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Sunday May 1st 2022
Although arguably this is my favourite time of year, it's also a difficult time of year from a planting perspective. The fact of the matter is that it is too late in the season for planting. The improving weather which is such a welcome respite for us, quickly becomes a challenge for anything newly planted. Our ethos is to work with nature, so we have a limited range of plants available at this time of year. Specifically, we do have some lovely winter flowering daphnes, available now in 3 litre pots. These are rather the exception to our rule, in that they typically establish better from a pot, so we rarely offer them from the open ground.
Click HERE to go to the Daphne page.
If things grow to plan this coming season, we should have available unprecedented selections of magnolias (with a particular emphasis this year on rich red and purple hybrids from the gorgeous Asiatic species), daphnes and flowering dogwoods, as well as other choice and exciting trees / shrubs in 3 litre pots when the new crop is ready in the autumn.
course there will also be a wonderful range of special trees and shrubs, in a range of older sizes from the open ground, including some spectacular semi-mature specimens.
Magnolia campbellii 'Piet van Veen'
Thursday March 17th 2022
Now it's the turn of the Magnolia pages to be attended to. Given that we have some 360 different magnolias in the collection, this was inevitably going to be a much greater task. It's also a busy time of year on the nursery, and with increasing daylight length, I have fewer hours of darkness to spend on it! So, yes, it's taking a while. As a result, I have uploaded it "so-far" rather than waiting until it's completely finished.
I have completely altered the structure of the Magnolia pages, dividing the entries across 4 pages initially. These are listed alphabetically by cultivar, regardless of whether or not they are attributed to a species (ie some cultivars are selections from a known species, whilst others are hybrids). I've also adjusted the Magnolia index page, so if you are interested in a particular species, it is possible to see a list of all the cultivars of that species that we grow.
In time I will add pages where it will be possible to see all the cultivars that we have in a given group together. So, all the summer flowering selections will be together, all the so called "star magnolias" (ie cultivars of M. stellata and M. kobus and their hybrids including the M. x loebneri group. I'll probably include the M. salicifolia selections and derivatives here as well). It might also be helpful to have a page dedicated to yellow flowering magnolias because they are less well known, as well as one for evergreens now that we have a few of these in the collection beyond the ubiquitous M. grandiflora. There is increasing interest in planting magnolias reprising the display characteristic of the aristocratic M. campbellii, and we have a fabulous array of cultivars in this category, and they definitely deserve a page of their own. Climate change seems to be making it possible to grow the direct selections of M. campbellii in a greater range of localities, whilst modern breeding programs are achieving the best of both worlds in terms of floral display coupled with a hardier and more robust tree. Indeed, to this end Torsten has been breeding magnolias for a number of years now, a process which takes many years to reach flowering, but we have begun selecting our own new cultivars too. These additional pages are largely for the future though, and may indeed need to wait until next winter.
Of course a priority will be to add photos to the basic listing. Some of these are already included, but I will be adding to these periodically as photos can be taken. The problem at this time of year is that when the weather is suitable for taking photos, there are also a thousand and one other jobs needing doing! Our plans for the website in the future include the extension of each cultivar listing to include multiple photos, illustrating the different stages of development of the flower, but most importantly the overall shape of the tree. Of course it's nice to know what the flower will look like, but in many cases images can be found on the internet. It tends to much harder to find meaningful images of the overall tree.
This ambition becomes possible by virtue of the planting that we have done, and continue to do here, such that we have our collection planted out across our 50 acres. This includes specimens in the gardens as well as the arboretum. Inevitably many of these are still young and will take time to reach a size where meaningful photos can be taken. Nevertheless it so important that all our photos are taken of our own trees, on site here in our exposed corner of Somerset; so the flowers are very much representative of what can be achieved in the UK. However, I would comment that it can be incredibly difficult to accurately reproduce the flower colour digitally. Different cameras, different monitors (even different times of day when the sun is from a different angle) can all make colours look slightly different. This seems most noticeable with the darker pinky reds and purples, where it is notoriously difficult to accurately reproduce the exact colour. It's also relevant to note that there can be subtle variation in flower colour from year to year, both as the plant matures and dependant on the weather. Indeed, there are a lot of very interesting hypotheses as to how temperature influences flower colour, explaining why the colours are particularly noticeably different on certain cultivars grown in New Zealand by comparison with Europe. 'Vulcan' is the classic example of this, but the effect of temperature on the flowers is evident at a much more subtle level on many cultivars even from year to year in this country. Certainly the flowers of many cultivars also get larger year on year as the plant establishes and matures.
