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A day in the life of Lorraine Young

In case you missed the article in this month’s ‘Gudgeon’ – a Bradford on Avon magazine, we thought you might like to read what keeps Lorraine Young busy!

A Day in the life of Lorraine Young         

8am: The first staff arrive. They get busy opening the vents and watering. I do domestic things – what my mother would have called a “lick and a promise”. If the phone goes now, it is usually some hapless lorry driver lost in the lanes!

9am: The nursery opens for business every day including weekends at 9. The rest of the staff arrive and I settle down to paperwork, accounts, orders, answer emails and chase up missing labels.  Most new varieties of plants are registered for Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR). The cuttings must be bought from an accredited supplier and should be accompanied by a label showing that royalty has been paid.  There are always missing labels…

1030am: Make coffee for everyone. There are plenty of biscuits and a home-made cake if it’s someone’s birthday. This is probably the first time I see my son and business partner, Richard. We have a discussion with the staff about the work for the day, which plants need handling and what compost to use. Getting the compost mix right for each plant is the key to growing a good product.  Watering, spacing, potting, pruning – there is a lot to organise.  We are fortunate to have some staff that have been with us for a long time and know what they are doing.

11am: At last I get into the propagation house. This is the part of the job I really enjoy – sowing seeds and taking cuttings.  Seeds sown in cells go into the temperature-controlled growing room and seed trays to the kitchen.  Only vegetables get germinated in the glass house; the temperature fluctuation is too great for most things.  Cuttings go on the heated matting. We have a large collection of scented geraniums plus a lot of herbaceous plants and shrubs that are not available commercially, so we must grow our own.

1pm: Quick sandwich, sort the post, read any new catalogues and plant lists that have arrived. I’m always on the look-out for new varieties and unusual or scarce plants.

2pm: More propagating or maybe take a turn on the till.  It is always a pleasure to meet our customers and despite having been here for 50 years, we’re still meeting new people who didn’t know we existed!  Some customers have big gardens needing trees and large shrubs; others just a balcony and want a few herbs or a pretty planter; novices who need advice and seasoned and knowledgeable gardeners with valuable experience to share.

5pm: The nursery closes for business. Make tea for any staff staying late. Now I can find time for my kitchen garden and conservatory.  I grow nearly all my own vegetables. The varieties are the same as the plants we sell and a few new things on trial.  I take a lot of trouble choosing the best and tastiest varieties. There is no point in putting all that effort into second class plants.

7pm: Enter the day’s production on the computer. It is important to know what we have in stock. Even more important to know where it is on our 2.5-acre site so there is a code for every area of the nursery.  We have approx 3000 different varieties and sizes of plants which are listed on our website.

7.30: Clear the kitchen and cook supper with plenty of vegetables from the garden. I have fruits saved in the freezer if there is nothing fresh. I am officially off-duty now, but there may be a gardening programme on the TV or some gardening magazines to catch up on or an article to write for our newsletter and news pages on our website.

12pm: Last thing if it’s a cold night – to check if all the glass house boilers are running properly!

A day in the life of Lorraine Young - pricking out seeds at Downside Nurseries

Lorraine pricking out seeds Downside Nurseries

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