The Cutter

or a day in Market Deeping

Its about an hour and a half drive from my house to Market Deeping and I can say that I have never been there before, but a chance to visit Swines Meadow Farm Nursery and to take part in a propagation workshop run by Colin and Karan the owners was an opportunity I did not want to miss.

So fairly early on a Sunday morning I set off across country.  It was a lovely drive, nice and sunny and very little traffic.  I made good time and apart from a hiccough at the end (the sat nav didn't quite find the nursery) all went well.

Colin and Karan were very welcoming, I had met them both previously at different plant fairs I had visited and bought plants from them, they specialise in rare plants and shrubs and have a great selection.  We also talk on twitter - Colin is @rareplants and I am @papaver.

We started the day with getting to know each other and finding out what we wanted to achieve at the workshop.  Then after an overview of techniques we were at the benches making leaf cuttings of Eucomis.
Quick tea break and then off into the garden to take some cuttings to pot on.  Colin was so generous, taking us around and saying 'have a bit of that, try that, that's a good one'. 

Then back to the room for our packed lunches we had bought with us and then it was a session on seed collection, breaking dormancy and scarification.

The amount of material I came home with was staggering, so many seeds and cuttings.  When I got home it was straight into the greenhouse to settle things into their new home before I even had a cup of tea.
What were the key things I learned - well, timing is everything.  Cuttings have to be taken at the right time of year, seeds are to be sown when they are ready to grow.  I also now know that this will not be my last trip to Market Deeping.
I also came away with plants that previously I would not really have looked at.  I have no previous experience or particular opinions about Eucomis, so I will be interested to see how I feel about them.  The heuchera is a wonder dark wine colour, but in general I am not a fan, so I will see how I feel about it.  (it is already producing a new leaf so I can't help but warm to its speedy behaviour).  Then there is the begonia, a hardy begonia again with a wonderful dark colour to the reverse of its leaves.  I did regard begonias as either naff bedding or house plants that whilst beautiful, I could never keep alive.  This one is quite delicate and quite pretty so I feel a conversion coming on.

Note one:  Not many photographs this time as I was too busy listening and absorbing what was going on.  Forgot to take any photographs of the nursery at all!  Maybe next time.

Note two: You might be reading this and thinking that this is an unashamed plug for this nursery.  You are right, it is just that.  Our small specialist nurseries deserve to be supported and treasured.  The knowledge and love that they have for plants and the generosity I have always found in nursery owners wanting to share that knowledge and passion make them very important in my view.

Note three:  as ever my mind wanders and I found myself singing this whilst I wrote this:


  1. Oo your workshop looks like it was fun and you came away with far more than me. I would have liked to do leaf cuttings. Maybe I need to take a holiday in that direction next year and go to one of these workshops

  2. It was well worth the money - and if you are staying in the area you could probably find a good place with lots of interesting gardens near by. I did feel I learned a great deal.

  3. Dear Papaver, Workshops like this are a wonderful way to learn about gardening techniques. This one was fun I think. Thank you for visiting my blog. P.x

  4. Quite right, the small nurseries deserve all the support we can give them. I am with you on Heuchera, they always look so good in the pots when seen at the garden centres, must find out what I am doing wrong. Begonias, naff! ah well never mind I suppose I will just have to put up with the fact that I like them, and maybe hang my head in shame. Alistair

  5. Alistair - thanks - and no shame in begonias - I think I am converted - you can be finger-wagging and saying 'I told you so' :-) I always think you can't dismiss a whole species of plants, even ones I think I can't stand I would not rule out finding one I like one day.

  6. Didn't read like a plug. Too heartfelt.


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