How bad am I??!? I have an apparently wonderful nursery just up the road from me, but because I never drive past it for anything... I never use it. I always seem to end up at the big 'Blooms' garden centre on the back road to work. Well this weekend I decided to put that right, I decided I was going to take a trip up to Bridge nursery and see what delights they have to offer.
Well, I arrived at about 10am, to be confronted by a locked gate.... oh dear, are they closed today I asked myself. Thankfully not, according to the sign at the side of the gate, and after what was seemingly an age of pondering over whether to return later, or wait and see what happens, a van pulled up behind me. Now this could have spelled trouble... maybe it was the local constabulary... had I been reported for loitering around the quiet rural nursery (in my rather scallywag styled van) with a view to relieving them of all of their stock, or could it have been the irate farmer trying to get into his field through the gate that was now situated directly behind my stationary vehicle, or maybe even just the local fashion police.... I didn't exactly dress up to visit the nursery (clothes and hands still covered in half of the garden :) It turned out to be one of the nursery owners... phew... he was just running late that morning, so I moved the van to the car park, and wandered in.
I followed the owner around the nursery while he opened up the polytunnels, and directed some seriously technical questions towards him... "do you sell herbaceous plants?" (the rows of perennials in pots gave that one away.... doh) "do you grow your stock yourself?" (this one was answered when I actually opened my eyes and looked around.. the polytunnels were full of young plants and propagating benches... doh x2) and to top off the spanish inquisition... I excelled myself with "are you open today?" ...pure genius Simon... who on earth did I think had unlocked the gate and let me in... some random passer by maybe? or some deviant wishing to steal all the plants in broad daylight, who thought I might be good enough to pass him the pots while he loaded his van??
Once all the important questions were sorted, (and I had clearly showed myself to be an intellectual) I then proceeded to basically put the horticultural world to right with my new debating partner.. we covered all manner of relevant subjects from watering to weather, polytunnels to propagating, gardens to growing vegetables, and many many more, all while giving me a VIP tour of the nursery. Brilliant!!
Ok, what can I buy today my good man? I asked.... the answer was apparently nothing. Strange!!!! A nursery owner who doesn't want to sell anything? Does he just want to get rid of me after all my probing questions?? No, it seems as if he is rather honestly just delaying my purchase until more of their stock is ready, so as to give me a better choice of stronger plants!! Wow, I thought that the idea was to sell plants too early to customers, so the frosts would kill them off, and they would then return to buy more. I didn't for one second suspect it was to actually sell people plants at the right time, and to give good advice to enable people to just buy and grow once. I was advised to leave any purchases for a month, as at that time the nursery beds will be stocked up again with all the plants from the tunnels, so I will be able to choose more of the plants I want, get all the advice on growing them while reclining in the cafe (opens on the 2nd April I think) with a nice mug of tea and a slice of cake, and then know that they should grow on quite happily in my garden. I would recommend any of you checking the link to their website, as it's a nice place to visit if you are ever in the area, they have a great nursery, cafe, wonderful stock gardens and they even do cut flowers.
So, after all the talk and advice, I actually ended up returning from the nursery with nothing physical to show for my trip, but it's now the first place I shall go for plants in the future, thanks to a really most helpful man who was more than happy to spend some time talking things through with me, and not just trying to sell me plants that he wasn't completely happy with.