Growing with less reliance on water

Hayley Willerton with a selection of colourful plants at the Alpine & Grass Nursery. Photo (MIKE DAVISON): SG100412-455MD
Hayley Willerton with a selection of colourful plants at the Alpine & Grass Nursery. Photo (MIKE DAVISON): SG100412-455MD
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IF GARDENERS should be planning for the future, then they should be planting drought-resistant flowers and grasses.

Which is lucky for West Pinchbeck family business, The Alpine & Grass Nursery, because that is exactly what proprietors Stephen and Hayley Willerton specialise in.

The nursery has been running along Northgate for 12 years, although Stephen was growing alpines in North Yorkshire prior to that. When the couple started the nursery they added grasses because they complement the alpines very well as both are hardy, year-round plants.

Since then, Stephen and Hayley have gone on to win Gold at the Sandringham Show for their drought-resistant plants, although Hayley is equally excited about the propagation side of the business.

Hayley said: “We grow over 100 different varieties of alpine and we propagate the alpines and grasses ourselves from cuttings and seed. It’s what makes it more interesting and we try to grow rare and unusual varieties where we can.

“What is always nice is when you sow your own seed for a more common plant. If something different comes up you call it a sport and if it is interesting and different enough you then have to propagate that vegetatively or from a sport. It can never be propagated from seed again because it reverts back to its original form.”

For example, Hayley has propagated a pure lime green carex testacea sport, called Carex Lime Shine, from the normally variagated olive green and orange plant. That has been distributed into other nurseries and will be shown for the first time this year.

“It doesn’t happen very often,” explained Hayley, who supplies their hardy, low-maintenance plants to garden centres, landscapers, garden designers, architects, councils and schools as well as the public through mail order. “Sometimes something can come up different but it has to be suitable and different enough and you have to watch it for a while to see whether it is going to revert back or if it is worthwhile.”

The internet has opened up the entire country for potential customers who might be looking for something specific that the Alpine & Grass Nursery can supply. Visit the site at www.alpine