Last week I was invited to attend the Garden Press Event in London and this was my first event of this sort. It was a great opportunity for me to meet garden writers, discover new garden brands and do a bit of networking with suppliers of garden products. I designed and printed my business cards and set up early on Wednesday morning, even snow and cancelled trains couldn’t stop me. I arrived at London Business Design centre full of excitement and enthusiasm!
Disappointingly, my first conversation with a lady at the Crocus display went pretty much like this: “I have a blog” I said, gave her my card and paused… “And I have a bag for you”, she replied, “please take it”. The display was beautiful with a variety of solutions for indoor plants, including amazing house terrariums, brass and steel pot covers, aluminium bowls for succulents, vintage glass cloches; but feeling overwhelmed, I couldn’t get across my passion for houseplants and the encounter was over.
I quickly realised I needed a clear concept for my blog. As much as I wanted to I couldn’t write, or talk, about random events happening in my garden. I had to have a strong idea which would define my blog, be unique to make it stand out, capture the imagination and inspire my readers. As the day progressed I met many suppliers and garden bloggers and talking with them helped me see it.
Living in London and having a small backyard garden, I want to inspire people to garden in small urban spaces and make gardening fun by introducing them to new varieties of plants and unusual edibles. Another theme I picked up was about the busy lives we are all leading, especially in cities where gardening must be easy, fun and not time consuming.
Here are some garden brands which provide great solutions for growing in small urban spaces.
Can you find two other people in the world more excited about a new range of perennial vegetables? Probably not!
Lubera is developing ‘EverVeg’ line which will include Perennial broccoli, Asparagus kale, Walking onions, Perennial garlic and Skirret. Once planted they will produce tasty vegetables year after year. Bringing forgotten vegetables from Victorian times back to life is a clever idea, and they are also perfect for busy London growers!
Another interesting Lubera line is Lowberry; compact raspberry and blackberry plants for growing in containers. Dwarf Raspberry “Goodasgold” is new for 2018 and looks particularly attractive, producing a good harvest of bright yellow berries from the middle of July till the end of September.
Dobies & Suttons stall was full of sun-dried tomatoes, windowsill vegetables and amazing seeds. Wait, sun-dried tomatoes, how could it be? Cherry tomato Sugar Plum Raisin F1 is the first tomato that dries on the vine! You can forget about it while on summer holidays as fruits get sweeter as they dry; with a high brix level (which measures sweetness) up to 16.
Wait, you need a garden to grow tomatoes, right? Well, maybe not. Suttons offers windowsill vegetables, tomatoes, chillies and sweet peppers which only grow up to 30 cm high. Tomato Ponchi-Re is small and cute and Pillar Yellow pepper is full of delicious peppers.
I have also discovered a lot of seeds in my goody bag and some of these varieties will work well in the container garden or a small veg patch. They are also colourful, which makes them extra fun to grow. This year I will be trialing peas Spring Blush (an amazing pink colour!) and Champion of England, a purple carrot Night Bird and Lupin Mini Gallery Pure Blue and will report my progress on the blog.
A lovely lady Karolyn at Elho display immediately knew what a city grower like me might need: UV-protected windowsill propagators with valves on the top to control temperature, balcony planters which fit railings, potato pots for growing on a smaller scale, mobile garden – bigger pots on wheels for heavier vegetables such as squashes, tomatoes, eggplants or beans, very convenient when you want to put your plants out in the sun or protect them from the rain!
Made from durable materials, all Elho products looked very stylish and modern, a contrast from old broken pots. At the Garden Press Event, people approached me with questions about Elho Lizzy bag in the photo. It has generated a lot of interest as an unusual multi-functional product. A Lizzy bag can be used as a handy harvesting trug, but I think, I will be growing my bushy Maskotka tomato in it, creating a modern, container veg garden.
I knew about Dalefoot Composts, a small hill farm in the Lake District, from “Back to the Land” programme on BBC. The compost is made from two main ingredients: bracken and sheep’s wool – a simple and environmentally friendly idea combined with a secret recipe from old gardening books, which Jane, one of the founders, is not sharing with anyone!
London city growers might be particularly interested in two products: Lakeland Gold clay-buster for heavy clay soil and Wool compost for growing in containers. Wool retains 50% more water than normal compost which means less hassle with a watering can during hot summer months and it also provides slow release of nitrogen to feed the plants.
SeedCell is a young British company who call themselves gardening revolutionaries. Their mission is to get people growing by introducing fun, easy and waste-free ways to plant seeds. Each seed pod is made from bio-degradable material and packed with quality seeds. Just water the soil and plant your seed pod, how cool is this!
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to meet SeedCell guys at this event, but there is always next time…
Highlight of the Garden Press Event for me was meeting all the garden bloggers I knew from the Twitter garden community. It was really nice to say hello in person and chat about plants and gardening all day! I would never have thought I could talk so much! 🙂
I am looking forward to repeating it again next year!
Photos credit: Juliano Binder