News and announcements from Grosvenor Garden Centre, Chester


Archive for June, 2012

Create an insect haven during National Insect Week

It’s National Insect Week until 1st July, so why not join in and create a new haven for insects in your garden?

Do you know which plants, shrubs and trees attract which species of insect?  And have you noticed any unusual insects in your garden?   There are many types of ‘beneficial’ insects which are extremely important to our natural space and it really is easy to create a bee hotel or an area in your garden specifically so that you can introduce not only the more common beneficial insect, but the more unusual too.

Ladybird photography by Rachel Scopes

There are more than 50 species of ladybird

In fact, if you have a garden, you are in a great position to help insects.  Gardens are important for biodiversity as they offer a refuge for insects and plants that are declining in some areas.

Your garden will be a destination for hundreds of insects of all types and a common misconception is that many of those will be ‘pests’.  Actually, this is not the case as less than one in 200 will be classed as potential pests and many will help your garden thrive!

Did you know that the Painted Lady butterfly is the most travelled as it flies from North Africa to the UK every year?  Monarch butterflies and American Painted Lady butterflies have been known to fly across the Atlantic and strangely enough, millions of ladybirds manage to cross to the UK from France and Holland!

There are many more interesting facts about insects so why not visit for much more information about these fascinating creatures?

Attract bees to your garden with vibrant, scented blooms

Attract bees to your garden with vibrant, scented blooms

Honey bees are one of the most talked about species of insects following the news that they are declining in numbers and are less healthy than they used to be.  Most plants rely on bees and insects to transfer pollen from one flower head to another to set seeds so we really need to help the bee as much as we possibly can.

Fragrant plants such as Sarcococca confusa, winter flowering pansies and heathers and snowdrops are perfect for your winter garden and will help the bee through the colder months.

Finally, why not use National Insect Week as your inspiration to create a haven for these all important species?  It really is very simple to do and if you need any help, please ask one of our team of horticulturalists to point you in the right direction for insect-attracting plants.  We’re here to help!

A Painted Lady butterfly

A Painted Lady butterfly

If you want to find out even more about attracting beneficial insects to your garden book your place on our Bee & Butterfly Friendly Gardening Workshop on Wednesday 12th September 10am – 1pm with Jenny Hendy

Thank you to Cheshire Wildlife Trust for the use of the images!

Winners of our Schools’ Growing Competition Announced

Grosvenor’s annual Schools’ Growing Competition reached its climax on Sunday 24th June, with an array of 66 ‘New Century Salmon’ Geraniums on display for judging at the Garden Centre.

Peter Prost and James Mabon judge the Schools' Growing Competition finalists

Peter Prost and James Mabon judge the finalists

Carefully nurtured by schoolchildren from 11 schools from Cheshire and North Wales, the six best geraniums from each school were judged by Grosvenor’s Schools Ambassador, James Mabon and Horticulturalist, Peter Prost with Managing Director, Iain Wylie on hand to present the prizes.

After much deliberation, the winning geranium was finally chosen belonging to Edward Stockton, aged 8, a pupil at Waverton Community Primary School who was presented with a trug full of Grosvenor goodies and £100 Grosvenor vouchers for his school.

Edward, Kati-Mae and Kieron with their winning geraniums

Edward, Kati-Mae and Kieron with their winning geraniums

Two runners-up, Kieron Jones from Sychdyn Primary School and Kati-Mae Clutton from Dodleston Primary School, were also presented with individual prizes of Grosvenor goodies and £75 and £50 vouchers for their schools respectively. Each of the 66 finalists present also received a packet of free seeds as a reward for their efforts.
“The geraniums grown this year have been some of the best plants we have ever seen in our Schools’ Growing Competition,” said James,

“Choosing the winner and runners-up was particularly difficult this year but Edward’s geranium really was astounding – not only did his geranium have blooms and buds aplenty, the plant was extremely healthy and beautifully shaped.  He has clearly taken on board my hints and tips to produce a geranium in prime condition,” continued James.

Grosvenor prides itself on its community initiatives and the annual Schools’ Growing Competition is always a highlight in the Garden Centre’s calendar.

Grosvenor grows with local schools

Grosvenor’s Schools Ambassador, James Mabon, launched the Garden Centre’s annual Schools Growing Competition recently with a visit to 11 local schools.

A popular competition now in its 12th year, the Grosvenor Schools Growing Competition introduces children to the enjoyment and benefits gained from gardening as each child is encouraged to nurture a plant.  This year, the Geranium ‘New Century Salmon’ variety was chosen for its easy to grow nature and prolific flowering throughout the summer months.

Our Schools Ambassador, James Mabon, with Aldford Primary School

Our Schools Ambassador, James Mabon, with Aldford Primary School

Grosvenor has donated all the plants, compost, pots and plenty of tips and advice from James and the schools will compete to grow the most successful plant.  The top six plants from each school judged to have flourished the most to be invited to a Grand Final at the Garden Centre this Sunday, 24th June at 2pm.

James has revisited each school over the past week to choose the finalists.

“Working with schools helps to encourage children to begin gardening and is vital to Grosvenor’s ethos of engaging the gardeners of the future,” commented James Mabon.

“It is important to us here at Grosvenor that we reach as many children as possible to demonstrate how enjoyable and interesting gardening is – and how beneficial to our wellbeing too.  Each year I find it extremely rewarding to see how excited the children are when they see the results of the care they have shown their plug plants come to fruition with a beautifully, healthy plant,” concluded James.

