Boningale Nurseries hosted the International Plant Propagators Society West Midlands and Wales area meeting in August. 28 members attended the visit, including a couple from Dublin and two members even coming from the Falkland Islands.
The tour started at the beginning of the production process; Nerys explained the cycle from mother plant to cutting. Explaining how production has changed over the 11 years she has been Propagation Manager at Boningale. In 1999 the prop target was 700,000 and next year it will be 1,070,000. The production mix has also changed from 230 varieties of shrubs to 430 varieties and from 0 homegrown herbaceous varieties to 150. Now Boningale produce 160,000 seed raised plugs, 26,000 splits and 867,000 by cutting. Nerys has a very traditional method with her propagation with a strong emphasise on cutting size and quality. If you start with strong cuttings you stand a better chance of finishing with strong plants.
The group was then split into two and shown around the rest of the Nursery by Penny (Production Director) and Paul (Container Manager). First stop was the potting barn, where the potting teams average 1900 finals (2L or 3L pots) an hour, or 2250 liners an hour. Next the groups visited the newly completed low tunnels and saw how they could save labour on moving out saleable stock. The tour included a general overview of what is grown at Boningale and how the year had gone so far, and concluded with a description of the proposed high-sided despatch tunnel.
After re-grouping in the Prop house the visitors were entertained with a talk from Fleur Smith who gave an interesting and in-depth view from the sales side of the Boningale business. Teaching us growers that even the office staff are now running ‘time in motion’ studies into their working day by introducing a faster way to dial the telephone! We learnt from Fleur that prices of our products especially in the amenity market are very much the same as they were 10 years ago; with all other costs escalating, time is a very valuable asset. Boningale are dedicated in adding value to the plants in other ways such as good support staff, advice and an efficient delivery service.
The visit was very successful; our aim had been to give the IPPS members a full insight into the production here at Boningale. Abi Rayment (IPPS President GB & I) commented on, ‘a lovely, interesting and thorough tour with a complete openness to the business’s good and more difficult areas’.