ROY'S 2015 BLOG
Roy has been an avid gardener for more than 50 years with a particular bent for propagation mainly from seed or cuttings. He is a member of the RHS and The Hardy Plant Society (of which he is also a trustee, and chairman of the Somerset Group). He raises plants for sale at HPS plant sales and at Country Markets in Cheddar and Wrington and is careful to offer for sale only plants that reach professional standards of health and presentation. "If I wouldn't buy it in a nursery or garden centre, I won't sell it to anyone else". He has many contacts with some of the best independent specialist nurseries in the south west and has an eye for plants that are unusual and have a WOW factor, though he also offers well-known plants that are tried and tested ie they are well known because they are good! His long experience and plant knowledge enables him to offer sound advice on how to get the best from your plants.
POSTED 7TH JULY 2015
Calling all fashionistas (and others!) Dahlias are back in fashion and now is the perfect time to plant them, so it’s the ‘must have’ plant of the moment.
I have a considerable stock of really sturdy plants in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours. The accompanying pictures are purely illustrative and apart from those shown there are many other varieties. They are hungry so they like a good rich diet and plenty of moisture. But they are also generous - keep picking as cut flowers and they’ll reward you until they are cut down by frost.
Although they are all named varieties, they are not posh exhibition types, just good, reliable garden plants. Go on …….. give them a go.
POSTED 4th MAY 2015
Well, my trailer was jam-packed and so was my car. It was a lot of plants! I had a lot of help from so many people to get them all into the hall and set up as you see them in the pictures. I thought it looked pretty good and judging by the people who, almost from opening time, crowded around the tables, they too thought it looked inviting. We are now seeing people who have bought in previous years and who come back with high expectations. One lady today spent £75.00 – a record for a single purchase. I’ll be presenting a cheque to the Treasurer at our rehearsal on Tuesday, and all I’ll say for now is that we have done pretty well.
There may have been some reservations about holding the sale on a Bank Holiday, but in fact it may well have worked to our advantage and perhaps we should bear that in mind for the future. And do let us know whether the blog has been worthwhile. It has been fun to do it, but the acid test is whether it has influenced people to come and buy.
So here we are with some images of before and after. Last year I reckoned we were selling plants at a rate of £2.33 per minute. This year it was £3.10 per minute. I’m not sure I’ll have the stamina to hit an even higher rate!
Thanks to everyone who spontaneously humped boxes and tables – and bought plants, and a special thank you to Suzie for looking after the web-feed. It really did feel like a team effort.
Roy's award winning Sweet Peas - well done Roy!
Selection of photos from the Spring Fayre
POSTED 28TH APRIL 2015
The roadside posters are out! I hope they will attract plenty of attention. We are on the last lap. I’ve just had a successful plant sale in Taunton, but don’t worry, there are still plenty of plants left for next Saturday. So remind all your friends, bring them along and come yourself. Arouse your curiosity and try something you haven’t come across before. That is what makes gardening so rewarding. Presales have been good and with a hang-over of late sales from last year we start with just over £80 in the Trinity Singers box.
I want particularly to draw attention to Gladiolus cardinalis. This is a spectacular southern hemisphere plant (see picture) It is known as the waterfall gladiolus, which suggests a moist soil during the growing period and it also explains why new shoots are apt to emerge from the soil at 45 degrees. I have large pots absolutely stuffed with new growths at only £4.00. On those rare occasions that it is offered for sale by specialist suppliers you might get just one bulb for that price. I provide some printed cultural advice with every purchase.
Consider also Aconitum commarum Grandiflorum Album. Don’t be put off by the name, it is simply a white flowered form of Aconite or Monkshood. Growing to 3 feet the spires of flowers send out subsidiary flower stems lower down as those on the central stem begin to fade. So it gives a good long flowering period from mid-summer. It is a rugged plant that seems to thrive in most conditions.
At a less exotic level the Sweet Pea plants this year are super: each pot contains a mix of three different named varieties, and armed with my little cultural guidance note you’ll be set up for a summer of scented cut flowers with good long stems. Only £2.00 a pot.
