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Gardening tips for June

Life outdoors is perfect this month as we tiptoe towards summer and the hope of continuing sunshine.

But while your garden is ready for the onslaught of family and friends to enjoy the longer evenings, is your outdoor furniture?

With an impressive range of exclusively designed, magnificent garden furniture and accessories, coupled with a host of styles and only the highest quality materials – some with an amazing 10 year guarantee - we are sure you will find exactly what you are looking for to compliment your garden.

Make the most of your lawn so that you can really sit back and enjoy your new garden furniture.  Lawn care is paramount in June so continue to mow at least once per week – more if the lawn is moist.

Keep trimming your lawn this month
Regular mowing produces a greener, denser, harder-wearing lawn.  We recommend that all lawns require a feed this month to keep it in optimum condition and pay particular attention to any weeds and moss that may appear.  Feed every four to six weeks until autumn to ensure the lawn remains in tip top condition. Trim the edges and, if there is a long period of dry weather, water your lawn too.

As the lawn becomes used to being cut regularly, lower the blades on your lawnmower.  If, however, the weather turns dry over the coming months, raise the blades again to reduce grass stress.

Look for instant colourful displays this month and choose tender plants such as geraniums and petunias.  They should continue to flower during the summer months but deadhead all plants regularly to encourage new growth and more blooms.

Here at Grosvenor, we have a wide selection of patio planters including Dahlias, Fuchsias and Geraniums all currently on offer at £12.99 or 2 for £22!

And new in, we have three varieties of Clematis, all launched at RHS Chelsea Flower Show last month – so choose from Chelsea, Giselle and Samaritan, all available at £16.99.

Named RHS Plant of the Centenary, we can also offer Geranium ‘Rozanne’ for £8.99 and gold medal-winning Streptocarpus from our long-standing grower Dibley’s, in a variety of delightful colours to cheer any indoor space, from £5.99.

The Bride
With summer arriving and plenty of great family occasions planned, why not choose a Fryer’s rose as the perfect gift for any celebration?  Choose from The Bride, Birthday Wishes, Golden Wedding, Ruby Wedding Special Occasion and Champagne Moment to name but a few.

And with fresh herbs to last throughout the summer, we also have herb containers in all shapes and sizes starting from £9.99.

Now is the time to enjoy summer fruits straight from your edible garden.  What could be better?  Plan ahead too as a wide array of tender vegetables can be planted out for a full plate of your five-a-day in all colours of the rainbow! From sweet peppers to courgettes and cucumbers, pumpkins and squash, but an easy starter is the humble tomato.  There are literally hundreds of varieties to choose from so why not try something a little unusual?  Homegrown tomatoes taste unbelievably delicious and are very easy to grow!

So make the most of this glorious month and click back next month for keeping your garden at its best throughout the summer.

Gardening tips for February

This month, hope springs eternal as we see early crocus and snowdrops begin to make an appearance,giving us the push we need to start planning our summer gardens.

Dahlia Bishop of Llandaff

Dahlia Bishop of Llandaff

With a mass of summer flowering bulbs just waiting to be chosen ready for a colourful summer garden, a visit to Grosvenor Garden Centre is a must this month.  Would you prefer a vibrant theme or softer, pastel shades to enjoy this year, or would you like a complete change and a whole new look for your garden?
Whatever your preference, view your garden from every window and every angle now and use existing, established shrubs as a guide to identify where new colour, foliage or structure is required.

Whatever colour theme you choose and whatever the weather, you could begin your summer garden by sowing seeds indoors.  Leave them on a windowsill to germinate and you will soon the shoots of seedlings poking through.  Tender seeds will take longer to shoot and should not be planted outside until you are sure you will not see any more frosts.  These types of seeds need warmth to help them get to this stage so care for them in a propagator or warm, indoor room and keep the temperature fairly constant and high.

You could of course, miss this stage completely and choose plug plants or already germinated seedlings.  Whatever your preference, we are here to help so if you need help determining which option is best for you, please just ask.

Bulbs, seeds or plug plants?  We're here to help!

