Welcome to our Web Site

Welcome to our catalogue for 2006.

At last! I've finished up-dating it. Of course availability changes on a daily basis, but at least all the new additions have now been added.  

This year's ramblings - for your interest, amusement (and sometimes information!)
As I sit down to welcome you to the new catalogue, I glance back over last year’s ramblings and chuckle with amusement that so little has actually changed! On the domestic front we’re still ferrying sporty children around the country whilst on the nursery we’ve added more plants than we’ve deleted, only this year it has resulted in a thicker catalogue! In fact there are nearly 200 plants listed here for the first time, as well as a similar number offered again this year after a gap. Sometimes I wonder where we find them all!

After a severe shortage of Magnolia this last year, we have an excellent range growing on; the first of which will be available in September, albeit as smaller plants than we normally offer. However, the exciting aspect is that an increasing number are on their own roots, which has to be better in the long run. We have also widened our range to include the smaller growing M. stellata cultivars and many more yellows. These are not only beautiful, but they flower later, so avoiding the worst of the frosts, as well as being more tolerant of less ideal soil conditions.

Almost inevitably there are new Acer, Cornus and Daphne cultivars - I just can’t resist any of them! And then we’ve brought back some old favourites which we’ve not grown for a number of years; such as Ilex, Amelanchier, Hamamelis and Hibiscus. Those 4 genus alone would give year round colour to any garden!

As a slight contrast to our normal range, we have an exciting selection of Iris this year, to give colour from April through into June. If you care to read my introductory paragraph to them, you will discover how important a role our son Torsten is starting to play in our efforts here.

Don’t forget though that there are even more plants listed here on the website than there are in the paper catalogue; including those available in very small numbers and additional descriptions. I’m still promising photos and indexing for the website - I am aware that it can be hard to find a specific plant without trawling through reams of others, but other commitments (we’ll come to those in a minute) have resulted in frustratingly little progress in that direction I’m afraid.

I still find time for the garden (though not as much as I’d like!) It remains my escape from the pressures of the real world as I’m sure it does for many of you. Where would we be without that refuge? It was a difficult winter here, though not as hard as predicted; nevertheless the vicious cold snap we endured in November, following such a bright, sunny autumn did a lot of damage. Plants were still active when suddenly the temperature plummeted to –11°C. Devastating. We awaited the spring with baited breath. It proved mild and wet - fantastic growing conditions in fact; yet worse was to come as summer brought us the worst drought that we've seen here for many years. Most things have survived, but failures are inevitable in every garden I believe, due to the meteorological yoyo that so-called climate change seems to be bringing us. However, some early morning endeavour in the searing heat of July saw my walling project at last finished and further beds now await planting this autumn, as soon as I dare.

I talked last year of our Betula beds. We’ve now added an extra “leg” to allow all our current accessions to be planted out together. Not only will this look spectacular, but it will be so useful for comparison purposes. There can be no disputing the difference our mound planting technique has made to what we can grow on our heavy wet alkaline clay. 

Planting on clay
Do not dig a lavish planting pit - it simply fills with water in winter and drowns its unfortunate occupant. Instead, we have taken to mound planting. By this I mean we add some extra top soil, some well rotted organic matter and some sharp sand or grit and mix it into the top soil, being careful to leave the clay pan more or less intact. Thus there is a reasonable depth of soil for the plant to root into, whilst the water runs away without puddling around the collar. We do need to be careful not to let them dry out during the first summer, but a good thick mulch helps with that (don’t stack it up immediately around the base of the plant though). You can also sink a short length of plastic pipe next to the rootball to give a reservoir to water into, right down to the roots. Much more efficient than irrigating above the mulch. With the extremes of weather conditions apparently become the norm, it is vital to protect new planting against these dramatic fluctuations in water levels.

Home Grown
We have become increasingly aware of how few nurseries actually grow their own plants these days. Too many buy them in from the continent. We sell only what we grow ourselves, propagating here on site from our own stock plants. This gives us control; it means that we see them flowering here so can be certain that our plants are true to name. The only drawback is that when something is sold out, that is it until the next crop is ready; hence the reference to “September” through the catalogue. That means that those plants are sold out at the time of writing, but will be available again at the end of the growing season and most importantly, can be reserved for then.

