Love your Clay: Lecture on Growing Plants in heavy Kent Soil

I’ve always been a ‘naturally gifted’ gardener and intuitively know what plants are and what they require. I genuinely struggle to accept the loss of hardy specimen and deeply regret that small independent nurseries – often family run – have declined very dramatically in the last 10 years, due to the pressures of business from large chains and groups. I believe far too many garden plants and shrubs are imported from the continent, which causes horticulture to thrive in other economies, but is at a very low ebb here in the UK. In fact, I think we have pretty much destroyed our own horticultural industry and it is for that reason, that we as “small-niche-growers”, along with all other gardeners in the country, can change this situation around by focusing again on native species and localised growing practices, as well as biodiversity. My approach is entirely organic and I mostly concentrate on native British perennials, since there are so few. I believe many of them have been dismissed, or are neglected as too old fashioned/ out of date/ have erratic germination/ are not easily kept in a pot and therefore cannot be produced quickly and cheaply in the vast quantities as they do on the continent. I always grow from seed and from the past; thus avoiding weak plants which often prove to be annual and not fully hardy. I often “trial” new perennials and shrubs for up to 2 seasons before passing them on with an honest opinion of their worth.

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