Bulbs, seeds or plug plants?

Of course, February is the month of romance and what better way to romance your loved one than with a Fryer’s rose?  Fryer’s Roses are grown in Knutsford and are the perfect gift idea all year round!

'Let there be love' this Valentine's Day

A red rose is synonymous with love and passion and has long been associated with St Valentine’s Day but there are so many beautiful shades and scents to choose from, why not choose a longer lasting Valentine gift than a freshly cut bouquet and treat your loved one to a climber, rambler, patio or standard instead?

This beautiful rose, ‘Let there be love’, is a floribunda with an irresistible beauty and adorable soft pink blooms.  Several are produced together on trusses on strong stems and is easy to grow too!

See www.fryers.co.uk for a fantastic choice – or visit Grosvenor and choose from our selection here.  We can of course, order your choice for you if it is not currently in stock here at Grosvenor.

Avoid pruning your established rose bushes this month but watch for any signs of disease and discard infected foliage or stems to keep further infection at bay.

Potatoes chitting on a windowsill

Potatoes chitting on a windowsill

February is the time to ‘chit’ seed potatoes (‘chitting’ is how the shoots are formed).  You do not need much space to do this and you can enjoy homegrown potatoes from simply growing them in a large pot or gro-sac on a small patio!  Obviously, the more space you have available, the more varieties you can try and of course, the more homegrown vegetables you can enjoy on your plate!  Simply choose your favourite variety of potato, remove the netting and place the tubers in the bottom of a seed tray.  Move to a cool, light, frost-free position and leave.

After the snows of January, check your brassicas are still intact and protected by netting.

Towards the end of February, plant out shallots and garlic cloves in a sunny position.  One of our top tips is to snip off the end of any dead stems close to the onion bulbs as the birds will find it harder to pull them out.

This month, encourage growth on your fruit trees and fruit bushes.  If they are already providing you with good crops, feed with a balanced plant food such as Miracle-Gro Fruit and Vegetable Plant Food for an even better crop.

Make sure your outdoor pots are always well watered – particularly if they are in sheltered spots – and deadhead winter flowering plants such as pansies for continued blooms.

Treat the birds to a new nest box or haven

Finally, February is the last chance to put up nest boxes before the tits start looking for somewhere to live. Why not celebrate National Nest Box Week (14th - 21st February) and treat the birds to a new box or haven?

It is always important to keep birds supplied with plenty of food and fresh water but even more so while it is still colder weather.  Our range of seeds, mixes, nest boxes and feeders is vast so please indulge the birds in your garden to much needed nutrition on your next visit to us here at Grosvenor.

Snow days at Grosvenor

Well it really is chilly out there and the snow is still falling here in Chester!  Always remember that your bedding and tender plants will need to be protected from the snow so keep plenty of fleece to hand.

Keep protective fleece handy

Keep protective fleece handy

It is tempting to think that nothing can be done in the garden during the snow flurries, but brush off any snow-laden branches to avoid damage.  It is surprising how heavy snow can be!

Stay safe and be prepared with a car full of handy items such as a spade, snow shovel, boots and warm clothing and use salt or grit to keep your driveway and paths clear at home.

Go sledging!

Go sledging!

And finally, it is easy to have a ‘bah humbug’ attitude towards snow but deep inside, are you still a child at heart?  If so, find a hilly area nearby and take advantage of the few sledges we have left and get out there and enjoy it while it lasts!

Gardening Tips for November

The clocks have ‘fallen back’ and we are now counting down to the festive season with a vengeance.  If you are feeling anything like us, you will be wondering where 2012 disappeared to!

But this time of year is one of our favourites here at Grosvenor Garden Centre as we put the finishing touches to our Christmas displays and Santa’s Living Room miraculously appears ready for heartwarming events including Storytime with Santa.

But, back to business as we turn our attention to your garden.  Sunny, wintery days highlight the changing of the seasons as the leaves fall and a bite can be felt in the air.  So make the most of dry days and give your garden a bit of tender loving care with most areas needing attention before the colder weather sets in.