Whilst those are some of my plans for the website, of more immediate importance is our current stock situation. Given the huge collection that we have, we are never able to propagate all cultivars every year. I make no apology for repeating our mantra that we only ever sell plants that we have propagated and grown ourselves - we do not buy in. This is such an important principle, but it does mean that not all cultivars are available in all sizes every year. However, with some 360 cultivars in the collection, it is usually possible to recommend an alternative cultivar to achieve the desired effect. Indeed I am aware that the number of cultivars we list can be overwhelming, so it is often easiest for you to email me to describe the visual effect you want to achieve and I can recommend accordingly. Valuable criteria that you might want to achieve include things like flower colour; flower shape and size; tree shape, habit and vigour, as well as anything else that's important to you. It's also vital that I understand your budget, as without that, it's impossible for me to know where to start looking for you.
As I've explained elsewhere on these pages (including in the About Us section at the top of this page), the majority of our plants will be supplied rootballed and wrapped from the open ground. At this stage in the season, availability is becoming increasingly patchy in the younger plants described thus. We do have some magnificent semi-mature specimens available for those of you wanting more immediate gratification.
Following a couple of years that have been challenging in so many ways, we have an unprecedented new crop of young magnolias growing on. If everything grows to plan, these will be ready to go out in 3 litre pots in the autumn. It will be the first time we have offered some of these cultivars, with a dazzling range of flower colours available. I have tried to indicate in the Magnolia listing where these are not currently available, but will be available from the autumn. Inevitably that's easier said than done as other cultivars sell out. But the key point really is that there are no magnolias available currently (as I write in spring 2022) in 3 litre pots, but there will a fabulous range available in autumn 2022.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again... don't hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your requirements and I will suggest the best cultivars to achieve the desired effect.
I must away as the sun is shining and there are newly opened magnolia flowers to enjoy...
Click HERE to go to the Magnolia Index
Click HERE to go to some background info on our Magnolia
Click HERE to go to the beginning of our alphabetical Magnolia listing.
Young Magnolia rootball
Tuesday February 15th 2022
The group of Cornus widely referred to as "flowering dogwoods" (mainly to differentiate them from those grown specifically for winter stem colour) are another of our specialities. We have a fabulous collection across a number of species and I've been busy and have now also completed these Cornus pages. I've altered the layout of these quite considerably, so I hope that grouping them as I've done makes them more accessible.
As with the daphnes, I've included listings for some plants which I expect to be available for the first time in the autumn.
It is my hope and intention, "ambition" even, to, in due course, include photos of semi-mature plants of the best of these to help you understand the differences between the cultivars that can never be apparent with just a close-up. In the meanwhile, you're welcome to email me at email@example.com to discuss your requirements and I will suggest the best cultivars to achieve the desired effect.
Click HERE to go to the Cornus Index
Click HERE to go to some background info on our Cornus
Click HERE to go to the beginning of our Cornus listing
Sunday February 6th 2022
I am really pleased to have been able to spend some time in recent weeks starting the mammoth undertaking of updating our website; a task that I'm aware is well overdue! It may not be the all singing, all dancing sort of ultra modern website, full of scrolling this and flashing that, that seems to have become the norm, but I personally prefer the simplicity of something that purely provides information. I hope you will agree. I'm pleased to discover that my computer skills have improved over the years, which means I can actually make the photo links work!
