Sunday, 25 February 2018

Hairy Skills

Morning all,
Brace yourselves for the winter blast. Hopefully just a few days, but it looks like next week is going to be a really nippy one, feeling especially cold with the easterly winds. The plants are generally tough enough to cope with this but will be looking a bit sorry for themselves while in their frozen state and are more susceptible to drying out in a cold wind. Please don’t be tempted to warm up frozen stock too quickly, it is usually much better to just let nature take its course in the thawing process. Protection from the worst of the breeze will help maintain foliage quality in the short term and perhaps holding off on any planned plant delivery might be sensible until the worst is over. There is talk of widespread snow so deliveries may be tricky anyway and we may have issues getting the stock picked up and processed so we will play things by ear and see how it all pans out.
Perhaps not the ideal weather for prompting the start of some valuable cash-flow, but it is still winter and a good cold snap will help knock out a few overwintering pests and perhaps springboard us all into selling more plants when it breaks. I’m feeling a bit sorry for the nursery frog population which choose this past week as spawning time. We had well in excess of 35 frenzied amphibians busy doing their thing in one small pond, leaving behind a moderate amount of spawn. I am guessing we have an excess of males for some reason, as the effort being put in way exceeded the anticipated output. Good job that principle only applies to frogs. The pond is now completely frozen over and we wait to see the consequences of that.
We are having a freshen up of our POS boards this spring, summarizing the hairy pot story and benefits and you should all receive versions of these shortly, as soon as they are ready and we send you out an order. The old card inserts are nearly all gone and plans to replace them with new versions professionally printed on sustainable materials sadly came to nothing with very short shelf lives and high costs. It was back to the drawing board for a fresh approach so we are now going to attempt silk screen printing them onto FSC sourced plywood. They will still fit inside our wooden boxes which will again act as a frame and (due to a minor admin error) there will now also be an option for a small scale version of the boards (half size) for additional site decoration if needed. We will also print the small A5 ‘latex allergy notice’ signs onto ply to replace the plastic ones we previously used. It should all look very coordinated when finished and be more sustainable and practical to use. Well that’s the plan. As of last week we have the cut up boards, silk screens (including the right sized ones, now I have provided the right dimensions!), frame clamps, printing table and the ink. Now I just need the skills to print them and judging by tests so far I am currently the missing link to success. Wish me luck.

Winter delivery minimum orders
The winter ‘smaller minimum order’ offer we have been running has now reverted back to our standard minimum order of 21 trays. I know winter is still wagging its tail but I don’t particularly want to encourage anyone into ordering a few trays this week just to use up the lower rate offer, considering the freezing weather forecast. Unfortunately with sales volumes overall picking up now, we can’t keep it running too long.

Availability highlights
Despite the winter weather the Erysimum are looking great. All the green leaved varieties are in tight bud already, leaving the two variegated forms slightly behind on the budding front but looking flashy in their fancy foliage. Really attractive finely cut bronzed foliage of Polemonium Heaven Scent looking fab. The odd bud in sight already, many more will appear very shortly.
More of the Pulmonaria are showing bud now, with little splash of colour in the Blue Ensign, a stunning dark blue, the others aren’t far behind with their nice tight variegated/silvered foliage showing nicely.
Euphorbias are looking good, retaining attractive foliage through the winter months before bursting into flower in early spring. There are two Lamium varieties flushing into a bright early show with their fresh silvery foliage. Some of the spring bulbs are making a break for it, the Alliums are well up (3/pot). Others putting on a spurt are Scilla, Camassia, Tulip, Muscari, Fritillaria and Ipheion. I haven’t marked the Fritillaria as being in bud yet but there are a few about. Spring is bursting despite the cool temperatures and our Lupins have all made delicious vigorous shoot growth from around the plant base. They seem to do so well as an overwintered crop, producing plenty of new chunky basal shoots with the potential for so much flower later in the season. We do need to sell these fairly early in the spring so that they don’t get too big for our pots, although the early cool weather should help to stop them running away on us.
The Digitalis and Delphiniums are looking strong and chunky too, along with a few staff members who have been following through their resolutions by dieting and working out.

Wooden box returns
We have collected the majority of our wooden boxes up now from last season, but please do drop us a line if you would like us to pop in and collect any more up. We may be a while getting there but you will be in our thoughts and on the list.

Thanks. Have a good week from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries.

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