Work hard,playhard or grab a bargain?

The relatively mild winter has resulted in me being employed in customers’ gardens through most of January and February  albeit at a pressure free pace.  March is already hectic, this week I have had to turn down requests from potential new customers, a bold but I hope not silly decision. Last year I decided to go down to a four day week so I could spend a day doing my hobby (garden) and keep the weekends free for family life.

Already that plan is out the window with me working the normal five day week and considering the occasional weekend day to try and keep on top of the workload. However, I must not give in and defend my weekends and have a “life. It’s not easy, if I think too much of the jobs I have to get through, panicky insomnia sets in, not wanting to let down or lose good customers. I Just have to take one day at a time.

This weekend I intended to buy the bike I had identified to keep up my fitness (jogging aggravates my hips and knees too much now) and explore my local countryside perhaps hydrated or more likely  dehydrated with a half pint from an idyllically situated country pub. I side tracked myself by curiosity, wanting to know what potential garden bargains my local Home Bargains and B and M store may have.

By way of plants Home Bargains had nothing to tempt me but I noticed some good sized terracotta pots and very cheap (£4.99 and £2.99 respectively). They looked solid and were heavy, but were they frost proof? Goggling the manufacturer’s website Naylor, I discovered they are made in Yorkshire and Naylor is an established firm and they say their pots are frost proof to -15⁰. At the price good enough for me to take the risk knowing that Italian imports are fired at lower temperatures in a warmer climate and a lot more expensive to buy.


B and M like B & Q have strong buying power and often have good plants from good suppliers but in my experience cheaper.  With regard to herbaceous perennials and alpines, they have some nice plants in one litre pots (3 plants for £5.00). As long as they have not been in the store too long and exposed to time starved staff care you can get some really good plant varieties. They do tend to be young and a bit soft for planting directly into the garden soil and contending with the prevalent climatic conditions.

After they pass my inspection of the roots, (plants I intend to buy I turn them out their pots to check there is a decent root system), I take them home and pot them into larger pots to allow a better and stronger root system to develop. Some I plant into planters as part of plant display. One has to keep them watered and fed  but after about a month they have matured substantially and have a much better survival chance to plant out in the garden.


Good roots system essential

Although a little more labour intensive growing plants on in pots and planters  allows me time to get to know the plants more intimately so I can meet their needs and team them up with companions they will associate well with. Comparing my grown on plants with prices of the same plants sold in 2l and 3l pots in garden centres at prices commonly now exceeding £10.00 each. This little effort is worth it.

So I have spent much of my weekend gardening but with the pleasure I get is work?


2 thoughts on “Work hard,playhard or grab a bargain?

  1. Nice words John. Focus on work life balance. Difficult in your line at this time of year as demand and plants start the growing cycle. Speaking of which definitely buy that bike and use it. The mental release and physical benefits will follow believe me. Best of luck and if you ever need a partner to ride with you give me a call.


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