Prizes on offer include a trug full of gardening goodies for the top three winners and vouchers for their schools with the Grand Final to take place this Sunday, 24th June at 2pm at the Garden Centre.

Our Plant of the Month for June - Rose

Our Plant of the Month this June is the Rose.   Truly a versatile species, the rose will suit any location and colour scheme in your garden and even better, they are very easy to care for so perfect for beginner gardeners too.

Moment in Time - Rose of the Year

Moment in Time - Rose of the Year

Not only is the rose a beautiful addition to any garden with its rainbow of shades and delicious scents, it will enhance any area with many varieties to choose from including climbers, floribundas and miniatures.  Wherever you need interest adding in your garden, there will be a rose to suit.

The rose is not fussy about soil type either!  It will be happy in a well drained location with plenty of sun and shelter.  If you are replacing an old rose with a new one, it would be preferable to replace any old soil with new to give your rose the best chance to thrive and avoid a ‘soil sickness’ problem that can occur with roses.  Once your rose is planted, all you need to do is remember to feed and water your rose often and it should thrive.

You can plant any roses grown in containers throughout the year.  Just make sure the ground is not too frozen or waterlogged first.  And all roses will benefit from a good layer of mulch after planting.

Pruning takes place once a year and is easy.  Bush roses, for example, should be pruned to around one third of its size between the middle of February and the middle of March, avoiding frost periods.  If you prune at the right time and remove dead heads and dying growth, you will encourage increased flowering for longer and improve the shape of the rose for the winter months.

Mum in a Million

Mum in a Million

Roses are also the perfect gift idea.  So many are named after celebrations that you are sure to find one to suit every occasion.

So if you are a rose enthusiast or simply want to try something new, choose this month to make a difference in your garden and visit Grosvenor today for a wide choice of award-winning roses.

Gardening tips for June

It does not seem five minutes since we were welcoming 2012 and yet here we are, six months on and preparing for one of the busiest months in the garden.

Growth should be strong this month as the days are long and even though we have already had a sunny start to June, we have also had some rain so make sure you are saving as much rainwater as possible in your water butts to use on your plants.

If you were cautious and delayed planting your tender bedding plants until this month, you will have saved them from the latter frosts in May.  There should be less chance of frosty evenings now and the time is most definitely right for planting this month.

Add mulch to your beds and borders

Add mulch to your beds and borders

Weed control is very important this month as it is such a growth period and weeds can rob your soil of moisture and vital nutrients needed to encourage your plants to establish and grow.  Choose a weedkiller that will kill to the root with minimal disturbance to the soil.

Seeds of biennials and wallflowers for flowering next year should be sown now.  Also look for Angelica, Canterbury Bells and Foxgloves for a wild, spring display.

Sow seeds of Foxgloves now for blooms next year

Sow seeds of Foxgloves now for blooms next year

Hanging baskets are a beautiful addition to any wall or fence at any time of year – but never more so than during the summer months. You can create your own display or call into Grosvenor for a fantastic array of ready-made baskets to simply choose and take away.

Brighten your patio area with planted containers, tubs and window boxes too – but don’t forget to save as much rainwater as possible for watering.

Water liberally at the coolest time of day, usually the evening, for maximum benefit and feed regularly.

Your houseplants would love a spell outdoors at this time of year so simply choose a sheltered spot and continue to water and feed regularly.

How is your edible garden coming along?  June is a busy month for planting tender produce ready for bountiful trugs full of fresh fruit and vegetables later in the year.

Courgettes, tomatoes, peppers and sweetcorn do need to be handled carefully as the roots need to be established into moist, rich soil or compost with plenty of moisture and important nutrients constantly available.  They love warm weather and want to grow, yet your soil is likely to be deficient without extra help.  We have plenty of soil conditioners to give your soil a much needed helping hand – or your own homemade kitchen compost or organic mulch will give it a boost too.

To gain the best possible yield from your edible garden, remember to feed your fruits and vegetables.  Without a feed, you may find that they do not set pods or fruit and the leaves will become discoloured.  As a general rule, begin to feed six weeks or so after planting your seedlings in an enriched soil.  Different feeds will suit different crops so please do ask when you visit us and we will guide you in the right direction to ensure the best possible yields in your edible garden.

If you are short of space, why not simply clump a collection of herbs into a large container or planter and place it where it is easily accessible when you are cooking?  Not only will they look striking together, they will help you create enticing flavours at mealtime.

Your lawn will be growing steadily now so continue to mow regularly to keep it looking in tip top condition.  Set the blades of your lawnmower so that the tips of your grass are trimmed each week which will ensure your grass remains stronger than if you cut it very short every couple of weeks.   A top tip is to keep the grass clippings on top of your lawn to shield it from the very hot sun if we are lucky enough to experience a period of very hot, dry weather.  This will also help your lawn to retain moisture.

Enjoy a lush lawn and use a treatment to kill weeds

Enjoy a lush lawn and use a treatment to kill weeds

Choose a granular lawn fertiliser this month to use on buttercups, clover and daisies which may be pushing through your lawn.  Such a fertiliser will be perfect for getting rid of weeds selectively and improve the appearance of your lawn.
Finally, simply enjoy your garden this month.  With so much colour and so many delicious scents to delight in, make sure you take time to just sit back and enjoy it.