Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Hairy Head

Morning all,

Still busy trying to get through the late summer/autumn clean up and potting, there are never enough hours in the day. It doesn’t seem possible that in a very few weeks we will be all done and ready to batten down the hatches for the winter, awaiting the arrival of a hopefully early spring! Plant growth is still strong and it is always a relief to see the plants get away so fast after potting, producing such a strong framework for those stonking spring plants again. We have a huge crop of Pulmonaria varieties this year looking like they are going to make a fantastic spring show of colour. Marginal panic setting in that I might have got carried away on the numbers but they did so well last spring and with a few extra varieties adding to the appeal I hope with a nice run of favourable weather during the sales period they should fly out. Before the Pulmonaria make their mark we should have a great crop of hardy cyclamen to give us a bit of colour right through the autumn, winter and early spring. Again we have extended the range to add C. hederifolium colours to the lovely C. coum varieties we tried out last year.

Monster amount of work going on this last week on analysing the production output of the microprop lab to try and identify how we can keep the operation viable with the impending ‘living wage’ rises due to take effect over the next five years. We had considered stepping away from it when we considered the increasing global competition in this market where wages are at a fraction of our own, transport of such compact stock is so easy and price pressures continue to reign supreme. However the potential loss of one of the last plant labs in the UK seems to have galvanised more support than we had hoped for and there does look like there could still be a future in it even if not quite using the same model as we currently have. Quality product and local supply does have its supporters so although we may have to lose quite a few plant varieties in the lab, where the market won’t pay the extra few pence needed to make it viable here, we should be able to carve out some future in there. Frustration doesn’t really cover the position on some plants. We grow a great range of Hostas including many new varieties picked out for us by a specialist in the field. He acknowledges that we have the best, strongest, healthiest young plants he gets, foreign labs and open ground nurseries suffering from mixed and virus ridden stock but we recently lost a big customer attracted by the cheap prices from abroad and unfortunately our fab stock will not be there when someone decides price isn’t the be all and end all in producing quality plants. Still that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes, we just need to bit the bullet and make some tough choices.

Struggling to find mirth this morning, suffering the after effects of a big wedding yesterday, head, legs and feet sore after over indulgent dad dancing. Good band, nice beer and energetic happy company, well worth the pain of the next day. Glad not to have too much to do today, just a little bit of gentle production bed preparation for Mondays potting while The Strypes thrash away through the headphones. Caroline drew the short straw on the driving front yesterday, so I need to at least look busy while she prepares her 4,000 microprop modules for delivery first thing on Monday. Oh the joys of the idyllic rural life.

Availability highlights

The traditional autumn flowering Asters now coming back on stream, the ever popular dwarf violet/red Jenny looks very neat now with the odd bud showing colour. Starlight is slightly more purple in tone but a really strong bright colour and neat habit. Lady in Blue budding nicely, nice and short with very pretty pale blue flowers about to do their thing.

A few more Anemones coming back on the list again as we catch up again after a very busy summer.

The very popular straight form of Verbena bonariensis is just unmanageable when it gets towards flowering in our smaller pots so we keep them short and bushy, losing out on the colour in the pot but producing wonderfully strong plants ready to plant out.

Helleborus are coming back on stream now as they gather their strength for their great winter display.

Absolutely stonking Ajugas in different foliage colours and forms. Fantastic ground cover and bursting with vigour. The short neat Geum Koi is still going strong with bud and colour. Just around the corner are the late flowering Hesperantha (Schizostylus) in a range of 4 varieties and autumn/winter flowering hardy Cyclamen.

Have a good one, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

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