It’s crystal ball time again and, daringly, we are going public earlier than usual in declaring our hand for next season. So the listing below is what we reckon we will have available in 2014. Some 42 plants disappear from the list and there are 73 newcomers, which is exciting, as some of them are really pretty special. Not everything will be immediately available and some plants may be offered in pot sizes other than the ones listed, but we hope you will find it an interesting list and that it whets your appetite for gardening in 2014.
Of the 73 newbies, some are actually returning to the fold after an absence, but they are welcome just the same. Over the coming dark winter months we intend to publish previews of the new plants here and on Facebook, just to keep ourselves, and hopefully you, cheerful in the gloomy days preceding spring. And who knows what kind of winter we are going to get, so we might need cheering up!
Rob & Joanna – November 2013
In our last post we wondered where August had gone. Well, further to that, where have the last two months gone? Where indeed. Around the time of writing the last post, on the weekend of 7th and 8th September to be precise, we had the last hurrah of the show season when we had a stand at the Dorset County Show. A big show, that one – the showground seemed around the size of a small town with all sorts of arenas and marquees and outside trading areas. Plus crowds to match. We were jammed up against the end of a horticultural marquee with a little less space than we are used to, so we had to make do with one tiered display rack fewer than normal. Although there were lots of visitors milling about, they weren’t buying plants by the vanload, but then at the onset of autumn most people start to lose interest in their gardens, despite it being the optimum time for planting many things. Still, lots of horticultural stuff to see, as this article confirms.
As the weather forecast just before the show wasn’t great, Rob took a vanload down on the Thursday then went down again on Friday to set up properly so that ended up making four day trips in a row to Dorchester and back. But we had fun, the weather stayed pretty good if a bit too breezy for our liking, and the atmosphere was great. We particularly remember Titan the Robot who liked to site his performance just in front of our stand – he can be glimpsed in this video of the Sunday at the show (and at greater length in the linked videos).
The other highlight was the Sheep Show which we observed at a distance three times a day and at least once at close hand. Now that was just terrific amusement with a bit of education thrown in for good measure, and we recommend it to anyone who has a chance to see it. Don’t miss the dancing sheep – yes, they really do dance! The New Zealander who presented the show was a busy man, as he also did a display involving dogs and ducks. And so ended the show season for 2013: we had thought about doing the Romsey Show but somehow never got round to doing anything about it. Maybe next year.
Since mid-September, although sales have continued through the website and visitors to the nursery, we have indeed been spending a lot of time on next year in various ways. Tidying up the plants and premises before winter sets in, getting the more tender specimens under cover, placing forward orders, doing lots of paperwork and computer work and, yes, organising next year’s events calendar. Looking forward to it already ….. Lastly, one more image from the Dorset County show in the form of this spectacular display of spiky things from Coach House Cacti. Nice.
Rob & Joanna – November 2013
Where indeed. It all seems a bit of a blur now. In fact only three weekends involved attending shows, and the nature of these is indicative of the shift of emphasis as the season wears on, with purely gardening events giving way to the country shows. First up was the Ellingham Show, back at Somerley Park, scene of the first event of the 2013 calendar but with rather balmier weather this time round. The very nice organisers placed our stand on the route in and out of the show, so all of the thousands of visitors had to pass by Paddock Plants at least twice. Rob was on his own on the day and was kept busy moving plants from display to storage behind the stand. Rob’s view of things looked rather like this:
And here is a small selection of the plants that moved from front of house to the waiting area on what was altogether a really good day.
Sticking with the country fair theme, our next stop was the Hamptworth Country Fayre, a rather smaller affair pretty close to home near Landford. Rob thought he would be clever and do a partial setup on the Saturday, erecting the display racks and tables and leaving most of the plants in trays. Poor misguided youth. It was with a mixture of embarrassment and gratitude that he took a phone call that evening from one of the organisers to say that they had erected temporary fencing around the stand and plants to prevent the deer dining on them, given our stand was next to their through route within the parkland and meadow! Many of the plants so rescued found new owners on the Sunday, but only thanks to the quick witted action of the organisers. Thank you! We were right next the attractive gardens that surround the house, a glimpse of which is provided below.
The Bank Holiday weekend saw us return to Kingston Lacy for the craft & garden fair held there over three days. Rather mixed days weather-wise, as it turned out, with Sunday in particular having its share of gusty winds and horizontal drizzle. But Monday was fine and warm, and most of the big bumble bees resident in Dorset came along to sample the nectar on our stand, taking a particular liking to the Agastache Red Fortune and the Clethra Hummingbird. And who could blame them?
And, with summer ending (according to Rob, anyway) on the 31st of August, the seasons moved on again …..