Look after your lawn by making sure it is rid of fallen leaves – these can be added to the compost heap to rot over the coming months.  If you have not already done so, treat your garden to a treatment to kill moss and bolster the grass to better survive the weather ahead.  If your lawn is still growing, continue mowing fortnightly.

Continue to mow if your lawn is still growing

Continue to mow if your lawn is still growing

Throughout the winter months, protect your plants from the harshest of weathers.  Add a deep layer of compost (5cms) to protect the rootage of your outdoor plants for a little added protection.

Perennials (this means plants that should appear again every year) can be divided now to boost growth and flowering ability next year.

Divide perennials, including Gaillardia, now

Divide perennials, including Gaillardia, now

It is also time to finish off your planting for new colour next spring with plants such as wallflowers, winter pansies and violas to be ready in the ground.  Tulip bulbs should establish well if you plant them now before the soil has chance to cool down.

November and December are such popular months for houseplants that they really do spring to mind as the perfect Christmas gift idea – and indeed, a gift for any time of year.  Phalaenopsis Orchids are one of our most popular choices, available in all colours from the palest white to the deepest crimsons and purples.  And they are really easy to care for too – it is a misconception that they can be hard to look after as they thrive from neglect!  Not too much though!

Orchids - a great Christmas gift idea!

Orchids - a great Christmas gift idea!

The popularity of Hyacinths knows no bounds so simply add your prepared bulbs to a small amount of water (1cm deep) in a specially-designed glass vase and wait for leaves and buds to appear from the tops of the bulbs.

Christmas Cactus and Cyclamen should be watered and fed regularly for best results.  There is no need to move them – if they are happy where they are, keep them there.  Your Cactus in particular could become miserable and drop its buds if it has been moved around.

Homegrown winter vegetables really come into their own this month as you begin to harvest early Brussels sprouts, leeks and parsnips.  Pull your parsnips up and place carefully on the top of the soil ready for early frosts to develop natural carbohydrates into sugar for that delicious sweet taste.

Dig over any areas you would like to use as an extension to your Edible Garden now.  Use compost to prepare the area thoroughly and give it a boost with a soil conditioner too.

Many fruits can be planted this month from apples to blackcurrants and pears to red fruits such as raspberries and redcurrants (don’t forget to make your own delicious jams when they ripen!). Again, your soil would benefit from a conditioning treatment before you plant out these fruits to encourage rootage to spread out and into the treated soil.

Any remaining tree fruits such as apples and pears should now be picked so that you can begin the pruning stage.  Dead wood and branches that have not borne any fruit can be discarded.  Any stems should be halved and emerging side shoots should be pruned to three leaf joints to encourage new fruit spurs to form over the coming years.

Transform surplus fruit into delicious jam

Transform surplus fruit into delicious jam

Finally, as thoughts turn once again to the winter season, it is important to make sure the areas in your garden that need protecting, are protected, especially tender, non-hardy plants.  Always keep a good quantity of fleece on standby ready for the frosty nights.

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!

Gardening tips for October

Autumn has arrived and it is time to tidy your garden as cooler nights and even more rain encourages summer flowers to die back and the leaves on the trees begin to turn coppery before they fall.

There is much to do in your garden this month with new seeds to sow, bulbs and bedding to plant in your borders so use the month of October to make plans and ensure your garden receives a bit of TLC before the winter months set in.

TLC for your autumn lawn

TLC for your autumn lawn

The first step is to discard all remaining summer flowers from your borders and create space for new spring bulbs and winter flowering bedding. Start this early as our usual autumn weather should ensure the soil remains warmer at the beginning of October than as we head towards the end of the month.  This will encourage stronger new roots from both bedding and bulbs which will give them all a greater chance of producing a good display.

We have a great selection of spring flowering bulbs in now

We have a great selection of spring flowering bulbs in now

Enrich your borders with compost after removing all the summer bedding.  If you are using homemade compost, choose lower layers from the compost heap as this has had longer to rot down and amalgamate to improve the structure and drainage of your soil.

