Tor Garden Plants

Specialist nursery for water, marginal and moisture loving plants

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Emma's Blog

The journey to a plastic free nursery - one year on.

The journey to a plastic free nursery - one year on.

It is the nurseries one year anniversary since opening. It has been a great year, where I have learned so much to put into practice going forward. When I set up the nursery I decided to reduce the use of plastic and work towards being plastic free in the future. So how easy has it been and what have I learned this past year?

Firstly I would say it is not an easy task, but we have persevered and found ways to reduce our use of plastic. Our mail order side of the business sells plants bare root so no plastic pots required. I wrap the plants in hessian and post out in completely biodegradable packaging even down to the parcel tape. I think this has been a real success and we have had positive feedback from our customers.

Around the nursery itself I have found that plastic pots are still the most hard wearing. Bamboo fibre pots are heavy and tend to break if dropped. Coir only lasts about a year max before breaking down. Therefore I decided I would re use the plastic pots for stock plants at the nursery and then transplant into coir pots when they are heading to a plant fair or on to customers. That way no plastic leaves the nursery. Any new pots I need I buy the taupe colour pots which can be recycled in household recycling. The taupe pots are a huge step forward for the horticultural industry and many nurseries are now using them.
For water plants it was challenging finding something that will survive being sat in water, transported and last for a few years. Plastic baskets have always been used for pond plants but they often get brittle and break after a few years. I am happy to report that I have found two types of pot that are biodegradable, made from recycled plastic bottles and last between 3-5 years. I trialled them all last year and I think they are great and now recommend them to all my customers. The two companies are 'RhizoPots' and 'Root Nurse'.
I have ditched plastic labels and replaced with lolly pop wooden sticks. They only last a year before needing replacing by I am happy to do that, as a freshly written label always looks better then a faded one anyway.
I have made huge steps towards being plastic free but there is only so far you can go at the moment until the industry catches up. For example we had to recover our poly tunnel last year. Only a plastic replacement is available for this job. We recycled the old plastic but had to replace with new. Seed trays, propagators etc still very much plastic at the moment but these can be reused every year by washing and sterilising.
In a year we have made huge strides to becoming plastic free and garden more sustainable and I will continue to trial new products and ideas going forward and see where we are this time next year.

Rowden Iris collection growing in 2020

Rowden Iris collection growing in 2020

We are so excited to announce our water iris collection is growing at Tor Garden Plants in 2020 with more choice available for our customers. In particular our collection of Rowden Irises will be increasing. The Rowden Irises were bred at this nursery by the original owners John and Galen Carter, and after years of work and passion they now have a National Collection of Rowden Iris held at RHS Garden Rosemoor.
We will soon be able to offer many of these rare and beautiful plants for sale through our mail order website in 2020. We have been working with Mr and Mrs Carter to bring the collection of Rowden Irises and other Rowden plants, back to the nursery and make them available for people to enjoy. Some plants will have limited availability so watch this space for more news and updates to the website.
Marginal pond plants for colour and interest throughout the year.

Marginal pond plants for colour and interest throughout the year.

With the right selection of marginal plants your pond can have interest and colour all year round. Marginal plants like to grow at the edge of the pond, roughly up to 10 cm deep in the water, or planted into soil along the pond margins, so that their roots are always wet.
Spring - One of the brightest and cheeriest marginal flowers in the spring is Caltha palustris, the marsh marigold. With its bright sunny flowers that let you know the growing season has started and summer is on its way. You can of course get different cultivars including double flowered, white and giant versions. The foliage is also quite often evergreen or semi evergreen.

Summer - The start of summer is very much Iris time. Iris versicolor and Iris laevigata cultivars can add lots of colour to your pond in purples, pinks, blues, whites and mixes in between. The foliage of Iris laevigata 'Variegata' adds particular interest all year round, with its green and cream striped leaves. Iris 'Gerald Derby' starts with beautiful purple fanned leaves, before providing a lovely light purple and yellow splashed flower.

Sagittaria's are great for adding height and interest mid to late summer. The arrow shaped leaves are attractive on their own, before the panicles of white flowers appear. These plants vanish completely beneath the water during the winter but always reappear in the spring as if by magic.

Late Summer/Autumn - Pontederia are fantastic for adding colour later in the year. Again the leaves are attractive even before the spikes of purple flowers appear. Pontederia cordata is much shorter then Pontederia lancifolia, which is perfect for larger ponds.

Winter- Evergreen grasses and sedges are perfect for adding structure and colour to the winter pond. Juncus spiralis is an interesting twisty foliage plant. Acorous gramineus can be grown in baskets in shallow water and has cultivars that offer variegated foliage and golden foliage like Acorus 'Ogon'.

Marginal plants do not just offer colour and interest to us as garden plants they are also great for wildlife. Allowing dragonfly larvae to cling on, when hatching out and tadpoles and newts to hide from predators. Many ponds are built with a shallow shelves for marginals, but if not you can use rocks around the edge to stand baskets on to create the right depth.
Marginal plants bring your pond to life all year round if you choose them wisely.

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