News and announcements from Grosvenor Garden Centre, Chester

Grosvenor

Archive for July, 2010

Birds, Bees and a Bank Holiday - August in the Garden

August marks one of the warmest months in the British calendar and your garden should be at its beautiful best. 

Not only will it look good, you will be able to enjoy it for longer as the evenings have yet to draw in and the children are still on holiday and enjoying playing out in the fresh air.  And whilst the children play, you can be getting on with a few jobs in the garden! 

It is vital to water your plants and containers regularly and copiously now – collected rainwater is great for this.  And while you are at it, top up ponds, water features and bird baths too!

The Hydrangea is our August Plant of the Month with its display of large, striking blooms.  Choose from a variety of shades to suit most garden colour schemes and soils.

Your Edible Garden should be at its peak in August – bursting with delicious home-grown fruits and vegetables so pick your summer fruit and use any surplus to make jams for the coming months.  Enjoy pies, jams and desserts with apples and blackberries and prepare your strawberry beds now for next year. 

It is the perfect time to harvest your vegetables from the first of the leeks and pumpkins to the last of the mangetout peas and rhubarb.  Freeze any excess to enjoy throughout the winter.

Onions, garlic and shallots can also be raised when ready – watch for the stem to change colour and begin to bend.  They will need to dry out before you eat them and will then taste delicious.

Flowering herbs should be cut back now for a second growth and herbs can be potted and taken indoors so that you can use them easily over the winter months.  Comfrey, rosemary, sage and thyme should be ready for harvesting now.

Hanging baskets should still be going strong so keep on top of deadheading to encourage flowering right through to the autumn.  This also applies to bedding and cut back herbaceous plants and hardy geraniums this month too.

Wisteria and Pyracantha, together with climbing and rambling Roses, can be pruned if they have finished flowering and perennials can now be divided.  Make sure they do not dry out though!  Hebes and Lavenders can also be cut back gently. 

Towards the end of the month is a great time to begin to sow bi-annuals into your borders ready for wonderful displays of flowers next summer.

Top Tips for August 

1.  Continue to water weekly and feed with a liquid feed weekly or fortnightly
2.  Trim hedges – don’t forget to ensure any nesting or sheltering wildlife is protected
3.  Continue to deadhead shrubs to encourage longer flowering
4.  Your lawn may begin to look brown now but don’t worry – it will soon become green again with the first autumn rains
5.  Clean water features with algicides – especially if the water is shallow
6.  Clean your bird bath and bird tables
7.  Plant particular plants to attract insects – especially those with single flowers
8.  Watch out for British bats during the evenings – they keep midges and other small insects at bay!

Grosvenor visits RHS Show Tatton Park

Despite the weather, we were out in force at Tatton today to see all that is great in the world of gardening here in Cheshire.

And what a great day it was too!  Brilliant planting schemes had been used to great effect in the Show Gardens with ‘Breathe’ our particular favourite, showcasing plants that clean the air around us by converting carbon dioxide to oxygen and filtering pollution.  This message fits perfectly with our work in conjunction with the Colour your Life initiative (For more details please visit our Grosvenor Garden Centre community page), previously known as the Green City Town and Country Community Award, of which we are proud to have won for both years it has been in existence.

From there to the back to back gardens and from the weird to the wonderful with the Garden of the Crystal Skull and a gothic theme, to the Handbag of Harmonies garden and let’s face it, which lady doesn’t love a good handbag?

All in all, the quality of the plants shone throughout the Show with bamboo featuring heavily alongside greenery, purples again (as seen at Chelsea too) and some fantastic floristry arrangements.

It was also pleasing to see the Eurofleurs competition begin with 12 entrants from across Europe competing against each other in five tasks.  Their efforts were already taking shape and looking fantastic as we reluctantly left them to finish their first mission.  Obviously, we are rooting for Joe Massie from Liverpool who has won the RHS Young Florist of the Year for two consecutive years, but the other entrants were looking hard to beat!  Come on Joe!

See http://www.rhs.org.uk/Shows-Events/RHS-Show-Tatton-Park/2010 for more information.

And if you are off to RHS Tatton this year, we would be delighted to hear your thoughts too.  Do you agree with our comments?  Did you notice something you think we would be interested in?  If so, please comment here.

Grosvenor’s Real Food Festival A Sellout!

Grosvenor Garden Centre’s Real Food Festival held last weekend was a great success with many stallholders selling out fast!

Marking a celebration of the tastiest, freshest produce from the region with producers including Elwy Valley lamb, Rowlands Red Poll beef, Jamie Ward’s free range pork and newly launched Cheshire Chips who re-stocked three times on Saturday alone, Grosvenor’s Real Food Festival was a continuation of its support of local, artisan producers.

“Whatever we sell today (Sunday) is a bonus,” said Alison from Alison’s Homemade Treats,

“We really did not expect to sell so many jams and cheeses yesterday and we will definitely be back next year!” Alison continued.

This sentiment was echoed across the 26 stalls with many expressing interest for the third Real Food Festival at Grosvenor next summer.

“With queuing visitors and selling out of burgers and sausages on the barbecue, we would not have believed it could be possible for our second Festival to outshine last year’s inaugural event by a country mile!” said Iain Wylie, managing director.

By offering the chance to meet each producer and taste their goods before buying to enjoy at home, visitors to Grosvenor’s Real Food Festival arrived in their hundreds and kept coming all weekend despite the weather!

