News and announcements from Grosvenor Garden Centre, Chester


Archive for November, 2011

Gardening Tips for December

This month we welcome Christmas with a kiss under the mistletoe (home-grown of course!), a warming glass of mulled wine and an array of gardening goodies for green fingers to open on the big day itself!

But don’t put your feet up just yet - crisp, cold days are still a great time to enjoy your garden.

You should now concentrate on cutting down or digging up old plants to make space for new additions.  You may well have lost some of your favourites in the extreme weather conditions last year so take stock and plan areas for replacements.  Give new tender plants the best possible start by protecting their roots with a layer of mulch.

Don’t forget to add your garden waste such as the cuts of pruned herbaceous plants, to the compost heap to help create the high quality mulch bursting with nutrients ready for next year’s gardening.

If your patio is looking a little drab, add a planted container or filled tub to add colourful interest.  Filled with winter flowering plants such as Pansies, Heathers, Skimmia Rubella and Helleborus Niger and completed with foliage plants including Hedera and Sarcococca. Keep your containers on pot feet to retain good drainage – and don’t forget containers make an ideal gift at Christmas.

Leaves will still be falling so continue to collect them so that you don’t smother your low growing plants.  Once the leaves have finished, the month provides a great opportunity to begin your winter pruning of fruit trees.  Spur prune your apples and pears and bush fruit too.

Your lawn may need to be cut again if the weather stays particularly mild.  It would be a good idea to have your lawnmower serviced after this final trim so it is in peak condition ready for the spring.

Christmas would not be Christmas without Cyclamen and Poinsettia to add that all-important festive touch to your home.  Make sure they do not dry out and keep their roots moist at all times.  These plants need plenty of light but avoid droughts and heat sources such as radiators.  Other than that, they should be easy to care for and are always a welcome gift too!

At this time of year, the birds need you.  They need a steady supply of fresh water so please make sure your bird bath does not freeze over.  And keep any bird feeders fully stocked with seeds and nuts. Plants with berries are also a great way to provide birds with a tasty morsel and your Berberis, Holly and Viburnum will not only produce berries, they also provide a fantastic hedged nesting place for birds.

If your tulip bulbs are already in the ground, keep an eye on their location and water with a slug killer which will seep through the layers of soil and kill any molluscs below.

Winter root cropped vegetables should be delicious when harvested now, particularly your home grown parsnips and Brussels sprouts – the perfect accompaniment to your Christmas dinner.

The weather will become colder soon so ensure you have stocked up with plenty of fleece to protect your plants on frosty nights.  Keep branches of young trees clear of snowfalls to avoid weight damage and tie shrubs and climbers back to protect from strong winds.

And finally, Merry Christmas from all at Grosvenor!

Tree-mendous Celebrations at Grosvenor

Every tree matters at Grosvenor as the garden centre encourages customers to plant at least one tree during the UK’s largest celebration of trees, National Tree Week (26th November – 4th December). 

Marking the beginning of the winter tree planting season, National Tree Week has been celebrated since 1975 and is now an unmissable date in Grosvenor’s calendar.

“Not only does planting a tree in your garden increase your positive impact on the environment and support wildlife, but trees have been proven to offer health benefits too as they promote wellbeing and improve the green space around you,” commented Iain Wylie, managing director.

Grosvenor is marking the occasion by introducing new varieties to its popular range of fruit and ornamental trees, such as Apple Christmas Pippin and Rosette, Prunus Frilly Frock and Sorbus Olympic Flame.  
“Our trees are sourced from British nurseries as local to the garden centre as possible with none travelling further than Worcestershire so they arrive and remain in the best condition possible,” stated Pete Davies, plant buyer.

“Each of the new varieties has been carefully chosen for its excellent quality and exciting new distinctive features.  National Tree Week is the perfect time to plant at least one new tree and any of these new varieties would be a great addition to every garden – we even provide a free stake and tie to give all our trees the best possible start,” Pete continued.

A member of Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Grosvenor is highly supportive of any means to encourage wildlife in gardens.  Trees provide an excellent source of food and nutrients and prove an effective way of creating a food source for animals before hibernation.

For further information on Grosvenor’s range of trees (and Christmas trees!), please call Grosvenor’s team of horticultural experts on 01244 625270.

Santa arrives at Grosvenor this weekend!

Visit Grosvenor next weekend, Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th November between 11am and 3pm, as Santa makes his entrance at the Garden Centre for a fantastic Christmas experience.

Enjoy Santa’s parade at 11am on Saturday and Sunday as Santa arrives on his sleigh pulled by reindeer and accompanied by stilt walking, the Grove Park Theatre pantomime cast and festive music by the City of Chester band.  Santa will be at the Garden Centre all weekend to meet and greet customers young and old.

See Santa's parade at Grosvenor this weekend

See Santa

With entertainment throughout the weekend including circus workshops and rousing festive music, Santa’s reindeer will remain at the Garden Centre until 3pm each day and visit again every weekend before Christmas.

