BOLNEY WI: The speaker at our September meeting was Ben Cross, representing the fourth generation of the dynasty which founded Crosslands Nursery, near Chichester. The nursery specialises in alstroemeria, the beautiful multi headed flower which comes in many subtle shades. Ben described in fascinating (and at times highly technical!) detail how his great grandfather came from the North East in 1936 as part of the Land Settlement Association scheme to work in nurseries in Sussex. (This was a government initiative started in 1934 to assist areas of low employment.) Eventually the family was able to buy its own nursery and through sheer hard work and application, the business grew into the flourishing concern it is today. We heard of the planting and care of the thousands of rhizomes; each bed costing upwards of £1000. No chemicals are used; watering is from above and below and heating in the greenhouses is fuelled by wood pellets from, for example recycled unwanted furniture.
The nursery sells to Covent Garden, other major distributors but also to local concerns where great care is taken to ensure that the blooms are treated correctly in shops. Ben then moved on to his crusade ie the accurate labelling of flowers from abroad similar to the regulations governing fruit and vegetables.Many of the blooms masquerading as ‘ British’ are in fact grown in countries paying low wages with poor conditions for workers and plants alike. Chemicals and excessive ‘chilling’ are used to keep the blooms alive for the flight to the UK. This is a young man with fire in his belly - a worthy descendant of his father, grandfather and great grandfather and we wish him every success in his mission. The ladies were delighted to be able to buy flowers whose provenance we had heard AND we now know how to care for them! The next meeting to which we are delighted to invite you is on Thursday, November 10th at 2.30pm in the Rawson Hall. Visitors pay £2 and tea is included. The speaker will be Ros Black whose subject is ‘The Amazing Women of the Temperance Movement’.
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