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Dipping our toes …

5 years ago I started growing plants from seeds and cuttings in a big way after we had dug nearly everything out of this garden when we first moved in.  Then I started growing bedding for my customers, with the extra plants being sold from the gate.  This was followed by growing plants to sell when we opened our garden last year under the NGS.

plants and a sign reading I am in the Garden

This year Shedman and I have been exploring other ways and venues to sell plants.  The market Manager of the Dolgellau Farmers Market said I could be her “reserve plant seller” in case either of her two regulars couldn’t make the monthly market. So last Sunday (After 3 days notice) Shedman and I loaded the car up to the gunnels and set up our stall (two tables, lots of plants, no canopy) on a windy corner in Dollgellau’s main square.

I am no stranger to this kind of selling, having sold textile work at craft fairs for many years “down south” with Linda.  Although there was some apprehension, Will I sell anything, what happens if I cannot remember a plant name? Am I too expensive? Am I too cheap? Have I got my glasses?

I wrote about how doing this kind of thing was like being part of a tribe in 2009 – and it is true to say, that after a morning of selling plants in Dolgellau, I felt I was part of a similar, yet slightly different tribe, where everyone was very welcoming. (Although at Craft Fairs, we were generally in marquees and not exposed to the elements wearing at least 6 layers of clothes)

While we were there, we were invited to do a monthly market in Bala and a weekly market in Dolgellau (eeek) and we have been invited back to the Dolgellau farmers market next month to fill in for Anna the other plant lady.  Yesterday we did the weekly market in Dolgellau – and while we certainly sold quite a few plants, and it was worth us going – we think that once a fortnight may be better for us.

So, all in all a busy time with a good result.  One thing I must remember though – is that many gardeners here have their gardens at 6,000 feet and above and need tough plants. My favourite customers to-date were a couple, who were obviously well informed and keen gardeners who arrived at the stand and said’

“What have you got that we are not allready growing in our garden?”

“Hummm” I said (not having ever seen their garden) “What about Lobelia tupa? Great colour, although the flowers are kind of odd”

“Oh, we like odd” she replied “We’ll take it”

When I tell friends and family how two markets in 4 days went, their first question is, will you have enough stock? As yet, I don’t.  Although I am not so worried about the next few weeks as we are (literally) surrounded by bedding plants that have been growing away since February …. they are all over the kitchen worktops and windowsills, in the utility room, the bathroom and the garden room, which is where we spend most of our time if we are in the house.  Of course the greenhouse is also full.

seedling and bedding plants growing in the garden room

If I want plants for the rest of the year (and next year), well, I better get growing.  Shedman is now “No1 potter on of bedding plants” and I am thinking of getting a gardener for our own garden!!!

Please excuse me now, as I must go and sow some seeds and see if I can get cuttings from the penstemons

16 comments to Dipping our toes …

  • Well done you. You could also divide perennials?

  • p

    I can recommend Jenna, she has done a good job on our garden. I am glad the sale went well.

  • mama

    Oh dear- I hope you are getting your costings right. Sounds like a lot of work but I am sure you will enjoy especially with Dylan’s help next month

  • How exciting – I wish you every success with this.

  • Arabella Sock

    I hope you have some good thermals and fingerless gloves! My memory of north Wales markets in the Spring is being bitterly bluddy cold. Actually when I say Spring it might well have been Summer. Anyway very enterprising of you and exciting too – when I have looked at the plants on market stalls they are usually pretty good condition and some interesting varieties – although the ‘black’ agapanthus I bought five years ago is yet too bloom.

  • Well done, the first is always the most nerve wracking! As you say, Craft Fairs are usually indoors, so lots of layers will be necessary in our weather!! I wish you well in your new venture.

  • linda

    Wow Karen, this sounds like seriously hard work. But you did really well. I guess stock is rthe burning issue,you just have to keep producing plants.I think your strength will be your unusual plants and your knowledge of the local conditions- heres hoping for lots of serious buyers!.

  • I am already wandering around my garden looking at what I could split for you! If it will grow for me it will grow for your customers I think! Great news. You have clearly got a market out there!

  • Dobby

    So when are you coming round to strip my garden as threatened last week?
    Once a fortnight sounds sensible. Good luck with it all. If you need a hand one weekend, let me know. Even if it is weeding in your own garden!

  • VP

    So gald you’re getting this off the ground at last :)


  • Wonderful plans Karen! I wish I could shop at your stall, better, yet, walk in your garden and chat over tea. xogail

  • K.E.S.

    The plants on the stall look terrific — I’ll certainly stop by next time. (Can I ask, what is the purple-leaved plant in the top photo? The label is tantalisingly half readable.)

  • Believe me, you probably have enough plants. Well, for the next fortnight. And they’re really good quality – probably down to Shedman’s skill as a potter-onner. I juts seem to kill things at that stage…

  • Your plants look most healthy and happy Karen – I’m sure that the customers will come a flocking. Hope that you can still climb your way over the plants to bed after a tiring day at market and that the bedding plants don’t get there first.

  • It’s nice to see people turning a passion into a job! Were just setting out on this journey too. Good luck with it all…

  • Wow! Karen, you are busy. I would love to do the same thing here but plants don’t sell well unless they’re vegetables. I have a friend with a nursery and I was shocked at how little she sold at plant fairs! Good luck and well done! Christina