More information can be found on our brochure website - click here
Our nursery is set in eleven acres of glorious Norfolk countryside within a county wildlife site and bordering a SSSI. The actual growing areas, however, are quite compact and cover only about one and a half acres. (less tiring on the legs!). We have always tried to blend in with our surroundings and take great care of the environment so the nursery has been screened with plenty of trees and hedging which lead naturally into the meadows and woods beyond. Woe betide anyone who uses any lethal farm chemicals around here! Energy efficiency is also important and it was for this reason we recently dismantled two greenhouses (old, draughty and inefficient ) and erected one new propagation house instead.
The main growing is carried out in a series of polytunnels, some heated to frost protection for young or tender plants and some with no heating for hardy plants or for 'hardening off'.) There is also a large outside nursery stock area, two shade tunnels and an area for stock plants to provide cutting material for propagation.
Our water is pumped from a borehole and much of the watering is carried out by hand because different herb varieties require varying amounts of water. We also use automatic systems; sensor mist sprays over the propagating benches and overhead irrigation in all other areas: The latter is used as an extra pair of hands during hot summer months when watering by hand would become a little like painting the Forth Bridge! A recent 'energy saving' grant means that the overhead irrigation is now controlled electronically from a central control panel on a sequence timer. This has certainly saved us much time during the busy months and, surprisingly, has also saved on water usage because we no longer have to remember to turn a tap off at the correct time. It is amazing how one is always called away on a vital errand just at the crucial moment of watering! In fact, one of our tunnels is now forever called 'The Dolphin Tunnel' because, once upon a time, someone forgot to turn the overheads off! The one disadvantage of the new system is trying to time one's entrance into a tunnel without being caught out by a sudden shower of water. Much to everyone's amusement we don't always succeed!
The same grant also helped pay for all singing, all dancing electronic thermostats on the heating systems. These are fantastically efficient because just one degree out either way on our old thermostats would mean either a greenhouse full of frosted plants or several pounds worth of unnecessary power usage. The one drawback of the new system is that you need a degree in computer programming to use it!
Situated within the nursery site we have a couple of sheds which house tools, pump equipment, animal feed - and the nursery cat, (complete with comfy bed and cat flap!). Adjacent to the delivery entrance we have a small 'Dutch barn' for keeping various things (including ourselves!) dry in the pouring rain and this same building protects our staff from the heat of the sun on hot days. This is where plant orders are prepared either for loading into the vans for wholesale deliveries and Show displays or onto trolleys in readiness for mail order packing or our own retail sales area. Our main building on the nursery we have always called 'The Barn'. Why we should call it this, I really don't know! Apart from a hipped roof in old and mossy Norfolk pantiles, this long, low, colour washed, many windowed building looks nothing like a barn! Call it what you like - it is still the hub of the whole nursery with loft storage space running the whole length and the ground floor divided into several sections. The far end room is used as our mail order packing area. This leads to a central area mainly used for storing mail order cardboard packaging and other trade consumables. Swallows can find their way into here to nest. It is delightful to have them near - but not so easy to keep the top layers of cardboard free of bird droppings! A small wash room and toilet (for us - not the birds!) is tucked into here.
The final area leads onto the sales area and garden and is divided into two sections. One half is our reception area and information and pay point for visitors. The other half serves as a mini nursery office ( our main offices are situated in our house further along the drive) and the walls are racked with pigeon holes containing coloured plant labels which are placed into every plant before it leaves the nursery.
Our sales area is compact (everything is 'small' on this nursery! Small is beautiful and we like it like that!) We always keep an extensive variety selection of plants on display for visitors to browse through but keeping the area small means that it is constantly topped up with super fresh plants straight from the growing areas. Our display garden is for everyone to enjoy including the bees and butterflies and it also acts as a vital nursery seed bank for those herb varieties which prefer to germinate from very fresh seed.
A specialist nursery can be very seasonal and the Spring and early Summer weeks can be extremely hectic. We are very lucky to have an enthusiastic band of seasonal helpers who arrive to join the regular staff at these times. Most have been with us for many happy years so, hopefully, we must be doing something right! Thank you to all!