Monthly Archives: December 2011

Post Christmas work, walk and photographs

Yesterday was a glorious day with nice sunny calm conditions and was just too tempting to not be outside in so we made a start on the garden project in the field behind the nursery. Our main obstacle are the rabbits which live in the hedgerows round the field we know that any choice plants or shrubs planted in the field will become rabbit caviar. Presently rabbit damage consists of well mown grass and rabbit potholes all over as can be seen from the photograph.

Rabbit potholes


Rabbit pothole


To combat this problem we are going to have to fence the entire area off. Thankfully now we have had a bit of moisture which has started to close the cracks in the field from the dry spring and summer that we have been suffering from this season. Because the soil is a medium to heavy clay it has been like concrete which would have been impossible to put fence stakes into so we have been holding off with fencing operations until some moisture was present.

To save measuring the distance between each stake a piece of Farmers Friend (baler twine) was cut into a 3 metre length and a loop put at one end so we had a standard measure. Fortunately we have a Caterpillar teleporter which is the ideal machine for putting stakes in.



Pushing stakes in the easy way!


To get a standard height we put the first stake in to the required depth and then once again farmers friend was used. A length was attached to a weight and then fastened to the forks of the teleporter. Basically once the weight rested on the floor when pushing a stake in we knew we were at the correct depth.

Only another 100 stakes to go!

In the process of pushing some stakes in we found the ground to be still very hard and dry and as a result we broke about 6 stakes. Go down about 6 inches and the ground is still bone dry which is a bit worrying because if we have another dry year it will be hard to establish and maintain new plantings but we will approach that problem when we get to it.

Longest edge staked.


Top end staked


On the whole the job went very well so well a coffee break was taken at 10:30 and job finished by 12:30 all fencing stakes in! On the corners we are going to use cut down telegraph poles to take the tension of the top wire but that is another day!

Because we enjoyed the weather we decided we would go for a walk after lunch (Christmas leftovers)  round some of the wildlife margins in our fields.

Part of our walk took us round the Miscanthus field which has been planted as an eco fuel crop for pelleting and burning in power stations. The variety of Miscanthus used is giganteus also known as elephant grass. It requires very little nutrient or water and has an ability to sequester carbon back into the soil. We harvest it at the beginning of May and by July it has usually regrown to about 8 feet in height. In a good season it can get up to 12 foot in height quite impressive.

Miscanthus September


Miscanthus September

Miscanthus giganteus is a sterile grass and spreads vegetatively via its rhizomes in a prolonged season (early spring -late autumn) with plenty of sun it will flower as it did this year. The flowers have a beautiful pink tinge and look quite spectacular in setting autumn sun.

Miscanthus flower.

This time of year the plant is desiccating and losing its leaf leaving the canes behind. It still looks quite impressive at the moment. An interesting feature was that the crop was showing where prevailing winds were coming from and lay in a West to East direction.

Desiccated leaves


Prevailing wind direction indication.


As can be seen the flower is still there and has now faded in colour. In the process of walking through the crop we saw two hares a fox and myriad of small songbirds showing another benefit of this crop in providing shelter for wildlife.

Walking along the bare hedgerows we could see the nests left behind by the birds and I just couldn’t resist taking some photographs to share.

Nest 1


Leaf in nest.

Remains of a meal.

Nest 3

A few winter fruits and seeds also still evident.

Rose hips.


Field Maple

Ash tree buds.


Something I did not expect to see was flower!

Cornus buds.


And flower!


Blackberry flower.


All in all a day full of accomplishment satisfaction and surprise. What more could you ask for at Christmas time!









Posted by on December 28, 2011 in Uncategorized


Winter project.

I always smile when people come into the nursery or a plant fair and tell me their garden is full or finished. Why have they come to a plant fair or the nursery in that case? Because secretly they are looking for that special something that catches their eye and they can make room for in their full garden! Plantaholics in general are all guilty of this but chronic plantaholics like myself just have the plant and then worry about where it is going afterwards.

That may sound irresponsible but in my case a working knowledge of plant requirements means they have a pretty good chance of survival. However my garden is fullish and I need the room for my acquisitions as optimum conditions are required if I am to get cuttings material or seeds. Fortunately we have a large field behind the nursery and my eyes have wandered to it!

Any of the photographs can be enlarged by clicking on them if you want to see greater detail.

As you can see we have already started planting the area and this avenue of trees marks a public footpath that runs through  the field. These were planted last winter and I am pleased to say they all came through the drought that we have had this Summer. This avenue made quite a nice setting for the HPS plant fair that we hosted on July 10th of this year. Hopefully there will be more planting done by the time of our next plant fairs on April 15th and July 8th 2012.

