It’s been a busy year in the gardens at Ifield. Since March we’ve planted over 20,000 plants across more than 300 varieties. We’ve built a website, created over 100 signs for the benches and made more than 300 hanging baskets to order. The people we support have never worked so hard or well together. And it doesn’t end there. For the first time we are staying open all year, which means we now have a wide range of winter plants in stock.
To give everyone a break from all the planting we are now making our own Christmas wreaths and winter planters, see below for some examples.
We are now gearing up for the winter maintenance when we hope to be able to rebuild as many of the 120 benches in the greenhouse as possible. Then we’ll be back to planting up in mid-February when the first of the spring bedding plants arrive. We also hope to be having some decorative bowls of spring bulbs available for an early burst of colour.
A big thank you to everyone has been along to support us with your custom, we hope to see you all again soon.
Well, it’s been a while since we had an update. The spring season was hectic, we sold out of bedding plants 3 times! Now that the rush is over we have reduced our opening hours. We are no longer open at the weekends, just Monday-Friday 10 am to 4 pm, last customer at 3:30 pm.
We are now preparing for the late summer / Autumn season: the ivy is growing with new stock of lavender, pansies, wallflowers, cyclamens, lamium and all the usual autumn favourites. We will be doing winter baskets of flowers and evergreens to give a splash of colour throughout the cold days to come (now there’s something to look forward to).
A big thank you goes out to all of customers who have made this year a great success, we hope to see you all over the coming weeks.
Opening day is fast approaching and already customers have been turning up. The first 20 hanging baskets have been ordered with more on the way. Most of the perennials have been hardened off ready for sale alongside some of the tougher annuals. With a 150 varieties this year is going to be a riot of colour both inside and out. I cannot express how hard the whole team has worked to achieve this, in the years I’ve been Outreach3Way I have not known thegardens team to be so happy and work so hard. Well done guys.
We look forward to trying them all out on the website and on the till as they learn how to serve the public and handle money. Already a number of the 20 people we support in the gardens have put themselves forward for both till and customer service training. Others have opted for maintaining the plants to keep them at their best while others still want to learn how to make the hanging baskets.
It’s going to be a busy year with a whole new bunch of challenges as we progress. With patience we’ll get there. Why not come along and see for yourself, we look forward to seeing you.
With opening day, May 5th, approaching fast final preparations are well under way in the Nursery. Having overflowed from the potting area we have now filled 1/3 of the main green house with our annuals and perennials, though we still have many more to come before we open.
All of the shade netting is now in place, this reduces the strength of the sun and the potential heat, which last year reached of 50 degrees centigrade. With help and advice from our suppliers we have been able to reduce the growing rate of the plants to improve their robustness and give them a longer flowering season.
We have also added a new notice board behind the till area to inform the customers of our new website and any special offers we may have on. The team are all looking forward to learning the new web based till and ordering system, training begins in April. They have also been learning how to propagate cuttings and to remove any discolored leaves and early flowers. Things are looking good for the new season.
One last addition to the gardens is the building of an ornamental flower bed built from recycled tires. This will feature a frog overlooking lily pads planted with a variety of white lilies surrounded by meadow flowers and poppies.
Another month gone and we’re drawing nearer to opening Day on 5th May. Currently we have around 2000 plants growing nicely despite the bitter cold weather. The team has been working hard ensuring every deliver is dealt with with minimal fuss. The team is now learning how to care for the plants by spotting any diseased plants, pinching out the tips and removing any early buds and flowers.
A new watering system has been installed together with display rails and new notice boards. We are now looking to outside agencies to partner with and form development and possible employment opportunities.
This year we decided to change the way we order our plugs. In previous years we received as many as 11000 plants in one go, this was difficult for the people we support to manage as the seedlings had to planted really quickly. This year we are spreading out the deliveries over a series of weeks to reduce the pressure. So far the results have been beyond expectation: the team has managed to plant everything ahead of schedule without any anxiety or frustration. They have been happy to work at their own with minimal help, often they have helped each other. So fare far they have potted over 2000 plants covering more than 30 varieties.
Much of the internal work on the greenhouse has been completed. We now have a partition wall dividing off the work area from the sales. All of the broken flooring has been replaced with concrete and the raised beds have all been painted to highlight the kerbs for added public safety. All that remains now is to build a new hanging basket stand large enough to hols up to 30 baskets.
Everyone is looking forward to the opening day in May as they will all get to try out the new till system with a its barcode scanner and stock control system.
We took delivery today of the first 500 plugs of the new season. This year we are going to be staying open through to December. Our range of plants has been increased to include perennials and a few shrubs, which we will continue to expand upon as the year progresses. The first of our new range are:
Clematis: Nelly Moser
Alstromeria Pink-white hearts
Hope to see you when we open for the first May Bank Holiday.
This summer we decided it was time to revamp the place a bit. In light of this we decided to build ourselves an outdoor seating area. This gave us an opportunity to teach the guys a new set of life skills and more than a touch of teamwork.
First we raided the remains of our pallet stock to see how may similar pallets we could find. Brendon and Freddy began dragging out the pallets sorting them into piles until we had enough to get started.
After a couple of hours we had the first few benches roughly placed. Sadly, no one wanted to do any digging to level the seats, so that was left to staff to do. For once, luck was with us in the shape of two pallets with complete decks which we used as tables in the centre.Together we laid out the pallets on the grass roughly where we wanted the seats, stacking them to an appropriate height. It turned out to be whole lot simpler than we first thought. All we had to do was to cut two pallets in half and stack them up. The four pieces were them screwed together. Extra boards were pulled from other pallets to fill the gaps and make it look a bit neater.
To stop people stepping over the low wall we added a simple fence made from some old posts and glazing pallets kindly donated by TCS in Crawley. Now it just needed a lick of paint and a splash of colour. The finishing touch was the brilliant idea of adding some flowers cut from the walls of some old tires and the job was done.
After finishing the work on the raised flower bed, we moved right on to building a 3m x 3m greenhouse from recycled timbers. This involved removing an old silver birch which was in our way, allowing us to maximize the space available.