The Nursery News
Keeping you up to date with the latest news of what is happening on the nursery, announcements, etc.
7 August 2021
Due to personal circumstances we have suspended all sales of plants until further notice.
Our situation hasn't improved at all. The treatment of Nicola's leg is still ongoing - in fact, she is no further forward than she was a few weeks ago. We had two visits to hospital this week, another course of antibiotics and a different treatment in an attempt to get her skin graft/wound to heal. She has still to rest with her leg elevated, walking for essential trips only, no driving and definitely no standing. Nicola is signed off work until the end of August (that will be 8 weeks in total) but that will certainly be extended. We were told originally that Nicola would be back to work after about 3 weeks but, well, things happen.
As you will appreciate, this has totally messed up our growing season when we should be producing plants for next year. I am doing what I can but in all honesty, all I can manage most weeks is simply looking after the plants I have been able to grow and pot whatever cuttings we had ready. That has mostly been Sempervivums that were propagated last year. At least we will have a good range of Sempervivum to sell but I have grown hardly any alpines.
I'm hopeful we will be able to start sending plants out again next month but I can't honestly say for certain.
4 July 2021
Nicola had some relatively minor surgery recently (removal of a suspect mole) and I'm afraid things haven't gone too well. She is okay, her mole was 'only' pre-cancerous, but her treatment and resulting skin graft hasn't gone as well as we all hoped it would - she is now signed off for 3 weeks with probably further time off to follow. She has to keep her leg rested, foot up, only minimal walking and no driving. This is all harder than it sounds, especially for someone like Nicola who is always on the go. She will be fine eventually but her full recovery is likely to take several weeks.
My mother - who we very nearly lost 3 weeks ago - is back home recuperating and doing well, but she does need more attention and help with everyday things. Mum lives half an hour away and hospital for Nicola is half an hour in the opposite direction - it's a long time since I used a full tank of petrol in a week!
Most days I am only able to do the essentials on the nursery. This time of year should be our busiest for getting plants propagated and potted for next year but that just can't happen. Many people, even regular customers, don't realise that we only work by ourselves - we have no staff and no helpers. To be honest, our present predicament doesn't concern us greatly but we would like to be able to grow and sell plants. It's unfortunate that we can't at the moment but you'll appreciate that our priorities are elsewhere.
I shall post any further news here. In the meantime, enjoy your summer and make the most of our relative freedom.
14 June 2021
Our next day for accepting orders will now be Thursday 8th July.
As well as our own planned hospital visits we now have a parent who was rushed to hospital with a burst stomach ulcer. Until we know what will happen we must suspend taking orders.
10 June 2021
Our next day for accepting orders will Thursday 17th June at 9.00am.
Orders received 17th June will be dispatched the following Monday/Tuesday.
Thereafter, our next day for taking orders won't be until Thursday 8th July.
We have a few hospital visits to attend followed by a period of enforced idleness - nothing very major but it neccessitates time off. We'll update here if anything changes.
Ordering plants, spring/summer 2021.
Here is how we intend to operate over the coming weeks or until further notice.
We will open our online shop each Thursday morning and 'close' by hiding the the 'Add to Basket' button once we reach as many orders as we can handle. These orders will be delivered the following week as we usually do. We work week to week in the same manner.
We do not accept pre-orders for anything - everyone has the same opportunity to buy and you can only buy when the plants are made available.
We will also be be limiting orders to a maximum of 32 plants (per order per week) as we did last year. This allows us to offer our service more widely but it also speeds up our packing process. Last spring, some people persistently tried to circumvent this. We reserve the right to refuse and refund any order without notice.
We have a huge stock of plants to get through, many more than this time last year, so we hope to be able to meet demand - if we can work efficiently.
A few tips for ordering.
Have your list of plants to hand ready for the 9.00am opening. You may view the plants we have at any time.
- When our shop opens at 9.00am each Thursday, refresh your browser - if you don't know, it's typically the little circular arrow to the top left of your screen but it can vary. We open at 9.00am sharp and demand some weeks means we can only accept orders for a short time.
- Don't rush through the checkout/payment pages - your details need to be entered accurately, most especially your email address.
