22 February 2024

Meet 'the plant guy', resident expert on native flora at Hartley Hall Markets

| Morgan Kenyon
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Plants set up from the back of a van at a market stall

Jamie Gould has been a friendly face at the monthly Hartley Hall Markets for more than a decade. Photo: Zen Creation Photography.

The Hartley Hall Markets have been a Canberra staple since the 1980s, for good reason.

Held at scenic Hall Village Showground from the very beginning, the markets these days are one of the largest in the country, attracting thousands of loyal visitors to a massive showcase of homegrown, homemade, and handcrafted goods every month.

More than 150 regular stalls call the markets home, coming back time and time again not only to share their goods, but also their stories.

Having been an institution at the Hartley Hall Markets since 2010, Goulds Nursery has plenty of regular shoppers who visit every month just to see owner Jamie Gould, AKA ‘the plant guy’, and add to their home collection or seek out his expert advice.

Goulds Nursery was born in Batlow more than 20 years ago. Owned and operated by Jamie, his wife Rebekah and their sons Riley and Jack, the nursery is part traditional retailer, part wholesale supplier for regional nurseries across NSW and into southeast Queensland.

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Jamie says the business actually started out of frustration, when he couldn’t find any quality plants to suit his home garden at Batlow.

“Any I did bring home had been grown undercover or in a greenhouse, so they died as soon as they were exposed to the elements,” he says.

“I decided to give it a go myself and quickly realised I wasn’t the only one frustrated with the gap in quality. The nursery was pretty popular right away.”

Jamie grows a huge range of cool climate shrubs, ground covers and trees, with a particular focus on native species. Grown out in the open in climate conditions similar to Canberra, his plants are frost hardy, heat tolerant and wind resistant.

“Once our customers start buying natives, it’s like an addiction. To be honest I don’t know where they put them all,” he says.

“I think they really appreciate the unique beauty and benefits you just don’t get from introduced species.

“Natives are a great way to attract Australian wildlife, deter pests and improve the diversity of your garden. They require far less maintenance and use less resources than overseas varieties.”

market shoppers at nursery stall

Jamie brings a broad cross-section of plants to each market, having barely missed a month in 14 years. Photo: Hartley Hall Markets.

Goulds often has hard-to-find varieties on hand, including grevilleas, waratahs, callistemons, and banksias, as well as edible plants like blackberries, blueberries and passionfruit.

For customers unable to make the trip out to Batlow, the Hartley Hall Markets are a perfect opportunity to catch Jamie closer to home. For the plant guy himself, the markets offer visibility, consistency and plenty of good old-fashioned chatter.

“I’ve been coming out to Hall for a long time and it’s always an enjoyable day.

“Canberrans are very passionate about their garden choices and often pop by for advice on keeping their natives healthy at home – how best to keep natives pruned after flowering, for example.

“Once you know how to select the right plant for the right location and soil type for it to flourish, the possibilities for your garden are endless. Listening to customers’ latest successes and grand design plans is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.”

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Hartley Lifecare CEO Eric Thauvette extends his gratitude to long-term stallholders like Jamie.

“They are a big part of the markets,” he says.

“It’s great to see them every month and witness the strong relationships they have with other stallholders and visitors alike. It really shows how important the markets and their history in Hall are.

“Our stallholders are the heart of the markets, with long-term stallholders and volunteers being a part of its history … and it just wouldn’t be the same without them.”

The Hartley Hall Markets are held on the first Sunday of every month from 10 am to 3 pm at Hall Showground, Victoria Street, Hall. The next markets will be on 3 March. No need for a ticket – just bring a gold coin donation for entry. All proceeds go towards supporting Hartley Lifecare.

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