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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.

Gardening tips for December

December sweeps in with freezing cold weather and the country recovering from floods. Winter has well and truly arrived!

But what could be better than a saunter around the garden in the crisp air surrounded by frost-laden branches and leaves to truly bring home the meaning of Christmas?

And once you are back indoors warming up with a hot toddy and a cosy fire, you can survey your garden and plan for 2013 – a great excuse to add a gardening diary to your list for Santa!

Spend December digging up old plants that may be past their best and plant new additions in their place.  Rejuvenate the border with different heights of foliage and opt for new colours to try.

Keep that all important fleece handy for colder nights and give your new tender plants the best chance possible with a layer of mulch on their roots.

Helleborus Cinnamon Snow

Helleborus Cinnamon Snow

A Christmas planted container filled with winter flowering blooms such as pansies, heathers, Skimmia Rubella and ‘the Christmas Rose’ itself, Helleborus Niger you will have flowers to admire throughout the festive period.  A perfect gift idea too!

Houseplants synonymous with Christmas are, of course, the much-loved cyclamen and poinsettia.  Add instant festive vibrancy to any room with a number of these striking plants.  They do need plenty of light but are easy to look after and everyone loves to receive one as a gift – so your Christmas shopping is taken care of too!

The traditional Poinsettia in a variety of colours

The traditional Poinsettia in a variety of colours

The orchid is becoming increasingly popular all year round but with such an array of beauty, you cannot go wrong with an orchid as a treat to yourself, a gift from Santa (if you have been good!) or to brighten up any indoor space.

A fresh wreath is a ‘must-have’ on your front door and naturally, a sprig of mistletoe too to welcome guests across your threshold with the spirit of Christmas.

For a sneaky Christmas kiss!

For a sneaky Christmas kiss!

There is nothing like the fragrant scent of a freshly cut Christmas tree to immediately put you in the festive mood.  Or have you cared for your own tree and are now ready to bring the outside in?

The most popular choice amongst our customers here at Grosvenor and with low needle drop is the Nordman, closely followed by the Fraser Fir - highly scented, it will immediately fill your home with a delightful festive aroma. Or why not opt for the Noble Fir with a matt, blue colour.  We also offer a range of container grown Nordman, Noble and Spruce trees that can be transferred to the garden after Christmas.

We all know how cold it is at the moment but please do remember that the birds in your garden 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.

Harvest your homegrown winter vegetables for delicious accompaniments to your Christmas dinner.  Remember to leave parsnips lying on top of the soil to sweeten before bringing inside.  And your festive meal would not be the same without Brussels sprouts!  Love them or hate them, they really are a must have at Christmas time.

And finally, Merry Christmas from everyone here at Grosvenor Garden Centre!

It’s Circus Time!

Our car park is becoming home to a Big Top today as the Circus comes to town!

We could not believe it when the Big Top started to go up this morning - it is huge!  Due to the volume of heavy rain Chester received last week, the Racecourse were unable to accommodate the Circus so it had to find a new home very quickly!  Two very special performances will take place tomorrow as 1500 ticketholders raise funds for Claire House Children’s Hospice and more than 250 disabled and disadvantaged children from Dorin Park Special School and Dee Banks Special School and their parents experience a Show they will never forget!

So, please help us to spread the word so that all the children and ticketholders are aware of the change of venue!  Now taking place here at Grosvenor Garden Centre on Wrexham Road, Belgrave, Chester CH4 9EB!

Thank you for your help!

Our guerilla gardeners celebrate Garden Re-Leaf Day!

Our team of crack gardeners, including superhero Grosvenorman were out and about in the local community on Tuesday supporting the UK’s first Garden Re-Leaf Day (13th March).

Grosvenorman and the team of guerilla gardeners transform local projects

Grosvenorman and the team of guerilla gardeners transform local projects

Marking the beginning of the gardening season, the first Garden Re-Leaf Day saw our team support community initiatives including a children’s workshop at Hope House Children’s Hospice in Oswestry; a garden makeover at Eccleston Primary School; landscaping at Aldford Village Hall and the donation of compost, plants and horticultural advice for an allotment garden at Blacon Kids Community Club.

Grosvenorman helps Keeley from Hope House Children's Hospice with her planting

Grosvenorman helps Keeley from Hope House Children's Hospice with her planting

Grosvenorman’s visit to Hope House Children’s Hospice brightened up a dull Tuesday with a donation of two planters and a plant workshop to help the children learn about potting up pansies and growing seeds with hands-on learning for each child.

“The visit from Grosvenorman and the guerrilla gardeners from Grosvenor was a real treat for the children today,” commented Rachel Jones, Fundraiser, Wrexham and Chester.