This morning, whilst yet another storm blows through, I have update the Daphne page (the Cornus pages will hopefully follow later). The Daphne page is now up-to-date to reflect our current collection and availability. Although when we moved and relocated the nursery, we endeavoured to bring plants of our entire collection with us, an undertaking reminiscent of Noah and his ark, it became apparent that our new site is fundamentally too wet to allow many of our old collection to thrive. I fear that climate change is not helping either. So we are now focussing our attention on our favourite group of Daphne, the winter flowering evergreens. These are very happy in their new home and bring so much joy to the winter garden, with their beautiful flowers and exotic perfume. We are excited to have bred and selected some new cultivars too and several of these are now available (including Daphne bholua 'Cobhay Coral' as pictured left.)
Indeed we have a nice range of these Daphne currently available, and these are described on the new Daphne page, along with photographs too. Quantities of these sought after shrubs are always limited and never adequate.
Looking ahead to the autumn, I hope that life will start to return to something closer to "normal", if there can ever be such a thing. Specifically in this context, I am hopeful that we will have a much more extensive range of Daphne available. These additional cultivars are listed on the Daphne page and annotated accordingly. Further photos and descriptions for those will follow nearer the time. Given that I am currently focussing my attentions on the plants currently available, I won't be discussing autumn orders before October.
At the present time we are not offering a delivery service. Whether or not that changes for the autumn remains to be seen. Whatever the case, collection of pre-ordered, pre-paid plants will continue to be available, even though the nursery itself remains closed to visitors.
You're welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss and order these lovely daphnes.
Please be aware that we are no longer, and will not be, offering a delivery service after Christmas and into Spring 2022.
Covid-safe collection is welcomed by prior arrangement.
Please contact me to discuss your requirements by email at email@example.com
happy to offer specific advice regarding the collection of more mature specimens
and larger orders.
With time comes clarity.
We have changed our plans since I posted the update below in August. Life is complicated, but we have realised that we still need to eat (!) so we will be selling a limited range of our older rootballed plants from the open ground as well as a very limited range available in 3 litre pots.
The good news is that there will be a small number of various Daphne bholua cultivars, but I do stress that it will only be a ďsmall numberĒ.
Unfortunately, there will NOT be any Japanese maples, Magnolia or Hamamelis in 3 litre pots. All these groups will be available in older, larger sizes from the open ground.
Other interesting and unusual plants which will be available in 3 litre pots include Cunninghamia lanceolata ĎGlauca', Luma apiculata and Eucryphia x nymansensis 'Nymans Silver' amongst the evergreens.
Deciduous plants available will include (but are not limited to) a full range of Ilex verticillata cultivars for autumn berries, various Parrotia and Liquidambar cultivars for autumn colour, as well as several Corylopsis and Stachyurus selections for spring flower.
All propagated and grown by us, from mother plants in our collection, here on site in Somerset.
Moving on then to our speciality, the open-ground plants; unfortunately neither of the youngest size groups will be available, so there will be no smaller open ground plants this season.
I am more than happy to confirm that we have a wonderful range of special trees and shrubs to offer in a range of older sizes, including spectacular semi-mature specimens. We price fundamentally by age rather than physical size, although inevitably there is some degree of correlation within the characteristics of the cultivar. Given our current lack of the youngest sizes this season, in principle there will be very little available from the open ground at less than £500 each. However, we have an extensive range of beautiful older, larger, more mature plants increasing in price incrementally with age and size, up to the very best, most mature specimens at over ten thousand pounds each. Of course, for many plants, there are lots of options in between!
My standard policy for each enquiry is to check the actual plants in order to give you accurate size and price detail, as well as a photo of the specific individual (weather permitting). Please donít leave it until the last minute to make your enquiry. Please keep in mind that we have no dedicated office staff and these days I can struggle to keep up with enquiries when it gets busy. Nevertheless, I always reply to each and every enquiry, so do keep an eye on your junk / spam folders, just in case my reply disappears there.
