Raising funds by selling plants

Award-winning garden owner, Geoff Stonebanks raises thousands of pounds for charity by opening his Driftwood By Sea garden. He grows lots of plants from cuttings to sell to his plant loving visitors. Here he shares some of his secrets.

plant sales
You may be surprised how much money you can make from plant sales. Image: Geoff Stonebanks
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February is usually the time of year when I start to sort out what I’m going to be selling in the garden this summer. I’ve only got a small garden, so I like to offer added interest for visitors by giving them the chance to browse the things we have for sale, usually this is reasonably priced garden art, but more importantly it includes plants. This is especially true for the several openings we have the National Garden Scheme every year.

Greenhouse
The greenhouse is filled with cuttings growing on to be sold at open days. Image: Geoff Stonebanks

Each autumn as I put the garden to bed for the season, I take cuttings and plant them up in the greenhouse. It’s only a matter of 14 weeks or so until the garden gate is opened to receive this year’s visitors. We had over 2000 visitors in 2016 and have had over 14000 since we first opened back in 2009. With this in mind, I’ve created a plant-selling area at the very top of the garden, where I sell my own propagated plants and those from a couple of friends in the town too. Most of our visitors like to go away with something to remember the garden by, and a plant seems to do the trick.  My usual favourites are cuttings from several of the fuchsias I grow, like the Fuchsia ‘Empress of Prussia’, which had originally belonged to my Dad, and Fuchsia ‘Genii’ which was grown by his sister my Auntie Margaret.

But I’ve also had great success with the delightful and trailing Fuchsia ‘Pink Temptation’ and Fuchsia ‘Lena’. Some don’t always make it through the winter, as I have to confess, I don’t always remember to get out and check them when the weather is bad, but, I’m pretty lucky in that I have a heated greenhouse, as it can be very cold here through the winter months.

Hot sellers

Cuttings
These young cuttings will soon be ready to sell. Image: Geoff Stonebanks

Last October, before I moved all the containerised Agave americana from the front beach garden into the side alley under cover, I carefully removed many of their new growths. I’ve got some variegated ones too and these were all potted up to develop and sell on this summer. Other cuttings that have been successful have been taken from Euphorbia mellifera. It grows in several places around the garden, both in containers and in the ground. And there’s the great coastal plant, sea buckthorn  (Hippophae rhamnoides), which I have growing throughout the front and back gardens. Once the weather starts to warm up they can all go outside on the shelves ready to be bought for their new homes.

Fern friends

fern propagation
Ferns are easy to propagate. Image: Geoff Stonebanks

Another big seller are the fern plants that I propagate from those that are growing throughout the garden and I’ve been quite successful over the years in propagating some to sell. Back in October, I cut several fronds from the plants in the garden that had the spores developing. After carefully cutting off the edges of the fronts I pinned them down into compost in a seed tray, using ladies hair grips, and over the months they steadily develop into small plants which in time, you can carefully lift, then separate by cutting them up into small individual plants then potting them on. They eventually grow into nice new plants that are just perfect for my plant sales area.

These are all plants that grow well in my garden and that visitors can see growing in situ. It’s a great way to raise some extra money and a lovely reminder of my garden for those that want to visit and take a little piece of it home. If you are in Sussex in 2017 make sure you check the website for our garden openings and come and say hello.

www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk

Geoff Stonebanks

About Geoff Stonebanks

Geoff Stonebanks lives in Bishopstone, near Seaford in East Sussex and spends all his time gardening and fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. Using his multi award-winning garden - Driftwood - he has raised over £76,000 for various charities in 7 years, £40,000 of that for Macmillan. The garden, which first opened to the public in 2009 has featured on BBC2 Gardeners' World, Good Morning Britain and in many national and local media publications. In his spare time, Geoff is also the National Garden Scheme's Social Media & Publicity Chair as well as an Assistant County Organiser & Publicity Officer in East & Mid Sussex.
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