- If your order is processed and payment accepted, you must receive a confirmation of your order by email - no confirmation, no order! This is standard online buying practice but payments can and do fail for various reasons, compliance and technical. It may appear you have placed an order - you will even have an order number - but until the payment processes, your order isn't final. We only know of orders once payment is accepted by Nochex and it will happen that someone will be mid-transaction when we need to close the shop.
We don't like operating this way but it's essential we maintain control of what we do. The alternative would be a huge pile of orders, you waiting weeks for delivery, plants becoming unavailable meaning refunds and so forth. At least with the way we now work we can offer what we hope is a good service to those who are successful in placing an order. If only things could go back to how they were ..... a phrase we have all uttered or thought of in the past year, I'm sure.
20 May 2021
Our next day for accepting orders will be Thursday 3rd June at 9.00am.
We have decided this year to not send out plants in the week following the Bank Holiday Monday. We are always busy after a holiday Monday and losing a day for dispatches really concentrates our workload. So this year we're taking a short break from selling and it will allow us to catch up with much needed jobs around the nursery.
Orders received on 3rd June will be dispatched the following Monday/Tuesday as usual.
11 March 2021
Our next day for accepting orders will be Thursday 18th March at 9.00am.
Orders received will be dispatched the following Monday/Tuesday.
2 March 2021
Our next day for accepting orders will be Thursday 11th March at 9.00am.
Our online shop did open yesterday as planned but only for a relatively short time in each case, such was the rush of orders. We have taken a massive load of orders and we are working our way through them for dispatch next week. We can fully appreciate that some customers have been disappointed and unable to place an order but please understand that we are working at our absolute limit.
Orders received from Thursday 11th will be dispatched the following Monday/Tuesday in our normal routine with a fall back of Wednesday dispatches if needed. Our previous update (23rd February) explains our current method for ordering.
23 February 2021
Ordering plants, spring 2021.
Here is how we intend to operate over the coming weeks or until further notice.
We will open our online shop to new orders on Monday 1st March. The first opening will be at 9.00am and we will probably close once we reach our halfway target. . To allow wider access, we have a second opening at 8.00pm. Depending on demand we may repeat this on subsequent days, it's impossible to predict how busy we might be. All orders received at this time will be prepared for delivery the following week, Monday 8th - Wednesday10th.
Thereafter, commencing Thursday 11th March we will open our online shop each Thursday and close once we reach as many orders as we can deal with for delivery the following week, as we usually do.
We will also be be limiting orders to a maximum of 32 plants as we did last year. This allows us to offer our service more widely but it also speeds up our packing process. Last spring, some people persistently tried to circumvent this. We reserve the right to refuse and refund any order without notice.
We have a huge stock of plants to get through, many more than this time last year, so we hope to be able to meet demand if we can work efficiently.
A few tips for ordering.
Have your list of plants to hand. You may view the plants we have before the shop opens.
When our shop opens at 9.00am each Thursday, refresh your browser - if you don't know, it's typically the little circular arrow to the top left of your screen but it can vary. We open at 9.00 sharp and demand is such that we may close in as little as half an hour.
Don't rush through the checkout/payment pages - your details need to be entered accurately, most especially your email address.
If your order is processed and payment accepted, you must receive a confirmation of your order by email - no confirmation, no order! This is all fairly standard online buying practice but payments can fail for various reasons, compliance and technical. It may appear you have placed an order - you will even have an order number - but until the payment processes, your order isn't final. We only know of orders once payment is accepted by Nochex and it will happen that someone will be mid-transaction when we need to close the shop.
We don't like operating this way but it's essential we maintain control of what we do. The alternative would be a huge pile of orders, waiting weeks for delivery, plants ordered but becoming unavailable and so forth. At least with the way we now work we can offer what we hope is an excellent service to those who are successful in placing an order. If only things could go back to how they were ..... a phrase we have all uttered or thought of in the past year, I'm sure.
On which note, I get my Covid vaccination tomorrow!
