Monday, 27 April 2015

Hairy Hats Fitz

Morning all,
Immigration is a very hot topic. Apparently there is a Hoopoe in Crawley village, couldn’t get there today, too busy, but might try early tomorrow. Just look for the twitchers! Not seen one since primary school when one appeared next to the playground. Look it up if you don’t know it, a very exotic migrant.
Very busy again, tainted with mild panic as we get very tight on wooden tray stocks. We should have had a top up delivery 4 weeks ago but despite ordering in December they are still not ready! Ooops, one very embarrassed supplier. We would be very grateful for any returns over the next week or two as the system does get a bit tricky if we don’t get them back to reuse. I know they are very attractive and tempting to stack up and admire, but they do have a purpose and we are stuffed without them to hand, so all help appreciated, thanks.
Only got seconds to spare before popping off to the Hockey Club dinner, Caroline can’t wait! Last week’s Ball was great, totally exhausting dancing all night after a hectic week but a good time was had by all. There were some fantastic dancers there, putting us beginners in the shade but still managed to get picked up by a couple of strangers when I lost our crew between dance floors. I curbed expectations by introducing myself as a novice and I managed to keep a smile on their faces despite nearly taking out one girl with a forearm smash as I miscalculated her height. She was still laughing at the end despite the reduction in consciousness so all was well.
Saw Hat Fitz and Cara at a gig near Portsmouth last night, a brilliant performance. If you get the chance, go and see some live music, there is nothing quite like it. Check out www.hatfitzandcara.com

Availability
Last year we grew the popular Erigeron karvinskianus for the first time and sold out in a week. This year’s batch has just come on stream with buds already showing, don’t miss it. Hopefully this year the quantities we have will give us all a longer sales period!
The buds are up on the stunning pale blue Camassia cusickii, be quick they tend not to hang around long. The slightly later white variety has just started its bud production.
Fantastic colour and excitement with our Brunnera variegata, the foliage is bright and cheery and the blue forget-me-not flowers which are opening, contrast with the leaves beautifully.
All three of the Campanula glomerata varieties are in bud with the odd bit of colour showing.
Delightful little flowers of Erodium’s are beginning to appear.
I can see the flower stems and bud appearing among the glossy green foliage of the Geranium nodosum.
The lovely clear pink flowers of Geranium Mavis Simpson are close to appearing with loads of buds starting to appear on astonishingly bushy plants. Just a few left.
Salvia East Freisland is showing strong early bud as it bursts into really bushy growth. The other salvia are close behind. The Veronica gentanoides are looking great with flower shoots appearing already. Stunning pale blue flower spikes are a subtly coloured favourite of mine. Just a few left.
It must be spring many of the Hostas are showing their first strong shoots through the compost surface with a Erysimum Bowles, Apricot Twist, Pastel Patchwork and Red Jep are looking strong with tight buds. Knautia Red Knight starting to throw up its flower stems, with the promise of magenta flowers soon.
The Pyrethrum (Tanacetum) varieties are bushy and strong, the fresh ferny foliage provides a nice pot full and buds are now appearing.
The Phlox Flame varieties are showing really strong bushy growth.
The first few herbs are now available as spring growth begins. The warmer weather has added a strong growth spurt on many lines and they are looking delicious.
Have a good one, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Hairy and Hectic

