A year in the life of Urban Jungle
06 July 2014 - by Lizzy Browne

(First posted Friday, January 24, 2014) So - it's almost February and our rest and recuperation period is drawing to  a close. Urban Jungle will be open every day from the 1st and we'll have lots of  work to do after taking it easy in January. The weather has been amazingly kind  and we're hoping that all those bad winters will soon become a distant memory.  Something to tell the grand children.
Depending on the weather, February is a time for cleaning the nursery, but of  course, these plans can be completely scuppered by snow and ice (not this year  though we pray). A buying trip to Spain is also  on the cards.

Again, depending on the weather, March is a time for hauling all our hardy stock  from their areas of shelter to the outdoors, starting with deciduous trees and  shrubs. We don�t want these coming in to leaf under glass too early, only to be  knocked back by frost once outdoors. Evergreens we leave until the end of March.  New stock begins to arrive and potting up begins in earnest. This is also the  time for the great Canna and Ginger prep when we pot all our stock from the  garden last year.

In April you�ll find us mostly in the potting shed, when the burden of stock to  be potted sometimes seems overwhelming, as does packaging mail orders. The  nursery is usually fully stocked by now, but the days often end with us running  around covering vulnerable plants with fleece protection and then removing it in  the morning.

May is probably our busiest month � most people wake up to their gardens this  month and feel confident enough that damaging frosts are over. We�ll still be  potting, and if the weather�s warm we become slaves to watering. This is the  month when we often wonder if it�s worth going home, starting so early in the  morning and finishing so late at night. We've even been known to work by car  headlights.

Very early in the morning in the first week of June, we�ll load up our van with  Cannas, Gingers, Dahlias, Bananas etc. and ferry them down the drive to the  garden (it saves about 50 trips with the barrow). Over the next week we�ll plant  out 100s and 100s of them, all for the following year�s stock and to make the  place look pretty too. Advising and serving customers, watering, potting,  feeding, weeding, propagating, deadheading, labelling, delivering and boxing  mail order plants keeps us pretty busy.

In July we might actually get a chance to draw breath, a busy month still with  customers but the frenetic pace of jobs begins to wane.


Many nurseries have a bit of downtime in August as their customers go on holiday  but we�re lucky as we�re only 20 miles from the coast, 10 miles from the Norfolk  Broads and 5 miles from Norwich, so we see lots of holiday makers who take the  opportunity to make a plant purchasing trip if they�re this way on their annual  break.
One of the things I love about September is that we begin to be released from  the tyranny of the hosepipe. Despite lots of automatic irrigation in parts of  the nursery, a thorough watering on a hot summer�s day can take 6 hours. Imagine  last summer when we had an 8 week heat wave with no let up. Really, painting the  Forth Bridge couldn�t be more monotonous. So this month we�re able to work  sensible hours � like normal people and perhaps have a little bit of a life away  from Urban Jungle.

We�re fortunate in that we supply plants to several landscapers throughout the  year, and even if most gardeners begin to throw in the towel in October, this  can be a busy month for landscapers and we�ll often have to put together large  orders for them. As the clocks change and the nights draw in we have no option  but to down tools earlier each evening. We often reflect on those late nights  working in early summer and wonder how we actually managed it. We can at last  step back and smell the roses, or at least enjoy the colours of autumn.

November is an incredibly busy month for us � we have to move nearly every plant  under cover and dig up the stock garden. It really is all hands to the pump and  as we get into the third and fourth week there�s a real sense of urgency, nay  desperation if the forecast is poor. We were lucky last year as the weather was  very mild. We all draw a huge sigh of relief once the bulk is safe inside. The  only plants that remain outside are a few really tough deciduous trees and  conifers and we�ll even take these in if the forecast is for an extended period  of bone crackingly cold weather.

And so December , and everyone�s thoughts turn to Christmas. A few planty  Christmas gifts, lots of Gift vouchers and lat year, Christmas trees for the  first time. No  watering or potting but finalizing our orders for next year�s stock and a  thorough stock take keep us out of mischief.
And this is our year, following the rhythm of the seasons, enduring the cold,  snow, wind and rain but loving the warmth and sunshine in the summer. Balancing  the books, pre-empting the tastes and requirements of customers, a constant  challenge, and learning something new every day. It�s a good life.

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Direct Link to this Comment Will Giles - 07 July 2014 10:52
An excellent read - a year in the life of Urban Jungle. Keep up the good work and lets hope we all have a fantastically exotic 2014 :-)

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