Posts Tagged ‘flower gardening’

December Gardening Advice

December 2nd, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Two pale green enamel mugs containing mulled wine, orange slices and star anise

The smell of a winter spruce, the warming taste of a spiced mulled wine and a seasonal wreath on your front door. Without a doubt, the festive season is upon us.

But if you’re hoping to spend the month partying, or wanting nothing more than a cosying up in front of a warm fire, make sure you take time out to reflect on what you’ve achieved in the garden and on the allotment this year – what worked, what didn’t, and what you’re hoping to achieve in 2020. We may be restricted on what we can do in the garden this time of year, but our minds should be filled with creative, wonderful ambitions for the new growing season ahead. Look through seed catalogues, write lists and draw garden plans. Read gardening websites and talk to garden bloggers. This is an exciting time for gardeners, so there’s plenty to get inspired by. And with the promise of spring on the horizon, this should spearhead us into the new year.

In the flower garden

Protection

There’s still time to move your outdoor pots and containers, as we generally don’t get exposed to the extreme weather until January. If you don’t have a greenhouse, polytunnel or shed, group them together in a protected area of the garden. Keep them raised and off the frozen ground, as this will not only help the drainage for excess rain and melting snow, but prevent ground frost from cracking your pots. If your containers are too heavy, wrap horticultural fleece around your exposed shrub. Bubble plastic is another option. A wrapped potted plant will not only benefit from the added warmth but your expensive pot won’t crack from the frost.

A gardener sowing seeds into a seed tray filled with soil by handSowing

If waiting for spring to sow seeds seems too far away, there are seeds you can sow right now. Ensure they have somewhere warm and bright, such as a heated greenhouse or propagator, otherwise shorter daylight hours and cold temperatures will quickly put a stop to any possible germination. Seeds to consider are sweet peas, snapdragons and cyclamen.

Pruning

With leaves now fallen, a tree’s structure is clearly visible. Think about the three ‘Ds’: dead, damaged and diseased. Prune any deciduous tree branches that fall under these categories, but remember the overall structure and try not to prune too hard. As winter is a time of dormancy, many ‘sap’ based shrubs and trees, such as vines and acers, can also be pruned. Finally, start winter pruning wisteria. Ensure you cut summer side shoots back to no more than three buds.

Roses

Another plant that will benefit from pruning are bush roses. Bare-root varieties can now be planted up. Ensure all climbing roses are sufficiently tied-back, as winter winds can cause damage. A fresh supply of mulch around your garden plants will help protect them from the cold.

Root cuttings

Consider taking root cuttings from herbaceous perennials. This will increase your flower border supplies, and save you the expense of having to buy new plants next season.

An interior shot of composting leaf mulch leaf mould in a wooden compost bin

Leaf mould

Continue to keep borders and paths clear – debris and foliage can make paths slippery as well as harbouring slugs, snails and other pests. If you have the space why not create a large bin for leaves to break down naturally.  Four posts forming a square, pegged into the ground and surrounded with chicken wire is an easy and cheap solution. Twelve months from now, you’ll be spreading your own rich leaf mould across your garden beds.

Soil

If your beds are of heavy soil, dig over any bare areas. Try to do this when the ground isn’t waterlogged or in the midst of a frost. By leaving them as freshly turned clods winter will go to work on them, break them down and help to make your soil more manageable come spring. You could also consider adding organic matter to help lighten your soil. However, if you have a light soil avoid digging until spring as the free-draining soil will be prone to moisture loss.

Christmas trees

Many of us will be looking to purchase a Christmas tree over the coming weeks. With so many varieties to choose from, it’s worth thinking about a pot grown tree. Once the season is over, they can be moved outside to continue growing, and not thrown out like so many are in the new year. A one-off purchase from a reputable grower or nursery could have you enjoying your tree all year round. When it becomes too big to bring inside for the Christmas season, why not permanently plant it out into your garden? Not only will this one tree continue giving you and your family years of enjoyment, but it will also benefit the garden wildlife.