We simply have too many plants to be able to detail every available option, so I need you please to give me an indication of your target price group on this basis. That will enable me to personally check the actual plants to give you accurate size and price detail of the most relevant plants for your purpose. Since we have such an extensive collection, we don't propagate all cultivars every year. Hence we don't have all cultivars available in all sizes every season and as the season progresses, things will sell out. Feel free to describe the visual effect you would like to achieve, including any features that are important to you; such as whether you would prefer something that is more freely branched from lower, or something more suited to developing with a more traditional "tree-like" form.
The nursery will remain closed to visitors, but collection of pre-ordered and paid-for plants will be possible.
I hope that the above information gives an insight into our availability situation for the season and I look forward to helping you with your enquiries.
Thursday August 12th 2021
So much has been said regarding the terrible situation that the world has faced over the last eighteen months or so that Iím sure there is nothing for me to add on that front.
However, we have been facing
our own set of challenges during this time, and it is with considerable regret
that I have to tell you that due to these circumstances, which are beyond our
control, we will not be selling plants this autumn. The nursery will remain
closed to visitors.
In terms of moving forward, I
suggest that you email me in February when we will be reassessing our position.
Alternatively keep an eye on the website here for updates. Clearly we are far
from happy with the situation we find ourselves in. We would be delighted if you
were able to wait for us.
I have left the links to last
yearís stock list intact, which serves to give you an idea of the range of
plants that we typically offer. If it proves to be the case that we can resume
sales in February, then I will post an up-to-date list at that stage.
I very much look forward to
working with you in the future, but for the time being I can only apologise and
thank you for your understanding in these difficult times.
Meanwhile, new readers may be
interested to discover something of our ethos here.
We have a fabulous collection
of trees and shrubs, including some major specialities, most of which we aim to
offer in a range of sizes.
We're fundamentally different to most places - the principle here is that everything we sell, we propagate and grow ourselves - we don't buy in. We are growing an increasing number of our plants in the open ground. This system has a number of advantages. The plants grow more naturally, forming a lovely rootball in the soil, with no fear of root-spiralling or being pot-bound. The plant itself will be more compact and the wood firmer and riper, already acclimatised to the weather and needing minimal staking. Thus the whole plant is more robust than the equivalent one pushed on in a container under protection. This is becoming increasingly important as we experience periods of extreme weather conditions. They are lifted to order, root-balled and wrapped (not to be confused with "bare root" which is much less satisfactory) and we are having brilliant results in this manner. Our availability follows nature's cycle, typically being from December through to March.
Thursday October 8th 2020
The nursery has been closed to visitors since March and that continues to be the case. This is our home as well as our work and we continue to shield a vulnerable family member living here. However, we do still need to earn a living, so we will still be selling our rootballed plants from the open ground through the coming dormant season.
Tuesday November 26th 2019
We have now resumed lifting for the season.
We will continue lifting throughout the winter, until the end of March or so, whenever the weather permits.
In order to protect out ground for the future, we avoid taking tractors across it when it is too wet, so our ability to lift is dependant on ground conditions being suitable. However, our ground is good, so it only needs 2 or 3 consecutive days without rain to make lifting possible.
Please don't leave it until the last minute to plan your planting this season. There is nothing to gain by planting late in the season.
Sunday August 26th 2018
Just a brief note to welcome you to our new stock list for the coming planting season. Time is short today, but as we're all starting to plan our autumn planting, I wanted to make the new list available as soon as possible. My intention is that I will add descriptions of the new items onto the website over the course of the winter. Meanwhile, I hope that the introductory blurb within it will be self-explanatory, but don't hesitate to drop me through an email if you need any aspect clarified or would like to enquire about plant details.
Sunday December 10th 2017
Looking back through my
previous entries, I can only be amused at the recurring theme, dominated as they
are by the weather! And so it continues. Today we are being battered by
torrential rain and ferocious wind, with the forecast promising that it will
turn to snow overnight. I'm clinging on to the fact that we're less than
fortnight away from the shortest day...
The house is, if not quite
completed, more than habitable, with only the finishing touches remaining. What
a joy it is to have running hot water again! And so we have been able to turn
out attention to the gardens, arboretum and nursery.