“The arrival of Santa at the Garden Centre is always a popular and memorable experience to begin the countdown to Christmas and I would encourage everyone to arrive early to avoid disappointment!” commented Iain Wylie, managing director.

Santa will return to the Garden Centre from Saturday 3rd to 24th December to read a story in Grosvenor’s Storytime with Santa experiences.  And on 17th, 18th and 24th December, he will attend special Breakfast with Santa experiences too.  These events are extremely popular so early booking is advised.

Gardening tips for November

Well, winter is most definitely here and we can’t hide from it any longer.  The nights have drawn in and Christmas really is on its way.

Make the most of any sunshine and get out into the garden with your flower beds, bulbs, lawns and patios all needing attention.

Leaf collecting is a must now to make sure your grass does not die off.  The compost heap will benefit from small pieces of leaf which should rot down fairly swiftly over the next few months.  Add it to kitchen waste for a rich mulch.

If, however, you have a large amount of leaves, you should consider making leaf mould. This is the same principle as the compost and will take longer to rot but when mixed with a compost maker and amalgamated with leaves, the mulch that will result over the next year or two will be the delight of any gardener. Not only will your garden benefit from a fantastic compost, rich in nutrients and ready to be used as a mulch or soil conditioner, leaf mould is easy to prepare.  Simply fill a large plastic compost bag with leaves and compost maker, tie with string and place it in a shady spot before returning to it in a year or two when it will be ready to use.

Ensure your lawn remains in tip top condition over the winter as this is your last chance to use an autumn treatment to harden growth and kill moss.   You can continue to mow the lawn fortnightly while it is still actively growing - you may find this continues until the beginning of next year when the icy weather really takes hold and stops growth.

Coneflowers Rudbeckia give great autumn colour

Divide perennials (these plants should grow again every year) such as argyranthemum, echinacea and rudbeckia now to encourage further growth and a flourish of flowering heads next year.

Cut back tall rose bushes now before they get too wind-blown.  The wind can have a disastrous effect on roses as it can loosen roots and have a negative impact on the energy of your plant thereby stifling growth. 

You can finish planting spring flowering plants now such as wallflowers, winter pansies and violas.  And tulip bulbs should ideally be planted now.  This will give them a boost as the soil will not have cooled down yet so the root system should have chance to establish well.  Which colour tulip is your favourite?  The trend is for black tulips – especially Paul Scherer which is probably the darkest tulip available.  But there are so many varieties to choose from that you can create a display that lasts from March to as late as June! 

Did you know that bulbs are planted with the flowers already formed inside the shell of the bulb?  Plants, however, need to be fed to form decent flowers year on year.  By feeding the roots with a slow release plant food, you can ensure that nutrients will be released when needed – particularly in the spring as the soil begins to warm up and leaves start to show.

At this time of year, it is vital to protect your plants.  Last year, due to the extreme winter, many borderline hardy plants such as agapanthus and cordyline were lost.  So you can be better prepared this year by making sure you place an extra 5cm of compost over the roots of these plants for added insulation against the elements.  Cordyline leaves should also be tied up so that rainwater does not gather where the leaves join the stems.  

Hyacinths are such a popular indoor plant at this time of year so buy your prepared bulbs, add to 1cm water in a special glass vase and wait for the bulbs to develop.  You will soon see green leaves and flower buds appear from the top of the bulb.

Water and continue to regularly feed any plants such as cyclamen and Christmas cactus as these should soon start to flower.  Find a spot that your cactus is happy in and leave it there – it will not enjoy moving too often and will drop its buds.

For interest on your patio over the coming winter months, mix pots of spring bulbs and winter bedding.  Add layers of bulbs at different depths in the pot so as to encourage different flowering periods and prolong your colourful displays.  For example, add around 8cm of compost to the bottom of your chosen pot and place daffodils around 3cm apart.  Add more compost and then place early Tulips such as Red Riding Hood in this layer.  Add another layer of compost before positioning crocus and top off the pot with winter pansies and violas.

Parsnips are sweeter if they get a dose of frost

With the onset of the colder weather comes the first harvest of your delicious winter vegetables.  Early Brussels sprouts, leeks and parsnips should be just about ready.  Parsnips should be left on the soil surface once dug so that the frosts can help to change carbohydrates into sugars and naturally sweeten the vegetable. 

Protect brassicas from pigeons who are wily when it comes to feeding themselves at this time of year.  Use netting held down by stones to keep the pigeons away. 

Any spare soiled areas can be dug over now ready for next year’s crops.  Use compost to prepare the area thoroughly and use soil conditioner too. 

You can plant apples, blackcurrants, raspberries and redcurrants and of course, the delicious pear this month.  Again, improve the soil before you plant these cane and tree fruits so that new roots can spread into the new soil. 

Pick the last of the apples and pears ready now and begin to winter prune.  Cut away any unproductive branches and dead wood and then cut back hard the vertical stems by at least half to ensure the shape of the tree is maintained.  New side shoots should also be pruned to three leaf joints so that new fruit spurs will form over the next few years.

If you have any queries on any of these tips or the terms used, please do not hesitate to contact us – we’re here to help!