Jane has been selling plants for years, certainly well before I knew her. It has always been a passion and her driving force. Since we met, I have become involved to a degree certainly on the selling if not on the growing.
All this was done in a normal domestic garden in a cul-de-sac in Fleet. Somehow enough space was found to have a lovely garden, but also a fruit cage, a greenhouse, a vegetable patch, and a nursery for growing plants for selling to friends, workmates, and at car boot sales.
It should also be added that as well as all this, time was found to make jams, chutneys, curds etc plus a wide range of different kinds of cakes. These were supplied to farm shops, businesses including blue-chip companies like British Airways, and garden centres.
And Hold Down a Full Time Job!!
Eventually the inevitable happened and it was decided to leave the full-time job, slow right down on the preserves and cakes, and concentrate of her first love – no not me – plants. The first priority – bigger premises.
What We’ve Got
Back in late 1998 I was at a football match watching Portsmouth lose when Jane, scouring the papers because the house in Fleet was sold, found 2 Church Cottages. It had been empty for 18 months and looked it. “Think of the potential” I was told. A big imagination was needed and put to full use.
We moved in November, 1998 into a house with no central heating, gardens front and back that were completely overrun and nearly 4 acres of fields that were more stinging nettles than grass
Seven years hard labour – no jokes about the crime – and we now boast a reasonable garden front and rear, fields relatively free from stinging nettles, paddocks fenced off, and livestock!!
For my birthday I was bought four four-legged lawnmowers that managed to jump ship from the chauffer driven transport taking them to you-know-where.
I shouldn’t joke about them really because, despite their mature years, they managed to provide us with some lovely lambs. This stimulated our interest in sheep and the rest is history. We were up to 45 at one point but that is now down to approximately 35 animals.
The original gang of four were mules, but the mainstay of the flock now is Shetlands, and we also have some Corriedales which are Merino/Leicester Longwool crosses.
We were given some Polish Frizzle chickens free to a good home – you’ve guessed it – we now have around 40 birds mainly Light Sussex. We did have in excess of 50 but natural causes, a penchant for chicken curries, and selling to friends has brought it back down.
Last year, Thelma and Louise, two saddleback pigs, joined the experiment – were well looked after and now they are looking after us.