Down to Dorset and Up to the Downs

The weather following our first event in March was, shall we say, wet, and that was pretty much the way it was when we returned to Dorset on April 15th for our second show of the season, once again a Charity Specialist Plant Fair, held this time at Mapperton House. Rob’s forgetting to bring his phone, forcing a return to base and second departure, delayed our arrival, but there was time enough to set things up for the day before the rain set in, just as the first hardy souls came through the entrance gate.

As the above photo shows, we had erected the PP gazebo – not for our benefit, but essentially to prevent the cacti and succulents on our display being overwatered, which they seemed to appreciate. We had two tables of indoor plants, as the late winter weather has limited the number of outdoor plants we have ready, and these sparked much interest and represented a goodly proportion of our day’s takings. Not that we took that much: the organisers and other stallholders suggested that footfall was significantly down on previous years and that takings were below half of what they might typically be. The rain did ease in the afternoon, but by then it was too late, and Mapperton 2018 had to be addded to the list of those things that you have to put down to experience.

In the week that followed, spring finally arrived, with summer turning up 24 hours later, giving us a couple of days of 24C before the temperatures slid away by the weekend to something more normal for the time of year. But it was a nice enough on Sunday April 22nd when we made our annual trek up onto the downs above Marlborough for the plant fair organised by the RDA Kennet Valley branch.

The location ensures great far reaching views but can also mean strong breezes and horizontal rain. This year the breeze turned up but the rain stayed away. Sadly and inexplicably, so too did quite a few of the keen gardeners who usually brave the tortuous approach to the event over gravelled potholed tracks, with our sales down by more than half. Quite why this was, no-one seemed too sure, but it was a big disappointment, as last year this was one of our best days of the show season. For a second week running, the indoor selection was popular, with the curious mandrake-like Adenium Obesum again proving a hit with buyers.

A free weekend now beckons. We use the word free advisedly, as we have deliberately left it blank in order to make at least some inroads on the ever increasing queue of plants waiting in line to potted on. After that things start to get serious show-wise, with the Bishops Waltham Garden Fair first up on the double bill for the May Bank Holiday weekend. Let’s hope that one lives up to past successes. We could do with a decent show to get things going in 2018.

Rob and Joanna – April 2018

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