The feature article read as below:
Relative values are at the heart of a bedding plant nursery which celebrates its 40th birthday this month
It’s all grow at Woolpit Nurseries and that’s just the way the family behind one of West Suffolk’s most successful independent garden-plant businesses like it!
Initially taken on by husband and wife team Bob and Pam Jackson as a pre-existing tomato nursery in 1978, they expanded into bedding plants and hanging baskets 25 years ago.
They are still involved but their daughter Catherine and son-in-law Andrew Brain joined the business in 2002 and are now at the helm. For all four it’s time to bake cakes and get out the bunting as 10th October marks Woolpit Nurseries 40th birthday. Typically though, their services are in such high demand that they haven’t got time to party. A disadvantage of a growth plant nurseries business.
That’s no great surprise given that they grow 95% of their produce in situ, made up of an incredible 250,000 seasonal garden bedding plants and 2,500 ready made hanging baskets for the general public, local authorities and businesses.
“Other than large Italian plants, conifers, trees and Christmas trees, we grow everything from seeds, plugs or rooted cuttings,” explains Andrew as Bury & West Suffolk magazine is shown round the four-acre site in Old Stowmarket Road.
The splendid civic displays have not only impressed visitors but led to awards. “The only year Stowmarket entered Anglia In Bloom with our plants, they won silver medal,” adds a justifiably proud Andrew. “That year we also supplied Sudbury who won a gold in their class.”
“Bury has been the consistent winner though. We have supplied the town for six or seven years and every year we have either got gold or silver. This year we are trying to go for Britain In Bloom.”
Being self-sufficient in plants means that Woolpit Nurseries is not open all year. “Because we are a bedding-plant-nursery, we grow a crop, sell it and then have to close to start on the next crop,” explains Andrew.
“We open in March till mid-July and then close for the summer and reopen in September for our winter bedding, Christmas trees and handmade wreaths.”
“We close at Christmas and then reopen in March. It means we can do any maintenance (last year we built a large storage shed). We also clean the place and make it look smart for when we start again.”
As the summer shutdown saw sizzling temperatures, did Woolpit Nurseries have to take any extra measures? “About three years ago we invested in a bore-hole to supply our own water,” says Andrew. It was however very difficult to keep young plants cool enough. We have overhead irrigation in one of our greenhouses which, when turned on, can drop the temperature a little. And we just had to water and feed more often.”
Having reopened for autumn on 1st September means that staff are primed and ready to answer customers questions about how best to prepare for the colder months. “Our advice is to prune trees, shrubs and bushes. Once the leaves are off you can see the shape of the branches. Work with the natural shape of the tree or shrub, don’t cut off branches half-way along. Cut them off where they meet a bigger branch or the trunk.”
“Make sure you leave some lush hedges or trees for birds to nest in though. Don’t strip everything back at once. You can also plant for next year. The best time to plant roses, trees, shrubs and bulbs are between October and April (though be sensible not in awful weather). Plants will need less watering if planted in the autumn. Consult us for check planting times and about which winter veg to put in.”
Looking to the future, what’s in store for Woolpit Nurseries? “More of the same” enthuses Andrew, “we have a fantastic team who have been with us between three and nineteen years. We have a good balance between retail sales from the nursery and supplying our surrounding local towns. All our staff find it very satisfying to walk around and know we had a part in making them look colourful.”
Interview by Kim Smith.
If you require any more advice, or want to see our large selection of spring and summer bedding plants, then please come and visit the nursery we are open Monday to Saturday 9 am until 5 pm, Sunday 10 am till 4 pm. Or you can Contact Us through our website.
Happy gardening from all the team at Woolpit Nurseries