For alternatives to homemade compost, simply call in and choose a soil conditioner or farmyard manure will do the trick just as well.

When we see the first frosts, take a look at your dahlias and canna lilies as the leaves will begin to turn soft, brown and limp.  This is their way of telling you that their season is over and the tubers need to be dug up ready for storage over the winter. Make sure you dry each tuber thoroughly, removing any soil and then wrap them in newspaper.  You may find it easier to cut off the stem 15cm above the tuber to completely destroy any rot.  Place your tubers upside down in a cardboard box before packing away around three or four days later. Choose a cool, protected area to store your tubers over the winter.

You can sow grass seed this month but remember to prepare your lawn in advance and choose the correct mixture.  Autumn is a good month to sow a new lawn or replenish your existing one. Use a glyphosate-based weedkiller to kill broadleaved weeds and perennial grasses.  Leave the lawn for two to three weeks after you have treated it to ensure the roots have been killed, before levelling the surface and enriching your lawn soil for a thicker, lusher lawn.

Your baskets and containers should continue to be used through the winter with winter flowering bedding, fresh compost and a good, slow-release plant food.  Choose plants with good leaf texture and easy to flower plants.

Heuchera Tiramisu will do well in winter containers

Heuchera Tiramisu will do well in winter containers

Compact shrubs such as hebe, skimmia and euonymus will provide a focal point or try heucheras for good leaf colour.  Ivy can provide a trail of interest but why not look for something slightly more unusual, such as Carex comans or new edging plants including tumbling pansies and violas that will trail over the edges of your pots and continue to flower. Don’t forget, we have plenty of ready-made pots and baskets so if you want to add colour to your autumn and winter garden, all you need to do is remember to water regularly and feed occasionally!

Attractive winter displays from decorative brassicas

Attractive winter displays from decorative brassicas

Some tomatoes did not have a good season this year and it is now time to pick off any green or ripe tomatoes for the last time this year. Ripen on a windowsill or use as an ingredient in a delicious chutney. Cut back the stems of the tomato plants to ground level and allow the compost in your growing bags to dry out ready to be used for storage of other homegrown crops.

Harvest butternut squash now

Harvest butternut squash now

Before the first frost cut and dry off any butternut squash or marrows for winter storage. If the skins are already hard, they can be placed directly in a frost-free area to store.  Otherwise, leave them for a few days on a sunny windowsill to continue to mature.

Harvest all your remaining carrots and potatoes so that they are not lost to slugs and snails.  Check them for any signs of pest damage before washing and storing only those that remain perfect.

Watch your brassica plants for late attacks of aphids, whitefly and caterpillars. Discard any yellowing or decaying leaves from vegetables to improve air circulation.

Pick the last autumn raspberries

Pick the last autumn raspberries

Continue to pick apples as they ripen and finish picking the last of the autumn raspberries from this year’s canes. Instead of taking out these fruited canes completely, try cutting them down to half their length so that they produce an early crop next year.

You can plant garlic cloves now, which should then be ripe and ready for eating by the middle of next summer.

Finally, enjoy the hiatus of October before the countdown to Christmas begins in earnest next month!

Gardening tips for September

We all know it has been the wettest summer for 100 years with heavy rains and flooding but autumn, nature’s natural time for planting,  is just around the corner.

September is the time where you stroll around your garden, take stock of which plants have thrived and plan changes and new introductions for 2013.  Plant new varieties of plants, trees and shrubs in your garden and borders this month for great reward next year.

Try Japanese anemones for good autumn colour

Try Japanese anemones for good autumn colour

Here at Grosvenor Garden Centre, we have many varieties of shrubs to choose from for spring and summer colour interest, together with hebes and buddleia for instant autumn flowers and acers for bright foliage in the autumn.

You should take cuttings from your tender bedding plants such as geraniums and osteospermum early this month and, using a seed and cutting compost, they should begin to root in as little as a few weeks’ time.  Pot them on individually before the cold weather sets in and store on a warm windowsill over the winter.