If you fancy something edible, then apart from the usual tomatoes I have a few strong brassica plants at only 60p. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Romanesco (a rather distinct type of Broccoli) and early pointy cabbages. Mundane perhaps, but nothing can beat freshly picked home grown vegetables.
Come and let me prove to you that there is something for everyone.
2. Aconitum commarum Grandiflorum Album.
POSTED 20TH APRIL 2015
Things are hotting up! Just less than 2 weeks now to the sale on 2 May and I’m still potting up plants in the hope that they’ll get enough of their root systems established for me to be able to sell them. It’ll be a close run thing.
I’m hopeful, however, for a lovely batch of Morning Glory. This is an annual climber, usually blue flowers in an open trumpet shape (just like convolvulus to which it is related but far better behaved) which open in the morning and fade as the sun goes down. It needs a light framework of support to about 5 or 6ft around which it can twine and is perfectly happy grown in a largish pot in a sunny spot. I shall be offering two colours, one a very clear pink and the other an intense purple/black. No flower is truly black, though the Viola Molly Sanderson is about the closest, but this is nevertheless pretty close and a really striking colour. The two colours would set each other off very nicely, so why not have them both?
Tulips have come into flower more or less on cue, but because of the hot dry weather the flowers are going over unusually quickly. The heat will also hasten the flowering of the later varieties that are still to come. I have pots of an attractive dwarf form – only about 6” high which is good in containers or on a rockery or front of a small border. The flowers are in tight bud right now and will open fast. They are a very soft creamy yellow with an apricot coloured vertical blaze on the outside of each petal. Three in a pot for £3.00, rejoicing in the name Honky Tonk. Use the link before Tuesday afternoon and I can bring them to rehearsal in time for you to get the full benefit of the flowers.
POSTED 14TH APRIL 2015
It has been a slow cold Spring and I was starting to worry about what plants would be available for the sale. Plants I had wanted to propagate were not ready and time was running out for them to be established sufficiently to be able to sell them. For some of them we have indeed run out of time, though a few may be propagated in the Autumn and therefore provide plants for next year. (Now there’s a hostage to fortune!) But the last week or so has seen a sudden surge in temperature and now the priority is rushing around with water to avoid damage to the young plants through drying out. I am still concerned that the volume may not be what I would like, but we can only work with what we have.
The tomatoes for the greenhouse/tunnel are fantastic right now and desperately need to be moved on. Please don’t wait until May, by which time they’ll have been in their little pots for too long. The choice is considerable: standard medium fruited red (the archetype tomato), little cherry tomatoes either yellow or red, both with fantastic flavour, large fruited or beefsteak types (great for roasting or for other culinary purposes), or the strange cylindrical Jersey Devil 4” or 5” long and about an inch and a half at the shoulder, good sliced in salads or cooked. Use the link now and I can get your plants to you for the ensuing rehearsal. Or if you are so minded, pop up and collect them. Just let me know when you want to come.
Sweet peas too are looking good with 3 strong, named varieties in a pot at £2.00, ready now to be planted in the garden. There is a little guidance note suggesting how to get the best from them and give you scented bouquets all the summer.
Finally, how about this little gem? (see picture 1) Another woodland plant, no more than 6” tall and forming a rug (not quite a carpet!) A little slow to expand but well worth the wait. Anemone ranunculoides var witrociana. The name is quite a mouthful but in essence it means the anemone that looks like a buttercup and you can see exactly why it is so called. Be quick if you want it. I’ve only got about 3 pots available and they will sell very quickly. Just £3.00 per pot.
1. Anemone ranunculoides var witrociana
POSTED 31ST MARCH 2015
There are still plants available of the stunning Corydalis Beth Evans which featured in my last blog: all in flower and looking lovely – if a bit smaller than in the picture! Just £2.00 for a small pot and £3.00 for a larger one. Similarly there are just a few of the Erythronium Kondo, so get in touch quickly if you want to enjoy this gorgeous plant. Even if you are not interested yourself, you can still tell your friends who like their gardens, about these things. I don’t mind who I sell them to if it benefits the choir!