Failing that, if you do buy a pre-cut tree, don’t be so quick to throw it away in the new year. It can be chopped up and used as mulch for acidic plants such as blueberries, and the branches could find also find use as support canes for growing peas on your allotment.Christmas wresth making materials laid out on a table, including pliers and pinecones

Christmas wreath

If you’ve been growing ivy or holly then you might want to consider creating your very own Christmas wreath. By using cuttings of evergreen, or branches of crab apples and pyracantha berries, this is the time to let your creativity go wild.

Garden wildlife

Ensure all bird-feeding stations are clean and replenished regularly. A fresh water supply will also help our feathered friends at this time of year. Check all water features, including ponds, don’t freeze over, as this can damage the structures as well as being harmful to the fish and garden wildlife.

Freezing temperatures

Keep an eye on the weather reports and overnight temperatures. If you have plants in the greenhouse, then a heater might make all the difference on a cold night. If there is a snowfall, ensure all snow is removed from the greenhouse exterior, as any plants growing in the greenhouse will need all the warmth they can get. However, a warm greenhouse does increase the risk of pests and diseases, so regularly check all plants, pots and trays.

On the veg patch

Winter veg

It’s time for your winter veg to play their part on the Christmas day menu. Continue to check crops for pests and diseases, removing any fallen, yellowing or rotten foliage. The later you can leave digging up the veg, the fresher it’ll be on the big day. However, take into account the possibility of the ground being hard or frozen.

Primary cultivation

As winter veg gets dug up and plots start becoming bare, remove old debris and add to the compost heap. If the ground’s not too hard, turn over the soil to expose dozing pests and to aerate the soil. If you can, spread a thick layer of compost, or well-rotted manure over the plot.

If you have a compost heap then turn it over, as this will help it break down.

A gloved gardener's hand taking hardwood cuttings of a gooseberry bush with a pair of red pruners in winterFruit

If you’re growing currants or gooseberries, take hardwood cuttings. If you’ve been growing rhubarb for some years, dig up the crowns. Split them, top to bottom with a spade, and then re-plant. If you’ve purchased new varieties, plant them directly into the ground or large containers. Remember, leave a newly planted crown untouched for a year, that way it can become established, and produce quality stalks.

This is a good time of the year to plant bare-root fruit bushes and trees. Again, if you have established fruit trees, these can now be pruned. Again, think about the three ‘Ds’ and act accordingly. Check all staked fruit trees. If not securely tied-in, wind rock can cause damage and potentially kill the plant.

Winter salad

Continue to successional sow winter salads and check leaves for any slugs and pests. If they are grown outside and not in a greenhouse, ensure they are protected with a cold frame, cloche or horticultural fleece.

Other crops you can now sow in a heated greenhouse are leeks, broad beans and radish.

Prepping tools

If the weather has taken a turn for the worse, retreat to the potting shed. Once warm, set about cleaning and sharpening all hand tools. Service all power tools, including the lawnmower. Thoroughly clean all empty pots and trays in hot water with diluted washing up liquid. Carrying out these tasks now will ensure your tools last for years to come.

Other jobs

  • Add colour to the home with poinsettias, hyacinths or cyclamen persicum. However, keep watering to a minimum and place them in a draught-free environment, out of direct sunlight.
  • Start ordering seeds for the 2020 growing season.
  • Cuttings of evergreen, mistletoe and sprigs of holly can make excellent mantle and table displays.

February Gardening Advice

February 1st, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

Hearts beat a little faster this month with the arrival of Valentine’s Day. Likewise, for gardeners, pulses begin to race with the prospect of spring on the horizon.

Whether you’re working on the allotment, or in the garden, the jobs list is beginning to increase as we start to prepare for the arrival of a new season. However, don’t be seduced into thinking you should immediately start sowing outside. Jack Frost is a cunning cad, and is always seeking the opportunity to break hearts. Whether it’s a severe frost, or a late flurry of snow, gardening plans can be quickly scuppered. Right now, in this unpredictable month, patience is the key.