Spring flowering bulbs are a key method of introducing colour into your borders and pots and we have a wide selection in the Garden Centre now for you to choose your favourites – and maybe something new for your garden.

Miniature daisies and pansies

Miniature daisies and pansies

Crocus, daffodils and narcissi need to be planted by the end of this month to encourage new roots in the autumn.  Remember to keep a gardener’s diary or mark up each area so you know which bulbs you have planted where.  Consider their flowering period too so you can intersperse with newer varieties.

Plant up pots with a selection of bulbs and finish with autumn and spring bedding such as pansies, violas and wallflowers for a fantastic display of colour.  Layer the bulbs in deep pots to ensure a long lasting display.  Begin with a layer of compost followed by a layer of daffodils and cover with more compost.  Then move onto a layer of tulip bulbs and then complete your final layer with miniature daffodils or early crocus.  Cover with more compost and then plant bedding such as violas or winter pansies. You could include Asiatic or oriental lilies.

Remove perennial weeds from your garden this month by using a glyphosate-based weedkiller which will kill the roots of the weeds too.  If you need help choosing from our large range of weedkillers, simply ask us – we’re here to help and our team is extremely knowledgeable on this subject.

Prepared hyacinths will soon be available and to make sure they flower in time for Christmas, you simply need to place them in special hyacinth glasses so that they are just above water level. You will soon be able to see roots developing.

Hyacinths grow well in clear vases

Hyacinths grow well in clear vases

Although we are now at the end of the summer, we all hope for a few final warm days before the autumn takes hold.  Continue to water your pots and hanging baskets so that your plants and evergreen shrubs do not dry out.  You should pay particular attention to camellias and rhododendrons and any other ericaceous shrubs.  This is due to the fact that if roots become dry, they may lose all the buds for next year’s flowering. Use collected rainwater for these plants rather than tap water – is your water butt in place?  Additional nutrients fed to these plants in autumn will also cause buds to drop so any spring flowering shrubs should only be fed in the spring and summer.

An important job this month in the garden is to prepare your lawn for winter.    Rake any thatch up so that rainwater can seep through and keep the soil moist.  Spike the area to let air into the roots and improve drainage.

You also need to strengthen the grass roots, thicken the lawn and control any lawn moss so to improve the colour and strength of your lawn now, apply a dressing of autumn lawn treatment to the area.  You may find that this treatment will stimulate enough to cover any bare patches but if no, apply grass seed to these areas.

You should continue to mow the lawn but if you can, gradually raise the blades so that the cut is left around 50% longer than the summer cut.

Seed potatoes are available here at Grosvenor Garden Centre now so it is the perfect time to plant them this month ready for harvesting for Christmas!  What better meal to enjoy homegrown potatoes than with your Christmas dinner?

Homegrown potatoes with your Christmas dinner - plant now!

Homegrown potatoes with your Christmas dinner - plant now!

Certain varieties of apple may take longer to ripen after the wet summer but you can check if yours are ready by cupping the fruit in your hand and lifting it, twisting slightly at the same time.  If it comes away easily, you can enjoy the fruit now.  If not, try again weekly until they ripen.  If they begin to fall, you will not enjoy them at their eating best but will be delicious in home baking or cooking.  Store certain varieties such as Egremont Russet, Cox’s Orange Pippin and Golden Delicious for eating later.

Your edible garden harvests should now include vegetables such as French and runner beans, beetroot, courgette, cucumber and butternut squash.  A veritable feast on a plate!  You may have found your sweetcorn is taking longer than normal this year to mature, but this is a common problem so you could try feeding a soluble plant food on the foliage weekly until they ripen for cooking.

If you have not yet started your own edible garden, never fear – you can begin now by sowing lettuce and salad leaves including Chinese cabbage, chard and spring cabbage too.

Finally, the summer may have been a disappointment but we should remain hopeful for a much better summer to enjoy in our gardens next year!  Plant now and create a beautiful display for 2013.