We use a soil based compost for all our plants now. Putting the environment issues of peat aside momentarily, too often a peat compost is wet and sludgy or dry and dusty; rarely is it “just right” and this continues once it is planted out. Our soil mix, by contrast, is much closer to the soil which the roots will encounter when planted out; it maintains a more constant moisture level and makes them much more inclined to root out into the surrounding area. A very marked improvement.

As always, I wish you all a wonderful year in the garden. Our mail order service may be convenient (and hopefully efficient!) but there can be no substitute for seeing the plants for yourselves. The West Country has so much to offer, with wonderful gardens, coastline and countryside. Come and visit us and make a weekend of it!

Gardening with Woodland

I have saved my most exciting news until last and the reason for my lack of website progress and the lateness of the catalogue (and anything else which I have failed to do of late!)

The premier horticultural publisher Timber Press commissioned me to write a book. It is in the final editorial stages as I write and is due for release in February 2007, though I’m told it may conceivably be available before Christmas!

The concept of Gardening with Woodland is so exciting; it looks at a number of ways of enhancing natural woodland as well as creating woodland areas in the garden, to whatever scale is appropriate. Early sections deal with the concepts and opportunities, as well as the practical aspects of preparation and maintenance, with well over half the book devoted to an eclectic compendium of plants suitable for Woodland cultivation; from the tiniest Woodland Floor bulbs and perennials up to trees with which to supplement the upper canopy. Some 350 colour photos will illustrate it.

It has been a huge amount of fun to write and I hope it gives equal pleasure to those who read it. My dream is to inspire people, dedicated gardeners and uncertain novices alike, to really make the most of their Woodland, or to create their very own. I want you to see the group of trees at the bottom of the garden as an opportunity rather than a problem. Even the tiniest garden can embrace the Woodland ethos with sympathetic underplanting of existing features, whether they be shrubs, individual trees or hedges. Indeed, you will see our growing excitement at these possibilities reflected on the nursery already, with the addition to our range of a number of Spring flowering Anemone and an increasing range of Cyclamen.

Embarrassingly, at the time of writing the publishers have not yet told me what the price will be! However, so many of you have expressed an interest in principle, that I am already taking orders, for confirmation once such details are known. Some of you even want me to sign it!

As I wrote in 2005... 
(new readers may want to catch up on who we are and what we do!)

When the international news is as depressing as it usually is, it is good to escape to the garden to leave behind the pressures of modern life for a while. The garden here is developing at quite a rate now; suddenly it has become apparent to us how we wish it to progress. Our biggest problem (other than a lack of time!) has been the heavy clay soil. But finally we think we have the solution - mound planting.

Sometimes we have planted individual trees like Oaks, to become specimens for the future. In other places we have used three of the same Acer at approx 2m centres, to grow together and give a wonderful splash of autumn colour. And in between there are great drifts of Birch with their beautiful bark. Some are the whitest of the white, but there are pinks, browns, reds and oranges too. 

A side benefit of the improved soil around the trees is the ability to establish bulbs and spring plants at their feet. There can be few sights more welcome in the dismal days of late winter than their spectacular drifts of colourful flowers. Weed control on these beds has been excellent with a good thick mulch, so next year we will start to underplant. I am so looking forward to that..!

Raised Beds 
Another way of beating the clay and the dreaded winter wet is with more formal raised beds. My dry stone walling marches onwards (don’t laugh - even the great Winston Churchill built walls as relaxation!) but I do need to be patient with my planting and make sure any perennial weeds are clear first.

The scree bed is developing nicely. Daphnes will inevitably play an important part in that, but the challenge will be to ensure the soil is adequately moist in summer whilst not too wet in winter. The downfall of so many rockeries is actually too much drainage which puts the fragile plants under too much stress in summer. The other popular misconception is that all alpines are sun loving. That is not at all the case, and certainly if drainage is sharp to help them in the winter, some summer shade, particularly from the lunchtime sun will help considerably. 

Talking of Daphnes, my son and I spent some time last summer refreshing the gravel on the "Woodery" (the terraced beds between the propagation tunnel and the parking area. We fished out any number of Cyclamen hederifolium which were on a take-over bid, replacing some rotten timbers and generally tidying up. What an improvement and the Daphne thrived as a result. They were truly spectacular in April - May when in flower, but looked so much healthier through the rest of the year. I have also introduced some more interesting (for interesting read "difficult"!) Cyclamen, and the C. hederifolium will eventually all be banished to naturalise.

