Newsletter No.28: March 2013

March Newsletter
I’ve been sweating away upgrading our website, which has now gone live. Inevitably it has been a lot of work for what looks like not very much of a result (!), but it should significantly improve its performance.
We have included Black Poplars from Aylesbury Vale, which is very exciting. We can now offer either sex of this rare native tree.
In other news, we’ve been working on some large scale seed projects, for the Friends of the Earth’s Bee World project and Co-op’s Plan Bee. To say nothing of project Chicken (see below). Good stuff.
Talking about bees, it looks as if the campaigns to ban neonicotinoid pesticides in the UK are beginning to pay off, as retail outlets start to withdraw them from sale and political pressure mounts. More good news.
We’re at the Ecobuild show in London next week – do drop by if you’re there.

GiftReader Offer
We’re hugely appreciative of the personal recommendations we get which fuel our progress. As a small thank you to the readers of our newsletter, if you quote “HAL03/13” at our website checkout you will get a £10 discount on your purchase. I’ve cashed my own £10 in to buy some clay meadow seed mix in for our new house!

Matthew WilsonWe’re delighted to welcome Matthew Wilson to our Somerset HQ to give the keynote speech in our day for garden designers on using native plants. Our other external speakers are Ted Chapman from Kew and Pond Conservation’s Jeremy Biggs. Places are limited, so book now to avoid tears! It’s on the 21st June. Please email for further details.
Your Own Seed PacketsPlan Bee seeds
Wildflower seed packets are great for promotions or fund raising. We can offer a wide variety of bespoke packet designs. As you’d expect, our seed mixes are top quality, UK provenance, and designed around your requirements. We’d be delighted to quote for any sized job.
Not chicken feedNoble Foods
I’m delighted to reveal a fantastic project with Noble Foods, the biggest free range egg producer in the UK. We’re supplying them with the seed and support to create 800 acres of traditional wildflower meadow on their chicken farms over a ten year period. We’re starting with over 100 acres this spring, and will be harvesting seed from these initial sites to sell to later adopters. I’m thrilled with the scale and intent of the projest, and confident it will be a commercial boon for the client.

Newsletter No.12: March 2011

Spring is springing in deepest Somerset, although we’ve been working so hard it is rather passing us by. Over the last week we’ve been busy processing plug plant orders from our offer for Butterfly Conservation. The dogs need walking more and I keep putting off writing a book outline I MUST do. I did manage to get my act together enough to write a piece for the FT last weekend, which is always super exposure. I have also finally added some lovely lavenders on the website from Downderry Nursery.

We’ve finalized a day for this year’s wildlife pond creation day – 12th May. The course will again be tutored by pond guru Hugh Roberts, and we have a fab site in Redlynch, southeast Somerset, to develop. I’ve also posted a video of Matthew “Landscape Man” Wilson working on a project with our coir rolls and native marginal plants, which gives a helpful idea as to what we offer:[aembed:]

Meadow AnywhereIt’s the time of year to be thinking of wildflower meadows – plugs and seed. Our wildflower and grass seed mix, launched with Hilliers last month and featuring at Chelsea, is going really well. We’ve had extensive media coverage and interest from other retail partners.

St. Kevin, We Need You!

Flogged up to the NEC at Birmingham today to see Grand Designs Live. I can’t tell you what it was like to go to a venue simultaneously hosting three shows (I could have gone to GDL, something to do with horses and the Wedding Show on the same day) – OMG as my daughter would say. The garden design area was much more hot tub than horticulture, but it was a valuable day and gave me much food for thought.

I don’t want to sound like too much of a suck, but Kevin McCloud is a very nice, personable bloke who is passionate, intelligent, and knowledgable about his subject (like Hugh F-W). Grand Designs has deservedly done him well, now attracts a huge following, and has opened a whole new world for people like me (like River Cottage). Ten years ago I wanted to live in an old rectory. Now I want to build my own eco house. Why in God’s name can’t someone do for cool, chic, functional eco friendly gardens and landscapes what Kevin has done for cool, chic, functional modern architecture? I’m sure there’s a gardening McCloud out there – there’s some tremendous talent around – a commissioning editor somewhere needs to be persuaded to back someone to do it. Is Matthew Wilson’s Landscape Man a start?

I was mulling all this over while stuck in a traffic jam on the M5 somewhere north of the Cheltenham exit on the way home and listening to Gardeners’ Question Time. Someone asked the panel what they would do if they had a spare acre of land. I know it’s just a bit of fun, but I for one was interested and thought I might get an inspiring idea. One of the panellists said she would plant a field of Pumpkins. PUMPKINS!!! Says it all, really.

The Landscape Man

A great coup for us last week. We were asked to come up with a native planting scheme and supply the plants for a large pond in Yorkshire for next spring’s Channel 4 series of The Landscape Man, presented by Matthew Wilson. Right up our street, but we only had 5 business days to do the whole thing… Undeterred, we parachuted pond consultant Hugh Roberts onto the site on Monday and had his planting scheme in our sticky hands that evening. Not only was he recommending a plant list, but there was also some bio-engineering to do to keep the pond bank from eroding. Landscape Man pond projectThe owner had been persuaded to use granite sets to line a section of it, which would have to be removed and replaced with preplanted coir rolls. We had all the plants and rolls on site on Thursday to film the planting on Friday. Hugh was then on hand to help Matthew with the planting. Phew! Thanks everyone, especially Lew from Dragonfly Flora and Hugh. The site will not only be absolutely stunning but also a huge boon to wildlife – just the sort of landscaping we’re trying to promote.