26 January 2021
Delayed opening. We were hoping to start taking orders again soon but the weather and circumstances have been against us. We have a couple of major projects we would have liked to finish before we enter the period of 'spring madness' with orders but we have got virtually nothing done this month. We are still covered with snow and everything is hard frozen. The longer term forecast doesn't look too promising either so we have made the decision to reopen on Monday 1st March. Provisionally, weather allowing as always.
We anticipate we will be very busy - our delayed start, Covid19 restrictions and high seasonal demand - so we will again be working to a very strict routine. We open our online shop and close immediately the moment we reach a limit of orders. Last spring that meant we were only receiving orders for perhaps 30 minutes each week. It's not an ideal method of working but it does allow us to give a prompt, reliable service to those customers who are successful in placing an order.
3 January 2021
Happy New Year! I wonder what 2021 will bring? Last year brought its own challenges and I'm sure this year will be testing for us all - it certainly looks that way at the time of writing. We have at least some prospect of optimism with two Covid 19 vaccines but I'm not expecting a quick return to any sort of 'normal' before the summer. This coincides with our busiest time of year when we are always near our limits anyway, but at least we have the experience of last year to draw upon.
One thing we are both determined about is that we won't be working such long hours. Neither of us shirks from hard work and the long hours of spring and summer come with the job, but there has to be a limit. We intend operating on a very strict ordering basis, much as we did last year, by opening our online shop then closing as soon as we reach our limit of orders. It's irksome having to work like this and people do get disappointed, but what we are aiming to do is provide a high quality of product and service to those who do place an order. We simply will not take orders for plants we do not have nor will we make customers wait weeks for delivery.
Just now, and for the forseeable future, I guess, garden centres are officially unable to trade due to lockdown, at least here in Scotland. If England and Wales adopt the same rules it will drive customers online, much as it did last spring.
We had hoped to re-open our online shop early in January but the weather has been unfavourable - we have barely been above freezing recently, we have 4" of snow lying and everything is frozen solid. It's actually good weather for our plants (at this time of year) as the cold, dry and bright conditions keep them very well. But it does prohibit us from moving plants so sending out orders is impossible. It's better to wait, so we are now predicting late January before we restart although February might not be any better. It's winter!
Most of our range of alpine plants will be ready from February onwards or whenever we are able to send out plants.
Sempervivum will probably be into March. They are sitting under cover, but frozen, and we expect they will be very good when they are ready. We have increased our numbers greatly to meet demand and we'll offering many new varieties. We sourced plants from Germany last year while we could and it looks like the Brexit deal we now have will make it uneconomic for us and our suppliers in Germany to continue our trade. At our levels of trade (a few dozen plants at relatively low value) the costs of compliance will make trade unattractive. Or that is how it looks at the moment - it may change. And as was always the case, new varieties seem to make their way here, perhaps via amateur growers and those visiting Europe who might be willing to ignore or be unaware of these new regulations..... but not us. Anyway, we have a few hundred varieties here already, so plenty for now.
Helianthemums will probably be April. We were late in propagating last summer (cold and wet, remember!) and we were also forced into a change of fertilser for our compost as we were unable to source our usual blend. This has resulted in small plants, too small to sell, but being hard and bushy they look very promising.
One final piece of news - we have removed our 'Reviews' section of our website. Don't worry - the reviews were all good!! We were forced into this by an avalanche of spam, mostly from Russia it must be said. I'm hopeful that can we can reinstate a more robust system for you, but for now, removing it was the easiest option. Unfortunately it's not a case of just ingoring these messages and deleting as we would with an email - removing these messages that clog our system is more time consuming.
6 October 2020
As advertised, our online shop is now closed for taking orders. We shall reopen in January 2021.
You may still view our plants but the 'Add to Basket' facility has been temporarily disabled. We won't be accepting any orders until January or taking reservations so please, don't ask! No queue jumping ..... it will be first come, first served.
We have a larger than ever stock of plants which, we hope, will be ready from January onward. Many would be ready now, having all but finished growing for the year. We don't get a lot of obvious growth from now on even though the plants are still growing (or maturing) and we are still having some pleasant autumn days. Over all, we are very happy with what we have growing.
