Monday, 1 May 2017

In Springtime....

One of the reasons I love Spring is the flowers, and I usually go out around now and buy a selection of pot plants to add to those already on the balcony.  Except that over the last year or two I've noticed that many stores have stopped bothering to look after the plants they sell.  Here's a random selection that have been offered at full price in our local Homebase and Waitrose.... aargh!!!!








Perhaps the staff haven't been told that certain fresh produce needs to be cared for...  but I need hardly tell you that I haven't bought anything here.  Since they're the only local places selling pot plants, I was wondering what to do but then, cycling through Little Venice, where the Regents' Canal runs through big, tall, grand houses,  I spotted this.... 


Inspiring gardeners since 1851!  Surely there would be something here for me? 

I daresay that the market garden shown on the site of Clifton Nurseries in early Victorian development plans supplied fruit and veg to the cooks of surrounding homes. But as supermarkets came along, Clifton Nurseries obviously moved with the times.  I was delighted when I went down the passageway into the garden and saw lots of beautifully kept plants....


The nursery now serves high end landscape gardeners, wedding organisers and hotels. Until recently owned by the Rothschilds it's just been bought by super-garden specialists Gavin Jones who do stately homes and public parks...    BUT!!!!!! despite these grand credentials it also seems to welcome locals with balconies.  To my delight I found that their humbler plants cost the same - or less than -  the sorry specimens at Homebase or Waitrose.

And the surroundings are certainly more interesting than racks of plumbing equipment or freezers full of sausages.   Do you notice that the lad is watering around the base of a Roman column?  


The column's on the right in this picture below, a splendid ornament for the garden, though perhaps a little over the top for a balcony. I also admired the stone sphinxes and urns beyond, completely overgrown with creeper.


I was a bit tempted by the enormous canna lilies too...


But I saw sense and these are the plants I ended up with, which fitted into my bike panniers  just fine 


And they are now quite happy on the balcony.  



56 comments:

  1. It is disgraceful that well known supermarkets cannot spare a few minutes to care for the plants they sell. I was surprised that my nearest branch of Sainsburys had started to stock plants but they were well watered, Potted plants were labelled with a sell by date plus an advisory note about life expectancy of the flowers. Quite right too!

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    1. Yes, our local Sainsburys is very good, but it sells very few flowers. It does sell some, though, and the cut flowers are always put in water, and when I have bought pot plants there they are well cared for and well labelled.

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  2. Wow, what a difference in quality and vibrance. I'm glad [you found Clifton's. Happy Spring!

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    1. Thanks! I do appreciate Spring specially when I can see some flowers.

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  3. A spring worth waiting for!

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  4. I was in England to visit my mother over Easter and it was a delight to see the spring flowers. A new Lidl had opened locally and mother was keen to see it so we trotted down there and found racks of flowers and plants in the entrance, all beautifully cared for.

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    1. I have noticed rather sad flowers in Lidl in Cricklewood, but perhaps they just don't like living on the North Circular!

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  5. Good choice. It is sad what happens to plants at our local Walmart. My husband busied himself watering plants there the last time we went, he felt sorry for them.

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    1. What a nice man! As I said to Karen S below, I have also been known to do this, after all they are living things, at least the potted ones.

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  6. Oh that's too bad, please water me, you can just feel it in every photo of them. A very nice collection you brought home, and I wish you much luck. Our spring is being a bit cruel for planting outside yet, but soon!

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    1. I confess I have been known to open the plastic bottle of water I usually carry around in my bag, and pour it onto plants in Waitrose. I am kind of sorry for the growers, too, slaving away growing stuff to the best standard they can, and having it treated that way.

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  7. You mean Homebase and Waitrose were actually selling those plants in your first few photos?? You managed to fit quite a few plants on your bike. I'm impressed!

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    1. They were actually selling them, and I even saw someone buying one!! I think a lot of people never look closely at plants or realise what they need, so don't notice the signs of distress. I used to be like that until I started trying to grow things myself.

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  8. Lovely you found a place with well tended plants.
    I look in your basket thinking...where's the parsley? lol
    My mind is on edibles. I bought extra basil and curly parsley this year to use fresh on sandwiches.

