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Gordon's Nursery.

It's been a nail-biting few months for nurseries across Wales as they prepare plants for a prestigious but out-of-season show on their home ground. Anna Morrell spoke to some of those at the cuttings edge

IT'S not just the beautiful Rowan tree that likes the high life in the South Wales Valleys.

Mountain Ash, in the Cynon valley, named after a tree with such glorious orange autumn berries, has also proved fertile ground for conifers and alpine plants.

'It's a bit wet here but we're 1,000ft above sea level so the alpines thrive,' says David Gordon, pictured, who set up Gordon's Nursery 15 years ago and is preparing a conifer and alpine display for the show.

He runs the nursery with the help of one part-time gardener and grows a wide range of plants and shrubs.

Gardening, says David, is his passion and he's pleased to see it grow in popularity.

'I set up the nursery after working full-time in amenity horticulture for the council for 25 years. I have always loved working with plants - the fact that you're outside and you're watching something grow. It is a very rewarding job which I do for pleasure rather than to make a fortune.

'When I was a boy I used to help my father grow vegetables on his allotment. He would get me digging, weeding and hoeing and I loved it.

'Gardening has always been popular in this area.

Years ago, everyone wanted an allotment to grow their own vegetables - you had to go on a waiting list to have one.

'These days people are turning to the ornamental side of it and want flowers and shrubs. Many of my customers are young people who've bought a new house and want to create a nice garden. They've never had an interest in gardening before but they buy a few shrubs and then soon get the bug! There are so many television programmes on gardening now too which are making people interested.'

David takes his plants to many shows across the country and is the proud owner of a bronze medal from the Malvern RHS show last spring. He is delighted the RHS is coming to Cardiff and he'd like to see the city host an annual garden show as it used to.

'I'm not used to preparing for shows this early but when I found out the RHS was coming to Cardiff, I had to enter.

'Such a show in Cardiff is long overdue. Cardiff deserves a show every year as it is such a wonderful location. There is not much else going on in Wales specifically for plants so it's great to come to such a show on our home soil.'

HALFWAY up a hill in North Wales may seem an unlikely place to put greenhouses and grow house plants.

But the pure water and good light make ideal growing conditions for begonias and streptocarpus, says Gareth Dibley, above and below.

He helps run Dibleys, a family-owned nursery in Llanelidan, Ruthin, which has been preparing hundreds of house-plants for its display at the show's floral marquee.

Dibleys, which was set up by Gareth's father, Rex, 20 years ago, is well known on the floral show circuit and holds gold medals for its displays at Chelsea and Hampton Court flower shows. But this is the first time they'll be exhibiting at a flower show in Wales.

'We display at all the main shows - about 40 a year - so we're well used to exhibiting. We go to the Royal Welsh Show every year but that is an agricultural show with flowers as a sideline. The RHS show in Cardiff is the first major flower show in Wales and it's great that the RHS is finally showing an interest in Wales,' says Gareth.

'Unfortunately, the show may be a bit too early for our streptocarpus. But we will have a good display of our other plants and have been busy over the past weeks ensuring they are perfect - not too far advanced.'

Major shows are vitally important for smaller, niche nurseries such as Dibleys, to meet customers and clinch deals. They will also be on hand in Cardiff to advise visitors.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 16, 2005
Words:699
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