Saturday, August 27, 2011

'Tis Pansy Season

Pansy Strawberries & Cream

Seasons are strange, frustrating, exhilarating, trying and exciting things!  This time last year we couldn't buy a fine weekend. This year I have t take my hat off to all those who said our Spring season would arrive early.  Hasn't the weather been magnificent?

I'm thinking seasons partly because of the great weather and the stunning blossom and wattle wherever I go and party because the turn of season brings it's own particular frustrations. I spent this morning answering questions at Vasili's refurbished Garden Centre in Munro Street Coburg.  Vasili and his family have done a stunning job turning what has to be said was a very sad and run down suburban garden centre into a funky destination with a great looking cafe and nursery with a very homely vegetable gardening theme. Of course Vasili has leveraged his personal brand brilliantly. Anyway, back to the point... Seasons.  I answered 90% of questions about Tomatoes. I was thrilled with the response to our Cool Start selection. The "what should I plant this early in the season" question is easily answered by pointing to the group of 4 varieties with accompanying Point of Sale explaining why they are ideal for planting right now. But I also realize just how many gardeners have no concept of seasonality.  For mine it is without hesitation past planting time for Primulas and Ornamental Kale, they need need cool weather to bring on colour.

But what about Pansies and Violas? I get the distinct feeling that our industry just gets tired of the staples and wants to move on, too soon! No doubt the enthusiasts are looking for new season stock, despite the fact that we will still get weather cold enough to set back Petunias for another month. But what about the majority of gardeners who just want something beautiful and they want it now?  Pansies and Violas will continue to offer stunning displays through 'til Christmas in most years, in fact their best flowering season is the upcoming couple of months. The nursery industry however has pretty much shut the gate on Pansy and wants to see Petunia despite the fact that the only way to have them flowering now is to force them in conditions that leave them unprepared for planting out.

Phew, please give Pansies a go so I can relax a little. It's not that we will be stuck with excess stock, we're not (we are trying to clear punnets of Pansy right now, see below), it's just that we are overlooking a terrific spring flowering plant that has its best season ahead of it.

Oh and we have just transplanted the first batch of Basil (due in a couple of weeks) but my recommendation is to wait at least until the start of October before planting Basil out in Melbourne.

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