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    1. I have been growing 3 kinds of mint, all easy to grow. They don't like pots much, because their roots grow so fast, though - so I have to put them in the ground.

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  9. You found a great place for all garden lovers there, it seems!
    Hard to understand that Homebase etc. allow their plants to be in such a sorry state; one should think they have a bit more sense than that.
    My mother-in-law absolutely LOVES going to garden centers, and her daughter treats her to such an outing regularly. She always ends up buying loads, and orders online, too - sometimes it gets a bit much, but she enjoys her garden so much, and it keeps her healthy.

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    1. Gardening's very good for older people, and probably younger ones too. I have also wondered why it is financially worthwhile for stores to neglect plants, but I suppose it must cost something if the staff spend time watering them every day. The staff at our local Homebase tell us that the company was fairly recently sold and everything is in chaos, there isn't much direction coming from the top at the moment. So I hope that will improve.

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  10. Oh, those poor plants at those first places! So glad you found a nursery that takes care of their plants. They look happy on your balcony. :)

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    1. I do hope they will remain so, Rita. I think I managed to over water the ranunculus, or perhaps it is the rainy weather we have been having but it is not quite as happy as before...

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  11. I love spring flowers but, unfortunately, I don't have a proverbial green thumb. I purchase wonderful plants - - and two weeks later they wind up looking like those in your first photos!

    I'm glad that you found a perfect nursery with fantastic plants. I have no doubt they'll be happy on your balcony. That last photo is especially impressive.

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    1. Prince Charles recommends talking to one's plants, it apparently helps them to do well. I would love to eavesdrop on some of the conversations!

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  12. Beautiful pictures. I admire anyone who can grow things. I can only grow parsley, probably because it's a weed.

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    1. I didn't know it was a weed, but I was rather proud of a pot that I have managed to grow. Oh well... :)

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  13. A sad and sorry sight, those poor plants at Homebase and Waitrose. The nursery, on the other hand, is superb. The love and care shows through in the plants.

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    1. Yes, I feel sad for them too and it is definitely uplifting to go somewhere that's kind to the poor things!

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  14. The Dianthus and Ranulculus are lovely. It is always better to get plants at a local nursery than a grocery store where the person who is to do the watering is instead busy stocking shelves with cake flour.

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    1. Whenever we drive into the country I keep an eye open for nice garden centres. Suffolk has some wonderful ones.

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  15. Lovely, Jenny! I think it's great that you cycle so much in London!

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    1. The best way of getting around, IMO.

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  16. That's lovely, Jenny. I'm no great gardener (official jobtitle is labourer) and my technique has been described as 'slash & burn', but I do like a nice garden and have been known to enjoy visiting garden centres. I can relate to your experience and also suggest that some garden centres are actually a form of department store which also sells plants. So Cliftons looks good - a proper nursery. Looks as though it has a similar ethos to one in the North West - http://bitaboutbritain.com/a-different-garden-centre/ . Couldn't you have bought the column and put it UNDER your balcony, though...? :-)

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    1. I have a friend who lives in a top flat and might suggest she puts the column under HER balcony, so her cat can get down more easily :)

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  17. Your flower choices are fabulous! I love that pink. And I really love that you found this fabulous nursery that cares about what they sell and how they display and care for it. That's a pet peeve of mine, too. I know when you have a lot of things you can't deadhead everything but dead leaves and not watering is just plain bad for business, not to mention the poor plants. I think these had a fabulous start and will give you great joy on your balcony!

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    1. Yes, I think deadheading's a bit much to expect, but a little bit of water really isn't. Many people simply don't realise that flowers have to be looked after, but I feel that a store should make it its business to keep its stock in good condition, even if it's only going to be looked at rather than eaten (in the case of Waitrose) or looked at rather than used to fill holes in the walls (in the case of Homebase) :)

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  18. Surprising that the upmarket Waitrose is so careless about tending their plants, but John Lewis seems to be going downhill at the moment. Lucky you chanced on the much more professional garden centre. We have some very good garden centres in Belfast that also tend their plants much better than any local shops.

