Me & My Job - Hilary Collins, co-owner, Grafton Nursery

Hilary Collins, co-owner, Grafton Nursery - image: Grafton Nursery
Hilary Collins, co-owner, Grafton Nursery - image: Grafton Nursery

How did you get started in the industry? We came to Grafton Flyford in 2008 and are in the process of renovating and developing the site. We already have a couple of tunnels in production and crops to offer. Over the next few seasons, we will be expanding our range, but at present we have 36 varieties of garden hardy ferns, the disease-resistant dwarf hedging Buxus 'Faulkner' and 20 varieties of garden hardy eucalyptus. Steve and I manage the company with 25 years experience in growing tender and hardy ornamentals. We both have degrees in horticulture from the University of Bath.

What are you working on currently? We been growing eucalyptus for four or five years and that's how long it took to get the trees to the right height. We've only just got specimens coming online. It's not like growing other plants - this is the single most challenging thing I have ever grown.

What is the hardest thing about growing them? They need to be grown in air pots and the timing has to be right. Getting the right quality and having them at the right size at the right time of year for marketing have been the challenges.

What is the best thing about growing them? We grow for logs, the floristry side and also hedges. We almost sold out of hedging varieties on the first day at Gardeners' World Live. Some varieties bush from the base. They're not just trees. You can use them for chicken bedding, for instance, because the oil deters red mite.

What exhibitions have you been attending and what are your plans? The Malvern Spring Show had a cancellation so we got in and then we did Gardeners' World Live. We may do the Malvern Autumn Show too. It's been an exciting time. We're looking to sell to specialist nurseries in a marketable size of three-litre pots.


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