Right then. For the last while I have been both adding to our list of flowering perennial plants and working on planting plants and corresponding plant packs. As the year so far has been nuts, progress has not been as swift as I would like (what's new?) but I am finally starting to get some shape on it. Needless to say, my home garden (which was to show off some of the plant combinations) is equally far behind but things are starting to happen, more on this in a later mail.
What we have succeeded in doing is building up our nursery stock for next year to include many of the stars of the 'New Perennial Style' which you definitely won't find in your local garden centre. Sadly many of the varieties aren't large enough to ship this season (well, maybe in September/October) but we will be hitting the ground running in 2021.
What's so great about perennials? The reason I am so excited about this new journey for Quickcrop is that perennial planting ticks so many boxes for me personally and for our business. The 'new Perennial Style' champions more natural planting that looks beautiful but is also beneficial to wildlife, particularly for pollinators. Flowering perennial plants tend to be very good for bees, and butterflies while also offering winter habitats for other insects in spent foliage, seed heads or hollow stems.
A perennial garden can also look just as eye catching in the winter as it did in the summer. The image above shows the tiered seed heads of Phlomis Russeliana (Jerusalem sage) adding structure to a frosty palette of muted greens, greys and browns that make a stunning winter display. As above we are also looking at a winter insect home for pollinators and other beneficial creepy crawlies which in turn support birds and other wildlife.
The wild feel of this style of planting is also a lot more forgiving of the odd weed poking up here and there so, although it is not strictly a low maintenance solution, it can be left to it's own devices much of the time. Many of the plants used are close relatives of their wild cousins so the odd thistle flower of a bit of rosebay willow herb will look like it's been expertly placed by you rather than being a comment on your weeding regime.
Piet Oudolf I think I mentioned this in an earlier mail but Dutch designer and nurseryman Piet Oudolf is probably the best known and, arguably, the original New Perennial Style designer. You may know the name from high profile projects like the famous High Line in New York or the Lurie garden in Chicago.
If you were to distill his style down to it's component parts you could say he uses three main elements: the primary plants, the matrix plants and scatter plants. The primary plants are those that create the impact with strong colours or architectural shapes; the matrix plants include grasses whose muted colours and delicate foliage provide a quiet backdrop for the more exubarent primaries. Smaller scatter plants are used throughout the plan to create rhythm and to give that trademark natural feel.
Our Planting Plans We will be providing planting plans for larger areas (unlike Piet, I have not been approached by any significant American cities yet but I live in hope) but to start off with we have concentrated on compact schemes that can either be used in a garden border or planted in one of our raised beds. The idea here is that even if you have a small garden, with one or two beds you can create a stunning display that will appeal to your puny peepers but also draw the more complex eyes of bees and other passing insects.
The plans have been laid out in 6ft x 3ft (180cm x 90cm) blocks which can fit a single raised bed or can be repeated (or mixed) if you had a longer bed to fill. The plants have been chosen to give seasonal interest so don't all flower at once but will give something pretty to look at for a longer period. I have included a sample plan below and am curious what you think or how it could be improved.
Planting Packs Each plan will be available as a plant pack, the plans are free but unfortunately the plants aren't! You are more than welcome to use any of the plans for a DIY planting but, to make it easy, a single click can order all the plants it contains. The perennials, grasses or ferns are supplied in 9cm pots and will be ready to plant out in the garden.
I hope the included plan makes sense. I have tried to show the approximate spread of the plants and the colour mix in the first image while the scale grid should allow you to easily place the plants as they appear in the plan. Finally I have included a 'scrapbook' photo montage so you can see what the flowers or foliage actually looks like.
If planting plans and packs are something you might be interested and you can think of ways I might be able to improve the idea please let me know.
What is available now? The difficulty we have this year is as soon as we put plants up on the website they sell out so I have not been able offer complete planting plans for sale so far. We do, however, have a comprehensive range of bee and butterfly friendly perennials in our unique 'choose your own' system, this is updated daily as stock comes in and out. We also have each variety available as a separate 3 pack if required but the 'Choose Your Own' system is better value. You can view our current stock by clicking the blue button below.
New Range of Italian 'Falci' tools We took delivery, last week, of some of our new 'Falci' Italian tools which I am very pleased about. Founded in 1921 from the amalgamation of several local forges, Falci is one of Italy's oldest toolmakers still manufacturing using traditional methods in the municipality of Dronero.
We have started with some of their heavy duty hoe products and are stocking a 800g and 1000g hoe. We have 2 options, the classic hoe and the hand forged version. The classic is made in India for Falci and the hand forged one is manufactured by them in their foundry. As regards usability and longevity, there wouldn't be much in the difference but the hand made version does have a smoother finish and is just, in my opinion, a nicer thing to own.
We also have a very nice lightweight aluminium grass/hay rake pictured above which I was using at the weekend and found very good. It has an aluminium handle as well as an aluminium head so is very pleasant to use and, of course, won't rust or rot.
Falci also supply a wide range of pruning tools for the Italian wine and soft fruit industry as well as axes and saws for forestry which we will have in stock in the Autumn. If you're looking for grass or brush/weed clearing tools the company also offers beautiful handmade scythes and sickles, I will let you know when stock arrives.
Christmas / late season potato reminder Niall asked me to mention that our stocks of late season potatoes are moving fast if anyone is looking for some. The varieties are all earlies so will mature in 90 - 110 days while the weather is still warm. If you would prefer to have late potatoes ready around Christmas time (I'd suggest you need to grow them in a tunnel or greenhouse), keep them in the fridge and plant them in August.
The varieties we currently have available are 'Charlotte', 'Nicola' and 'Maris Peer', they are available in 1kg to 10kg packs for immediate delivery.
That's about it for now, next week I will do a vegetable garden update on what I've done right, what I've done wrong and what I've forgotten to do altogether.