Morning all,
More sunshine and the swallows have returned, nearly Pimms o’clock.
Fantastically busy week which while occasionally challenging is very encouraging, well done all those hard working planteria folk for keeping sales bowling along. Not much time again this week with a big potting crew in today and lots of jobs to catch up on. Big night out tonight at a Black and Gold Ball in the Guildhall. Not always my sort of thing but this one should be all action and less posh than some, with no dinner just three dance floors and a chocolate fountain. I’m rubbish at wearing uniforms and black tie events are usually a bit of a turn off, but I have my unusual DJ lined up and a new gold highlighted waistcoat and tie to nod towards the expected conformity. The DJ has done great service, bought from Sway Jumble sale for 25p in
1980 it is many sizes too big and severely worn but goes so well with the red suede shoes, clipped hair and stubble. It used to be even better with the peroxide hair but those days are long gone, along with most of the hair.
We are getting quite tight on wooden box stock at the moment so don’t forget to return any you have lying about when we call in with a delivery. If any of you are a bit further away and serviced by our trolley carrier simply fill a trolley and let us know so I can organise a collection. Thanks.
Availability
Last year we grew the popular Erigeron karvinskianus for the first time and sold out in a week. This year’s batch has just come on stream with a few buds already showing, don’t miss it. Hopefully this year the quantities we have will give us all a longer sales period!
The buds are up on the stunning pale blue Camassia cusickii, be quick they tend not to hang around long.
Fantastic colour and excitement with our Brunnera variegata, the foliage is bright and cheery and the blue forget-me-not flowers which are just beginning to open contrast the leaves beautifully.
All three of the Campanula glomerata varieties are in bud with the odd bit of colour showing. Delightful little flowers of Erodium’s are beginning to appear.
Doronicum Little Leo is a good early performer, lots of fresh green foliage with buds appearing now, very few left now.
I can see the flower stems and bud appearing among the glossy green foliage of the Geranium nodosum.
The lovely clear pink flowers of Geranium Mavis Simpson are close to appearing with loads of buds starting to appear on astonishingly bushy plants.
Just a few Primula denticulata left and the flower buds are appearing in the candelabra primula (japonica) Millers Crimson.
The simple classic Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum May Queen) is producing flower stems with the first buds showing amoung healthy verdant folige growth, be quick before they get too tall.
Salvia East Freisland is showing early bud as it bursts into really bushy growth.
The Veronica gentanoides are looking great with flower shoots appearing already. Stunning pale blue flower spikes are a subtly coloured favourite of mine.
It must be spring many of the Hostas are showing their first strong shoots through the compost surface with a few leaves beginning to unfurl.
New batches of Erysimum Bowles, Apricot Twist and Red Jep are looking strong with tight buds. Knautia Red Knight starting to throw up its flower stems, with the promise of magenta flowers soon.
The Pyrethrum (Tanacetum) varieties are bushy and strong, the fresh ferny foliage provides a nice pot full.
The overwintered Phlox varieties are showing strong shoots as spring draws close, more varieties are appearing as they emerge from winter slumber.
Dicentra spectabilis has burst through and there are early buds and colour showing.
The first few herbs are now available as spring growth begins. The warmer weather has added a strong growth spurt on many lines and they are looking delicious.
Have a good one, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

Monday, 13 April 2015

Hairy Jive

Morning all,
A lovely dollop of fine weather over the last week, a bit cooler today but not a write off for gardening. The forecast for the next week looks pretty good too so let’s hope the gardening public loosen those purse strings and flex those credit cards and get the spring off to a flying start. Although the weather has been cool before this week, it has not been excessively cold and the rainfall here has been light resulting in some fantastic displays of early flowering. The early bulbs, wild primroses, hellebores and bergenias have all been stunning in the gardens and must help enthuse and inspire all who notice it. Even I’ve noticed so it must be good.
Not much room or time for rambling on this week, still trying to catch up from the short weeks and the appearance of more flowering stock has filled up my word quota. Too busy for very much socialising although had a delicious roast on Sunday only slightly spoiled by overdosing on chocolate later. Luckily I would appear to be less likely now to suffer from dementia, so not feeling too guilty. Working off the calories with plenty of daytime activity at this time of the season and adding a bit of extra activity on the odd evening out. Don’t laugh but we are having another go at doing some modern jive dancing. We did a bit about 15 years ago but it slipped off the radar when we got too busy but we always threatened to go back. I reckon it’s a bit like skiing (that’s how bad I am). What I mean to say is that when you are doing it I can’t think of anything else, it takes up so much of my brain space. The leading, move planning and body part co-ordination, let alone finding the beat is a fantastic distraction from all the daytime stuff, I can heartily recommend it. You do have to stick with it for a few weeks until you pick up some of the essentials but then it becomes much more enjoyable. We get 100+ at Winchester so it’s a buzzing evening and the old hands are very easy going on us beginners so a good time is had by all. Even as a beginner it’s a great ‘skill’ to show off at parties, just need to find some friends who still give them now.

Availability
Fantastic colour and excitement with our Brunnera variegata, the foliage is bright and cheery and the blue forget-me-not flowers which are just beginning to open contrast the leaves beautifully.
Doronicum Little Leo is a good early performer, lots of fresh green foliage with buds appearing now.
A few of the Aquilegia’s have started producing their spring flower stems, but we won’t have very many make it to full flowering as stocks are clearing fast. One of the earliest Geraniums to show colour is Samobor, there is colour now, contrasting nicely which the black and green leaves, but not very many left. Geranium nodosum will be very close behind, I can see the flower stems appearing amoung the glossy green foliage.
The simple classic Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum May Queen) is producing flower stems with the first buds showing amoung healthy verdant folige growth, be quick before they get too tall.
The first blue perennial Salvia (May Queen) is showing early bud as it bursts into growth.
The Veronica gentanoides are looking great with flower shoots appearing already. Stunning pale blue flower spikes are a subtly coloured favourite of mine.
It must be spring many of the Hostas are showing their first strong shoots through the compost surface with a few leaves beginning to unfurl.New batches of Erysimum Bowles Mauve, Apricot Twist and Pastel Patchwork are looking strong with nice tight buds. The Pyrethrum (Tanacetum) varieties are bushy and strong, the fresh ferny foliage provides a nice pot full.
The overwintered Phlox varieties are beginning to show their first strong shoots as spring draws close, more varieties are appearing as they emerge from winter slumber.
Dicentra spectabilis has burst through and there are early buds and colour showing. Goldheart is looking fab with strong bud appearance and great foliage colour. The first few herbs are now available as spring growth begins. The warmer weather has added a strong growth spurt on many lines and they are looking delicious.
Have a good one, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Hairy Onions