Gardening Tips for August

Schools have finished for the summer and we hope to have at least a few sunny days to enjoy the great outdoors this month so why not take the opportunity to share your gardening knowledge with the younger members of the family and introduce them to the fabulous world of gardening?

Encouraging children to sow seeds and care for their own plants or a small area of the garden really will give them something to share with their friends and talk about after the holidays – and will provide you with the perfect excuse to drag them away from the television and games console for some all-important fresh air!

This holiday month is usually when most of us head to the sun or at least a couple of weeks away from the home and garden.  You don’t need to worry that all your hard work in the garden will be undone as long as you prepare before you go.  The main point to remember is to arrange for your planted containers to continue to receive enough water regularly and unless you can ask a neighbour, a watering system will be your best bet. 

Remember to dead head all your flowering plants on your return.  By deadheading all your bedding, baskets, pots and planted containers, you will revive your garden to boost growth and encourage fresh buds for the remainder of the flowering season.

Your garden will be full of colour now especially with your late flowering perennials such as Michaelmas Daisy and Dahlias.  These should continue to enhance your garden with glorious colour until the first frosts arrive.

Colour will also be offered from shrubs including Buddleia, Rose of Sharon and Hibiscus.  The Buddleia in particular will attract a variety of butterflies to your garden to enjoy the nectar.

You can also get a head start on your autumn garden this month by planting bulbs such as Amaryllis Belladonna, Colchicums and Madonna Lily.  Other lilies will be planted later in the year.

Evergreen hedges should be clipped into shape this month. 

It is time to take cuttings from your favourite summer flowering plants this month.   Berberis, Cotoneasters and Escallonias are ready now and some evergreens too. 

Your lawn will still need to be mown regularly and keep an eye on potential weeds.  Towards the end of the month, your lawn will benefit from a feed and aerate ready for the autumn.

Your Edible Garden will be supplying your dinner table with fresh potatoes – which varieties did you choose?  If you have not grown your own potatoes before, you will be amazed at the difference in taste of the more unusual varieties. Beans, such as broad beans, climbing French and runner beans.

Sunday lunch will taste much better if you have grown your own vegetables and this month your plate should be bursting with a variety ready for harvesting just now.  You should have potatoes, broad beans, climbing French and runner beans, will all be ready for harvesting together with courgettes too.  Of course, you will have plenty of salads to choose from and delicious, tasty tomatoes.  Mmmm! In fact, if you sow more salad leaves now and continue to do so every couple of weeks or so, your Edible Garden should provide you with salads throughout the autumn.  
Make sure you pick over your vegetables every few days to encourage a bountiful crop and pick your soft fruits as they ripen.  Watch for greedy birds and wasps who are both inclined to steal the juicy fruits!

Finally, autumn is approaching and the days are already getting shorter so let’s keep our fingers crossed for a good spell of sunshine to end the summer and help us enjoy our gardens that little bit longer.

Our Plant of the Month this July, the Dahlia

For dramatic, eye-catching, showy displays in a myriad of colours, you can’t go wrong with the Dahlia.

Seeing resurgence in popularity, it is no wonder the Dahlia has returned to our hearts with its long-flowering blooms which last from mid-summer to the early frosts of autumn.

Dahlia - our Plant of the Month

Dahlia - our Plant of the Month

The Dahlia really does provide an exceptional display in a variety of forms so if you are a beginner gardener, unsure of where to start but would like a vibrant show of large, colourful blooms, the Dahlia is the perfect plant to begin.

Simple to care for, they perform equally as well in many soil types and locations but prefer a fertile, well drained soil in a sunny position.  Be aware that they do need to be protected from frosts and should be watered well and fed with a high potash liquid feed every fortnight from now until early September.

You can control the number of stems on your Dahlia to provide you with your perfect display.  For example, if you would like very large blooms, you should limit the number of stems on your plant to three or five per plant.  If you would rather have smaller blooms but more of them, allow between seven and 10 flowering stems on your Dahlia.

As always, remember to deadhead regularly to promote further growth and a flourishing show of colour right through to the autumn.

Gardening tips for July

Summer has well and truly arrived but whether the good weather arrives too remains to be seen!

