve the custom!!  Whilst I’m on the subject of trust I’ve seen that prices in some garden centres have increased way beyond what would normally be expected or deserved.  There is a shortage of pretty much everything at the moment, compost, plants, containers, seeds etc and the economic theories of supply and demand/price elasticity of demand ( guess who did A level economics years ago!!) would suggest that you could take advantage and make a greater profit.  Well I suppose you can but only for the short term, in the longer term trust is broken!! Enough!!

We’ve been very busy potting lots of basket and bedding plants, some veg ( lovely tomatoes coming along ) and perennial  plants.   The nursery is filling up nicely and plants are growing slowly and strongly, very exciting.  I never tire of seeing the plants grow, looking to see how the plants are producing roots, the smell of damp glorious compost, the emergence of flowers and the creativity of producing hanging baskets.  I mustn’t romanticise it too much, we are a plant factory and it’s not meant to be therapy!! But it is hugely satisfying when it all comes to plan.

“Our” swallows returned this week, loads of them!!! We should have 7 or 8 nesting pairs and by the time they have had at least 2 broods we will have over a 100 swooping in and out of our barn, chatting and squabbling like unruly teenagers ( sorry teenagers ) and learning to fly and feed in the sky above, a spectacle of summer we all look forward too.

We are still taking in hanging baskets for replanting so if you have any you would like replanting please bring them in, you’ve got to the second week of May!

Many of you have kindly asked about Lou who for many years has been in the retail area at the front of the nursery, I’m pleased to say she is very well and returns to work next week on Mondays and Wednesdays so I need to get the broom reheaded (I’ve worn two out since the new year – really! ) so that we can hear where she is!!

Thank you for your custom and support which is much appreciated, it’s going to be a difficult Spring for supplies but thanks to a bit of foresight ( substitute experience ) we are well set with plenty of plants growing, containers on display and compost in the back car park! We will inevitability run out of some supplies but that is the nature of our times at the moment.  Stay safe and we hope to see you soon.  Rog

Mini March Newsletter

Mini News. March 2021

Well, welcome to Choice Plants Mini News, a short news letter I hope of interest!!! We reopened on the 1st of March after two months closure, not wasted as I cleaned and tidied the nursery which was really a once in twenty year event!!   We are all ready for potting which starts in earnest in mid March.   The cafe, crafts and ice cream parlour won’t be open for some time, probably mid May depending on the governments edicts.

Nursery News.  I am increasing our production this year in the light of our experiences last year and what I can see happening in our industry.  There will be shortages of plants in 2021.  Demand in 2020 was unprecedented and as a result a proportion of plants destined for sale in 2021 were sold in 2020.  As a result of brexit we have “taken back our borders” resulting in (quite rightly)  tighter plant health controls for European imports – most notably from the Netherlands.  There is a very nasty disease on the continent called Xyella which must be kept out of our country and these tighter plant controls are part of the defence.  It takes time to produce plants from seeds and cuttings and in time the UK industry will fill the void but for the short term there will be gaps.  So, we will be more self sufficient this year producing a greater range of plants and more of them, quite exciting really!!

Retail News.  I suppose the big issue for retailers this year is one of supply.  If you can remember compost was in very short supply last year – partly a result of production stopping last April at a crucial time as workers were furloughed and partly due to massive demand as we all turned to our gardens in lock down.  Well, pretty much expect the same again, not quite such shortages but unless as a retailer you are very well prepared, supplies will be disrupted.  I took the decision in Jan and bought my spring and summer supply of retail compost in one go rather than spreading it over 4 months, so we have 150 pallets of compost stocked up!!  I had a phone call this week from one of our suppliers letting me know lead times for supply are now 4 to 5 weeks and we have hardly started!! The same will apply to feeds, canes are in short supply already ( I’ve got loads!! )

Prices are going up!! Not by much here but in the bigger garden centres by significant amounts.  An opportunity to use the demand/supply curve equation and Brexit excuse.  There are going to be shortages and costs are definitely increasing as shipping costs have gone up from the Far East by a factor of x 5. It will settle down eventually but I bit like decimalisation all those years ago it was the catalyst for a hike in prices!!

Horticultural Tips:  Seeds, such fun to grow.  A couple of tips.  Firstly DONT plant your seeds too deep.  They should only be sown as deep as the depth of the actual seed!! Bean seed 1-2cm.  Tomato seed pretty much just under the surface.  Secondly,always make a seed bed even if its compost in a pot or tray.  Gently flatten the compost with a flat surface to make it smooth so that seeds don’t get lost down some great chasm in the compost! Lastly – do not overwater and do not sow them so early that you have plants in your kitchen stretching for light!!

Spring is the time to feed.  Long term slow release feeds are more effective in the garden, such as blood fish and bone, chicken pellets.  Feeding has a profound affect and is good value!! Always make sure the feed finds its way slightly underground by raking it in if you can as it needs to be moist to work.

Don’t be tempted to buy basket and bedding plants too early.  Garden centres have them for sale from early April, it’s too early.  Leave the purchase of these until at least the first week of May, nothing gained by early purchase but all to loose.

Hope to see you soon.

Opening. 1st March 2021

Well, I’m pleased to say it’s back to normal hours for the nursery from 1st March,  Mon – Sat 9am to 5pm, Sun 10am-4pm.  The cafe, crafts and ice cream parlour remain closed, except that you can purchase  painting pottery and decopatch supplies from the crafts to take home. I have had a one in twenty year clear out over the past seven weeks and the growing areas of the nursery are tidy and clean waiting to be potted into, which will be soon.  I am increasing our nursery production this year so we will have more plants than ever and a greater variety of perennials.  Very exciting.  The container area looks full and fantastic.  Plenty of compost and fertilisers means we will in a few days time be well set for the Spring.  We look forward to seeing you soon, taking care to keep safe and distanced!!

If you would like to have your hanging baskets replanted I am ready to receive the empty baskets here to book them in for replacing,  I’ll send separate post in a few days.
Thanks for your continued support.