So, why not take a moment to enjoy what February has to offer. Hellebores, crocuses, even an early daffodil, can be just what’s needed to get you in the mood for spring.


In the flower garden

DIVIDE

Most snowdrops have now bloomed and will start to fade before returning to their green form. Now’s the time to lift, divide and re-plant. Over the years, they will naturally increase and spread. However, a gardener’s intervention can result in larger displays, without such a lengthy wait.

This process can also be applied to the perennial plants in your herbaceous borders. Quite often a sharp spade is the best way to divide them. Think about how you want your border to look this summer, and re-plant accordingly.

BORDERS

At the moment, borders aren’t looking at their best, but this is the time to get them ready for the growing season ahead. Remove all weeds and fallen debris, and cut away last season’s dead perennial foliage. Finally, mulch the area, ideally to the depth of six inches, as this will help suppress weeds. Be careful not to cover perennials, shrubs or protruding bulb shoots as this will prevent the sunlight and warmth reaching them, and could encourage rot.

GRASSES

Ornamental grasses in winter can add wonderful structure to a vacant gardening space. But as winter wanes, they will start to look a little ragged. Deciduous varieties will benefit from being cut back hard with a pair of shears. This may seem drastic, but don’t worry, they will thank you for it. Varieties such as Stipa, need nothing more than a good comb. By using your hands and a sensible pair of gloves to prevent cuts, simply drag your fingers through the clump, removing old growth.

GREENHOUSE

Despite the cold month, if you’re lucky enough to own a heated greenhouse, polytunnel, or a well-lit, warm, windowsill, you could think about sowing hardy annual and perennial seeds. Whether it’s Cornflower, Cosmos, French marigolds or Echinacea, these can be sown now. Overfill a small pot or tray with either seed or multi-purpose compost. Tap the container gently, and brush the excess soil from the rim. Sow your seeds thinly over the surface, and then cover over with a thin layer of compost, or vermiculite. Once labelled, place your container in a couple of inches of water. It’s preferable to let the pot draw the water from the bottom, leaving the seeds undisturbed, as watering from above can easily scatter the seeds, disrupting their growing environment and hampering germination. Finally, place in a bright and warm spot.

PANSIES AND VIOLIAS

Pansies can provide well-needed colour during the solemn winter months. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep them in check if you want them to continue providing colour. Deadheading is key. Remove any fading or diseased blooms, making the cut just above a lower pair of leaves. Do not let your plants go to seed, as they will stop producing blooms. If you’re growing them in pots or containers, ensure they don’t dry out, but don’t overwater. If you have them in the ground, keep an eye out for pests, such as slugs and snails.

PRUNING

This is the month to prune late flowering Clematis, Prune Group 3 (For definitions of each group, go to https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=109 ). They flower from mid to late summer, and on newly grown stems. Therefore, you can cut back a lot of last year’s growth, down to a strong pair of buds, about 30 cm above the ground. Ensure you spread out the stems, tie them into a support frame, and mulch around the base of the plant. As soon as the temperature starts to rise, they will quickly put on growth.

Similarly, you can prune shrubs that have just finished flowering such as Witch Hazel, and prune hard on shrubs such as Cornus, Buddleia and Salix. Also, prune Wisteria by cutting back to three buds.

GARDEN WILDLIFE

Continue to keep bird-feeding stations supplied with food and fresh water. If the weather is too bad to work in, then this might be the time to retreat to the shed, and think about building a nest box. Garden birds will soon be looking for nests to hatch their chicks. So why not help bring birdlife into your garden, and install a nest box.


On the veg patch

RASPBERRIES

Cut all autumn fruiting varieties down to an inch above the ground. Mulch around the raspberry stalks, ensuring you don’t cover them over. If you want a longer growing season, cut only half of your stock down to above the ground. The untouched canes will provide fruit earlier in the season.

This is the last opportunity to plant bare root varieties. Once summer varieties are planted and mulched, cut canes down to ten inches. Again, with autumn fruiting varieties, mulch and cut-down to an inch above the ground.

