Growing PoliNations: meet the nurserymen - Dave Root, Kelways Nurseries!

Planting | Friday 19 August 2022
Image 09 08 2022 at 12.13

Dreamt up by Trigger and brought into reality by a standout team of horticulturalists, growers and gardening experts, the PoliNations super garden is coming together with an extraordinary amount of expertise behind it.

Sustainability is at the heart of the garden concept, along with the desire to create a vibrant, lush and colourful oasis for our festival site. We spoke with three nurserymen behind many of the trees, shrubs and plants that'll be bringing Victoria Square to life this September: read on to hear how they are approaching the project, managing sustainability and ensuring the incredible selection of flowers bloom right on time...

Part Two: Dave Root, Kelways Nurseries 

Kelways have been growing plants for timed events for many years. What has been one of the hardest plants to get to flower for a particular time, and how did you make it happen?   

Nicotiana is proving very difficult, September is very late to get this plant to flower, and we have had to rely on a really late sowing in July. We are trying to grow the plants with as much nitrogen in the pot as possible to promote leaf growth because we do not want flowers until the last minute, and we also want the plants to be as tall as possible 

There are various Dahlias within the growing list. How do you go about raising these to flower at the right moment?   

Dahlias are naturally flowering in September, but we want them to be at the start of their flowering period rather than at the end, in order that they keep looking good through to end of the festival. So we have potted them on three times into larger and larger pots to keep them lush and healthy 

Your growing list also includes some highly coloured tender species like Begonia Bossa Nova and Amaranthus caudatus. Have you grown these before, and how long will they take to develop the full flowering effect?  

We haven’t grown either begonia or amaranthus before, however we like a challenge! As with most of the other plants we want them fresh in September not tired, and so our growing plan was to not start them growing until quite late., 

Can you describe your relationship to sustainable growing practices, and how they have evolved during your time in the profession? 

Our use of pesticides has reduced dramatically and we rarely use them these days, preferring to rely on natural predators, and good husbandry in monitoring the environment and watering to ensure that plants are stressed as little as possible,  

What would you describe as the most enjoyable or surprising aspects of your profession for aspirational young growers?  

Working outside and with nature is inspiring, and there is always something new to learn.  

And finally, do you have a good plant fact you can share with us?  

Its better to work with nature than battle against it.

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