How Poly-morph plants came into being and our 30 years of history
Having grown up with in a family of six, my father who loves to grow all our own vegetables for the family, growing things came naturally for me. Sowing lettuce, planting onion sets, digging up potatoes, eating fresh raw vegetables grown and just picked was always a great thing to be doing when growing up.
The first thing I grew from seed myself was Coleus. It amazed me with all the different colours and types that came from one small pack of seeds.
During a trip to the local Garden Centre, Springfields Nursery in Oakhanger I purchased my first fuchsia. The Dollar Princess Standard Fuchsia that I got with my pocket money had some shoots growing from the base. As an avid gardeners world viewer in the early 80’s I know to remove these shoots to maintain the standard shape, that the plant had been grown into. Once the short stems had been removed I couldn’t help but plant these up in their own pot and see what happened! I was hooked, the cuttings grew into small plants and flowered before long. On the next trip back to the Garden Centre I came back with more fuchsias, Annabelle, Swingtime, Marinka, Snow Cap White, Spider all became varieties I needed!
Moving on a few years and id made friends with a few different nurseries, I have fond memories of my visits and chats with Bennetts in Aldershot. Trips to Badshot Lea in Farnham, Forest lodge in Bucks-horn oak is something I always enjoyed. Although they were limited to the Regular varieties of fuchsia, you never knew quite what you might find there. We went further afield too. Down to West Sussex and fuchsia specialists with over 1000 varieties.
I found the smaller nurseries much happier to talk and help a 12 year old along than the bigger Garden centres.
By now I had amassed a bigger collection of fuchsia and needed a proper place for them to live during the winter. With the help of all my savings and some help from my ever supportive parents I ,managed to purchase a small 8x16 greenhouse where all my plants were able to overwinter. Although I was helped pout with the heating costs over the first winter my patents lets me know I would have to cover the cost on the following year.
The realisation that I needed to start making my hobby pay for its self was a jump into the realm of adulthood. As cuttings were so easily taken and grown that was to be the focus of my new business. Over many lunchtimes I used the school computer to add all my fuchsia varieties and descriptions to a catalogue that I would later ‘self publish’ before distributing copies to my teachers and try and sell my plants. As well as having as stall at our local car boot sale.
Things grew quickly, I soon needed a propagation house with under soil heating, then a poly tunnel, and another, a larger green house and bigger commercial poly-tunnel. When I left school in 1989 the business had grown become Arford Nursery. We specialised in Fuchsias having amassed 350 varieties. However we also grew Geraniums, Lobelia, Alyssum, Petunias, impatiens, Gerbera, Pansies, and more Bedding plants. We are both from seed and from plugs that we bought in to grow on. We used to sell at Car boot sales at this time around north Hampshire and Surrey.
That year, through our success we had run out of Geraniums early and needed to source some more ready grown ones. This lead us to our first local wholesale nursery contact. Someone we still deal with over 30 years later.
In 1987 it was my time to do work experience. My favoured option was the local Springfirelds Nursery fuchsia place in Oakhanger. Unfortunately upon writing the letter and sending it in they didn’t associate my name with the person they knew and had been chatting to for a few years. My second option was to go to the fuchsia nursery in Ipswich where Edwin Goulding was hybridising fuchsias for many years on his small nursery called Gouldings Fuchsias. To my surprise he granted may wish! Edwin and his son Tim took time off their full time jobs to help out while I was there. Edwin arranged for me to stay at his aunts in Ipswich when I wasn’t at the nursery. They took lots of time explaining how their business worked, and what new technology they used to help run the business. i Had an amazing week in Ipswich and it was nice that a true fuchsia expert could make the time to encourage a young person. Gouldings Fuchsias closed in 2001. Edwin continues to keep his interest in the fuchsia world through hybradising and writing about fuchsias.
With me at work full time and doing what I could with my parents on evenings and weekends we came to the realisation that we just didn’t have enough time with the setup we had to continue growing plants. On the site where our poly-tunnels were had, and still has no mains electricity, or decent water supply. That with the continual theft we suffered hampered us continuing the growing business.
Even though my direct involvement with the original business ended when we stopped growing I was still able to buy and sell plants when I could. Working first full time as a builder, then working full time at Tesco time was at a premium.
I returned to plants in the mid 90’s Buying from a large range of local wholesale growers and would sell at Farnborough Market, Brooklands Market, Kempton Market, nutshell fruit farm car boot sale, Calthorp School Car Boot sale, Braknell market and others. This was interrupted by a short spell at Forest Lodge Garden Centre where I was employed to work on stock control, something I had worked on at Tesco. Even though on paper this was a dream job it never worked out for me. having been self employed for some time I need to understand why I’m doing something. I don’t follow rules blindly.
2020 & Lockdown
Rather than look at what I couldn’t do I would focus on what I can do. I still had plenty of contacts in the horticultural world. They needed to sell their plants. I saw people walking past my house every day. Initially we considered an online only business, so we went out to our local nurseries taking pictures ready for our online store, this quickly grew into a pop up nursery right outside our house!
This couldn’t last forever, so we started to look for a permeant location. Eventually we found a small unit with a courtyard behind North Lane Garage in Aldershot. We moved in in July, and we offer collection of orders placed on our website, we deliver orders received by phone or online, and we are open for browsing.