FRUIT TREES

There’s still time to prune your fruit trees and soft fruit, such as gooseberries, as they’re still dormant. Beyond this, tree sap will be on the rise, so pruning too late might create a seeping wound, thus damaging the tree. Consider buying bare rootstock varieties, and rhubarb crowns, and plant out.

 CHITTING

Up and down the land right now, windowsills are dominated by seeding potatoes sat on eggbox thrones, with their eyes looking skyward. However, if you haven’t bought your tubers yet, it’s still not too late. Get them chitting as soon as possible, and six weeks from now you could be sitting them in the warming soil of your allotment, or in growing bags.

SOW

If you have a cold frame or greenhouse, ideally with a heat source, then you might consider sowing into plugs the following; onions, beetroot, cabbage, leeks, spring onion, lettuce, radishes, and tomatoes. If you sow into large plugs, and thin your seedlings out accordingly, then your young plants can continue to grow on until you’re ready to plant out. This method will not only give you the time to prepare the plot, but give the soil an opportunity to warm up in the early spring weather. Bear in mind, it’s still a low winter sun, so light levels can make plants leggy.

If you’re hoping to sow seeds, such as carrot, straight into the ground, wait until at least the end of the month. Ideally, warm the allocated plot, by covering the soil for few weeks with either a cloche, or plastic sheeting. This extra warmth is precious when trying to germinate seeds, such as carrots and parsnips. Remember to stagger your sowing, otherwise months from now you may find yourself with a glut.

PEAS AND BEANS

You can begin sowing early varieties indoors. As these legumes have a deep root system, ideally you want to sow them in root trainers as they don’t like their roots disturbed. Not only are you providing the best opportunity to grow strong plants, but when you plant out, the roots won’t suffer from stress.

PARSNIPS

If you still have parsnips growing, lift and store them. Beyond February, these tapered beauties will sprout. Place carefully into a box, cover with dry sand, and store somewhere cool and out of sunlight.

STORAGE

Check regularly for any damage or decay on any fruit or veg you having been storing over winter. Anything spoilt, remove at once and destroy. Ensure remaining produce is individually spaced to prevent further contamination, and to encourage a good airflow.

Indoors

BULBS

Any remaining bulb plants that have finished blooming can be taken outside, or kept in a greenhouse, to let the foliage dieback. However, continue to water and feed any Amaryllis bulbs, as this may encourage the flower to return late next autumn, or winter.

Enter now for your chance to win a hamper of Grow Your Own flowers, fruit and vegetables from Mr Fothergill’s

November 1st, 2015 | Competitions | 0 Comments

Win this bumper parcel of good things to grow in your garden from Mr Fothergill's

We decided to bring you an early Christmas gift this year.  And what better gifts for gardening enthusiasts than a bumper pack of things to grow?

We have had huge success with our RSPB range in 2015, which raises cash for the RSPB as well as encourages gardeners to introduce wildlife havens for birds and pollinators. And so we are including one of each of the single flower varieties and all three seed mixes for you to try. Also popular this year has been our GroMat and GroBox ranges. We’ve included 2 of the children’s GroBoxes and two GroMats in our giveaway hamper too.

To help us to celebrate the Year of the Cosmos, and the Year of the Tomato in 2016 we are also including a selection of new seeds for you to try in your gardens next year.

Finally, just in case you are more of a vegetable grower, we are also including one each of our Get Growing range, that includes the best of all the most popular vegetable types.

For the full list of contents of the Grow Your Own hamper see below.

Entering this competition could not be easier.  Just follow these instructions.

 

How to enter the Grow Your Own hamper competition:

Simply ‘Follow’ us on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook to enter the competition. If you do both, you will be entered into the draw twice, which will give you double the chance of winning.  Do share on our posts to encourage others to enter!

If you already ‘like’ or ‘follow’ us then just share our posts on Facebook and Twitter to be entered into the draw.