One possible disappointment could be Helianthemums - we could have sold many times what we had this year and an early season attack from voles only reduced our available stock further. We were determined to increase our numbers for next year, which we have done, but I fear the plants we have grown will be small until later in the spring. We simply couldn't get cuttings taken early enough (it was a rotten, wet summer here) and losing a week's growth in August takes forever to catch up. We'll see - the plants are all potted and rooting away slowly and they do look good, just very small.
Sempervivums have been hugely popular this year. We have increased our range and our numbers but as consequence we only grow relatively small numbers of each variety. This inevetiably leads to shortages of some varieties from time to time, We're working on different techniques to (partially) over come this but there is a limit to what we can do.
We'll be taking some days off at last. We're not really holiday people but it will be nice to get out and about in the countryside again - if we're allowed! We still have some important jobs yet to do on the nursery, ploytunnels to re-erect and re-cover, the usual autumn tidy-up and moving plants to their winter quarters. Then I'll start propagating again and so the cycle goes on.
I'll end with a huge 'Thank you!' to all our customers, old and new, who have supported us over these past few months. It has been difficult, but rewarding too, and we thank you sincerely for all the good wishes, patience and generosity that makes life bearable for us all.
2 September 2020
Our online shop re-opens tomorrow (Thursday 3rd Septmeber). We will (at last!) have some alpines available and we still have lots of Sempervivums. We will 'close' again once we reach a limit of orders - we do this by disabling the 'Add to Basket' function so you may still view our plants, but you won't be able to place an order until we start again the following Thursday. It's not ideal - and confuses people no end! - but it's how we need to work for now.
Please note: as outlined below, we will close for the season on Sunday 4th October. We normally only close for 3 or maybe 4 weeks over Christmas/New Year but this year isn't normal. Goodness knows what next year will bring but we aim to be ready for it.
Our selection for September is somewhat limited, deliberately so in some cases, but we hope to restart in January with a very full list of plants in good numbers. I don't envisage us adding more plants to our list this Autumn.
25 July 2020
Enquires about plants have taken a huge spike in recent days. I urge you, please read the various notices we have placed throughout our website pages.
At present, here is what we propose:
Sempervivum - our online shop will re-open for orders on Thursday 30th July. It may close soon thereafter if we receive a rush of orders and will definitely close by Sunday evening each week.
Alpines in general - we will have a range of plants (not our full range) available to buy from Thursday 3rd September. Once again, we will close as soon as we receive a limit of orders we can deal with week to week. We will then close for the season on Sunday 4th October, at the latest, and start again early January, weather permitting.
We aim to start next year with a good stock of plants in a good range.
16 July 2020
The demand for plants has eased a little but we still get lots of enquiries every week from people looking for plants. We have very few plants left to sell but the forecast on our Home Page is when we expect to have more plants available.
We are in a difficult position - I can easily foresee that as soon as we have plants available, they will be sold, which is good. The problem is, we will then start next year with an even worse selection of plants and in limited numbers. Basically, we just can't grow enough plants to meet the massive demand. And it's not just us, most online plant sellers will tell you a similar story.
For us, time for growing plants is running out. I like to have all our potting for next year finished by early or mid September. We could stretch that out but we grow in a cold area and we need plants ready to sell early in the year. Similarly, we can't start potting too early in the spring. We're not interested in growing small, second-rate plants just because we could possibly sell them. There comes a point in every growing season where we need to say 'That's it' and concentrate on the following year. We're there now. This has been a successful year for us but an incredibly difficult one too. Hard decisions have been met frequently.
We have a tried and tested annual routine for how and when we produce each of our plants, with some leeway, but we have been forced to the limit with some plants. Some varieties we just won't have at all next spring because we didn't have time to do them. It's disappointing. At the same time, demand for certain plants has made us look hard at what we produce, so perhaps some good will come of this year. Dealing with uncertainty is the difficulty - and our problems are tiny compared with what some people are facing, and will face. We should try to be positive and help those less fortunate.
