Keeping you up to date, important announcements etc.
11 September 2023
No dispatches the week of Tuesday 19th September.
We won't be sending out plants on the week of Tuesday 19th September as we are attending a family wedding. Orders received from Monday 11th through to Sunday 23rd will be dispatched on Tuesday 26th.
We intend doing a final listing of all plants ready for sale at the end of the month - varieties still unavailable then will be ready next spring.
8 August 2023
At last we now have fresh plants ready for sale. They have taken a while due to the poor weather in recent weeks and some are still a liittle bit smaller (for now) than we would like, but they're looking good and ready to go. And they're still growing.
We have several new (to us) varieties including ones that are not widely available. We'll be reviewing our Plants for Sale list every week and adding old and new varieties as they become ready.
Unfortunately many of the slower varieties and/or later potted ones won't be ready until next spring - I'll try to identify those in a separate list when I get time. We hope to start 2024 with a very full For Sale list.
21 July 2023
Delivery chargesandstock updates.
Delivery charges: We have amended our delivery charges and it's not all bad news. Royal Mail have actually reduced their parcel charges as they hope to compete on parcel business with the decline of letters being posted. Good news for us! We can now send up to 18 plants (which covers most of our orders) for the reduced price of only £6.99. And that's a Next Day service too for a quality of service that many parcel delivery companies cannot match, not nationwide.
The bad news is that larger orders than this become a little dearer - Royal Mail want parcel business but not so much big parcel business. We now charge (as we are charged) £9.99 for up to 36 plants anywhere in the Uk except Northern and the Channel Islands. It's only a pound or so more than we used to charge.
Stock updates: You may have noticed that we now list separately our Plants for Sale and those Not Currently Available. We have also listed plants we are no longer growing/are building up stock/ giving them a rest etc. We hope you like these changes.
Currently, we have more varieties not for sale than we have actually for sale. We have thousands of plants potted (I'm almost finished potting for this year) and those plants currently Sold Out will gradually start to transfer to our For Sale list. I had hoped this would be around the end of July but the weather has been unkind for all of July, so far. We are well over our usual rainfall total for July already and the Semps just aren't liking it. So they will be a little later in being ready.
Also, I can now tell that quite a few of the slower/later varieties won't be ready for sale at all this summer but everything we have listed is potted - over 300 varieties! Those that won't be ready this year will be good to go in the spring. We don't rush our plants; they need time to grow.
One other thing before I go, a quick 'heads up' that we will be taking a week off in mid September for a family wedding - just in case you were planning a plant order around then.
21 May 2023
We are taking a one week break next week so we won't be dispatching plants on Tuesday 30th as we would normally. Our next days for taking orders will be from the morning of Thursday 1st June. We apologise for any inconvenience.
When we return on the 1st June our stock list will be fully updated and we will be including several new (to us) varieties.
13 April 2023
We have 'closed' our online shop to further orders until next week - we only hide the 'Add to Basket' button; you may still browse our plants. Regular customers from recent years will be familiar with this routine but we know it confuses new customers. Many don't realise that we are only a simple husband and wife team - yes, I'm the simple husband : ) - and it happens on occasions that we receive more orders than we could reliably process.
Some weeks - this week for example, our opening week of the season, is exceptionally busy as no one wants to miss out and/or needs to feed their cravings! Bank holiday weeks and whenever we release new batches of plants also usually see a sudden increase in business. We don't like working under that increased pressure - and believe me, we have plenty of pressure already, we're not just coasting along!
It's the nature of business that some weeks we get all big orders, others weeks will see smaller orders and occasionaly it's 'Goldilocks' - just right! However, without some form of intervention to ease the highest demands, mistakes would surely start to happen and quality could suffer. Our biggest nightmare would be an unresolveable backlog of unfulfilled orders, refunds, complaints etc., etc. Neither we, nor you, our valued customers, would want that and besides, it's not an ethical way to do business. We appreciate your patience.
Sales will re-commence Wednesday 12th April.
We apologise for being so late. We have a few ongoing issues, all personal/family stuff including waiting for hospital appointments (nothing serious) and I was hoping they would have been cleared by now - but sadly not. Sooo....
We'll start taking orders from 6.00pm, Wednesday12th for delivery the following week, as we normally do. It's impossible to predict demand but we're prepared to be busy. We have a lot of plants to sell!
Stock-taking is ongoing and we'll be updating availablility of all varieties over the coming days.
Edit 10th April - all varieties now updated.
27 February 2023
A quick update ...
As I write, we now intend starting sales some time in April. We know we keep pushing this back but it's unavoidable for lots of (mainly) personal reasons.
Other than a severe frosty spell the winter has been very benign so our plants are looking good. Normally at this time we would be getting our Semps gradually moistened after their drier winter phase but I have held off watering so the plants are still pretty dormant. I expect we'll see an unusually rapid growth/colour response to watering and it will be intresting to see how the plants react.
