Articles on growing alpines

Occasional articles on various aspects of nursery life, growing plants and running a small business.

Love me

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Love me.

No, not me, I'm happily married - in fact, we will celebrate our silver wedding anniversary this year. No cards, please. But you may send presents!

No, what I want to highlight is some of our plants which are in need of someone to love them. I have picked out three plants today and photographed them for you see. I'm very happy with these plants - I think the quality is as good as I could manage; they are clean, fresh, well-grown, tough little plants and all are desirable. I would have thought so, but we haven't (I think, from memory) had a single order for any of these plants. Well, perhaps one order, as I say, from memory. I have been married for nearly 25 years - of course my memory has failed! 

Here we have Draba rigida imbricata, Saxifraga 'Boston Spa' and Morisia monanthos.

draba rigida imbricata pot sax boston spa pot morisia monanthos pot   
What does a grower do when a plant doesn't sell? I am going to review how I describe the plants on the website - perhaps I have simply haven't 'pushed' the plant enough. In the case of the Draba and the Morisia I have been totally honest in explaining that these particular plants don't enjoy overly wet condtions and may be this has put customers off, I don't know. The easy thing to do would be to just not tell customers about any potential problems when growing a plant in their garden. It's all about getting a sale these days, isn't it?
Most people 'buy with their eyes' and I know that quite a few (OK, a lot) of our photographs don't show our plants at their best and I will try and remedy that. It's very difficult to get a good photograph. I'm not a good photographer for a start and I only use a fairly basic camera. One of the biggest difficulties is finding a plant in peak condition, full of flower and looking fantastic. Most of our larger plants are grown for propagating, not photographing, so some get grown soft and lush so that we get good cuttings from them, others we actually remove the flowers from because we can't root flowers. Then, if I do get a good plant, I have to wait until the wind is calm enough to stop the flowers from waving. And it's not too dull. I never thought being a plant photographer would be harder than being a grower!
Price could be another factor in why some of these plants haven't sold (yet). Times are certainly hard for a lot of people and buying plants for one's garden isn't a priority. We charge £3.00 for the Sax, 'Boston Spa'. I'm sure if you searched hard enough you could buy one cheaper elsewhere. A trend of modern life is that everything can be had cheaper from somewhere. Is £3.00 too dear? We don't think so - I propagated 'Boston Spa' in October 2011 from a plant that was probably 4 or 5 years old, rooted and looked after it until it was potted in May or June 2012. It is now nearly April 2013 and the plants are looking good, full of buds and ready to flower. Perhaps £3.00 is too much but we can't produce plants to this standard for much less. I heard one of those pseudo-Chinese sayings recently that I liked - "Cheap no good. Good no cheap".
Anyway; it's Easter Saturday, it's not snowing (for now) and I need to go for a ride on my bicycle. We wish you a Happy Easter. And our plants say, "Please love us". 

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  1. Andy W

    Had a little laugh to myself here - was creating a little 'wish-list' yesterday of a few alpines I was interested in ordering at some point in the near future, one of the ones I noted down was Dragba rigida var. imbricata. Today, I read your article from over 3 years ago to find out it was one of a few plants that needed some love! Maybe you changed how you 'pushed' it!

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  2. John R Husbands

    Both my two daughters (Gail and Karen) and myself, are very pleased with the excellent service you provide. We get great joy in opening each carefully packed plant. All the plants were healthy and a robust size, more so than many other specialist nurseries! I have been growing alpine plants since 1970 and of the many hundreds I have bought very few (perhaps no more than a dozen) have been bought from a garden centre, supermarket or roadside petrol station. In the 1970?s there was no internet and no websites where one could view the pictures of these lovely wild plants we call alpines and rock-garden-plants. There were few publications which included quality colour photograph, those that did were very expensive and often unobtainable. The quarterly AGS Bulletin at that time would sometimes boast a few colour photos -but not often. I would often be hooked on a particular plant by the glowing description in the mail-order catalogues of specialist nurseries like W. E. Th. Ingwersen Ltd., Jack Drake, C. G. Hollett, Stantons Alpine Nursery and others. Thank you again for your lovely plants and the excitement we get unpacking the big cardboard box and carefully revealing the plants. It takes me back over 40 years ago to the joy I had then. I will order again in the near future. Best wishes, John R. Husbands. Email:- Website:-

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