You can find us at the following locations:

 

Terms & Conditions:

  • The competition will run for the duration of November 2015, commencing at 9am on 1 November 2015 and closing at 11.59pm on 30 November 2015. Entries made after this closing date will not be considered in the draw.
  • Mr Fothergill’s will announce the winner via social media on 2 December 2015.
  • There will be only one winner.  Mr Fothergill’s will choose the winner at random, and our decision on this will be final.
  • There is no cash alternative to the prize.
  • The prize is open to UK residents only and will be delivered by UK courier.
  • The winner will have one week in which to respond and claim their prize.  Failure to respond after 7 days will forfeit the prize and we will draw again.
  • Mr Fothergill’s Seeds Ltd will reserve the right to publish the name of the winner on our website and in any related press release in relation to this competition.
  • This competition is not open to employees or family members of Mr Fothergill’s Seeds Ltd.

 

Full list of contents of the Grow Your Own hamper worth over £250!

Description

RRP

RSPB AMARANTHUS Ribbons and Beads

£2.95

RSPB ASTER (Michaelmas Daisy) Mixed

£2.95

RSPB CALIFORNIAN POPPY Single Mixed

£2.95

RSPB COREOPSIS (Tickseed) Unbelievable

£2.95

RSPB CORNFLOWER Tall Mixed

£2.95

RSPB COSMOS Sensation Mixed

£2.95

RSPB FLAX

£2.95

RSPB MILLET (Foxtail) Hylander

£2.95

RSPB GERANIUM (Hardy) pratense Mixed

£2.95

RSPB GLOBE THISTLE

£2.95

RSPB GREATER KNAPWEED

£2.95

RSPB RUDBECKIA Marmalade

£2.95

RSPB SCABIOUS Tall Double Mixed

£2.95

RSPB VALERIAN

£2.95

RSPB VERBENA bonariensis

£2.95

RSPB YARROW

£2.95

RSPB Flower Carpet for Bees seed mix (20 sq. m)

£6.95

RSPB Flowers for Birds seed mix (20 sq.m)

£6.95

RSPB Flowers for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects seed mix (20 sq. m)