Just coming into flower is another bulb, known popularly as the Spring Snowflake – not to be confused with Snowdrops which are now well and truly over. Leucojum vernalis Gravetye is a vigorous bulb that grows like a daffodil in terms of height and broad fleshy leaves, but the flowers (3 or 4 to a stem) are white, bell-shaped but with green spots on the pointed tips of the outward-curling petals. It is tolerant of varying positions but seems to thrive particularly in part shade in soil that doesn’t dry out too much. It will always attract attention and makes a nice change from both snowdrops and narcissi. Hurry! There are only a very few pots this year at £3.75.
Last time I mentioned the perennial wallflower, Erysimum Baden Powell. There are about half-a-dozen of these hardy perennials, including the well-known Bowles Mauve and the rather older Constant Cheer which I also grow. Baden Powell is an upright (as you would expect from the name!) grower with mid-yellow flowers opening at around this time of the year and carrying on for 2 or 3 months, so it will associate well with tulips as well as mixing with other bulbs or early herbaceous plants. I can offer plants of this at £3.00. Whereas the familiar wallflowers are grown from seed, these perennial types all have to be propagated by cuttings.
The main purpose of these news items is to alert you to plants that are available now and you don’t have to wait to 2 May to get them. Those of you who grow tomatoes in a greenhouse or tunnel will certainly appreciate the chance to get moving early to get earlier crops. Plants this year are £1.50 each. For a standard medium size tomato of good flavour Shirley takes some beating, then there are the cherry tomatoes, Sun Cherry (red) and Golden Cherry (yellow, and amazing flavour). If you want larger fruits for puree or tomato reduction (yummy breakfast) there is Jersey Devil about 4” long and cylindrical looking rather like a red pepper, or Brandywine which is best grown as a bush (ie don’t remove the side shoots). It will still need support to keep the fruiting branches off the ground, but is an excellent culinary type with very few seeds. More conventional beefsteak type is Country Taste with large round, red fruits. All of these are available now – and I promise you they are far better plants than I have been seeing in garden centres. So use the link now to place your order.
POSTED 20TH MARCH 2015
It’s a busy time just now – lifting, dividing and potting plants from the garden, seed sowing, taking cuttings and potting on. I recently bought 10 large bags of a new compost which I hope is going to be really good, and 7 have been used already! But it is good to see the plant stock growing (in both senses of the word) and to see the potential for the sale on 2 May. But you don’t have to wait until then because some plants will reach their peak much earlier. Indeed some spring flowering bulbs are already good and I particularly like Corydalis Beth Evans (photo 1). This is originally a woodland plant so it likes a ‘woodsy’ soil, ie one with plenty of humus, in part shade. It will grow well under deciduous trees since it is dormant during the summer when the tree canopy is densest but will get rain when the tree is bare and when the plant begins its growth cycle. But it will thrive in a variety of positions provided it is not baked in full sun or in poor, thin soil. Pots of this plant are now in flower, slightly larger ones at £3.00 and smaller ones at £2.00. Order now by following the contact link from this page, and I will bring your plants to our next rehearsal/meeting.
Erythroniums are also woodlanders and like the same conditions. I have one called Kondo (photo 2.) which has yellow flowers with beautifully reflexed petals and protruberant stamens. The leaves are glossy and slightly mottled. The plant forms dense clumps over 2 or 3 years and is a very desirable addition to the spring garden. I have pots of these at prices varying from £2.00 to £4.00 depending on how many growths are in the pot. Again you can order using the contact link.
Next time I’ll be talking about a hardy perennial Wallflower called Baden Powell – which rather dates it! This one is not often available.
1. Erysimum Baden Powell
2. Leucojum vernalis Gravetye
1. Corydalis Beth Evans
2. Erythronium Kondo
POSTED 9TH MARCH 2015
Many of the plants you will certainly not find in garden centres and they are grown to nursery standards. Vegetable as well as flowering plants will be available. Seven different varieties of tomato for the greenhouse will be there and four or five for growing outside. For the patio some choice and unusual plants, mostly perennial but tender, will be available and more information on these will follow in later blogs. Many different herbaceous perennials will tempt you, and there may even be a few early season plants available before the sale on 2 May, so make a point of signing in regularly to keep up to date with what will be on offer.