By Kylie McDonald
Rodilesa Plant Supplies is a central Victorian gardening institution. To ensure the best start for local conditions plants are propagated and grown on growing farms at Harcourt and Elphinstone, then presented along with gardening supplies, homewares and décor at Rodilesa garden centres at Junortoun, Kyneton and Castlemaine. We caught up with Simon Wells, co-owner of Rodilesa with brother Robbie Wells, to talk about the best gardening jobs for June to get gardens ready for sale, and just how is it that Covid-19 has got us thinking about getting our hands dirty.
Simon has been supplying plants all over regional Victoria since he joined the family business 23 years ago. His Dad, Bruce Wells, was fruit and veg manager for King’s Family Tuckerbag, and he noticed there was a gap in the supply of quality plants. After initially selling plants at markets, the first store at Station Street, Epsom opened, and then the Junortoun store, that is still there today, and many others followed as the family business evolved.
The two growing farms, 10 acres at both Elphinstone and Harcourt, ensure plants are produced that can withstand the harsh central Victorian climate. “Plants are grown completely out in the open at Harcourt,” says Simon, “and it gets really cold there. So, we know the plants will have the best chance at coping with the frost and temperature variations of our area. There are hot houses at Elphinstone and Junortoun, we grow some of our more unusual stuff in there.”
There has been no slowing down at Rodilesa of late. In the early stages of Covid-19 social isolation, vegetable seedlings continued to sell out for weeks. Simon has never seen such a resurgence in the vegie patch, nor such a spike in sales of fruit trees, “anything eatable!” Simon has also noticed a change in people’s behaviour, a slowing down and return to old fashioned values perhaps, with a greater patience and understanding that things take time. Giving time and patience – certainly virtues recognised by any garden lover.
Simon advises that June is the perfect time to give your garden a makeover on a budget. Stock is replenishing; a container load of new pots will arrive in mid-June and will continue to roll in monthly. And it’s bare-root tree season, meaning a large feature tree, many up to two metres tall, can be purchased for around $30.
“You don’t have to spend a lot of money, $500 could transform a garden with some fresh plants, mulch, mowed lawn and a good clean up,” says Simon. With many plants at Rodilesa costing as little as $7.95, it is easy to see this is a useful tip for anyone presenting a home for sale.
So other than peddling hard to keep up with everyone’s willingness to get their hands dirty what is new for Rodilesa? “This year we have started growing our own indoor plants. We were getting them in from Queensland, but we’d rather have the faith of knowing what we are getting. We can more easily pass on quality and value to customers this way. It takes more work, but that’s the old-fashioned way,” Simon smiles.