Team effort from Outwell nursery in Sandringham Flower Show medal bid

A husband and wife team are hoping today to reap the rewards of a military-style operation to design, build and display their trade and sales stands at the prestigious Sandringham Flower Show.

Nigel and Jane Mann, who started the Bays Nursery and Acer Centre at Outwell, near Wisbech, 25 years ago, have won three large gold medals at consecutive shows. Today they're hoping for a fourth.

'It would be wonderful,' said Mr Mann, who started work in the print trade before turning to horticulture and latterly acers, otherwise known as Japanese maple. The nursery – just one acre in size - also offers a range of shrubs, perennials, climbers, other ornamental trees, fruit trees and bushes, spring plants and winter bedding.

'The acers are really popular now,' he said. 'We have customers coming from all over the country to buy our acers. We started with about 20; now we've got 400 on site and another 250 coming next week.'

Sandringham Flower Show is a highlight in the nursery's calendar, with a prototype stand built in an empty polytunnel at the Outwell site. This was dismantled yesterday<co tues> and loaded on to vans in the early morning ready for building on the showground. A fourth vehicle was required to collect the sales stand, from which acers will be on sale today.

'It's quite an operation – especially for a small nursery like ours,' said Mr Mann. 'We couldn't do it on our own, and we're really lucky to have our great friends Richard and Margaret Baines and Chris Williams to help us out at this important event.'

It's important to the Manns to support the show, as well as a useful sales and marketing tool for their expanding business.

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Word of mouth and the nursery website have encouraged sales of the acers, which sell in a price range from �20-�175 each. 'Average prices are around �50-�80,' said Mr Mann. 'But these are about a third of the price in London.

'The website is great, but we won't do mail order. I think if someone's going to spend that sort of money they need to come and see what they're buying.'

The Bays Nursery and Acer Centre, 49 Downham Road, Outwell, Wisbech PE14 8SE. 01945 774148 or 07894791102. www.baysnursery