Rob & Joanna – September 2013
The heat continued through July and the three days we spent in the precincts of Loseley Park near Guildford were marked by that. So much so that the cool waters of the pond and fountain in the gardens of the house looked distinctly attractive.
Much the same story as at Parham House – nice fair in a lovely setting, but people content to look and admire rather than buy. We were perhaps a little compromised by being in a central aisle separate from most of the other nurseries and did not have as much passing trade as we might have done, but no-one seemed to be selling much, and the normal horticulturalist’s pessimism was as deep as we have known it amongst our colleagues. Oh well. Here is another glimpse of the gardens to cheer us all up.
To round off the month we had another three day weekend, Friday and Saturday in Fareham West Street market and Sunday at the Botley Park hotel summer charity fete. Fareham was fun and much more successful from a sales perspective than the previous weekends, though the shine was rather taken off it by our getting a parking ticket on the van in spite of displaying a permit. An informal appeal was bizarrely rejected, so a by now rather grumpy Rob came over all ‘disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’ and, by dint of copying in various high ranking borough officials on his carefully worded response, got the fine cancelled.
The hotel fete is best described as a quiet day, which it was rather expected to be, but Rob, who was flying solo, was brought up to date on the ins and outs of the regional ice cream turf wars, sandwiched as he was between two food traders if Italian extraction who, shall we say, shared some history.
Rob & Joanna – August 2013
The end of June and start of July saw us enjoy a little break from the relentless schedule of weekend events, though we suppose that we shouldn’t complain too much about spending our weekends in a variety of rather splendid country retreats. And as we enjoyed our idleness (well, that’s not strictly true) the summer arrived. And in some style, with temperatures soaring to the sort of levels that leave Rob wilting as badly as the more delicate plants. So we made sure we packed a big container and a couple of watering cans along with the plants when we set off for two days at Parham House in West Sussex who held their annual garden weekend on the 13th and 14th of July.
As the image above indicates, it was a lovely and rather genteel affair in the usual beautiful setting and we did rather enjoy the jazz band and other assorted entertainments, not to mention the excellent beer direct from the brewer. But it was pretty damn hot and heat is just as much a disincentive as is really cold weather when it comes to the public buying plants. So, although our plants attracted many admiring glances and positive comments, not enough were whisked off to new homes to make the event anything like a financial success from our perspective. Rob consoled himself by wandering round the acres of walled gardens in sunglasses and outback hat and would thoroughly recommend a visit to those who like a blowsy high summer perennial border of the classic kind. See a glimpse of this below.
And other one below. Isn’t it just great? All credit to Tom Brown, the remarkably youthful head gardener, and his team.
Sunday 23rd June saw us travelling down to the verdant depths of Dorset – to Waterston Manor, to be precise, the setting for last year’s very successful Dorset Gardens Trust event. This year’s do was an independent affair, organised in order to raise funds for TAINT, an organisation set up to campaign against the siting of a significant wind farm in the area. Although we were in the same delightful orchard area as last year, the arrangement of the stands was different such that we ended up with the longest, narrowest display we have ever set up, as in the photo below.
There was quite a lot going on other than plant sales, what with a dog show that attracted most of the canines in that part of Dorset, it seemed, no to mention the delights of the Anonymous Travelling Market which offered a range of interesting things to do, see or eat.
The only thing to complain about on an otherwise splendid day was our old friend and foe the weather which provided more ventilation than might have been deemed strictly necessary. Not to mention being what can only be described as cold at times (on went most people’s anoraks and woolly jumpers). Of course, come break down time, out came the warm sun – typical! Still, a lot of people enjoyed a day out and we imagine the organisers must have been pleased with the turnout. We were happy to return to such a lovely setting and look forward to next year’s DGT event at Herringstone.
Rob & Joanna – June 2013
This year we have been spreading our wings a bit and taking in more events than in past seasons in our continuing bid for world domination. One of the additions to our calendar was the Garden Show at Stansted, held in the splendid grounds of Stansted Park near Rowlands Castle. It’s a big event, spread over three days (7th to 9th June) with literally hundreds of exhibitors – not just nurseries, but all sorts of garden-related sundries, along with arts and crafts and a foodstuffs too. Despite a few thunderstorms rolling around on the first day and a pretty stiff breeze on all three days, thousands of visitors came through the gates and there was a real buzz about the whole event. Rather different to your average plant fair!
Average is not an epithet that can be applied to the event of the following weekend, the Unusual Plants Fair held at Gilbert White’s House in Selborne, now in its 21st year and something of a pioneer in the world of plant fairs. Held over two days, it’s always a well attended and interesting affair, with nurseries coming not just from Hampshire, but from Somerset, Hertfordshire, Kent and other far flung counties. And you really do find some pretty unusual plants there! An innovation this year was the award for best presented nursery stand: we were in the final shortlist of four but narrowly missed out on the final accolade, which deservedly went to Overbrooks. Still, it’s nice to be in the mix!
