Thursday, 9 June 2011

Market daze

Well, knuckles have been well and truly rapped as I haven't done a blog post since last November (or around seven months, if you want to be pedantic). 2011 is a year off show garden duties* for me which has meant I have had the chance to concentrate more on my business, my own garden and even my family. All are doing very nicely and benefiting from the vastly improved input into their well being. I could use the excuse that I had 'blogger's blackout' in my attempt to make amends for my blog absence, but I have in fact been rather busy.

As well as armfuls of exciting garden design projects, I started a new venture this year. Every Wednesday since February I have had a stall on Cambridge Market, a delightful and historic market in the centre of Cambridge within earshot of King's College Chapel and many other Cambridge specialities. My lovely little stall (ah, the joys of being a market trader - it deserves a blog post all to itself!) has an eclectic mix of rather nice gardening products like unusual trugs, plant labels, containers and gardening paraphernalia plus pretties for the home. There is also a range of vegetable plants, all grown from seed by my own fair hands. I've got an amazing selection of Franchi Seeds of Italy, about 30 different varieties at the last count with more being added to. Now I'm getting established, locals are making a bee-line for the seeds and only yesterday I had an Italian living in Cambridge come to the market specifically to see my stand and buy some Franchi seeds. He told me he'd just planted out that morning 94 tomato plants, 12 different varieties, and was looking for a particular Italian climbing bean and an unusual courgette and squash. With the help of the charming Paolo Arrigo from Franchi to identify the varieties, I have ordered the seeds in for the Italian gardener to pick up next week.

Vintage gardening and a few choice home items is another aspect of my market stall. I have great fun sourcing bygones from auction houses in East Anglia - old terracotta pots, gardening tools, old gardening books (love them!), old baskets and other bits and pieces, including ceramics with a tenuous link to horticulture like a floral patterned plates, or whatever. I've just got some lovely old wooden chitting trays from Norfolk which will not only make a good display prop but should also be tempting to passing trade, gardeners or not.

If the opportunity arises, which it quite often does, I like to have a good chat with customers about gardening and plants and advice is freely dished out. If you happen to be in Cambridge on a Wednesday, pop to the market and say hello!

* Although not participating in RHS shows this year, I am putting in an application for a show garden at Chelsea Flower Show next year. Interesting sponsor/subject matter...

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