JOHN’S JOURNAL

Getting Ready for The Summer Flower Shows

It’s getting close to that time of year again where we get back out on the road, after the sabbatical of 2020 it was great to be back last summer and we were back with a bang, winning our 8th consecutive gold at the RHS Tatton Flower show along with the Best Exhibit in the Floral Marquee, and then our next and final stop for 2022 was the Harrogate Autumn flower show at Newby Hall where we won gold along with best in show…..so no pressure for this year then!

2020 gave us a great chance to reflect and our appearance at the shows last year was totally different to the previous years, a much larger display with our focus on the display and promotion of the nursery, and this year is similar once again bar some tweaks and new additions!

July really sees the peak of the gardening year, a prolific array of plants in leaf and in bloom and it’s a great chance to plant it all together with great effect. We begin planning for the shows about a year in advance, as soon as we stepped out of Tatton last year we already began to plan what we will grow for this year, we then begin potting some of the plants on in the Spring into larger pots, allowing us to grow these into larger specimens, helping give a sense of maturity to our planting, many plants, at least 50% get picked straight out of the batches in the growing field, our colour pallete can vary depending on the time of year, Tatton usually sees the blues, purples, pinks and whites making for a very traditional combination, potentially a highlight of red or orange from the Crocosmias depending if they flower in time!

That’s always one thing we never know until we get nearer to the show, just what will be in flower! You can always have a late spring very much like this year was, but after the sunshine of May and June it’s always surprising just how much it catches up and balances out by the time you reach mid July. The Astilbes are well advanced this year and there’s some great specimens awaiting potentially down by the river, Hostas will always run through the stand like a thread of relief from the taller growing plants, Nepeta will flank the edges spilling out onto the grass surrounding the stand and the large pots of Bergamots will stand proud buzzing with bees as they tackle a detour into the marquee for a quick feast.

This year we are also making a welcome return to the Southport Flower Show, having been cancelled in 2020 and also 2021 it will be great to be back, so if you haven’t got any flower show trips planned then have a look at your diary and get at least one scheduled in, and we look forward to seeing you there!

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems

Do you feed your show plants with anything special?

We pot them into the same special mix of compost as our other plants, and apart from that that’s it for feeding, if you’re not careful you can overfeed otherwise, causing them to get too big and bulky and more so tall and leggy and we don’t want that!

How long does it take to set up the show gardens?

For Tatton we begin on the Friday and work through until the afternoon of the Tuesday so 4 and a half days, last year we were close to the bone having totally redesigned our display so this year hopefully we have a little more experience doing a larger exhibit so we will have to wait and see, it can also be red hot down there so that makes it a little more tiresome, and also there’s more work keeping the plants happy and watered!

Do you plan to do the Chelsea Flower Show?

My dad did it back in the late 80’s but since then the nursery hasn’t exhibited and a RHS Chelsea Gold Medal is certainly on my bucket list! It’s our centenary year in 2027 so we plan to be at Chelsea the year before in 2026 ready for our big display in 2027! Exciting times ahead so watch this space!

 

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

 

Plant of The Week

Verbena bonariensis

One of my favourite plants to use in our displays and also in planting schemes, it’s great for adding height and structure to your planting and repeating all the way through to add continuity. It will flower from now right through until October, a stunning plant