Monday, 1 December 2014

Clouded Yellow Sunday

Good morning all.

I’m not sure if I was the only one but I managed to get past Black Friday with my wallet unscathed? I can’t help but get rather anxious about the blatant promotion of unbridled spending and consumption. It might be to do with the fact that I have got so tight on access to cash over the last few years with things the way they are for the plant production industry, or possibly the combination of waste and deception that goes on within a lot of retailing these days. Let’s face it there are very few real bargains in promotional events, either they were over priced before, dodgy quality or it’s old stock/models. Add an extra 30+% to the retail price so we can knock it off later. There are some outlets I know Caroline never buys at full price because if you wait a week or two it will all be discounted by massive amounts, what sort of message of trust, service and loyalty does this give to the buying public when they start to see through it? Ikea and John Lewis seem to be able to manage their customer’s expectations with a more sustainable approach which I assume means steadier sales and more loyal and appreciative customers, a nice asset to have.

Last Thursday was my quarterly therapy session at our NBIS (Nursery Business Improvement Scheme) meeting. The usual mix of figures and trends to analyse and experiences to share, coupled with a large dose of irreverent Mickey taking and laughter. We all overcame the hurdle of having to admit that we were horticulturists and not making any money years ago, and it’s been downhill from then. There are very few meetings that we don’t come away with information or ideas on how to improve something, save some money, reduce our workload or lower our risk levels. It can be a shockingly open discussion but all the
more refreshing for it and much cheaper than a session at The Priory. I often wonder where we would be and how isolated we would feel without this support over the years, it’s a shame that not more people have the vision to see what a valuable exercise something like this can be. I do have an admission to make. I had said that we were going to put QR codes on our new bespoke labels but it looks like this won’t happen now. We had always been a bit worried about their practical application and just how much they would actually get used, but the cleverness of the codes is so attractive. The codes are easy enough to generate and print but the target of the codes was where we could have fallen down. We had started to create mobile friendly web pages for each variety with the dawning realisation that we couldn’t realistically create enough captivating content to provide that gripping or invaluable user experience. We were planning to load up our best pictures and plant info but it is so easy now, and just as quick, to Google search for info or images. We may still do a few limited codes and new webpages to give more detailed background on the pots and the nursery etc, but to try and compete with Google for content is a touch ambitious for us on our weeny scale. The nail in the coffin was a tale of a QR code being issued on a nursery info leaflet taken by many thousands of gardeners at big retail shows, resulting in only 12 website visits. For most people life is just too short unless you are after a very specific piece of individual information. One very useful use I heard about was putting QR codes on house sale boards, taking you straight to the estate agents page for that house. Promoting a sale through an efficient and detailed individual service.

Had a very pleasant flash back this week when I reached for a beer. While in St Ives a couple of weeks ago I saw my first Clouded Yellow butterfly. Stunning colour in flight, invisible when it lands. I only guessed it's name by the reports of sightings on the local birding websites and a quick Google image search provided the backup. Later the same day we spotted another in Hayle and just to prove all good things come in threes I spotted another in the off-license that evening. The third was actually a St Austell wheat beer called Clouded Yellow, but it was just as impressive. Brought one or two home, hence the flashback.
Almost as good as being on holiday again.

Erysimum varieties are coming on stream already, beautifully bushy with the shades of crimson red on Red Jep already showing really well and even a flush of bud and a hint of colour on the very long flowering and hugely popular Bowles Mauve. Hellebourus are just starting to come ready with a few new additions to the range. We are trying a new H. orientalis selection called Crown Dark Purple which is reported to flower after its first winter, it is certainly coming on nicely at the moment. There are three great new H. viridus varieties which are looking very smart and distinctly different from each other. ‘Silver & Rose’ has attractive solidly silvered foliage, ‘White Green’ has deep green leaves with strong cream veining, and ‘Rose Green’ has a more glaucous green leaf with pretty flush of pink in the stems and some leaf veining. Nice short varieties looking enthusiastic in their pots.Euphorbia’s and Ajuga’s looking smart, nice pot full’s of foliage.
Have a good one, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

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