Retailer celebrates 50 years with large-scale plantings

Poppies, sunflowers and daffodils to adorn Priory Farm

By Matthew Appleby A pioneering business that encompasses many aspects of garden retailing is celebrating its golden jubilee by planting millions of seeds and bulbs. The 72ha Priory Farm at Redhill, Surrey, will plant 2ha with 50 million poppy seeds and 50,000 sunflowers from Moles Seeds, and 50,000 daffodils from Cornwall-based Fentongollan Farm. Partner Nic Shinner said Priory Farm had an expanded, £100,000 coffee shop, supplied with homegrown produce, and a farm shop that opened in the 1980s. It also offers fishing and team-building events. Shinner has recently revived the pick-your-own (PYO) fruit business. He is now growing 0.4ha each of plums, raspberries and Darselect and Sonata strawberries, and 0.2ha of runner beans. He said: “PYO faded away because people had more leisure and more money, and strawberries became available 365 days a year in supermarkets. But we now have a big following who like tasting better quality than strawberries than you get from overseas.” He is looking for a three per cent increase in visitors in 2007 after a drought order hit Priory’s plant-selling busin ess in 2007. Shinner said: “We’re a plant centre. We specialise in plants and plant knowledge. “We’re continually looking at expansion but we’re in the green- belt so we have planning restrictions. But we’ve always had the philosophy that we don’t like to keep all our eggs in one basket.”

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