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    1. Our local Waitrose doesn't seem upmarket - just cluttered, dirty and expensive. I don't think it is typical, and it certainly wasn't like that in the past. It is probably the management not expecting much of the staff.

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  19. Hello Jenny,
    You found a winner in Clifton Nurseries. I also love the selection you choose for your balcony. Don't you just love roaming around a nursery?
    Helen

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    1. Nurseries are wonderful places, we have very few in our particular bit of London, they're all getting sold off for luxury flats! Grrr!

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  20. Hello Jenny! What wonderful serendipity that brought you to the gates of this well-cared for nursery with a lively selection of healthy plants to chose from. Yours on the balcony are very pretty. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thanks, I am glad you like them!

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  21. After all those years working in Maida Vale and passing that area going home I never ventured inside.
    I knew it was there but see it for the first time, a great find for you.
    I think staff are the problem at your stores, ours look after the plants.
    However I am not sure the Roman pillar would be too outrageous on the balcony, it might start a trend.

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    1. I know. I still find things I haven't seen after all the years I have lived here. And OK, I will have another think about the Roman pillar!

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  22. Plants in a pot cannot walk to take water. They are our friends. Happy days.

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    1. You sum it up perfectly, Crane.

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  23. I adore your choices Jenny... such pretty colours - your balcony will look stunning.
    It's always so sad to see plants neglected. Sometimes they've been given too much looking after as well, so the poor things drown! Enjoy your pretties :D)

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    1. Yes, and here the most frustrating thing is when you water them and then it pours with rain the next day! I suppose you don't have that problem in Oz!

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  24. oh dear the first nursery you visited was destruction to flower lovers.
    i am glad you found great place to purchase your favorites for your balcony .
    loved your choices ,they look absolutely gorgeous here!!!

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    1. Thank you! Flowers can give a lot of pleasure, can't they?

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  25. Dear Jenny - I see professional negligence at Homebase and Waitrose. I think they should give away or sell at very low price the neglected plants so that some people can resurrect them from the still living parts. Sometimes my husband brings back some miserable plants but later in the season or next year, I find them blooming beautiful. Like you, one of the reasons I like spring is all the lovely flowers and the fresh baby foliage. The downside about spring (in Japan) is hazy weather; for example tomorrow is forecasted yellow sands from the continent. The peonies (right?) look so nice at your balcony. I know how good purchase makes you happy later.

    Yoko

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    1. Yes, you are quite right, Yoko. I have wondered why the stores have this unattractive policy but I suppose it makes them more money when everything is taken into consideration :/ I didn't know that Japanese Spring weather is hazy, but I have read about sand from the Gobi desert being blown across China and into Japan. It is amazing to me that events so far away can have such a big effect - but of course it is quite natural. Weather systems can be so very large.

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  26. Your balcony must look lovely. There is an upside to poor plant care. I always visit the rescue beds of local nurseries (and even a few supermarkets) and have found some wonderfully cheap bargain plants in need of TLC. Like rescued animals, the abandoned plants respond to care and attention very quickly.

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    1. Yes, I have sometimes done this too and it is rather satisfying, isn't it! You have to be careful that they are basically OK.

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  27. What a difference between the plants in the different stores! I can't believe that the sad-looking plants were for sale at full price.

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    1. No, and very expensive they were too, in both stores, interestingly. Maybe someone in retail will explain to me one of these days :)

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  28. I love your pics too Jenny.
    I also have been buying new plants for the spring and notice what you write of. Asda is the worst offender here in my little bit of the world. Although able to purchase healthy hardy plants that can last for a while without water, the rest are near dead specimens - never watered. As this is repeated over and over again, they can only make a loss from the plants made available.
    Kind regards
    Anna :o]

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    1. We don't have an Asda, but it seems from what people say that quite a few places neglect the plants. Sainsburys is our other local supermarket and it's interesting that they do water their plants for sale - but then they are generally cleaner and better run than the local Waitrose. I wonder how much depends on the branch, in fact.

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