Not this autumn/winter anyway. Where our winter hours previously would have meant closing at 5pm from November to February we have decided to alter them quite significantly this year. Instead we shall be closing at 5pm from October to February and will be open from Thursday to Sunday.

Our new opening hours for autumn & winter.
Our new opening hours for autumn & winter.

This has been a decision we made through endless conversations and reflection on the altered economic environment and altered gardening practices of recent years.

In terms of the economy I certainly don’t need to go into any detail as we are all living and breathing austerity since 2008 and it is well documented that there is less money out there as we all struggle to make ends meet. In the horticulture sector there have already been casualties locally and beyond and we have no intention of being another statistic of a business that has not survived.

As most of our business takes place at the weekend in the winter it makes sense to reduce our opening times and with clear signage already in place and the use of social media we have ensured that as many of our customers as possible are aware of the new hours.There has also been a positive and understanding response from our customers as well.

The other element is that of the climate change within Ireland, particularly after the hard winters of 2009 and 2010, there has been an altered perception of the gardening season. Where bare root hedging was a significant part of our business both pre and post Christmas, delayed lifting due to mild weather, extremely wet conditions and earlier winters has meant more people are waiting until the spring to plant hedges. This has been confirmed by recent research undertaken by the EPA in their ‘Ireland’s National Phenology Network‘ study.

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As we all experienced casualties in the hard winters it seems people are more inclined to hold tough for fear of losing more plants. However when part time weather forecasters (postmen) make sweeping statements it can put people into panic. The long range weather forecaster Ken Ring has the following prediction for this year’s winter.

From mid September it’ll be quite wet, and October will be wet, windy and mild. He’s warning of very heavy rain falls in November, and warns people living in low-lying areas to make preparations now (build an Ark not Ken’s advice).The first extended cold spell won’t be until the end of November, with some snow according to Ken, however he isn’t predicting the heavy falls or extreme weather of past winters.

Generally known as a normal Irish winter.

So with all that in place we have also diversified in what we do, so days where we will be closed will focus on the online shop, wedding flowers and community garden projects as well as preparing for next year’s gardening season.

[caption id=”attachment_7798″ align=”aligncenter” width=”1024″]Boherbue Comprehensive School's 'Rememberance Garden' Designed and managed by Sarah awaiting to be planted. Boherbue Comprehensive Schools ‘Rememberance Garden’. Designed and managed by Sarah awaiting to be planted.[/caption]

In the meantime, we shall continue to offer you fab plants, great gardening advice, delicious cake and gorgeous gifts, just in a more concentrated time.

Please note that The Secret Garden is no longer operating as a garden centre, we are now offering floristry services, wedding flowers, flowers for funerals and other occassions. We also host courses and other events in gardening and floral displays and Sarah is available to do talks for organisations and at events all over Munster.