We have added the last
specimens to the structural planting in areas such as the Quarry and Winter
Gardens, whilst developing a dedicated Maple Glade. Our newest project is an
extensive Woodland Walk, inspired by some of our original plantings at our
previous site. We hope to complete the structural planting over the winter
planting season though we will have to bide our time with the under-planting.
A primary reason for our
relocation was to enable us to grow our plants in the open ground rather than in
containers and we continue to be thrilled with the results that we are achieving
and the enthusiasm with which this ethos is received by our customers. To the
extent that we have invested in more sophisticated equipment, enabling us to
maximise the potential of this method. Despite somewhat variable weather through
the year, itís proved to be a great growing season and we have some wonderful
specimens to offer you this winter. Personally I canít resist the magnolias
with their gorgeous silvery buds. They are certainly going to be a picture in
the spring. We also have a fabulous range of summer flowering magnolias
available which are less well known. These all have white flowers, with most
being beautifully scented. Never before have we had such a fantastic crop of
I will take the opportunity of this miserable weather to at least start updating the website, but in the meanwhile our stock list for the 2017 - 2018 planting season is available here.
It's raining again, so conscience (as well as wet feet) has driven me back to the office to start updating the website to reflect availability for the coming season. What a year it's been...it wasn't a particularly cold winter for us, but even going back as far as last November, it was very, very wet. And then it finally did get cold, but not until February, when a short but ferocious cold snap damaged a lot of plants fooled by the perpetual damp conditions, that hadn't bothered to shut down properly. March had some glorious moments and we celebrated the clocks changing with our first barbecue of the season. Unfortunately that proved to be the last barbecue for some months as April saw the return of the rain which has basically continued ever since, with only the odd respite. Our climate here is proving to be fundamentally wet anyway, but when you factor in the extreme weather of this year, then we really have been very wet! Indeed, as we strive to improve the grass in the arboretum, there is one particular area that I was finally able to cut for the first time at the end of July. Good job I did it that evening, because it's too wet again now!
This crazy weather has inevitably caused problems. It's created a whole list of extra jobs needing to be done, and made them all harder to do. Persistent low light levels result in less growth on new young plants, nevertheless others have grown prodigiously. Hence I can see that some of the younger plants may not reach the desired size to leave home just yet, though we have a magnificent crop of larger Magnolias this season. Availability will be a little patchy again this autumn. Regular readers will know that we propagate all our plants ourselves - we don't buy anything in. The recent move disrupted our propagation cycle so there will be some gaps, particularly amongst the younger plants. We have worked hard in the propagation house this summer, but it's a long term process, and this summer's cuttings won't reach a saleable size until next autumn as we strive to get back into full production as new stock plants establish. There are some pleasing results though, and we hope to be able to offer an even more exciting range of plants in the future.
After an interlude of a couple of years, I am delighted to be able to offer a good range of Epimedium this season, including some of Torsten's own selections. These have thoroughly enjoyed the growing conditions and have made fabulous plants in 2 litre pots. I do prefer to plant them in this more established, more robust size as in my experience they grow away so much better. I will also have some Daphne available this autumn, which I know will delight many of you. Stocks are distinctly limited though.
Just to remind you that we are now growing an increasing number of plants in the open ground. This system has a number of advantages. The plants grow more naturally, forming a lovely rootball in the soil, with no fear of root-spiralling or being pot-bound. The plant itself will be more compact and the wood firmer and riper, already acclimatised to the weather and needing minimal staking. Thus the whole plant is more robust than the equivalent one pushed on in a container under protection. They are root-balled and wrapped (not to be confused with "bare root" which is much less satisfactory). We are having super results with this more natural approach. Typically we start lifting these from the end of October / early November dependant on the season. I shall be starting to take orders for the new season's crop in September once Torsten and I have completed our mammoth "pre-despatch season stock take" when I will be able to confirm precise size and price availability.
