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Diary Article 3

On the “Open Day,” my mother and myself, were sat with our little table of books by a lad who was doing a little display of potting techniques. He seemed quite able mentally, but had some physical disabilities that made walking difficult and had little use in one arm. However, his enthusiasm for the plants he was working with was self-evident. During the day he transplanted many dozens of young Thymes and Ivies into larger pots to grow on so that they could be sold at a later date. As he filled the trays with pots, I moved them, put them to soak and replaced them with empty trays. Having a little help and company brightened his day and mine as well. Afterwards I chatted to the centre manager about it and was told that they often try to arrange for that lad to have some potting to do, but sometimes they have to buy young plants in for him which comes expensive.

At home I had sown a tray full of Angelica seed that had been taken from plants on my allotment and they had germinated very well. Some had been pricked out for my own use, but I had far too many, so the next week I took the tray of seedlings to Oak Tree with me, along with a pack of London Plane tree seedlings that were already in small modules. I explained to Dave about the plants and they were obviously appreciated because the next week I saw dozens upon dozens of pots of Angelica seedlings, all in neat rows, on one side of one of the larger greenhouses. I know they have proper staff who are involved with organising what plants are grown etc, but it did give me some ideas about how I could provide a few trays of seedlings of things that they might not otherwise grow.

At home my mother and I had a look round the garden to see what suitable berries there were ripening on our plants. Obviously a lot of young trees such as Oak and Horse Chestnut wouldn’t really be of much use to them, but many hedging plants that produce berries like Holly, Yew and Hawthorn would. We also found pips in Chaenamollis fruits, a couple of different Euonymous and Leycestaria, amongst others. Hopefully after spending the Winter in the cold frame to “Stratify,” them, some of the seeds will germinate and I will be able to take them to the centre to be pricked out and potted on. I already have a small tray of Honesty seedlings germinated that were taken from the dried seedpods in our garden. They can almost be thought of as wild flowers because they will happily self seed if planted in the right place. Their flowers are quite attractive in their own right, but they are really grown for their dried seedpods that have a silvery sparkle and are much favoured by flower arrangers in the winter for use in dried flower arrangements. Oak Tree already sell cut flowers, so I thought they might like to grow a few plants on for themselves as well as selling the young plants to the public.

Much of the Oak Tree site is dedicated to the plant nursery aspect and fruit and vegetable growing, but there are some flower borders dotted about here and there. With these in mind I have also taken them a small selection of some of my spare plants so that they can plant them in the ground as a source of future cuttings. These included the ever popular Kerria, White and Yellow Buddlejas and Houttynia to mention but a few. As mature plants they are not outrageously expensive to buy, but are colourful and always in demand as well as being easy to root with the Kerria and Houttynia readily producing rooted offsets themselves that just need potting. The Houttynia is especially suitable for planting on the Oak Tree Farm Rural Project site as it is quite happy in wet conditions and there are plenty of those with a stream running across the land!

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