Turning a hobby into a plantsperson’s heaven

Words by:
Caroline Bingham
Featured in:
May 2016

Walking around Goosemans Growers nursery it is incredible that Pam and Paul Finnis have made such a transformation of what was and still is primarily the back garden of their family home.
The couple have lived in the house for fifteen years and raised their four, now grown-up, children in Goosemans Yard.

“I trained as a nurse and worked for thirty years in the care sector,” explained Pam, “latterly managing director of a multi-million pound turnover business, while Paul has always run his Paul Finnis Landscaping company. It was hectic but we made it work between us and with the support of family.”

Three years ago, Pam wanted to re-evaluate her priorities to find a healthier and less stressful lifestyle. Paul’s parents had raised bedding plants for many years and Pam had already got the horticulture hobby bug by helping them and growing vegetables in a small allotment joining the garden.

“I gave up my job and in our first year, I opened the garden just at weekends, selling vegetables and bedding plants. I really enjoyed it but also decided that if we were to make the dream of running a plant nursery a reality, I had to do this properly.

“In the second year we just closed for the winter months, opening five days a week for the rest of the year adding shrubs and trees to our stock and working to seasonal demand for Mother’s Day and Easter gifts, hanging baskets and tubs plus Christmas trees and wreaths.”

As the customer base and stock grew so the display areas within the garden developed; long outgrowing the immediate patio area which had been utilised in the beginning. The garden extends to approximately two-thirds of an acre and contains ‘garden rooms’, lawns, display areas and polytunnels, all smartly maintained and well thought out. Two aviaries, one for lovebirds and the other housing budgies, zebras and other finches reflect another of Pam’s interests.

Beyond the patio is a gazebo displaying seasonal tubs and containers with ornamental shrubs. Past the first lawn, waist level stands are neatly lined with a dazzling display of carefully chosen varieties of annuals, perennials and alpines. Further still are two poly tunnels, one for vegetable plugs, the other already full of summer bedding with a selection of attractive hanging baskets waiting to be chosen and filled.

This year Goosemans Growers only closed during January. “I think I have got to grips with anticipating the seasonal demand now, “Pam continued. “We invested in a clamper last year, which meant we could produce many more wreaths and the whole family gets involved in meeting the demand. Customers come from both sides of the Humber banks and even from as far as Birmingham.

“One of the eye openers for me has been how influenced people can be by their holidays abroad to return to create their own ‘hot’ garden. It does influence what we buy during the summer months.”

Mondays are always a 5am start for Pam and Paul, when they head off to buy stock. While they propagate all their own plug vegetables and some bedding plants, other stock is bought from specialist growers in Gedney and Wisbech.

“I thoroughly enjoy our Monday trips out. Not only do we select some fabulous plants from outstanding quality growers but we also manage to fit in lunch or tea somewhere on our travels.”

It has been the focus on traditional and specialist plants which has earned Pam a reputation for quality and varieties which are not found in chain garden centres.

“Considering the size of the garden, we have a massive selection of varieties and unusual plants. I look for the more unusual such as rare hydrangeas, Paulownia Tomentosa and Physocarpus ‘Diabolo’. There are standard gooseberries in stock at the moment, ideal for growing in a pot. We have over twenty-five varieties of hebe as well as black petunias, unusual colourways of Petunia Tumbelina and begonias. At any one time we have over 1,000 varieties of seasonal plants, shrubs and trees.”

Even though the nursery is closed on Monday and Tuesday, Pam does not mind that very often someone from the village will knock at the door to make a purchase.

“We have been so well supported by the local community. We have donated primroses to the school for the children to make Mother’s Day gifts, we have sponsored the shirts for Barton and District RFC and I have been invited to demonstrate wreath making to the WI this year”

2016 is another busy year as Pam has enrolled to take a degree with the National Institute of Garden Designers, to build on her knowledge and further advise customers with their gardening questions.

“I love being my own boss,” said Pam, “and I suppose you could say I am a perfectionist when it comes to presenting the plants and maintaining the quality of stock. I loved my past career but I love this lifestyle more. I cannot control the weather and that can hinder even some of the best plans at times but the feedback we get from customers has been excellent. That inspires me even more.”

Barrow on Humber hosts an annual village Open Gardens and Wheelbarrow Weekend in June.

Villagers decorate and plant up more than 70 wheelbarrows in a hotly contested competition.

The dates for this year’s event is Saturday and Sunday 4th and 5th June. Be sure to visit Goosemans Growers who will be open serving Pimm’s and cake in the gazebo.

Goosemans Growers
3 Thorngarth Lane
Barrow upon |Humber
DN19 7AW
Tel: 07968 892867

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