3 January 2023
Start of sales for the 2023 season.
Happy New Year to all, old and new. Much of what affects our everday lives seem to be in turmoil just now - the NHS, postal strikes, rail strikes - you name it! I know many of you will be keen to start a new season of gardening as a gentle respite.
We are still debating when to start selling plants again. The weather, as ever, will be a factor and it certainly doesn't look as though it will be an early start this year.
Our most pressing concern is industrial action at our courier, Parcelforce, who are linked to Royal Mail. I can't see an early resolution to the strikes and the annoying thing (for us) is that the Parcelforce side of the business isn't the problem, it's Royal Mail. We have looked at alternatives but that is problematic - many couriers simply refuse to accept live plants, some don't offer good coverage in our area and, besides which, hardly any are looking for new business as they deal with the overload on their networks caused by the strikes.
We are tempted to delay selling until the parcel situation is resolved. If we are forced into using another carrier it will likely mean an increase in cost and/or a reduction in the areas of the UK we supply for a single delivery charge. Being based in Scotland we have many customers in the far north who appreciate that we can send plants without charging them a premium - I can foresee angry complaints if we are forced to go that route. I suspect we could lose a reliable parcel collection service which for us would mean delivering parcels to a depot or drop-off point. It's finding something that is workable and reliable.
You probably arrived here to find out about plants. Our stock of plants for 2023 is looking quite good although it's early for Sempervivum - they are still very dormant for the winter. If the weather allows we shall start to carefully water them as everything is kept dry and under cover for winter. We have had -14°C here recently but Semps are untouched by low temperatures - if they are dry.
In nature, plants in the mountains will be frozen (so no 'free' water) and under a snow blanket. We can't replicate those conditions but by keeping Semps dry (or even very dry) we can overwinter them here very well. The plants respond well to water as the temperature rises in spring. We can overwinter plants outside, unprotected, but they are just surviving, not showing their best.
Please check back in the coming weeks and we hope to have a firm date when we start selling again. We are very aware that some people are keen not to miss out on what we grow.
23 October 2022
We have now closed for the season - thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past months.
We have closed somewhat suddenly but ongoing strike action by CWU means we have little option. We would have been stopping in November anyway, as we usually do, but still ...
We have lots of plants prepared for next year and will have many new varieties. Once again we intend offering some newer introductions from Germany as well as some less readily available plants we have been accumulating. Getting new plants from Europe is difficult now, and expensive after Brexit, but someone, somehow will get new plants into the UK; it will just take longer and cost more.
We haven't decided when we might start selling again but we'll post an update in the New Year. I'll be updating the plants on our website over the coming months.
August 22 2022
CWU strike action. Postal workers (including Parcelforce) intend taking strike action on 4 days over two weeks, the timing of which will cause maximum disruption to our deliveries. We have taken the decision to suspend taking new orders for delivery of plants over this period - you can imagine we are unhappy with this but trying to find a work-around just creates extra difficulties. There is still a chance (!) the strike action will be called off at short notice.
Our next date for accepting orders (subject to events) will be from Thursday 8th Septmber for delivery the following week.
June 1 2022
Our Alpines are all but finished for now but we still intend to offer a small selection next spring.
Sempervivums are very well stocked and I must say they are looking superb. The recent weather conditions (cool and dryish) have really brought out their colours and most varieties are at just that perfect size - not too big, not too small and with babies appearing.
NEW - Cheque payments. We are now accepting payment by cheque.
We used to accept payments by cheque until all the branch closures meant we couldn't get to a bank to deposit cheques - but we can now deposit cheques using an online app. Place your order online as usual but select the 'Send Payment by Post' option at checkout then mail us a cheque.
May 7 2022
Jubilee holiday week. As you probably know Thursday 4th June and Friday 5th are holidays. We will be dispatching plants on Monday that week, just in case a parcel gets slightly delayed.
Alpines coming to an end. We expect to sell out of alpines (not Sempervivum) by the end of May, more or less, but we still intend to offer for sale a few special varieties on a seasonal basis.
April 27 2022
We now hope our online shop will remain open for orders from Thursday mornings through to Sunday evenings. We are less busy as we run down the alpine side of our business but going forward we still intend closing to new orders on Sunday evenings. This allows us to deal with orders received on Mondays and Tuesdays.
We may still need to close if we reach a limit of orders - we do this by hiding the 'Add to Basket' button on our shop pages. Our shop is fully updated each week so availability should be accurate. We anticipate that any plants currently showing as 'Sold Out' will be available later this spring or summer - we try not to list plants we probably won't have this season.
16 February 2022
We intend re-opening our online shop around mid March.
We will have a limited range of alpines - our list from last year still appears online but this will be greatly slimmed down in the coming weeks. In case you missed the announcement, this will be our last spring for selling alpines but we'll continue with Sempervivum.
Online ordering will (probably) be restricted just as we have done in the past two years but we'll see how it goes.