The Garden
My mother-in-law has been with us for over a year now and is enjoying the view from her new conservatory out to the lake and down to our Birch groves. (These are really getting going now and superbly illustrate the versatility of these trees. They are now mature enough to give a representative idea of the differences in habit and bark colour between the many different cultivars.) The resultant building works have created the opportunity for quite a different area. I may have hoped to plant swathes of Hostas, ferns, Arisaema, Lilies and other shade loving plants, but not just there! Although essentially North and east facing, it is not anything like as shady as I though it would be. This serves as a jolly good lesson I think. We've been here 18 years, but even so it is important to think hard about an area and watch it through the season before committing yourself to a planting scheme!

Our Ducks!
A few summers ago, we dug a small lake and landscaping around this continues. Again birch will play a major role in the backdrop - I just can’t get enough of them at present. They are so easy to grow and those reflections….! Many of you will remember that last year we homed some orphaned ducklings which delightfully grew to maturity and subsequently left (Nick said they where typical teenagers - ate us out of house and home before leaving without a backward glance!) But today (2nd March) we have 2 ducks back on the lake. Our very first to arrive by themselves. We are so excited about a couple of ordinary mallards it is quite ridiculous! Perhaps they are a pair of last year's returning to nest. That would be fantastic!

I am delighted that our son shares our passion for the natural world and is as excited as we are about the increasing wildlife we are attracting to our gardens. The birds are a constant source of joy at all times of year, including now a very special regular visitor—a kingfisher. Our small lake has been in place for several years now, but this spring it was heaving with very busy frogs!

New Developments
One thing that is for certain is that we will never be "finished" here. Various relatives shake their heads in despair at us as we excitedly describe each new projected plan. "Haven't you got enough to do?" they ask in bewilderment. But that's not the point! I'm sure that many of you will know exactly what I mean!! Over the winter we have planted a large number of birch and dogwoods for winter stem interest (not to be confused with our vast range of Cornus which grow into trees and flower so exuberantly in spring or summer). Although these are primarily stock plants, and will be pruned accordingly, they will make a sensational display in winter.

We have also implemented a long term plan to move the orchard. We originally planted our fruit trees in the lowest part of our grounds, and subsequently late frost is quite a problem there. Several years ago we grafted a number of trees from these and lined them out. Hopefully there will still be time this spring to get them planted in their new home, the field above the nursery. Although this will not have public access, we have taken the opportunity to also plant in a row along the nursery boundary, our burgeoning collection of Acer rubrum. These magnificent North American trees give some of the best autumn colour, but with so many cultivars it is always difficult to know what the difference truly are. Planted together it will give us, and you, the ability to directly compare them.

As if that wasn't enough, I'm also hoping to plant the new Acer glade. This is being done a little tongue in cheek, and may be an embarrassing failure, but we'll see! The corner is nicely enclosed on 2 sides, but this could result in stagnant air and fungal problems in winter. The other possibility is that our Southern protection is inadequate and the wind will channel down through it, causing damage to the new growth in spring. We will keep our fingers crossed.

Our final "project" for the moment revolves around Hellebores. Even we are not immune to fashion it would seem and have produced a large number of, we hope, quality Hellebores which will flower next spring. We are keeping quiet about these, because we want to plant out the vast majority of them to give a particular area a real Wow! factor in future springs. That will look fantastic!

The Children
What else have we been doing? Ah yes, I remember!! "Taxis R us" I believe is the term! Our daughter Greta who many of you will remember as a baby, has been cycling (as in racing) for about 3 years. Now at the tender age of 14 she is on the Great Britain Team and is training with the Olympic Development Squad. She is too young for Beijing in 2008 but has every determination to be selected for 2012. 

Not to be out done, our son Torsten, who is younger, plays County Badminton, runs to National level both across country and on the track in summer whilst his first love is hockey which he also plays at County level above his age and in the adult league! 

I mention this, because many of you are kind enough to ask after them, and have really watched them grow up. So it was Manchester last weekend with one, Nottingham next weekend with the other... Perhaps our mothers are right after all - perhaps we do have enough to do! Exciting times!

This is becoming increasingly problematic, but we are committed to maintaining our mail order service at the lowest and fairest price we can. However, constantly increasing fuel costs have resulted in price increases.