Morning all,

With a bit of luck the weather over the ‘holiday’ weekend is improving and next week looks ok too, so no excuse not to sell lots of lovely plants to an enthusiastic and growing market. It’s been a steady start to the year so far, no great panics just yet but it’ll be interesting to see what a bit of spring sunshine and warmth achieves. I suppose the building excitement towards the general election could distract a huge percentage of the population as they stay in to watch all the fascinating media coverage but that’s a hurdle we will just have to all battle to overcome.
We survived the first ‘four’ day week intact, mainly due to the dodgy weather over the last week taking the edge off demand and of course our excellent staff and superb management! Just next week to see out, before getting back to the luxury of that 5th day. We’ve have had teams in on Good Friday and Saturday getting things sorted but should be just the two of us on Sunday and perhaps a small gang making a start on things on Monday so that we get the week off to a flying start. We will have to see how it all pans out but there is the prospect of a few Saturday morning deliveries if things get out of hand so please bear with us. Making hay while the sun shines and all that.
I thought I had been caught out this week with an April Fools moment when one or two of our ‘experienced’ staff started telling us about Onion Johnnies. The story went along the lines of remembering in the good old days the French farmers cycling around in their berets and stripy tops, selling their strings of onions. They called all these chaps Johnny the Onion Seller and they were a common sight around these parts. It is such a clich├ęd image we young ones just laughed, but they insisted it was a big thing all those years ago. Anyway having ridiculed them mercilessly it turns out to have been completely true. At their peak (1929) there were 1,400 Onion Johnnies from Breton in northern France and they sold over 9,000 tonnes of onions a year. It was easier to get to the UK than it was to get to other markets (Paris etc) because the roads were so poor. They even helped set up Brittany Ferries to make the crossing easier. Although our ladies claim not to remember the peak, there were still 1,100 tonnes sold this way in the early seventies. They stored the crop in rented UK barns and stayed over here until the crop was sold (July-December). What a lot of effort to sell your crop. At today’s retail price that would be an income of about £5,000 and that includes growing the crop, transporting it here and storing it, as well as 6 months living expenses. Just shows how retailing has moved on and veg is now really such great value.

Availability
Fritillaria (snakes head lily) are the best we’ve ever had, loads of shoots buds beginning to open. We don’t have a huge number so don’t hang about on these beauties.
Erysimum Bowles Mauve is showing well and is always such a favourite and a great long lasting garden performer. New batches of Apricot Twist and Pastel Patchwork are back on the list with nice tight buds appearing. Polemonium Heaven Scent is looking great and the first flower shoots are being held above the lovely verdant bronzed foliage, be quick they won’t hang around long, not a huge number left.
Those spring markers Primula denticulata and Pulsatlla vulgaris are beginning to come to life. Both are showing early signs of bud appearance. I haven’t marked all of them as in bud as it is early and I don’t want everyone over excited! The Lupins are putting on their first flush of fresh, bushy, early growth, they are monster plants. We always have to sell this batch fairly smartly as they will outgrow the pot too quickly if left until the warmer weather.
Doronicum Little Leo is a good early performer, lots of fresh green foliage with buds to follow shortly, I’ve seen the odd one or two already but plants are disappearing fast.
The Pyrethrum (Tanacetum) varieties are bushy and strong, the fresh ferny foliage provides a nice pot full.
The overwintered Phlox varieties are beginning to show their first strong shoots as spring draws close, more varieties are appearing as they emerge from winter slumber. Dicentra spectabilis has just burst through and there are a few early buds showing.
The first few herbs are now available as spring growth begins. It is still early days for mega growth, we want to keep them tough and not too soft to put up with the last of the winter cold.
It must be spring many of the Hostas are showing their first shoots through the compost surface.
Have a good Easter, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries