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 …..
Well, it had to happen. After quite a few years’ faithful service, the Paddock Plants van has been replaced by a rather more youthful pretender. Charming though she is, the dear old Plant Mobile had become just rather too unreliable to carry on. Wondering whether the van will start of a morning rather takes the edge off the excitement of setting off for a show.
And the list of advisory notes plus the cost of getting her through the last MOT rather clinched it and we set off on the hunt for a replacement. In our innocence we hadn’t realised just how rare the extra high roof (H3 in technical parlance) is in the big wide world of vans. Hens’ teeth is the most apt metaphor for the circumstance.
We toyed for a while with the idea of an Iveco Daily with the extra long wheelbase but, despite the best efforts of the very helpful Matt of Economy Vehicles in Bournemouth, nothing really suitable could be unearthed across the UK. After some re-evaluation we decided that a van like our existing one, ie a Renault Master long wheelbase plus extra high roof was the best fit for our needs after all, but they too were very much in the domestic poultry dental category.
However, after some dedicated trawling of Autotrader and related sites, we found just what we were after – 15 months old, 40k on the clock and in immaculate condition. And all the bells and whistles to boot in the form of air con, sat nav and the like. So, a couple of phone calls and a bit of debit card action later, we had her delivered on Tuesday and today (Sunday) we moved all the racks and stuff from the old Plant Mobile into the new one. Because the good news is we have found a buyer for the old van and she is being picked up tomorrow.
All that remains is to arrange the transfer of the TAZ number plate and to sort out graphics for the new van. But in the meantime we can still enjoy satnavving our way around Hampshire in air conditioned comfort.
Rob & Joanna – April 2013
Well, once again updates have been thin on the ground recently but we promise we will try to do better this year. We are now well into 2013 and no-one needs reminding how cold and miserable a year it has been pretty much so far. So we won’t remind you, just look forward hopefully into a warm and sunny future. We are way behind on the potting up, though ….. sorry, that probably counts as reminding. No more, honest. The show season has got underway despite … sorry …. and we have ventured out twice so far in 2013. Over Easter we spent three days in our thermals at the Craft & Garden Fair at Somerley Park near Ringwood, as we usually do. It was undeniably pretty Arctic, with the Sunday being the closest to anything that might attract a vaguely favourable comment. That’s the snag with early Easters, and we will just have to put it down to experience.
Then on the 14th April, the first decent day of the spring so far (oops, there we go again), we navigated up the A31 to Birtley House near Guildford to set up our stall at the Rare Plants Fair being held there. That’s a slightly less than Snowdonesque photo of our wares above. Now that was much more like it. Breezy (enough to uproot a gazebo or two – we were wise and didn’t put ours up) but otherwise sufficiently sunny and spring-like to put the thought of gardening into peoples’ minds. So we had a very busy couple of hours from 11 to 1 then a quieter afternoon during which we could savour the delights of the really rather beautiful setting and be amused by the antics of the Canada geese around the nearby lake.
Since then we have been madly potting up but in a few days’ time will have to get ourselves ready for the St John charity plant fair at Wintershill House near Durley on May 5th. After that the whole show thing really takes off which is how we like it. Hope to see you at at least one of the up and coming events!
Rob & Joanna – April 2013
It is in the cold dark days of January that things like updating websites are done. And quite a few cold dark days and nights it takes, too. The listings on the Paddock Plants website are from being complete or up to date (we will soon be starting to panic …..) but we have at least got one big thing out of the way in performing an upgrade to the behind the scene mechanics of the site.
Rob having got his fingers burned once before with this sort of thing, we called on the services of a friendly local tech guy to help us out. A bit of midnight oil was burned in the process and there were the usual technical wrinkles to be ironed out, but as of this morning all seems to be in good working order. Most of the changes lie behind the scenes, in the ‘back office’ as it is called, but the view the world has of our website has altered a bit, too, and probably for the better. Joanna is not entirely convinced that she is won over by the very clean nature of the theme, with its swathes of white background, but let’s see if time mellows that opinion. Now that that bit’s done, it’s back to updating the listings. Put the kettle on, I think.
Rob & Joanna – January 2013
Well, it’s that difficult time again when we try to predict what will be available in the coming season. We’ve already had to do it once already in submitting a listing for the RHS Plant Finder and, since doing that in November, already there are changes! Anyhow, our best guess is shown below with around 60 plants new for 2013.
Which new plant are we mose excited about? An impossible and unfair question, because we love them all equally dearly. So let’s focus instead on Coreopsis Sterntaler, which has the distinction of being the only plant that has featured in our list every single year since Paddock Plants began a decade ago. We will celebrate that by offering Sterntaler at a special anniversary price of £1.50, along with a few other old friends from 10 years ago, which we are growing again to mark the occasion.
Rob & Joanna – January 2013
Well, it’s the first day of the new year, 2013, and shocking to realise that the last post here was pretty much six months ago. Cue new year’s resolution number one – update a bit more frequently. Better do something interesting then.