For orders to mainland England and Wales  £15.00
For orders to Southern Scotland £16.00
For orders to within the London Congestion Surcharge Area  £16.00
For offshore islands, Northern Scotland or abroad, please ask. If you are in doubt as to whether you constitute "Northern" Scotland, please ask. In this context, it includes parts of Argyll due to the distances involved.

Our garden is an escape from all forms of reality including the office and the computer! I don’t think it is possible to run a business without one any more. I do encourage you to use e-mail as a convenient means of communication - I check it and reply daily. Please share your e-mail address with me to help me give you the best service possible. I will not abuse it - I hate junk e-mail too!

I wish you all a great season - let's hope the weather will be good to us and allow us a great many stress free hours in the garden.

For new readers, let me introduce myself. My name is Karan Junker, and together with my husband Nick, own and run the nursery. The website has been up and running for a couple of years now, but it is so difficult to find time to keep it up to date. I have to confess that I am still a Plantswoman at heart and prefer to spend my time in the garden or on the nursery, rather than in the office.

We are a small family business, committed to providing a quality service. So please do not hesitate to ring to discuss your requirements. It is generally me who answers the ‘phone since we do not employ any staff. Unfortunately if I make a mistake (not too often I hope) I cannot pass the blame, since the buck stops here! In this way we can offer you a personal service and keep control. The downside is that we are limited by time as to how many plants we can grow. 

As we propagate the vast majority of our plants from our own stock plants ourselves and do not buy in simply to sell on, it does mean that when something has sold out, there can be no more until the next crop is ready. Generally that means the following September.

This can be a bit of a problem, particularly with Daphnes as you will see when you get to them. We are sold out of many of them at the time of writing, and indeed many are fully booked for September. Therefore, if you want Daphnes, please don’t delay in ordering. It would help my paperwork enormously if you could enclose a “Limit Cheque” (see “terms and conditions” at the back of the catalogue for how to do this) so I can amend your order according to availability.

It has been an exciting few years here, with the prospect of more to come! Development continues, with not only an extension to our original “Woodland Walk”, but the initial planting in phase 3. An infestation of Mare's Tail in the imported soil has rather put a stop to planting until we are sure it is under control. I am going to have to be more patient here. Larger trees and a shelter belt at the end have gone in first. If we are going to persuade Cornus, Acers and Magnolias to thrive in our cold, windy frost pocket, then they must have some shelter. This is obviously going to take time to look established, but they will be worth it. We had a dreadful winter here in 2003 - it was either frozen solid or waterlogged for a couple of months (lowest temperature of -12) followed by the summer drought - 8 weeks without rain at that time of year was ridiculous! The most devastating week, however came in early April when we had successive nights of -8, -7, -6 and another -6. Damage was done. So much for the mild West Country - don't ever worry that plants from here have had a cushy life! However, such is the challenge of gardening - we will win in the end! I'm avoiding any reference to this winter! We've had two spells of minus 8, but damage was minimal due to their brevity. However, recent mild weather has encouraged bud development to a worrying level. Indeed by late February, several plants were well into leaf, silly things. I'm sure that winter hasn't finished with us yet. One legacy of last summer was excellent flower set on the Magnolias, let's hope the frosts don't spoil them all.

The “Woodery” (variation on a rockery....) was an unbelievable sight last autumn with a multitude of Cyclamen, and we look forward to a repeat performance this year. Constructed around our new propagation tunnel, we have taken advantage of the change in levels to create an environment especially for the smaller Daphnes. Most of the smaller Daphnes seem happy there (despite it proving to be rather wetter than I had intended) so if you are a Daphneholic, May is usually the best time to see them. It is so useful to be able to view plants prior to making a decision - the descriptions in the catalogue are better than nothing of course, but it is always best to see the real thing. Plants are so subjective and the catalogue has become rather personal.....

Many of you have appreciated my new labelling system. Almost every plant on the stock and display beds now boasts a handsome new label, which should neither rot, fade, rust, blow away nor meet any other equally unpleasant fate! Labelling tends to detract from the plants themselves, but I think in this environment, it is totally essential. The odd one falls prey to the dog or my son's football, but they say it is the thought that counts!

Unfortunately, Rome was not built in a day so our further plans and aspirations will take time. I look forward to sharing them with you in the future.

Happy Gardening……..!

Karan Junker