Just as the public’s interest in gardening/houseplant tending has blossomed during the last year, independent sales agents have not let the pandemic get in the way of them tending their respective patches.
In the first of a series, Derren Seal shares how he has been digging deep, what approach he has taken to ‘garden maintenance’ to keep ‘weeds’ at bay in his ‘patch’ of the UK, as well as what has been his personal ‘fertiliser’ that has kept him well-rooted and his ‘leaves’ super shiny.
Tell us about your patch…
“I live in Wiltshire and cover southern England – a square area from Gloucestershire, Dorset, Bedfordshire to Hampshire. I carry Lola Designs, Cherry Orchard Publishing, Gifted Stationery, Icon Art, Into the Green, Kingfisher Cards and Words ‘n’ Wishes.”
Call a spade a spade, what’s the last year been like for you?
“2020/21 for all has been a very testing time and I was no exception when I was made redundant from my sales representative position I had held at Cherry Orchard Publishing for the previous 10 years. I must say at that point I looked out over my much-loved estate and just saw a barren landscape of ashes. Luckily enough the clouds parted and the sun began to shine as I had an opportunity to return to the greeting card industry shed as an agent for Cherry Orchard which I and the rest of the sales team grabbed readily. Suddenly the scorched wasteland seemed to turn moist and fertile again as I realised that not only would I be able to grow cherries in my cultivated plot but also many other varieties of horticulture. I was no longer a one trick ‘peony’!”
Your plantlife alter ego…
“If I were a plant, I would be a raddish…needs very little looking after, turns red in the sun and is surprisingly hot!”
What have been the notable green shoots?
“It’s obviously been something of a start/stop situation in the following months since becoming self-employed, but I must give praise to all my fantastic customers who have not only shown me so much support by encouraging me to continue but never cease to amaze me how upbeat and positive they are during these unprecedented times.
They have used this lockdown time to ‘weed’ areas of their gardens which probably never would have been done. Painting, decorating, sorting back rooms and planning for the day when we can finally get back to harvesting our fruits once more.
Lots of online activities too have been taking place to try to capture as much business as possible including making deliveries to loyal customers wishing to support their local suppliers.”
What approach have you taken to your ‘garden maintenance’?
Tending my patch through lockdown has been done as remotely as possible in order to keep my customers and my family safe. Where needs must I have ventured out to those few businesses that have been lucky enough to remain open in order to fully support their needs to flourish and grow.”
What has been your plant food/fertilizer to keep you smiling?
“The plant food that has worked best for all has been humour. This is readily applied in the numerous phone calls and emails I make and receive from my customers who although their branches and flowers have been pruned back viscously still maintain a humorous positive outlook that together we can be allowed to bloom again soon.”
What are your hopes and dreams for the year ahead?
“My dreams for 2021 is simply that I’m never given as much free time again to fork around in my own back garden!”
Top: Darren Seal in gardening mode.