A big problem in this field are the 1000 resident rabbits so we are going to have to fence this area off and if you notice there is a furrow beside one row of trees. The intention is to put stakes into the bottom of the furrow and then put rabbit fencing to the base of them and then turn the furrow back in. That job is earmarked for Christmas while we are closed for a little while.

We have also dug a scrape out which will be landscaped and planted. Hopefully this will provide a habitat for amphibians and wildlife as well as providing an area to grow water-loving plants. I am planning on including a Gunnera in this area just simply because I love those big leaves.

As can be seen from the photograph the soil is clay on a bed of gravel which can be a bit of a challenge to say the least. In my existing garden we have had a no dig policy for the last 10 years and have regularly mulched with compost and rotted wood chip. This has paid off during the last three droughty Summers as the garden has managed to achieve a well-drained but moist condition so often prescribed on plant labels.We have been accumulating wood chip from local landscapers and the intention is to carry through a no dig policy with the new garden area. It all takes time but I plan on updating this blog so that progress can be followed.

Area behind pond

The whole area that we are planning on turning into garden will be about three acres and is presently well mowed grassland (due to the rabbits). It is a triangular plot and will be completely fenced with some stiles on either end of the avenue for the public footpath. There will be a five bar gate as well so that we can get machinery into the area.

Here in Lincolnshire because it is so flat wind is a major problem. To combat this we will plant trees bamboo and various tall-growing shrubs to provide buffer zones. There already is a native farmland type hedge around the field which is maintained environmentally eg not trimmed to death. We have a wide variety of birds utilising this hedge and on a recent inspection by a DEFRA inspector we were praised on the diversity of wildlife that we have considering there is a major road within 500 yards of the field.

As you can see a fairly major project in the making for us as well as running the nursery attending plant fairs and looking after an existing garden. Hopefully this will be an added draw for customers and we may see our way clear to employing someone to help us if our plant sales increase! As for the email sent this week to BBC Breakfast time by a viewer saying Independents need to make more effort to compete with chains then all I can say is I would like to see her put the time and effort in that small nurseries do already. We love what we do and you will not get the service and expertise that nurseries provide from the big garden centres which nowadays are glorified gift shops.

The next post about this project will show rabbit fencing in place and preparation for beds and planting. If you want to see the project in real life then a good opportunity to come and see it will be when we hold the plant fairs next year. Please come!

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Posted by on December 15, 2011 in Uncategorized


Wordless Wednesday December 14th 2011

Just a few pictures of previous winters to remind us not to bad a winter so far1

Nursery 2010

Nursery 2005

Snow on hedge 2010

Snow on line!

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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Uncategorized


Wordless Wednesday Cats Life

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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Uncategorized


Wordless Wednesday pt2

Monte Palace garden Madeira

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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Uncategorized


Wordless Wednesday

Hydrangea from Bodnant

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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Uncategorized


First Blog

Dombeya rotundifolia

Welcome to Colin’s first blog.

My various friends on Twitter have inspired me to start a blog so here we go! Today has been a blustery cold day which has driven me indoors and resorting to keep an eye out for customers on the cctv screen whilst writing this blog.

For those of you who are not familiar with myself and the nursery I am a confirmed plantaholic and when not propagating and selling plants at the nursery can be found at various plant fairs around the country. Plant fairs are fatal for me as inevitably I find something tempting to buy and take home with me. This is good for my customers because I then set about growing it and propagating it myself. As a result we offer a wide range of plants from bamboo through to perennials and shrubs some of which are quite rare or unusual.

What makes a plant rare in the trade? The answer to that question usually is it does not propagate easily or will not produce a lot of propagating material. Also a demand for a plant can also make it scarce and it will not be the first time that I suddenly find all of the stock of a certain plant disappearing in a week and leaving me wishing that I had produced more! We do not have a lot of growing space here at the nursery (Who has!) so that influences how many plants of certain varieties we produce. If it is a plant that takes a few years to grow to a suitable selling size then we do not tend to propagate a lot of it as it takes valuable growing space another reason for it being a rarity.

Another way I am introduced to new plants is through my increasing entourage of customers as some of them know of my weaknesses and with bring me something they have grown. Also quite often a customer will ask me to source a plant for them and the consequence of that is I usually end up have one myself! Twitter has also been responsible for additions to stock plants as I have spotted different plants posted on my fellow twitterers blogs and posts and felt I have had to have that plant. So all in all you can see that I am a very sad person where plants are concerned. The little bit of time off I get is usually spent at other nurseries foraging.

I would like to thank the following Twitter friends for inspiring and encouraging me to start this blog @saralimback @PatientGarden @Papaver @EmmaB and @Graham_Rice. How it will go I do not know but expect to see nursery events, plant profiles and general things that are happening to me and the nursery hopefully entertaining!

The photographs are from a trip to Madeira that Karan (My wife) and I took about 2 years ago would love to go back once time and finances permit!








Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Uncategorized