£6.95

GROMAT Wildflower Mix

£9.99

GROMAT Grow Your Own Vegetables

£9.99

GROBOX Childrens Vegetable Garden

£6.99

GROBOX Childrens Flower Garden

£6.99

COSMOS Brightness Mixed

£2.15

COSMOS Double Click Cranberries

£2.35

COSMOS Seashells Red

£2.15

COSMOS Tetra Versailles Dark Rose

£2.15

COSMOS Xanthos

£2.15

TOMATO Bountiful F1

£3.25

TOMATO Suncherry Smile F1

£3.25

TOMATO Sunchocola F1

£3.25

TOMATO Sunlemon F1

£3.25

Get Growing BASIL

£1.95

Get Growing CORIANDER

£1.95

Get Growing CHIVES

£1.95

Get Growing PARSLEY Curled

£1.95

Get Growing PARSLEY Flat

£1.95

Get Growing SAGE

£1.95

Get Growing THYME

£1.95

Get Growing BEETROOT

£2.15

Get Growing BROAD BEAN

£2.35

Get Growing BROCCOLI Green

£2.35

Get Growing BROCCOLI Purple

£2.15

Get Growing SPROUTS

£3.45

Get Growing CABBAGE Ball

£1.70

Get Growing CABBAGE Heart

£3.25

Get Growing CABBAGE Savoy

£1.70

Get Growing CARROT Finger

£1.70

Get Growing CARROT Large

£2.55

Get Growing CARROT Baby

£2.80

Get Growing CAULIFLOWER

£1.30

Get Growing CHARD

£2.80

Get Growing CLIMBING BEAN

£2.80

Get Growing COURGETTE

£2.55

Get Growing CRESS

£1.95

Get Growing CUCUMBER

£3.25

Get Growing DWARF BEAN

£2.35

Get Growing FENNEL

£1.95

Get Growing KALE

£1.70

Get Growing LEEK

£2.15

Get Growing LETTUCE Iceberg

£2.15

Get Growing LETTUCE Little Gem

£1.65

Get Growing LETTUCE Cos

£2.29

Get Growing LETTUCE Loose Leaf Red/Green

£2.15

Get Growing LETTUCE Loose Leaf

£1.95

Get Growing SPRING ONION

£1.95

Get Growing PARSNIP

£2.35

Get Growing PEA

£2.35

Get Growing PEA Mangetout

£2.35

Get Growing PEA Petit Pois

£2.35

Get Growing PEA Snap

£2.35

Get Growing PEPPER Hot Mix

£2.55

Get Growing PEPPER Hot Red

£2.15

Get Growing PEPPER Sweet

£2.35

Get Growing PUMPKIN

£2.35

Get Growing RADISH Globe

£2.15

Get Growing RADISH Long

£1.30

Get Growing ROCKET

£2.35

Get Growing RUNNER BEAN

£2.35

Get Growing SPINACH

£2.15

Get Growing SQUASH Butternut

£2.55

Get Growing SQUASH Summer

£2.80

Get Growing SWEDE

£2.15

Get Growing SWEETCORN

£2.55

Get Growing TOMATO

£3.25

Get Growing TOMATO Tumbling Cherry

£3.25

Get Growing TOMATO Cherry

£3.45

Get Growing TURNIP

£1.70

If you would like to win a hamper of Grow Your Own flowers, fruit and vegetables from Mr Fothergill’s worth over £250, then enter our competition today.

 

Free Sunflower seeds with every seed order at Mr Fothergill’s

March 2nd, 2015 | News, The flower garden | 0 Comments

Free Sunflower Pacino ColaAnyone who places a seed order from the spring edition of Mr Fothergill’s mail order catalogue, published on 28 February 2015, may claim a free packet of sunflower seed in celebration of what has been declared the Europe-wide Year of the Sunflower.  The variety Pacino Cola (20 seeds per packet) is compact at just 50cm (20in) high, but produces plenty of medium to large blooms on well-branched plants all through the summer.

The Year of the Sunflower was the idea of Fleuroselect, the organisation which assesses new flower varieties from around the world to determine their suitability for European conditions.  Mr Fothergill’s Tracy Collacott is the sole UK seed company representative on the Fleuroselect Home Gardening committee.  “We hope as many people as possible will grow sunflowers in 2015, and to set the ball rolling we are delighted to send all our spring customers a free packet of this beautiful variety, which is particularly easy to grow and tailor-made for first-time gardeners”, says Tracy

Sunflower Pacino Cola has golden petals and contrastingly dark centres.  The neat, compact plants are ideal in beds, at the front of borders or in large terracotta pots, where they are sure to attract attention.  During the summer the large heads attract a wide range of beneficial and pollinating insects, while in autumn wild birds can feed on the seed heads.

You can order Pacino Cola or any other sunflower seeds from our extensive range from Mr Fothergill’s on the website, or by mail order from our catalogue.

Top performing Stellar Geraniums

February 26th, 2015 | News, The flower garden | 0 Comments

Geranium Grandad Mac

Stellar geraniums (Pelargonium) have their origins in Australia, with some varieties being bred more than a century ago.  Mr Fothergill’s has been trialling several varieties which are not often seen and rarely available, in conjunction with a local  grower, and has selected three of the best performers for British gardens.

The fascinating series comprises the semi-double, coral coloured Grandad Mac, the double, pale pink Rookley and Robyn Hannah, which has bright cherry red blooms, each with a contrasting white eye.  “The plants grow up to 40cm (16in), and are ideal for baskets and other containers either in sun or partial shade.  They really are fantastic performers all summer long, and we are delighted to offer them to our customers,” explains Mr Fothergill’s Tom Stimpson.

Stellar geraniums are characterised by their unique, lobed foliage and brightly coloured flowers, they are excellent garden performers, providing colour from early to late summer, have excellent disease resistance, are easy to grow and require the minimum of attention to give their best – the perfect plants, according to Tom.

Three plants of any of the three varieties costs £7.95, while anyone ordering all nine plants may do so for £16.85.  Last order date for Stellar geraniums is the end of April 2015, with despatch from early May 2015.