Well, we suppose that one of the more interesting things we do is attend garden fairs and shows: Rob does get rather excited about that, bless him. The peak season for these is May and June. Not the best of weather during that period in 2012, but the sun did appear occasionally, as is proved by the picture above of our wares on display at the Unusual Plants Fair at Gilbert White’s House taken on June 9th. It was pretty bleak a lot of the time, however, and takings were down at most events by around 20% on 2011. A happy exception was the biennial Dorset Gardens Trust’s event, held this year in the splendid surroundings of Waterston Manor on July 1st. The sun shone, Dorset’s gardening fanatics turned out in their thousands and we happy stallholders all pretty much sold out. Can’t say better than that. We were ensconced in a rather idyllic orchard area (see photos below) where we spent a very pleasant day selling plants and eating ice creams.
And so what of the future? Well, a pretty busy future indeed is planned, and for 2013, when Paddock Plants will be celebrating ten years of bring affordable plants to the the population of Hampshire and beyond, Rob is plotting a calendar so densely filled with events that life between Easter and October could turn out to be little more than looking out plants for the weekend, setting up stall in some stately home or other, getting over that, then looking out plants for the next one. Still, at least that should keep us out of the devil’s proverbial clutches.
The show listing on the website should get updated in line with all of this before too long. All we need then is a bit of good weather. Here’s hoping!
Rob & Joanna – January 2013
A very cold Sunday 6th May saw the annual St John Garden Fair held for the first time at Wintershill Hall, near Durley after many years of being amongst the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace at Bishop’s Waltham. This being a local event and one at which we usually sell a lot of plants, we take two van loads, one on the Saturday afternoon and another on the morning of the fair. The snag this year was that the wet weather through April meant that the ground was pretty damp and the owners very reasonably didn’t want their grass churned up, so vans were banned. Suffice it to say that Tristan and Rob had plenty of opportunities to flex their muscles as they carried stands, tables and tray upon heavy tray of plants from the van to our pitch. And a long and picturesque walk it was too!
The day of the fair proved to be very very cold for early May, Whether it was just that, or that combined with the change of venue, we don’t know, but footfall seemed definitely down on previous years, and this was echoed in a reduction in the number of plants sold on the day. That said, it was a lovely event as always, with lots of nice people to meet and talk to.
And one very special surprise – this year Paddock Plants took the prize for the best-presented plant stall! Andy McIndoe, Managing Director of Hilliers, who judged the award, put it down to our showing an interesting range of plant material, beautifully presented and well labelled. All of which is pretty ironic in view of the fact that Rob had been going round after setting up boasting about how little thought he put into the process compared to colleagues from other nurseries. But talent will out, we suppose ……
Luckily there was a lot less to carry off the site than there had been to carry on, but nevertheless the arms gained a few more millimetres in length. Let’s hope conditions are drier next year, when we will enjoy the benefit of a free pitch, thanks to our win this year.
Rob & Joanna – June 2012
A couple of years ago we were contacted by an alpines enthusiast who asked if we could identify a black-flowered Pulsatilla that had come into his possession. We can’t remember the precise details now, but the background led us to believe the plant in question was Pulsatilla rubra ssp hispanica, a native of the Pyrenees. The gentleman in question was later kind enough to bring us, when he passed through the Southampton area, 3 seedlings of said plant.
Sadly, we lost one of these, but the remaining two plants grew on strongly in one of our greenhouses. A little while back, we noticed that one of them had produced two buds, and since then we have been observing them with increasing levels of excitement as the flowers prepared to open. And today was the day when the flowers opened fully to reveal their true splendour, with petals dark as a starless midnight. They are, it has to be said, absolutely stunning, an opinion that seemed to be echoed by those nice people on Twitter, when we shared our little beauty there.
The next step, we suppose, is to find a way of increasing our rather meagre stock of these lovely little plants, whether that be by seed or by root cuttings. We will have a think about that once we have got over the thrill of seeing our little plant produce flowers of such intense loveliness.
Rob & Joanna – April 2012.
We have certainly experienced some extremes in terms of weather over the past month or two. Already those sweltering March days when we enjoyed temperatures of 20 plus degrees seem but a distant memory, as we look up to cold grey skies and dodge the heavy rain showers.
Some days ago we had epic thunderstorms that hurled down icy hailstones from the heavens and left the ground looking just as if it had snowed. All very exciting. But what was even more remarkable was the effect on a lot of our plants. We noticed markings on the leaves just as if they had been scratched by an army of plant-hating cats, then after a couple of days cracks developed in the leaves along the lines so created.
A wide range of plants were affected by the hailstorm, but the poor Abutilon Vitifolium, with their large and not especially tough leaves, seem to have come off worst (see photo for the evidence!). They will need some TLC and better weather to get back to their full splendour, poor things.
And other plants less dramatically affected will bear the scars for a while, we suppose. Oh well. All part of the rich and diverse experience of growing plants in the British climate.
Rob & Joanna – April 2012.