• Newsletter Spring 2020

    Dear Friend.

    I sincerely hope that this finds you well and that the current restrictions are not impacting too heavily upon your well being?

    This newsletter was going to be the one when I shared with you all the improvements we’ve made to the nursery, including a new layout for the sales area and new signage. I also wanted to remind you about the sustainable garden sundries we now have for sale, including biodegradable weed suppressing membrane, hessian tree ties and perlite by the pint! Instead things have turned out rather differently!

    Since the lockdown was announced the nursery has, of course, been closed. However, I have been able to deliver plants to Bembridge and St Helens on my journey home from the nursery. It’s tempting to deliver elsewhere but I can’t justify plant deliveries as “essential travel” I am very grateful to everyone who has supported the nursery through these difficult days.

    On the plus side I have had time, when not watering, to sow seeds, pot on lots of plants and generally tidy the nursery. Over the next few weeks I plan to revamp the display beds to showcase some of our new plants. We have a gorgeous selection of Iris, Hemerocallis and Agapanthus this year as well as more coastal trees, shrubs and perennials than ever before. I have updated the plant list on the website; it’s more comprehensive than it was but do ask if you’re looking for something not listed (it may well be hiding somewhere at the nursery!)

    Garden design and landscaping work ground to a halt as social distancing and essential travel became the order(s) of the day. Our clients have been supportive and we look forward to resuming work as soon as possible. In the meantime, plants that had already been delivered are being nurtured at the nursery until they can be planted in their new homes.

    The weather has, somewhat ironically, been glorious and interest in gardening, particularly vegetable growing, has soared. I have been delighted to support Holly Maslen’s Facebook based initiative Green Island Veg Economy by posting a couple of short films about growing avocados from seeds, top tips for tomatoes and the joy of cardoons! These have been well received and I’ll keep posting on GIVE and on the Coastal Gardener Facebook pages. The initiative has encouraged people to set up veg seed and plant exchanges in their local communities so that seeds and plants can be shared, whilst still adhering to the current requirements.

    I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to welcoming you back to the nursery! I am hoping that, as a business operating outside and on a small scale, we may be able to reopen sooner rather than later. I’ll let you know as soon as I can open that gate .….

    With warmest wishes

    Gerry

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  • Strange times!

    Well, this was going to be the time when I shared with you all the improvements we've made to the nursery, including a new layout for the sales area and new signage. I also wanted to tell you about all the sustainable garden sundies we now have for sale including a biodegradable weed suppressing membrane and hessian tree ties. I was also looking forward to telling you about the new plants we have for sale this year, including a fantastic range of Iris, lots of hemerocallis and some interesting trees and shrubs.

    However, things haven't quite gone to plan and instead all I can tell you is that the nursery is closed until the COVID19 lockdown is lifted. Unfortunatley I'm just not set up for online orders. I have thought long and hard about whether to deliver across the Island, but have decided that this would constitute unnecessary travel, which we are being asked to refrain from. However, I drive from the furthest point of Bembridge to the very end of St Helens everyday to water at the nursery and feel that it would be okay to deliver plants on my way home. So, if you live in either of these villages and would like me to deliver please let me know what you'd like. I've just updated the plant lists on the website; it's not entirely comprehensive so please do ask if there's something you're looking for.

    Wishing you good health and happy gardening.

    Gerry

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  • The joy of seeds!

    There's something about a packet of seeds that never fails to excite. Maybe it's the promise held inside the paper packet. I never failed to be filled with awe that a tiny, hard, dry thing can be transormed, as if by some alchemic process, into life with the addition of so little. From the tinest of seeds will come brightly coloured flowers and tall trees. This is the sort of hope and inspiration we all need in these cold, dark times.

    I always order far more than I need, but as shopping weaknesses go, it doesn't seem like a bad one!

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  • Isle of Wight Garden Plant Group Newsletter December 2018

    In response to Buzzing with Concern by Sue Painting (member's article in previous edition of the Newsletter)

    I was interested to read Sue Painting’s article “Buzzing with Concern” published in the September Newsletter (NO 113).

    I wanted to reassure Sue, and other group members, that at The Coastal Gardener Nursery we don’t use Neonicotinoids, or any other pesticides. In fact, we don't use any chemicals at all. We use peat free compost, feed our plants with liquid seaweed, recycle plastic pots and use nematodes to prevent vine weevil attacks. We grow the vast majority of the plants we sell from our own seeds, cuttings and divisions, which reduces our plant miles in the way that buying local produce reduces food miles. Our display beds provide food and shelter for beneficial insects and birds and the nursery buzzes with bees for much of the year. Occasionally caterpillars munch their way through our Verbascums, birds disturb succulents or a few blackfly or greenfly appear. I turn a blind, if watchful, eye and wait for the birds to eat the caterpillars, the farm cats to scare away the birds and the ladybirds to eat the greenfly! I’m about to create bug hotels to provide enhanced winter accommodation. Next year we’re going to trial some compostable pots.

    However, none of our environmentally friendly actions financially benefits us as a business - far from it. Peat free compost is more expensive than the compost that includes peat. Nematodes are not only expensive but tricky to apply to hundreds of plants. Recycling plastic pots creates storage issues and cleaning them is labour intensive. Liquid seaweed doesn’t beef up the plants in the same way as chemical fertilisers so our plants don't look as showy as those at nurseries that use chemical feeds. And having display beds reduces the space we have for selling plants.

    I have never had anyone ask about our environmental policy and I’m not aware of anyone who chooses to buy plants from us because of our approach. However, we won't be changing a thing! I love working in a chemical free environment that is alive with insect and bird life. We will carry on using seaweed feeds, recycling pots and treading as lightly as we can. It has puzzled me for some time that gardeners aren’t more concerned about where the plants they buy come from and how they are produced. Perhaps Sue Painting and IWGPG members will be at the vanguard of a new movement of gardeners who hold nurseries and garden centres to account?

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  • Mama Buci Honey Breakfast

    What a way to start a day - raise a glass, raise some money and raise your awareness! Please join me at Solent View Cafe at Fakenham Farm (home of the Coastal Gardener Nursery) for a Champagne Breakfast. Grant, the new chef, will be conjuring up a feast inspired by Mama Buci Honey. I'll be there with a selection of plants that are guarenteed to get your garden buzzing!

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The Coastal Gardener

Free talk/demo at the nursery last Thursday of the month from 14.00 - 14.45

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