25 June 2020
Online shop open - then closed. This has been the way we have needed to work in recent weeks, now months. We open our shop to receive new orders and close when we reach a limit of what we handle, with deliveries of those orders the following week. We don't think it is right to take your order (and your money!) and keep you waiting for delivery. Our online shop opens 9.00am Thursday and tends to close Sunday night - that seems to be the pattern.
We are working hard to keep everything moving - orders, enquiries, potting, propagation, watering and the hundred and one other jobs that crop up. I haven't had a day off from work since early March! It's not as bad it may seem though; what else would I do? I'll admit I'm concerned about next year. We will have a good range of plants to offer but perhaps not as wide as range as we would usually have. Demand for Sempervivums is huge, demand for Helianthemums simply massive (does no one else grow Helianthemums any more?!) And then there is the usual conundrum - how many will we grow? Will we be as busy as we are this year? I'm never short of things to think about during these long days.
5 June 2020
Business is still brisk, despite us having next to no alpines available, but people are taking advantage of our wide range of Sempervivum in 6cm pots. Only slightly smaller than our usual 9cm sized plants, these are amazing value. When we look at some competitors' prices, we are practically giving them away! It's easy to ask high prices when you only have a limited quantity of plants but we have a few thousand plants still to sell. There might never be a better time to start your own collection. We have over 150 varieties available (with several more we haven't listed) and about the same again of varieties we are slowly building up or assessing.
Parcel deliveries are improving but Parcelforce seem to have adopted a rolling restriction on parcel collections - so they can manage the huge volume of parcels they are handling. It is still likely that some depots in some areas will be overloaded, leading to delays, but we are dealing with the situation.
Our online shop is still closing once we receive the maximum amount of plants we can dispatch each week. Some people will no doubt be disappointed and be unable to order, but it is essential we continue working this way under current circumstances.
24 May 2020
We are starting to experience delays with our parcel service, Parcelforce. All our parcels in recent weeks have been delivered without excessive delays but the situation is changing rapidly. Parcelforce will not be collecting parcels on Tuesday 26th (after the Monday Bank Holiday). All parcel couriers are seeing a massive increase in business due to Covid-19. [Edit - we now discover Parcelforce will not be collecting on Monday 1st June]
We have decided not to dispatch all existing orders this coming week for fear of plants being excessively delayed and losing condition. Neither you nor us would want that. We intend dispatching only those orders that contain only Sempervivum this week, not any that contain alpines. Semps travel exceptionally well, even if they are delayed. It is possible we will only be accepting orders for Sempervivum on Thursday 4th, when (and if) our online shop re-opens. Also, as we will then have a (small) backlog of orders, we may have to restrict the number of orders we do accept. These one day delays have a huge impact on us.
All online plants sellers have seen massively increased business in recent weeks. We chose at the outset to restrict the volume of orders we would accept each week thereby allowing us to continue offering a prompt service - to those customers able to place an order, at least. Spring is always our busiest season in a normal year and we are often already near the limit of what we can handle. Restricting business was crucial for us.
Not all nurseries did this, some continue(d) to take orders and we have heard of people waiting weeks for delivery of plants, some with no prospect of delivery at all, I'm quite sure. We refuse to work like that and whilst many people have experienced frustration and disappointment when trying to order from us, at least we are trying to make an honest job of a bad situation. 'Buyer beware' has never been so important as it is now and reputations will be won, lost or destroyed as a result of this epidemic. Let us hope it's all for the better.
21 May 2020
Our online shop will be open for orders again on Thursday 28th May, 9.00am. We have very few alpines left and very few coming on - I estimate it could be July or even August before we have a good range of alpines available again. We could grow them faster but you wouldn't like the resulting plants and neither would we, they need to grow slowly.
We have masses of Sempervivums (or Houseleeks) ready to buy. These are sold in 6cm mini-pots but the plants are a decent size with babies developing. These were all potted last summer. We have reduced the prices to reflect the smaller than usual pot sizes and we think they are amazing value - there could be no better time than now if you are wishing to start your own collection of Sempervivum. We have some outstanding new varieties from Germany of which we have slowly built our stock so we can now offer these in the UK.
Enquiries are still flooding in - even asking for things which we don't do and are unrelated to what we do. I simply cannot respond to every email we receive, I'm sorry.
