Reflections on a Sunny Spring Open Day

Alitex open day at Torberry Farm

As soon as we opened our doors on Saturday our visitors came flocking in; a combination of unseasonably sunny weather and a great line-up of guest speakers saw people coming from around the counties to share experiences and broaden their knowledge.

After light refreshment we were able to browse the stunning collection of plants brought along from Marina's Phoenix Perennials, before sitting outside our new mono-pitch greenhouse (destined for Chelsea Flower Show) and enjoying the lectures from our horticultural friends.

John Wood, Hinton Ampner

We were treated initially to an expert demonstration from John Wood from the National Trusts’ Hinton Ampner, in how to cultivate and tend seedlings. John was deftly able to explain his tried and tested methods and as we all sat with notebooks in hand, writing down every possible slip-up we might encounter, it became clear we were learning from an expert. Half of the trick is in handling the seedlings carefully, the other in ensuring optimum growing conditions.

There was so much incredibly good and valuable advice that I will include a more thorough and detailed examination of what we learnt from our speakers in a separate blog targeted at more interested gardeners. Keep an eye on this blog and events section.

Sarah Wain, West Dean

Sarah Wain from West Dean continues to captivate me with her down-to-earth accessible ideas on gardening. It was always a mystery how she and her husband could maintain such perfect display gardens down at West Dean and she has finally owned up to being a general neatness fanatic. Sarah arrived with a number of well-thumbed books and encouraged us all to research and read up about what we want to grow under glass. Planning makes perfect! For followers of my blog, I finally asked Sarah about the beautiful pink coloured limbs of the tree in the West Dean Gardens last year – they were wrapped in pink silk as an art installation and would not have damaged the tree. I fully intend to wrap my entire garden in silk ribbon now – I thought it looked very Creole.

Wild Wood Coppice

Jo from Wild Wood Coppice extolled the virtues of digging charcoal into the soil as a way of locking nutrients in which are subsequently slowly released. Many ancient civilisations had used this technique to keep the ground fertile and useful, and I guess this demonstrates once again how much our ancestors knew.

Our next Open Day is on Saturday 14th July and we will look forward to welcoming you then.

Useful websites:

West Dean
Hiton Ampner House & Garden

Tags: alitex, alitex greenhouses, alitex conservatories, john wood hinton ampner, sarah wain west dean gardens