So far I have uploaded all the Acer pages, and will continue through the rest as soon as I can. My intention is that these pages indicate what plants will be available as we head into the autumn planting season, and I have added lots of new descriptions. Of course, availability will change as soon as I start confirming orders, as numbers are decidedly limited on many plants. We have such a wide range that there are usually just a few of each variety. Thus the inclusion of a plant in these pages does not guarantee its availability. I have not included prices this season, because it is simply too complicated. In many cases I have a wide range of sizes available, but only a few of each. As I have mentioned above, our preference is to offer our plants from the open ground because they establish so much better. Occasionally there are smaller / younger / less mature plants available in pots as well. I prefer not to let them go at that stage because they are still soft and immature, but that is an option if you need to keep the cost down. Hence, when you enquire about availability, it would be great if you could give me an idea of what sort of size / budget you require. If you can do this by email, so much the better as my memory is not what it used to be, and it's much easier to reply in the office with lists etc in front of me.
In the meanwhile, for your convenience, I am delighted to present a pdf version of our catalogue for the 2012-2013 planting season.
Well, where did that summer go!
The weather hasn't been great, but we've had a fantastic time sorting things out here. We're definitely making progress, but there's certainly a lot still to be done. Anyway, the main reason for putting pen to paper (or should I say finger to keyboard) today is to introduce you to a new little addition to our catalogue. Many of our "regulars" will have met our son Torsten. Indeed a few hardy souls will doubtless remember the shy toddler who was perpetually covered in mud. He hasn't changed much, except that he's considerably taller than me now! But that's not the point. The point is that he is very much involved in the nursery now, though he definitely has his own personal interests, eclectic as they often are! Several years ago, whilst still at school, he sourced from around the world seeds of various Agave species. You may be familiar with these rather wonderful architectural succulents, but he has carefully selected some of the most beautiful, yet potentially hardiest species and grown them on to now become rather handsome plants. You will find these listed in the catalogue pages under Agave and Dasylirion. The latter has similar growing requirements (which he discusses on the relevant page) and an elegant, graceful habit, forming a fountain of narrow leaves. Pictures will follow (but I find them much more complicated to make work properly.) Do have a look and allow yourself to be tempted!
I have put a link on the Catalogue Index page (bearing in mind
my limited IT skills, I hope it works!) to a .pdf version or our catalogue. This
should open in a new window regardless of what software you are running. It is
set up for simple A4, so should print off easily; or you can select specific
pages to print if you have specific genera in mind. There is an introduction at
the beginning (always a good place to put the introduction...) which explains
why I've done what I've done with it this year. Feedback received with interest
as always. If I appear to reject such feedback, it may well be because I don't
have the technical know-how (or possibly right now the time) to fix the problem,
not because I'm disinterested! It occurs to me that I can put a link to the catalogue
here as well!
Just a quick update...the good news is that my internet access is now up and running again. Less good is the stack of several hundred e-mails that have accumulated in the intervening time! If you're waiting for a reply, bear with me, I'll get to you as fast as I can but there's an enormous amount to do. Mind you, if the weather stays like this, you might not have to wait so long. After another record dry spring that has been a nightmare for anything newly planted, it's raining today as if it will never stop. And it's cold with it. Although we really do need it, it's definitely not nice outside, so the office is almost attractive (I did say almost...!)
I can confirm that the phone number allocated to us is indeed correct. However, life is never as simple as that...the telephone base unit is currently quite low down and thus the range of coverage is proving totally inadequate. So although I am on-site most of the time at present, a lot of that time is spent out of range of the phone. Therefore, it would be easiest for you to e-mail me your enquiry for me to pick up next time I'm in the office as the phone may well ring unanswered. We're investigating relays to extend the signal, but inevitably it seems our current phones are not compatible with such...
Many of you are keen to come and visit to see what we're up to here. I look forward to welcoming you all in due course, but at the moment I'm having to say that we are open by appointment for collection of pre-booked plants only. There is currently very limited scope for looking round. We hope to extend this a little for the busy autumn season but you need to understand that modern requirements demand much more stringent standards of safety than in the past. I must also stress that we have absolutely no facilities on site to which I can make no exception - please don't embarrass us both by asking therefore!
