• 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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  • Newsletter Spring 2018

    Spring is on its way! The pot of tulips by my door reminds me every day that, despite the rain, wind, cold and lack of light, spring really is just around the corner. Sometimes it feels like an act of faith to believe that the days will get longer, warmer and lighter, but they are and we’ll soon all be back in our gardens. Hurrah!

    During the winter, whilst the nursery has been in hibernation, I’ve been busy designing gardens for public and private spaces. Soon it will be time to start planting the new gardens and visiting those we created last year, which is always a joy.

    The Nursery will re-open in March. We still grow nearly all the plants we sell, many from our own seed and cuttings. We’re proud to be peat and chemical free and are working to reduce our use of plastics. We are always looking for new plants suited to our maritime climate and are pleased to be able to showcase many new perennials, grasses and shrubs this year.

    The Coastal Gardener will be popping up in various places during 2018. Our first outing will be to Aspire in Ryde where I’ll be giving a talk and demonstration at their Seedy Sunday event on Sunday 11th February (10.30am - 4pm). Later in the year I’ll be talking to WI groups and Horticultural Societies as well as taking plants to the Rare Plant Fair at Eddington Nursery (26th & 27th May), Seaview Open Gardens (8th July) and Wolverton Garden Fair (1st & 2nd September).

    This year our free talks will be at the Nursery on the last Thursday of every month. We’ll also be running our popular Coastal Gardening Course (16th June) and hosting Artists in the Garden (15th September). You can find out more at www.thecoastalgardener.co.uk/events

    During the winter Grant & Sapphire took over the Solent View Café at Fakenham Farm. The meals, cakes and coffee are all excellent and we are delighted that our first event of the year is collaboration with them to raise funds for Dementia UK, Admiral Nurse Appeal. I’ve attached an invitation and hope you can join us for a Mama Buci Honey Champagne Breakfast on Wednesday 21st March from 7.30 am until 9.30am. If you’re able to join us please reserve your place by calling the café on 07423 695606 (the breakfast costs £10).

    Fort View Tyres has also opened at Fakenham Farm. They have a growing reputation for excellent service and reasonable prices. Two new craft workshops/studios will be occupied soon adding to our community of small businesses at the farm.

    Well, the root cuttings have been taken, the seed packets are ready and waiting and a pallet of compost is due to arrive any day. Soon I’ll be able to open the gate and welcome you again to the Coastal Gardener Nursery. We’ll be open every Thursday to Sunday from the beginning of March and I hope you’ll visit us very soon.

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  • Seedy Sunday

    Looking forward to this event at Aspire in Dover Street, Ryde on Sunday 11th February. I'll be there giving a talk about Coastal Gardening, demonstrating how to make a graden in a colander and swapping seed.

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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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