Thank you to everyone who has offered us support and good wishes during recent months; it is greatly appreciated.
1 October 2021
We have now closed for the season but we have plants ready for sale in early 2022.
We had hoped to start selling plants again this month - as we hoped in previous months - but we're still unable to.
We also announce some major changes - we intend running down the alpine side of our business in 2022 but we'll continue with our Sempervivum collection. After 33 years of growing alpines, next year will be our last season of growing alpines - more or less, we may still do the odd variety. Due to circumstances this summer (you can read below if you're not aware) we have been unable to grow many alpines at all. Normally at this time of year our nursery is bursting at the seams with plants for next year. We will still have some superb alpine plants to sell though, just not in the wide range we usually have and only a fraction of the quantity.
We'll continue with our Sempervium though and we'll have a wide range for sale next spring. They are all potted now and recently moved to their winter quarters to wait for spring. The last couple of years have been difficult for most people and to be honest, I think we have fared better than many. But it hasn't been easy - when other businesses were forcibly closed, we were snowed under with demand. Whilst that was good in the short term trying to handle a massive surge in demand was incredibly difficult - and stressful! Many people don't realise that we (my wife, Nicola, and I) run the nursery entirely on our own and the nature of the nursery trade means that for many months of the year we are already working at our maximum capacity.
Sales in 2022. What we propose (at the moment, it may change) is that we will start selling alpines only (not Sempervivum) some time in January. This will be weather dependent of course so we won't start until we're hopeful of acceptable conditions. Sempervivum sales will start late February/early March, maybe earlier depending on how things go and as ever, the weather. We're also hoping that as the spring progresses we'll be able to restrict dispatches to one day a week. We can pack Sempervivums more quickly and they won't object to being packed the day before dispatch, something we would never do with alpines.
Nicola's recovery. Regular readers may be wondering how Nicola is doing after her surgery - well, she's fine, getting back to normal, all be it slowly. Her wound is very nearly healed, just one tiny bit of skin needs to join together in the centre of the hole; yes, it really was a hole and she is likely to have an enduring 'notch' on her shin. She is gradually getting fitter too as she lost a lot of fitness with her enforced resting. Nicola has only worked a few hours in the nursery recently and she now feels it afterwards; unused muscles and all that. We don't realise how physically fit we need to be 'just to grow a few plants'. Nicola still has to be very careful not to knock or damage the site of her wound so I'm managing most jobs myself and that will be the case for a while yet. We have a hospital appointment next week and I'm fairly sure that will be her last visit, for now.
Can I just thank everyone, sincerely, for sending their best wishes for Nicola.
7 August 2021
Due to personal circumstances we have suspended all sales of plants until further notice.
Our situation hasn't improved at all. The treatment of Nicola's leg is still ongoing - in fact, she is no further forward than she was a few weeks ago. We had two visits to hospital this week, another course of antibiotics and a different treatment in an attempt to get her skin graft/wound to heal. She has still to rest with her leg elevated, walking for essential trips only, no driving and definitely no standing. Nicola is signed off work until the end of August (that will be 8 weeks in total) but that will certainly be extended. We were told originally that Nicola would be back to work after about 3 weeks but, well, things happen.
As you will appreciate, this has totally messed up our growing season when we should be producing plants for next year. I am doing what I can but in all honesty, all I can manage most weeks is simply looking after the plants I have been able to grow and pot whatever cuttings we had ready. That has mostly been Sempervivums that were propagated last year. At least we will have a good range of Sempervivum to sell but I have grown hardly any alpines.
I'm hopeful we will be able to start sending plants out again next month but I can't honestly say for certain.
4 July 2021
Nicola had some relatively minor surgery recently (removal of a suspect mole) and I'm afraid things haven't gone too well. She is okay, her mole was 'only' pre-cancerous, but her treatment and resulting skin graft hasn't gone as well as we all hoped it would - she is now signed off for 3 weeks with probably further time off to follow. She has to keep her leg rested, foot up, only minimal walking and no driving. This is all harder than it sounds, especially for someone like Nicola who is always on the go. She will be fine eventually but her full recovery is likely to take several weeks.
My mother - who we very nearly lost 3 weeks ago - is back home recuperating and doing well, but she does need more attention and help with everyday things. Mum lives half an hour away and hospital for Nicola is half an hour in the opposite direction - it's a long time since I used a full tank of petrol in a week!
Most days I am only able to do the essentials on the nursery. This time of year should be our busiest for getting plants propagated and potted for next year but that just can't happen. Many people, even regular customers, don't realise that we only work by ourselves - we have no staff and no helpers. To be honest, our present predicament doesn't concern us greatly but we would like to be able to grow and sell plants. It's unfortunate that we can't at the moment but you'll appreciate that our priorities are elsewhere.
I shall post any further news here. In the meantime, enjoy your summer and make the most of our relative freedom.