10 September 2012 By Billy Hawkins
After a very wet summer open day it was with some relief that our late summer open day was basked in glorious sunshine which tempted visitors from far and wide.
We had around sixty guests, many of whom had come to hear Marina Christopher speak about late summer flowers and also lots of people who wanted to really see what the brochure and website cannot reveal – what an Alitex structure feels like.
By 11am our new atrium was full of interested people, keen to see how Alitex are incorporating their structural ideas and standards into this most modern of home additions. The conservatory at Torberry continues to be of interest to many of our guests, especially the blinds supplied by Grants which regulated the heat on this sunny day. The new greenhouse from the “wood look inside and out”, range of Alitex greenhouses was officially open to visitors and was a real hit with a number of our guests. The National Trust Greenhouses range continues to be popular and there were a number of visitors who had come along to try and gauge the feel of the interior and work out how they could use the space. Petal pod structures burbled with water which proved to be a hit with the children on the hot day as they cooled their hands in the water stream.
At 11.30 Marina Christopher from Phoenix Perennials began her illustrative talk, which we were able to hold outside on the lawns. In fact everyone was clamouring for the shaded seats as the sun bore down. Marina continues to be a real crowd puller amongst the horticulturalists in the area; some of those listening had come specifically to listen to her informative and interesting talk and hopefully lots was learned. The talk was littered with Latin names indicating species and origin – forgive me for not being able to accurately relay them- but I believe that’s why Marina is so far ahead in her field of expertise; she talks on a macro and micro scale, ensuring that all types of gardener appreciate her knowledge. To purchase the specific plants Marina mentioned in her talk, please contact her directly through her nursery, Phoenix Perennials. In fact for all gardening plans which involve bringing wildlife into the garden, she should be your first point of reference.
We were also able to show our guests the factory and design processes of our structures.
One comment in the past has been that the factory seemed quiet - well there's a good reason for that. It is a Saturday and usually the factory is closed - we only open it for our Open Days in a very limited way which allows us to demonstrate, without falling foul of Health and Safety rules.
In the office here today, we have been discussing how interesting we find Marina’s talks. The things which stand out for us are the taller herbaceous plants of North American descent which manage to reach heights of 4-6 feet without being staked (Sylphium). I liked the idea of Rudbeckia Hebsona being enormous slug bait – the slug travels the 5-7 foot plant to get to the flowers and you can just wander along and pick them off. Apparently Brits don’t like yellow so much in our borders and we favour pinks, blues and purples – Marina drew our attention to the fact that stems can provide lots of colour which fit into this colour scheme. The daisy family were popular for the late summer garden as with their open habit they attract insects into their pollen – asters, achillea and thistle would all fit into this group.
Did you know plants pollinated by bees smell sweet and those that smell of the bins have been pollinated by bugs and insects? Did you realise dead heading really works unless you want the plant to create seed which you can re-use next year? A top tip for drought ravaged plants is to hack them back until the plant has conserved enough energy to go again. I urge any interested parties to try and get to a Marina lecture – it is one useful fact after another, and well worth while.
It’s good to learn, and the joy of learning something new is the best reason to get up in the morning. I feel as though I learned so much from Marina that I can bank a good couple of lie-ins!
Our next open day is scheduled for November 10th, please do come along and join us. If you cannot wait until then and would like a factory tour please do contact us 01730 826900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org