April is the cruellest month, according to T S Eliot. Well, we don’t know about that, but it was certainly a busy one and, in some respects, a month of two halves. How so? Well, Easter was early this year, so it was merely the 4th of April when we rolled up at Somerley House near Ringwood for the first of three days of the customary Craft & Garden Show. And, unsurprisingly, cold grey and breezy was the order of the day. And of day two as well. The Easter Monday was sunny and a bit warmer, which encouraged more people to think about their gardens and to buy some plants to go in them, but all in all it was a modest three days for us.
After a disappointing three days at the All About Gardening show at Newbury showground last year, Rob had said never again, but what do you know, there was Rob turning up on Friday April 10th at Newbury showground for another bite at the cherry. A special rate for nurseries growing 100% of what they sold was what had tempted him back to give it another go. Day one was cloudy, warmish but very, very quiet. Day two raised spirits somewhat with decent sales despite a cool breeze. Day three brought things crashing down to earth, in some stallholders’ cases quite literally, as a strong cold wind wreaked havoc with gazebos and anything else in its path and dented the sales statistics more than somewhat. By this point T S Eliot was looking to be pretty accurate in his assessment …..
A relatively easy weekend followed, with just one day away from home, at the Farmers’ & Craft market in Andover on Sunday the 19th. This was a new one for us, but a welcome return to the charming centre of Andover in the square overlooked by the old Guildhall, where once upon a time we used to do the late lamented Test Valley in Bloom garden fair. And what a friendly little event it turned out to be. In three hours from 10 am to 1 pm we did rather better than on some of the preceding and more expensive days in the month and Rob was able to get back home in time to unload and then take off to make two deliveries in West Sussex. Now that seemed more like it.
The closing week of April saw Rob trek off solo down to Gloucestershire on Friday the 24th to attend one of the several fairs hosted by Mel Tanner in her beautiful gardens at the Coach House in Ampney Crucis. The weather was much kinder than last year: it was admittedly overcast, but the air was warm and spring-like, which encouraged the visitors to stock up on plants to an encouraging extent and make this the first really successful day sales-wise of the season. T S Eliot words were now looking less appropriate than they had done a week or so ago.
And the Sunday saw us returning to Barbury Racecourse, perched high up on the Marlborough downs and with magnificent views over the Wiltshire countryside, for the RDA Plant Fair. This time the horizontal rain was conspicuous by its absence and, though it was cool and grey, plenty of folk turned out and, more importantly, went home with lots of plants in the boots of their 4x4s. And so April closed on a high note and, with the really busy months of May and June yet to come, left us feeling pretty chipper about the prospects for the season. And T S Eliot back on the shelf.
Rob & Joanna – May 2015