A season of change at Clonakilty Garden Centre

Clon garden5

Posted on: 5th September, 2016

Category: Home, Garden & Environment

Contributor: Sheila Mullins

With every season comes a change. After ten years at the helm and seeking a slower pace of life, Adrian Marshall is passing ownership of Clonakilty Garden Centre to his second-in-command, Paula Knight. Sheila Mullins visited the green-fingered pair to hear how this arrangement has secured the future of this much-loved garden centre.

In 2013 business was ‘blooming’ for Adrian Marshall and his daughter Holly following Clonakilty Garden Centre’s hugely successful move to Lisavaird Co-op three years previously. The extra space allowed for more polytunnels, where Holly spent most of her time nurturing rows of home-grown plants, whilst Adrian happily combined working in the Centre with his landscape design consultancy. By the end of that year however, plans had to change when Holly developed an illness that meant she could no longer do such physical outdoor work. As a result, she had to prematurely retire from the business.

Although he had fantastic part-time staff, Adrian now needed more help; he began interviewing and quickly settled on Paula Knight, whom he knew as a customer for many years. Like Holly, Paula is also the daughter of a professional gardener and has horticulture in her genes. “I can tell within five minutes if gardening is in a person’s blood,” claims Adrian, “and I saw it immediately in Paula. It’s like a subliminal memory – how they handle plants and their understanding of them.”

Before moving to West Cork (where she and her Cork-born husband wanted to raise their children), Paula grew up in Gloucestershire in South West England, coincidentally not far from where Adrian hails. Lying in the fertile valley of the River Severn, Gloucestershire is known for its vineyards and fruit farms, on which Paula worked in school holidays. Although her father was a specialist grower of salads and tomatoes, Paula discovered that her passion lay in the colours and forms of garden design – a passion she shares with Adrian, although their differing styles often lead to spirited discussions!

Paula went on to work as an environmental advisor and florist before putting all her knowledge and flair into practice at her beautiful garden in Rossmore, which she designed and grew from scratch. She then brought all these skills to her work in the garden centre.Clon garden3

Ill-health struck again last winter when Adrian himself became seriously unwell. “Since Holly moved back to the UK, I was doing too much, between running the centre day-to-day and designing gardens. Both my family and the doctor had been suggesting for a while that I take things easier, so I started to think about selling. Suddenly it was no longer a suggestion to slow down but an urgent necessity.”

The answer to his dilemma was by his side in the polytunnel. “Paula had been doing more and more anyway and her taking over completely made sense for both of us. She understands the business and it has allowed for a smooth transition and continuity for our customers. Now that I have recovered, I will keep working here a couple of days a week, but will have a lot more time for consulting on garden design and for my grandchildren.”

Reassuring news for many local businesses is that Adrian will also continue to create his award-winning flower baskets and window boxes.

Paula is committed to continuing all that has made Clonakilty Garden Centre so popular with gardeners, especially regarding choice, quality and price, “By growing plants ourselves, we can sell large, healthy plants at competitive prices,” explains Paula. “This is why we can have such great deals on perennials, for example, three large plants for €16. We also have customers who travel from the city to see more unusual plants we have grown.

“To achieve such healthy plants we never just open a bag of compost and pot up. We use our own compost mix recipes to optimise growth.”

“Top secret recipes!” Adrian joins in laughing. “Paula really knows her stuff and the centre will continue to live up to its tagline of ‘the gardener’s choice’. She also has a lot of fresh ideas for the place.”

Paula outlines her plans, “Between myself, Adrian and the staff, the expert knowledge remains the same but I have plans to re-organise and upgrade our displays. We’re also broadening our range of composts.”

“They’ll be top-of-line composts but still the best prices in town – Paula’s a brilliant negotiator with suppliers!” says Adrian.

Also in the pipeline is a new range of bird care – food, feeders and boxes – and more gardening tools and sundries. Already known as the place for pots, that selection is now even bigger.

As always, Clonakilty Garden Centre will have a stunning selection of bedding plants for autumn and now is also a great time to plant spring bulbs, perennials and shrubs. Call in to meet Paula and Adrian and discuss any gardening queries you might have with these seasoned experts.

Clonakilty Garden Centre is located at Lisavaird Co-op Central in Lisavaird and is open 7 days a week.

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11th October, 2017  ·  

Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at xavierdubuisson@gmail.com or text at 086/0476124.
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