18 May 2022

Gardening with Jo: New arrivals from the continent to spruce up your spring garden

With Jo McGarry, Caragh Nurseries

Gardening with Jo: New arrivals from the continent to spruce up your spring garden

Olive centennials

The last two weeks were all about searching for new stock for both this year and next year on our partner nurseries.

Although we have a fully functional production nursery in Caragh, sometimes it is impossible to grow everything ourselves. On the nursery we grow stock that is great demand, including deciduous trees in all sizes, hedging in a wide range of sizes and a good range of shrubs and plants - but we do find it necessary to bring stock from the continent on occasions and we have great fun choosing the plants and trees to bring onto the nursery.

We work with four partner nurseries, including one each in Holland and Spain and two in Italy, and we have a really strong relationship with these nurseries, getting the best quality stock at reasonable prices.

Why do we need to go to these European countries when we have great trees and plants here? Well, the first reason is one we know all too well here in Ireland and that is weather, but more particularly heat.

In Holland the soil is good and the summer heat means they get more than double the growth we get here in Kildare. From this nursery, which is about an hour from Amsterdam, we get similar stock to what we can provide here in Ireland but slightly bigger specimens at a better price. This means when we start to run low on certain stock items that we couldn’t produce quickly ourselves, then we have this nursery as back up. This works well for us and means that we can keep up with the growth in demand without extending what we are growing on the nursery beyond our means.

Spanish selection

The Spanish nursery is all about olives and palms. The selection is fantastic and the quality is second to none. This nursery is just outside Valencia and has some amazing mature stock that is in such high demand right now.

This nurseryman has made it his life’s work to create such works of art and we are always blown away by his creations. The reason again that we go to this nursery is that they put the time and long-term effort into these. With lots of these specimens being over 100 years old, we are both happy and proud that we have built this relationship to where it is now and he trusts us to be the custodians of his artwork even for just a short time until it reaches it forever home with our customers.

The stock arrived last week. It is like Christmas when we open the doors of a truck to reveal what we took the time to pick out.

We won’t be releasing the stock on general sale for a week or two. We will be releasing the stock to our existing database of customers that receive our newsletter first as lots of them have been eagerly awaiting this new stock so it is only fair that they should see it first - but if you want to be included in this list of customers, sign up to our newsletter and you’ll be included.

We also took a long awaited trip to Italy to both Tuscany and our nursery further down the country, to book stock for this year but more importantly decide on some new stock for next year too that is now in production. I’ll tell you all about that in due course.

We pick our partner nurseries very carefully, choosing for stock, quality, dependability and trust - all of these mean so much and are non-negotiable.

Rising costs

Lastly, we have been wracking our brains as to what to do about the current increase in our costs. The several hours we spent on flights has given us time to consider our position. In the short to medium term we have decided that we will be covering all the increased costs of transport that the field and gas increases has impacted on us all. The delivery charges throughout the country will remain unchanged.

The costs of our trees for this year shouldn’t be impacted and they will remain unchanged for the spring and summer, unless anything changes dramatically. The costs of our fertilisers and fuels for the coming crops will be greatly impacted so we can’t at this stage say what impact that will have on the coming autumn/winter season just yet.

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