Vines and Other Climbing Plants

 

About The Author.

At about the age of 12, I moved with my parents to a large old house with an acre of garden in Staffordshire. The unkempt field like garden had a couple of old smallish greenhouses at the bottom of it near to a large brick built "shed" as we called it, although it had been many things including a TV repair shop. My mother had been a keen gardener for many years having completed an R.H.S. course when I was younger, so she started growing tomato plants and selling the tomatoes to local villagers. Quickly she expanded her ideas, started growing many plants to sell and the family erected more greenhouses, but these were of a commercial size. A few years later my father lost his job due to detached retinas and he and my mother decided to make a proper business out of the growing nursery, so they put his redundancy money into yet more greenhouses and the business continued to expand rapidly with little opposition locally.

In my late teens I developed an interest in collecting/growing succulent and cacti plants, but on leaving school tried my hand at a career in a high street bank. After 3 years in the bank as a clerk, and after gaining some promotion, I decided it was not the life for me at all, so decided to try and turn my hobby of growing cacti into a small business. My parents by this time had one 50 foot glass greenhouse that was underused, so I rented it from them and started growing pot plants in large numbers to sell wholesale. The embryo business was loosely based around succulent/cacti plants, but I also grew pots of daffodils, hyacinths, ferns, ivies, etc, and took them in trays to Birmingham wholesale market, where dealers tried to sell them on to retailers, whilst taking a commission in the process.

I used ordinary domestic paraffin greenhouse heaters instead of proper commercial heaters to heat the long greenhouse, 4 or five of them I think. After they had been lit for the night they had to be checked to make sure they were burning properly. One very cold night I had forgotten to check them and they burnt with a thick black smoke all night. The next morning the greenhouse/plants had a surreal appearance with everything inside covered in what looked like black snow, ie, a thick layer of soot. The loss of plants was too great, so I gave up my fledgling business and spent a few months as a lifeguard before later getting a well paid job as a sales representative for a greenhouse equipment company that manufactured electric greenhouse heaters, propagators and watering equipment which were sold to garden centres and the horticultural trade in general.

At the age of 26 I had nervous breakdown and lost my job. As, by then, my parentís garden centre had developed even further and was employing several staff, my father asked me if I wanted to work there. By then I had developed an interest in fish keeping, so I built and ran a new aquatics department on the garden centre, but during the quieter weekdays helped out on the nursery with a little potting and general nursery maintenance.

After some years, but before my parents decided to retire, the family tried to start another wholesale plant nursery on a 15 acre site near Derby on the outskirts of a village called Hilton. We developed the site for about 3 years erecting 2 large 60 foot polythene growing tunnels to protect the young plants. A water supply and irrigation system were also installed and we supplied some plants to the main garden centre. The project was beset by difficulties before recurrent health problems, for my aging father, and myself forced us to reconsider its prospects. My older brother took over the site gaining a woodland grant to plant trees. Shortly after he took over the debt, new stretches of the main road between Nottingham and Uttoxeter passed the planning stages and construction started. After exploratory ground samples were drilled and our land proved to be a good source of base material for the planned elevated sections, my brother sold the site and it was quarried.

More recently I have been writing books, become a bit of a computer nerd, (Hence this book and web-site.) and during the last few years my mother and myself have been planting fruit trees and bushes in our garden instead of having herbaceous flower beds as she is getting too old to enjoy gardening much now. We also love most fruit and will try anything to eat, so we started looking for as many unusual trees and fruit as possible, ones that canít usually be bought in our shops.

As my interest in gardening grew I became involved with some new local allotments and started growing vegetables as well. My mother and I are practically vegetarians eating only a small amount of chicken and fish, but heaps of assorted vegetables, and as with fruit, we will try anything to eat, so we started looking for as many unusual vegetables as possible and decided to try growing some of the more exotic ones on my allotment that UK farmers don't normally grow.

The latest aspect of gardening that has caught my attention is cut flowers. As my mothers health has failed more and more in recent months I decided that fresh flowers round the house might cheer her up, so my allotment has been put to good use in the cultivation of an ever increasing range of flowering plants such as Sweet Peas, Gladiola, Dahlias and Chrysanthemums.

This broadening of my gardening interests sparked the idea for this particular book and website which I have put together with a little help and advice from my mother who was able to draw on her decades of practical experience.


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