17 May 2020
We are almost totally Sold Out of alpines for now, something I never thought would happen. It has been a crazy year! We will be doing a complete stock-take on Wednesday before we re-open our shop on Thursday, but I don't anticipate us having much to offer once we process all our current orders.
However, we still have lots of Sempervivums to offer - over 150 different varieties. We are now only offering these in 6cm mini-pots (and priced accordingly) but the plants are actually quite big. By July/August we will gradually change from 6cm size back to 9cm pot size and with our full range available, plus some. Most customers seem to prefer our standard 9cm size and we didn't to expect be selling as many of the smaller, 6cm ones, but things haven't exactly gone to plan this year. It's our intention to only offer the 9cm size from August onwards, as we did in previous years.
Our Sempervivum Collections are still available in 9cm pots and we hope that will continue.
The demand for alpines has been phenomenal this spring. To be honest, we have been busy every week since January with no missed weeks due to the weather, so it was set up for a record-breaking spring before this virus pandemic started. We have a lot of plants to pot - and plenty of space to fill! Time is pressing for those varieties that need a long growing season so we need to complete those soon, before we concentrate on plants for later this summer. It's one of those hard decisions, hoping we judge things correctly. Last summer was such a miserable time for growing plants I'm praying we don't have a repeat and hoping we can get plants potted and rooted whilst the weather is favourable. But it has been so dry for so long, the rain must come ..... Oh well, we'll just have to deal with it - if this current situation has taught us all anything, it's to cope as best we can and get through it.
Thank you again to all our customers, especially for the good wishes, support, reviews and in some cases your patience. Thank you all, it has helped more than you may realise.
7 May 2020, Thursday
Our online shop is now closed but will reopen next Thursday, 14th, 9.00am. We will do a full stock-take on Wednesday evening. You may still view plants but the ability to buy has been disabled for now.
We sent out more plants than ever last week - we closed our shop when we were approaching our target, only to be caught out by lots of orders still being processed in the system, unseen by us until we receive the completed order. We managed to get all orders out but in all honesty, I wouldn't like to be as busy again.
Normally, these news updates inform customers of what has been happening on the nursery but it has all been orders, orders, orders recently. I was looking around at some plant labels yesterday, seeing when I did things this time last year and the year before. I reckon I am about 5 weeks behind with work - 'work' for me is propagating and potting, everything else such as watering, tidying etc. just has to be done as needed. Watering has been endless this year so far, warm, sunny and an almost incessant east wind. I have potted a few plants (a thousand or so, which is a few for us) so I don't know where that will leave our offering for the summer - I suspect June and July will be difficult but I'm hoping by August we will have a fairly full list again.
Finally, and this should have been at the start, a huge thank you to all our customers and even some non-customers who have supported us in recent weeks. The warmth and sincerity of the feedback we have received has been amazing. Thank thank, thank you!
30 April 2020, Thursday
The situation now is insane - our online shop was open for only 21 minutes this morning before we closed it again, having taken as many orders as we can reasonably deal with. We are working as hard as we can - long hours, 7 days a week and we haven't had a day off for weeks - and yet people are still disappointed. No sooner do we close our shop than we start receiving emails - I can't buy this plant, my order hasn't gone through, this is so unfair .....
To those directed here - if you are unable to place your order, our shopping basket will be disabled. This isn't how we want to operate our business. Times are difficult for people in all sorts of ways. Please, have some patience and consideration.
17 April 2020, Friday
Events are moving at a rapid pace - no sooner do we start accepting orders, then we reach the maximum we can possibly deal with. Yesterday, we opened for about half and hour! We could keep taking orders and yet more orders but very quickly we would run into problems - so in order to keep things manageable at our end and acceptable at yours, this is how we are working. I'm aware this doesn't suit everyone (us included) and the lack of a Shopping Basket in our shop is confusing for those trying to buy plants (we disable it) .
