Planting with pride and patriotism

By Caroline Spencer 

Have you thought about planting red, white and blue this year to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee? 

It’s one of the trends that Acorn nursery expects to see, and it has ordered in plenty of spring bedding that will reflect that. There will, of course, be a full range of other colours in all the plants you would expect, including the ever-popular marigolds, begonias and geraniums.

Every year the nursery tweaks its output to meet changing demands. Nursery manager Daniel Cunningham says that they will be selling a greater range of alpines and herbaceous perennials, more scented geraniums and ferns. 

‘We are growing a lot more herbs, veg and strawberries, in response to an increasing demand which started after lockdown,’ he said. ‘And probably the biggest change this year is that the £1.25 geraniums are all in biodegradable pots. That’s about 11,000 more plants in that type of pot.’

The pots were trialled last year thanks to a grant from the Rotary Club of Jersey. They were successful and are being extended each year so that the nursery uses less plastic.

‘All the big-scented geraniums, the premium range, the osteospermum, the Madeiran daisies, the salvias, they all do really well,’ Daniel said. ‘Three years ago we did barely 1,000 herbaceous plants. We do about 8,000 now, and they are usually gone by the end of April.

‘People are learning more about horticulture, and they are thinking more about pollinating plants, not just bedding. 

‘We tend to advise people that the weather is normally ok for planting out around the last week of March / the first week of April. Sometimes there are anomalies but certainly all our shrubs, herbaceous, herbs and veg can go out at the end of March.’

Known for its competitive pricing, the nursery’s main priority is not profit, but rather providing jobs and training opportunities for people who have a disability or long-term health condition. Five clients will be taken on for the bedding season, and the Acorn Training and Development Service also run daily greenhouse sessions. 

Daniel, who has been with Acorn for 14 years, likes to remind his colleagues that the nursery was on the Acorn site long before Reuse or the Woodshack were a glint in the eye! 

‘There was a time when hardly anyone knew about Acorn,’ he said. ‘When we started, we had customers for one month a year – we didn’t do anything apart from summer bedding. There wasn’t even a till or a card machine. 

‘Every change has happened for the benefit of clients. We now offer so many different opportunities in other areas of the business, including Reuse and the Woodshack, and that is better for clients so they can try different things and find what they like.’ 

One thing shines through at Acorn’s plant nursery and that is the real pride that all the staff, clients and volunteers have in what they do. ‘We make sure that every single person who works here feels respected, valued and part of our team,’ Daniel said. ‘Our work gives people real pride.’