This weekend I went to the Crocus open day for the first time. It’s been on my list of things to do for a while but I’ve never been able to attend before. We had a weekend visiting family in Surrey and Hampshire so were in the area. Having read the online information and some other blog entries I had a fair idea of what the day would bring. The gates were due to open at 9:30 but I ended up arriving early at 9:10 – which meant I was the fourth car through the gates when the time came!
How it works
We were greeted at the entrance by the smiling team handing out brochures, buying information and the most important item – the stickers!. For those who don’t already know; instead of carrying round your items or pushing round trolleys, you’re given a strip of numbered stickers to place on the pots which you then place on the path for the staff to collect. They’re then ready and waiting for you at the tills in your own numbered crate.
Like these Briza media all the plants look really healthy and well grown. I was glad to see their Briza media looking just like my seedlings – I had started to worry they were just ‘grass’.
I spent ages with these lovely Hellebores. There were a good selection of Helleborus orientalis but a few Helleborus x sternii mixed in. At one point I did end up in the middle of the plants trying to reach a very pretty double pink orientalis I had spotted (everyone else stuck to the paths and behaved themselves).
How the pricing works
The pricing structure is pretty simple 9cm/1L pots were £3, 2-3L pots were £6. The Hellebores were all in 9cm pots so I managed to get 4 for a bargain price. They also had some offers of the day – lavenders, a Daphne, a Jasmine. These were at reduced prices for the day but they were dotted around the site rather than in one place. Similarly, the open areas were all over the site so you had to do some exploring to make sure you didn’t miss anything. I kept seeing things on the trolleys that I hadn’t found myself. As you can see from the pics there weren’t many flowers on show. I imagine the open days later in the year offer more of a spectacle.
Behind the scenes at the Chelsea preparations
One highlight of the day was a tour by joint-founder Peter Clay and nursery manager Karen. They took us round the site where Peter gave us details of the designer plans for the 2 show gardens for Chelsea. Karen then detailed the efforts that go into preparing and bringing on the Chelsea plants. We saw some of the plants that are due to be part of the gardens, and a few that have been discarded as they’ve come on too much in the mild spring or are just the wrong colour!
I was concerned that I’d walk to the tills to be confronted with a huge pile of plants that I couldn’t fit into the car. As it turned out I ended up with a really restrained collection of purchases. They’re now making themselves at home in the garden. I think the next open day I’ll attend will be one later in the year to see the huge pens in full bloom.