We have never had to close our shop before. Most years we experience a few very busy weeks when we are pretty near the limit of what we can do with orders that arrive over 7 days, but events this year have changed everything. I'm still coming to terms with many people having too much time on their hands when we are struggling for time to get everything done. Our business is doing well whilst others are, well, if not struggling ..... finished. That must be a heartbreaking situation. At least we have our health so please take care of it.
9 April 2020, Thursday
Our shop is now open once again and receiving orders although we may close again without notice. We are still extremely busy - excessively busy! These weeks around Easter are traditionally our busiest of the year anyway. We are working hard to supply plants to as many customers as we possibly can - we are very aware of the struggles some people are enduring with isolation etc. We want to ease that if we can by sending plants to as many people as we can manage and we are being told every week how much customers appreciate this. We are working long days, 7 days a week to get through this.
It's true that we are taking lots of money just now and we almost feel guilty when we know others must be struggling desperately, but my goodness, are we working for it! It would be easy to assume we will have a bumper year but I very much doubt it. Time is our limiting factor - everything needs doing at once at this time of year. Plants need propagating or else we won't have them to sell next year, better weather means increased demand for watering and plants urgently need moving outside. And that's just the start - add on a mountain of orders and customer enquiries with orders to be packed by a collection deadline ..... Energy and motivation are sky-high just now but that won't last indefinitely and I can foresee a major slump once we have got through the worst of this crisis. And that will be the time when we need to keep going to get plants ready for next year. That might be the harder part but we'll deal with that if and when it happens. It's hard to predict anything just now, things are changing so quickly. Or as someone said recently - the news doesn't age well!
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining one bit and we have never shirked from hard work. But the 'good years' when we have made money (all things being relative!) have been the steady years. Busy, certainly, but manageable, and this is not one of those years!! We are blessed that we are able keep working and with only Nicola and me here we are totally isolated and able to be out in the fresh air - just as we always are, so don't be mistaken that we are taking any risks in continuing to operate. The benefits of rural living have never been so welcome. If we can ease the pain of those who are not so fortunate, the least we can do is help them to enjoy their gardens or balconies.
Thank you to all our customers, old and new, and thank you for all your good wishes. Take care - we'll see this through, one way or another.
3 April 2020, Friday
Once again we have decided to close our shop for a few days so that we can process and dispatch orders received. We are phenomenally busy, unsurprising given current circumstances with people stuck at home and most nurseries and garden centres being closed. We intend accepting orders again on Wednesday or Thursday 8/9th April for delivery the following week. The weeks before and after Easter are often our busiest in a normal year and losing two days (Easter Friday and Easter Monday) hinders us somewhat.
The last thing we would want to do is disappoint customers and/or have them wait weeks for delivery. Neither can we work like that. We also use a stock control system whereby every customer placing an order receives exactly what they have ordered - no substitutes, no disappointments. By 'clearing the decks' after all orders are dispatched we can stock-take and start again. We believe it's a fair and honest way of working although some will inevitably miss out. We still have lots of plants (even if some varieties are almost all gone) but we simply can't sell them all at once.
We are asking that customers restrict orders to a maximum of 32 plants. Larger orders, whilst probably more efficient and profitable for us, do take time to pick and pack. We wish to spread our limited time over the greatest numbers of customers we can. Many customers whether existing, new and even new gardeners have expressed their gratitude that we can send them plants quickly and they tell us how it is helping them cope in the current situation. We will enforce the 32 plant limit rigidly by way of immediate order cancellation and refund.
Other news.... Early April is always a very busy time on the nursery, not only with orders but with actually growing plants and looking after what we have. There are just certain jobs - propagation in particular - that if they don't get done now, they simply won't get done at all. We always have to have our minds as much on next year as this. We have quite good stocks of all that we need for this year (by luck rather than planning) - compost, labels, boxes etc. - everything except our style of plant pot which we can replace with another if needed. Unlike a lot of our fellow growers, we are in a strong position to see this crisis through. If our health survives ..... Please consider supporting other small nurseries if you can as all gardeners will lose if some fail.
The weather has been almost helpful, in the recent past at least. After last summer's and autumn's deluges, (and winter's!) it's good to see things drying up at last. The east wind we have is always drying but cold with it. This has held our plants back from growing which is, counter-intuitively, a good thing for us - its keeps our plants short and hard and delays flowering. Once they are in warmer climes (practically all parts south and most north) these plants will come away beautifully.