Your beds and borders will be at their height of colour now from your favoured bedding plants and your Edible Garden will be producing a high yield of fruit and vegetables.

Watering is such an important item on your ‘to do’ list that it should now be second nature to head out to the garden every evening with your watering systems.  Don’t forget to reuse water collected in your water butts for an environmentally friendly way to keep on top of that important job.

Water and feed at the same time with a watering system

Water and feed at the same time with a watering system

If  you have not already done so, add a layer of decorative bark round each of your shrubs as mulch for your beds.  This is a top tip for retaining moisture at the roots so that it does not evaporate from the surface of the soil.

Our Plant of the Month this July is the Dahlia and this is definitely the month to enjoy them at their best although they should continue to flower right up to the first frosts in autumn.  The Dahlia will grow well in most soil types and locations and will offer large, showy blooms for eye-catching splendour.

Roses are a popular favourite too, particularly as they are so versatile, with dwarf varieties perfect for pots and containers; tall, rambling roses for climbing interest against fences or walls and of course, the rose bush which is perfect for beds and borders. Mix and match your roses or stick to a number of favourites but keep an eye open for aphids.  Use a systemic insecticide to kill aphids and protect your roses for the coming three weeks or so.

Choose 'Peace' for a delightful display in your rose garden

Choose'Peace' for your rose garden

You may notice some of your other plants such as fuchsias or hollyhocks, together with your roses, may begin to suffer from diseases including mildew.  Again, there are plenty of fungicides available, so always feel free to ask one a member of our team for their advice on stamping out these bugs and protecting them from attack.

We may endure more rain than we would like this month, so you may not need to water your plants additionally.  If they do become dry, make sure new plants and shrubs receive a good, occasional soaking rather than a daily shower.  This will encourage a deeper root system to establish.  A regular feeding will benefit all your perennials (plants that re-appear every year) and shrubs.

All flowering plants will need to be regularly dead headed to encourage new blooms and a greater growth.
These tips include hanging baskets and containers too which should be monitored daily for water retention and limp blooms.

Once your lawn has had a good soaking from rainfall, take the opportunity to feed it.  Grass roots are minimal and will deteriorate in dry weather.  A summer feed will ensure a lush, vibrant deep green colour and stimulate growth of roots too.  Choose from soluble or granular lawn treatments or you may prefer a 3-in-1 option that will kill moss and broadleaved weeds at the same time as encouraging growth and improving the appearance of your lawn.

There is no point in working so hard on your baskets, borders and lawn without completing the finishing touches such as tidying your pathways and gravel areas.   Treatments and weedkillers are available specifically for these areas whereby any weeds will be suppressed and prevented for around three months.

Dependent upon which fruits and vegetables you have chosen to grow in your Edible Garden, you should be reaping great benefits from high yield this month for delicious salads and summertime dining.  Bumper crops of tomatoes will now benefit from a high potash feed for maximum growth.  Lift each leaf and check for whitefly.  If they are present, you will need to treat the tomato plant with a systemic insecticide which is suitable for use on edible crops.

Feed tomatoes and peppers with Tomorite

Feed tomatoes and peppers with Tomorite

Check your plot for any weeds as these will steal much-needed moisture and nutrients from your crops.  Hoe regularly and carefully between the rows of crops or choose a suitable weedkiller. Please do ask if you have any queries or need advice – we are here to help.

Beans such as French and runner should be ready for picking now.  Keep well watered and feed with a soluble plant food for more crops.

Soft fruits such as blackcurrants, raspberries and strawberries should be picked as they ripen.  Birds need feeding throughout the year but they have their own seed and nuts so make sure they don’t help themselves to your fruits by protecting crops with netting.

Finally, make the most of whatever weather we experience this month and head outdoors while the days are long and evenings balmy.  The scent of freshly cut grass, scented blooms and barbecues epitomise summer and let us hope for plenty of sunshine!

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 www.nationalinsectweek.co.uk 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  http://tinyurl.com/7htg6kv

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