Gardenbypost.com was admittedly a bit of an experiment – but also a bit of a success.
Although the initial seed of the idea had been dormant for some time, Gardenbypost.com truly came into being when we found a truly unique opportunity in the form of an idyllic smallholding set in a secluded and beautiful nook of Herefordshire, in western England, UK. This smallholding consisted of a (nearly) derelict cottage set in a couple of acres of ancient orchard.
With some work (over several years), and using seasonal helpers in addition to the core staff, this ‘blank canvas’ was converted into our best possible version of a self-sufficient and sustainable horticultural business. Although the goal was never to be 100% organic, we nonetheless were able to form a complex and optimally-integrated system which utilized primarily techniques and methods that are associated with organic horticulture; using minimized inputs, sustainable sources of power, beneficial insects and natural alternatives to pesticides or fungicides. (Read more about our methods here.)
The nursery grew at a natural, organic rate, being slowly incorporated into the available spaces in the ancient orchard, which was slowly replanted with new trees to form a diverse permaculture-inspired semi-wooded garden, interwoven with a successful mail-order nursery business.
As our business expanded, so did our product range; and Gardenbypost.com soon started offering a wide range of gardening products in addition to the original seed, bulb and plant ranges.
One of the major advantages of growing practically every single plant ourselves from seed to ‘harvest’, was the ability to be involved in the selection of new plant varieties. Many of the plants we grew were rare or unusual in cultivation, and a good number required a process of re-selection over several generations before we would offer them for sale. A good proportion of the species we grew originated in North America or elsewhere, and were accustomed to an annual climate pattern very different from that in the Western UK. As a result many seedlings would fail to thrive outside of their own climate parameters – but of those that succeeded, we were able to select progenitors that became the source of our own selected forms which performed predictably well without needing special treatment. (Read more about our plant breeding here).
We tried numerous plant species and varieties over the years, eventually settling into a standard range of proven performers, interspersed with a healthy slice of exclusive ‘short-run’ (small production) new species and forms each year.
As our focus at the nursery was always to minimise inputs in our integrated system, we gravitated towards plants which succeeded relatively well in drought and heat, as well as those that tolerated the often wet and cold UK climate. Many of the varieties that became our solid ‘standard range’ were alpines with an American provenance, and hardy succulents from across the globe.
Eventually, nature ran its course and our business reached its flourishing moment. Having naturally grown over a decade to fill the available space, we were faced with the option of either scaling-up in a more industrial setting, or to start afresh with something new. Always ready for a new challenge, we opted for the latter and made preparations for a couple of new projects in the Netherlands.
Gardenbypost.com stopped selling to the general public in 2016, but we aim to maintain a ‘legacy’ directory of some of our Favourite and Best plants, many of which have become like old friends. (See our Plants here).