One decision that we have already taken is that we will no
longer be printing our traditional descriptive catalogue. I am determined
to reduce our carbon footprint, and I don't believe that paper catalogues
are environmentally appropriate these days. Thus our initial compromise in
deference to those people lacking internet access at home will be to
create a simplified "plant list". My intention is that this will
be available in time for the autumn, both by post, and from the nursery.
It has always been the case that visitors annotate their catalogue as they
walk round, so the new list will have plenty of room for your own notes. I
would encourage you therefore to use it in conjunction with the website
where full descriptions can be found through the "Catalogue"
pages. Before that though I need to do a full and accurate stock take.
We have finally moved.
Today is Sunday 22nd May 2011 and today we are leaving Lower Mead where we have lived and worked for some 25 years.
In some ways a scary moment, but by grandmother used to say that you can't make an omelette without cracking eggs, and this particular omelette takes the form of 50 acres just down the motorway. We bought the site a few years ago and have been quietly establishing a new nursery there whilst continuing to work here. It has been frustratingly difficult maintaining both sites so, on a practical level, it will be an enormous relief to be in just the one place. This is an incredibly exciting time for us as we have so many plans and look forward to seeing them come to fruition. I must remember that Rome wasn't built in a day though...
Please be aware that it will take a little way for "normal service" to be resumed and there will be teething troubles along the way. The first issue is that although I signed the paperwork for a new phone line as long ago as February, it will only be connected tomorrow. The new number is listed on our contact page (see menu bar left). This is the number I have been given, but they include the proviso that it's not guaranteed until it's actually connected. Not helpful. So although that should be operational from sometime after lunch on Monday 23rd May, there is an outside chance it won't be! In which case, you'll have to wait until I can update the website again.
Which brings me to my next problem. For some reason that I can't fathom, they can't even think about installing broadband until the phone is connected, so I have to wait another 5-10 working days for that. It seems madness to me - after all, how many businesses these days would install a new line without broadband? Anyway, the result of that is that I will have no internet access for up to a fortnight. So although the website and e-mail addresses will not change, if you e-mail me within that time, you will not get an immediate answer. Of course, that will then give me a backlog of enquiries of epic proportions so you will need to be patient whilst I work through them.
We look forward to welcoming you to our new site in the future, but in the meanwhile we will be closed to visitors for a month or so whilst we lick our wounds and sort ourselves out. It feels as though it's been a long and stressful process, and I could do with time to relax and get my head together. We'll be doing things a little differently at the new site, so there are a number of logistical issues that we will need to make decisions on and implement before we receive visitors. Indeed that will be an ongoing evolution initially, so we will be interested to hear your feedback in due course.
As you can see from the heading below, it's some while since I last updated you on things here. That's a reflection on the increased workload of running the two sites. I will write in more detail another time, but so many of you ask about the kids that I will just tell you that both our offspring have now left school. Greta, our eldest, has put her University plans on hold again whilst she travels the world. Having qualified as a ski instructor last winter, she will spend the summer in Australia (I can't quite get my head round the concept of ski-ing in Australia in July...) before returning to Canada next winter. I shall miss her enormously. Torsten meanwhile has also left school with top grades, but he has no desire to go to Uni either. Certainly the hike in tuition fees is a factor preying on their minds. Instead he will be working with us on the nursery, for which he clearly has a natural flair and passion. It's also jolly good to have a younger set of muscles! And his muscles have been put to good use of late as this season he has been selected to represent Great Britain at canoe-polo (a little known, but hugely watchable and utterly brutal sport) at under 21 level. Congratulations Torsten.