It’s that bank of trees visible in the background that we always remember from this event: it has an air of unreality about it, possibly because, as you see it from the leeward side, there is no visible movement among the leaves or branches.
Rob & Joanna – June 2013
We posted a few weeks ago about the retirement of the PP Plant Mobile – well, we say retirement, but in actual fact it is more like moving on to the next phase, as they say, since the dealer who bought her will invest in her so she can find a new home. In the time since then we have been touring Hampshire and adjacent counties in our new yellow peril, enjoying the benefits of sat-nav and air conditioning on the way to shows and the like.
But the Plant Mobile needed some new clothes, so Joanna contacted few sign companies for suggestions. With mixed results, it must be said, as some wanted money up front before they would even get their designer brains in gear and others promised ideas but then clearly got graphic designer’s block or whatever the relevant condition is called. Of those who offered ideas, James of Camfree-signs was by some way the most imaginative and interesting, not to mention pretty competitive price-wise, so his was the winning design and the one that we took further.
Within a few days of agreeing the deal, the graphics were ready and Rob took the van across Southampton for her extreme makeover. 24 hours later it was complete and Rob drove our new advertising hoarding back along the M27, feeling very smug as he cruised past unmarked white vans and other vehicular riff raff. The graphics look great, and we are very grateful to James for his great design and speedy service. The Plant Mobile certainly won’t be difficult to spot in her new livery!
Rob & Joanna – May 2013
Yes, it was back up the A36 again on Sunday 19th May to attend the Rowdeford Garden fair, which helps support the work of Rowdeford School which caters for children with special needs. It’s a busy little event, as a look at the web page will prove, with quite a few nurseries in attendance along with various other types of stall. And all held in the delightful surroundings of the house and gardens: we were in the walled orchard, which was as nice as it sounds.
The weather treated us pretty kindly despite some rather forbidding forecasts in the run up to the event and it was a warmish day with some sunshine early on and no rain – though it did rain back home near Southampton! Although it felt busy initially, the crowds rather fell away as the day wore on and, disappointingly for the organisers, attendance fell some way short of past years. Apparently another local attraction had put on a major event on the same day which reduced the numbers attending the garden fair. Let’s hope they can work something out for next year to avoid the clash.
Nonetheless we had a good day out in Wiltshire again, enjoying passing through lovely villages and the quintessentially English market town of Devizes. And we sold some plants too.
Rob & Joanna – May 2013
Or, to look at it another way, 4 in 8. Shows in days, that is. It has been a busy last week or so on the events front, starting on Sunday 5th May with one of our favourites, the St John Garden Fair held for the tenth time in all but the second at the current venue of Wintershill Hall near Durley, here in Hampshire. Better weather than last year, when it was freezing cold and too boggy underfoot to bring vans on site, and this time we sold pretty much all of the two full vanloads of plants that we brought. The better weather certainly brought the crowds out and encouraged them to linger, so it was pleasingly busy all day.
Having recovered from that big day, on Thursday 9th May Rob sallied forth on his own to the wonderfully named Farleigh Wallop to attend another charitable event, the WOW Garden & Gift Fair held in and around the barns of the home farm. The key feature of the day was the wind which was strong enough to lift plants off the tables and encourage them to explore the joys of flying. The snag is, they did tend to come down with a bump. But at least plants generally don’t shatter, as was unfortunately the case of some of the gift items on other stalls that also did an Icarus.
Fareham was the destination on Saturday 11th May, when the West Street pedestrianised area played host to the first of two gardeners’ markets – we are elsewhere when the second one takes place in June. Lots of people were about, and quite a few gardeners amongst them, as we had a good day and found new homes for a lot of plants. As usual, we were next the bandstand and had a front seat at the entertainment, which this year was not the Irish folk band of recent times but an amateur pop and rock choir who belted out the hits to the appreciation of the crowds.
A reloaded van and a night’s sleep later it was off into Wiltshire to attend the Rare Plants Fair at Sharcott Manor near Pewsey. The exposed site did rather allow the wind to be the dominant element again, though the rain did have a good go at upstaging it in the afternoon. Despite that, there was a strong turnout, with cars queuing down the narrow access lane mid-morning, and we had a good day of sales and chatting to keen plantspeople. The gardens and grounds of the manor house were lovely, providing some fine examples of the cultivated meeting the natural, and being home to a group of pretty little oriental ducks, some of whom can be seen in the photo above.
Thankfully this coming weekend sees a single outing, to the Rowdeford garden fair, but after that things hot up again …..