Visitors could choose from hearty, homebaked pies and pasties, cakes and handmade chocolates, cider, jams and chutneys, fresh fruit and ice cream – all naturally made, reared and picked locally.

“We have been thrilled at the response to our celebration of local produce here at Grosvenor Garden Centre. Our support of producers from Cheshire and North Wales is just another step forward in our efforts to work closely with the community and boost small, artisan producers.  By hosting a Real Food Festival, we can help visitors to Grosvenor in turn support these producers too and this work continues all year long in our Food department and by sourcing local ingredients in our Café,” commented Iain Wylie, managing director.

“It has been a fantastic weekend here in the food department with many of our new lines seeing much interest from the visitors to our Real Food Festival,” said Dave Maguire, Food Department Manager,

“Seeing customers old and new and explaining the provenance of our goods here in the food department has ensured that people who came here looking for real food got what they wanted with a real emphasis on ‘local’,”Dave concluded.

“Our Real Food Festival will be back next year and thank you to the success of this year’s Festival, we will be able to expand the show to be even bigger and better,” said Events Co-ordinator, Claire Binns.

Real Food

The banners are up, the tables are laid out and exhibitors are beginning to arrive for our Real Food Festival this weekend, Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th July, 10am – 4pm.

 

Beginning at 10am tomorrow morning, our Festival will offer even more delicious, home-made, home-grown and home-picked goodies than last year!

 

So come and meet the producers and hear all about their farming methods and taste their goods before you take your pick to enjoy at home.

 

Choose from home-baked pies and cakes, jams and chutneys, handmade chocolates, cider, fresh vegetables and roll poll beef and Elwy Valley lamb to name just a few of the mouth-watering, award winning local food on offer here at Grosvenor this weekend.

 

See you there!

Grosvenor adds to award winning year!

What a week we are enjoying here at Grosvenor!  Not only have we managed to raise more than £600 for our charity thanks to our team of novice abseilers, we have also added to our stream of awards this year by being chosen as the WINNER in the Living and Style category of The Greatest Awards and received the Silver award in the Outdoor Leisure section too! 

These national awards are held annually and rely on a combination of customer feedback and a judging panel who visit and assess every centre before choosing ‘The Greatest’!

Recognising teamwork and working together to create excellence, our Home and Garden Leisure team obviously wowed the judges as they showed considerable “planning and involvement from all of the team led by buyer, Emma Anzani”. 

“The end result is not just a department but actually strategically placed indoor living areas and displays throughout the store,” said the judges.

And for the Greatest Outdoor Leisure Sales Team, our team “impressed with their product knowledge and know their customers and their product.”

See our awards page for more details of our success to date!

And we still have the Real Food Festival to come this weekend!  Watch this space for our next blog with lots more details, or visit our Events page now!

Taking the plunge for Claire House!

Mark Jones
Mark Jones

“That was fantastic – a real once in a lifetime experience!” said Mark Jones and James Mabon of Grosvenor who took the plunge and abseiled from the iconic Liver Building on Saturday.

In aid of Grosvenor’s nominated charity, Claire House Children’s Hospice, James, Mark and Harrison Nolan took part in the abseil raising more than £1,000!

“The scariest part was climbing over the parapet and looking down!” said James, “But once we got going, it was exhilarating - although I did sustain a slight injury when I hit the wall!”

“I thought all three were amazing and they made it look very easy although the views from the top of the building showed just how far from the ground they really were!” said Tom Smith of Grosvenor.

Luckily, the weather held off until all three were back on terra firma before the heavens opened!

James Mabon

James Mabon

 “I can’t thank James, Mark and Harrison enough. We have raised more than £50,000 which is the biggest event and single fundraiser I think in our history so really pleased and proud. It will make a considerable difference to us here at Claire House.  Thank you to everybody who abseiled and their supporters for making it such a day to remember,” commented Laura Breen, Area Fundraiser, Claire House.

If this blog has inspired you to try an abseiling challenge, visit
www.clairehouse.org.uk for their forthcoming events.  As you will see, the next abseil is due to take place on 14th and 15th August at the Mersey Tunnel Vents building and we are sure they would appreciate your support!

The Abseilers
The Abseilers

 

Rhino Mania comes to Grosvenor!

Rhino Mania has come to Grosvenor with the arrival of two rhinos!  For the next 10 weeks, Grosvenor will be home to Empathy, designed by top artist, Mish Mash, and sponsored by His Grace, The Duke of Westminster KG CB OBE TD CD DL on behalf of the Samaritans in Chester.

Empathy at Grosvenor Garden Centre

Empathy at Grosvenor Garden Centre

There are 62 rhinos in total, each on display around Chester city centre and as far as Euston and Lime Street stations and John Lennon Airport.  You can follow the trail to see them all!   Visit www.rhinomania.co.uk to find out more. 

Devised as a huge public art event to encourage people to visit our great city, Rhino Mania has the additional aim of raising awareness of Chester Zoo’s input in the active conservation of the Black Rhino.

Many of the rhinos will be auctioned at the end of the 10 weeks to raise much needed funds for the Hospice of the Good Shepherd who are celebrating their 21st anniversary and Chester Zoo’s Black Rhino Field Conservation Project in Kenya and Tanzania. 

And schools have got involved too with mini rhinos – and this is where our second rhino, Derek, comes in!  Designed by Brookside Primary School in Great Sutton, Derek is now in situ in our Café so don’t forget to give him a pat next time you enjoy a coffee and freshly baked cake!