It's late June and I'm told that the Met office has just declared a "heat wave warning" for the next week or two, so this seems like a jolly good moment to hide in the office...the potting and stock taking is finished and I can turn my attention to updating the website and sorting out order confirmations. I also ran out of paper catalogues a few weeks ago - apologies to those of you waiting! A flush of spring mentions in the Telegraph culminated in us running out much sooner than we had calculated. Potting was the priority at the time, and Iím afraid the catalogue had to stand in line. But here it is, and I hope youíll agree that it was worth the wait. It's always quite a job putting it together, but this year the most exciting section for me has been the Magnolia pages. We now have over 250 in our collection, and a goodly selection available this autumn. As usual the website, now that I've updated it, has many more plants listed (than the paper catalogue) because I am mindful of a need to be sensible with the scale of the latter, so this is the place to look for the new, the few and the downright difficult! Iíve given it a small revamp as Iíve updated it, mainly by indexing the larger genera. Thus, if you know what youíre looking for, you shouldnít need to scroll through lots of pages to find it. Take a look at my efforts with Acer palmatum, Betula, Cornus, Epimedium and Magnolia for example. I still need to add all the photos Nick has been working so hard at taking - but that is such a slow task. Iíll get there eventually...bear with me!
|Click here for the Autumn 2009 catalogue in .pdf format|
I am aware of the limitations of the catalogue pages for anyone who wants to print off groups of plants to study at their leisure. To that end, I have put together a .pdf file that should print out in a simple format onto A4 paper. The beauty of this format is that it is neither platform nor application specific - anyone should be able to access it. It is more extensive than the bound catalogue you would receive by post, becasue it includes most of the small quantity plants as well. From memory I think it extends to 45 pages, but of course you don't need to print it all off if you have a specific interest. Just note the relevant page numbers and type them into your printer command box. No photos are included to keep the size vaguely manageable, so you may need to review it in conjunction with the website. As always, let me have your feedback.
So, what progress have we made since I last put pen to paper (or I should say, finger to keyboard)? It's been a slightly traumatic time at family level, but the new site is progressing well, if more slowly than I would like.
There will be more plants available this year that have been growing in the open ground. Weíre doing that at our other site, and it is proving to be most satisfactory. Of course the limiting factor is the shortened planting season, but it does result in superior establishment because the plants have been growing in the real world all season, developing a more natural root system and canopy. In most cases these are limited to larger sizes at the moment, but do feel free to discuss your requirements with me. Remember that we try to achieve something of this in the pot grown stock too, with our use of a soil based compost. This provides the roots with a more consistent environment, avoiding the extremes which are such a problem with peat.
Perhaps I should explain for the benefit of new readers that we operate strictly on a Home Grown basis. We grow everything that we sell ourselves, we donít buy in. This allows us to grow exactly what we please and an eclectic range it has become! It also means we have control of quality and naming. But it does mean that when something is sold out, thatís it until the next crop is ready (which would be the following September). Indeed this updated listing reflects what we will have available by the end of the growing season - things arenít necessarily ready to leave home just yet. And of course the biggest drawback is that when it's gone...it's gone. Some things are already fully booked for September, so even if you're not ready to plant just yet, do get in touch to reserve the plants you want.
Itís been a difficult 6 months for sure. Both on a personal front with family bereavements and also the weather. What an interesting winter that was! We certainly suffered our share of plant damage amongst the evergreens as a result of the ridiculously wet snow, but thankfully no structural damage to either site. We were glad that we originally invested in quality tunnels.
We have known so many of you for so long now that you always ask after the children. Having achieved straight A grades in her Lower Sixth year, Greta faced A levels this summer and now awaits the results. She has a ski season already organised for next winter and hopes her results will take her to University at Bath the following year to study sports science, though she is developing a deep interest in event management and is currently putting her cycling experience to good use, working with a Tour of Britain organising team. Torsten has just finished his GCSEs and is working hard before going back to 6th Form College. His plans are extensive and complicated, but revolve around plants and the nursery, snakes and kayaking...but not at the same time I hope! Work experience at RBG Kew gave him a unique insight into the conservation of some of the planetís most endangered plants.
Finally, "Happy Gardening" and at a time of financial uncertainty, what more enjoyable (or economical) a way to occupy one's spare time could be found than enjoying your garden.
PS. Use the menu bar down the left hand side of your screen to navigate around the site.