2 April 2020, Thursday
Our shop is now back to normal after a short hiatus. The numbers of plants available to buy have also been fully updated. Parcel deliveries seem to be coping well but this may vary area to area.
29 March 2020
Shop closure. Due to unprecedented demand we have temporarily stopped taking orders. We have disabled the buying facility but you may still browse our range of plants. We intend reopening on Thursday 2nd April - we just need a few days to deal with all our existing orders.
24 March 2020
Coronavirus update. Following the Prime Minister's announcement last night and further clarification today, we are still operating pretty much as normal. We are very fortunate in so far as we are physically isolated in our location, we don't receive visitors at the nursery and we don't sell at any of the many plant shows. And Nicola and I are the only people here; we have no staff. The rules as they currently stand may change at short notice. Parcelforce have confirmed that receiving parcels is safe and whilst they have restricted some of their services, they will make their best endeavours to deliver as normal. Or as our Parcelforce driver said, " the plants must get through!"
One major difference is that we (and Parcelforce) are very busy. We normally only dispatch on Mondays and Tuesdays but the volume of orders means we are now sending plants out on Wednesdays, just to keep any backlog from building. Wednesday is normally our only day off during the week but we're safer in the nursery so we might as well work. Also, due to hugely increased demand, we are restricting orders to a maximum of 32 plants per order. We feel it is fairer that we send plants to the maximum number of customers during these difficult times - spreading the plant love farther and wider!!
It seems inevitable that someone won't receive their plant order as planned. Delivery drivers are under increased pressure in difficult circumstances so we would ask for some tolerance if placing an order. These are difficult times for everyone. The situation may well deteriorate quickly if drivers (or family members) become infected. And if Nicola or myself become ill, we immediately stop trading and refund outstanding orders.
Our arrangements for customers receiving plants are already fairly compliant. We don't require you to sign for parcels and if you tell us where you would like parcels to be left (on the doorstep, in porch or shed etc.) our existing setup allows that. One thing I would ask is that you give us a mobile phone number (if you have one). We won't use it but will pass it to Parcelforce who will text you details of when your parcel should arrive. Any delays can be dealt with directly via text with Parcelforce giving you options for alternative arrangements we can't provide. It could be invaluable for all concerned.
28 November 2019
We always take a break from sending out plants around the Christmas and New Year period. Our last day for sending out plants will be Tuesday 10th December. Ideally, last orders will be received by Sunday 8th. We shall start again in January, around the 7th.
23 October 2019
It has obviously been some time since my last update. August and September are busy months for potting and there is always a rush to get plants potted and established before the weather turns cold. October in many ways has been a lost month for us - first, Nicola was unwell and then I had my turn - so we had too many days just doing the bare minimum that needed doing. And it's amazing how things pile up when you miss a few days.
All our potting is now done and orders are naturally slowing down. The nursery is badly in need of a good autumn clean up, then I'll start propagating again.
We have now moved to dispatching only on Tuesdays, as we do every winter.
I'm hoping to give our whole website a revamp over winter but we'll see how that goes. Our hugely expanding collection of Sempervivum needs presenting better and we have some new ideas for that. Sempervivum have become a very important part of our business which is unsurprising, I suppose, as good, named varieties are getting harder to find in the UK. And the prices some people charge for little more than a rooted offset!!
We will also be introducing Sempervivums in small, 6cm mini-pots. We think these could be a big hit with customers, they look really cute, although we started growing them in mini-pots more for our benefit. The incessant rain this past summer has meant our normal 9cm Semps have struggled a bit - if there is one thing Semps don't like, it's being too wet. Rooting directly into smaller pots gives us more flexibility with when we pot them and saves a lot of space if we need to keep them under cover. Another benefit is that we think we can get a more realistic price for the amount of work we put into these plants but it will also allow customers wishing to build their own collection a more economical way of getting vigorous young plants, albeit slightly smaller ones. We shall see how it goes and we need to get our website display sorted first. Winter work!