“Such interactive learning for the children to help them improve their skills and understanding of gardening was a great experience.  Gardening is a much enjoyed part of our therapy sessions and today’s visit from Grosvenorman in particular will encourage the children to develop their own outdoor spaces, together with the Greenfingers garden here at Hope House.” Rachel concluded.

Eccleston Primary School saw a team of Grosvenor guerrilla gardeners prepare and plant two vegetable gardens filled with soft fruits, herbs and plants to attract bees and wildlife.  The gardeners also planted a new hedge, re-potted planted containers and tidied up borders.   Grosvenorman flew in to lend his support and met the children who will benefit from the newly revamped garden.

Grosvenor's guerilla gardeners transform an area of Eccleston Primary School

Grosvenor's guerilla gardeners transform the garden at Eccleston Primary School

Aldford Village Hall was also a venue for a garden makeover following a complete interior refurbishment taking more than 15 months.

“The Grosvenor guerrilla gardeners could not have come at a better time!” said Phil Davies, Chairman, Aldford Village Hall Committee.

Grosvenor's guerilla gardeners help villagers at Aldford Village Hall

Grosvenorman joins more guerilla gardeners at Aldford Village Hall

“We needed to start on the outside area to bring it in line with the work we have undertaken insidethe Village Hall.  With Grosvenor’s help, we have been able to develop our initial plans for the front garden area and it already looks completely transformed,” concluded Phil.

Completing Grosvenor’s marathon day of guerrilla gardening was a delivery of compost and plants to aid Blacon Kids Community Club with a new allotment garden.  Charles Ashley, one of Grosvenor’s horticulturalists, was also on hand with advice on how to make the most of their new productive area.

“Today has been a great success for the inaugural Garden Re-Leaf Day around the country,” said Iain Wylie, managing director, Grosvenor.

“Our teams of guerrilla gardeners really enjoyed getting stuck into the community projects and have obviously made a great impact around the local area.  Garden Re-Leaf Day was aimed at not only creating awareness of the start of the gardening season, but also raising funds for the horticultural charity, Greenfingers, which provides magical and inspirational gardens at children’s hospices in the UK.  Our in-store collection for Greenfingers raised hundreds of pounds and I would like to extend our thanks to everyone who has supported us in our endeavours today, ” said Iain.

A job well done - the guerilla gardeners relax at the end of a great day

A job well done - the guerilla gardeners relax at the end of a great day

We did it again!

We have just been awarded Garden Centre of Excellence status for a record breaking 12th consecutive year!

Garden Centre of Excellence for the 12th consecutive year

Garden Centre of Excellence for the 12th consecutive year

Audited annually by the UK Garden Centre Association (GCA), results determine which garden centres continue to achieve the highest standards of excellence and only these top centres achieve this much sought after award.

“Not only has this award shown that we have continued to offer our customers the very best expertise, service and range of products but to achieve this unequalled recognition from the GCA underpins our efforts to not only maintain but to also improve the experience we offer here at Grosvenor,” said Iain Wylie, managing director.

“Garden centres must provide standards of excellence to be accepted as members of the GCA.  Awarded to the top 10 centres in the country each year, it is a great achievement for all the team here at Grosvenor to be chosen as Garden Centre of Excellence – especially as we are the only Garden Centre in the UK to have achieved this honour for 12 successive years,” Iain continued.

“We were delighted to present Grosvenor with this award.  Not only do they continue to offer an admirable level of knowledge to their customers, they never rest on their laurels, nor take the award for granted.  Each visit highlights to us exactly how much they continue to achieve with even greater improvements year after year and their continued success in the annual audit is a great testament to their efforts,” commented Gillie Westwood, Chief Executive, GCA.

Gardening tips for February

Be my Valentine this month with this beautiful ‘My Valentine’ hybrid tea rose.  With large red blooms and long, strong stems, ‘My Valentine’ epitomises Valentine’s Day and will make an eye catching cut display for inside your home later in the year.

Be 'My Valentine' with this beautiful rose from Grosvenor

Be 'My Valentine' with this beautiful rose

So, to February.  Where shall we start with the garden this month?  One of the easiest ways to get started is by sowing seeds – you can start by sowing indoors even when it is freezing cold outside.  Alternatively, choose from a range of seedlings and plug plants which are just one step further on from sowing seeds and already beginning to establish from recent germination and to form roots.    Plant them straight into trays of compost so they have more room to develop.  Use good quality compost with slow release feed for best results.

Have you seen any Crocus or Snowdrops peeping through yet?  They really are the sign to watch for as we count the days to spring.  The pure white of a newly shooting Snowdrop against a frosty garden reminds us all that our gardens will soon be sprouting new flowers so make sure your borders are fully stocked with summer flowering bulbs now.    Leave room between each bulb so that each has chance to swell and feed them weekly.  Clump together the same bulbs for a good display in the coming months.

Always remember to discard faded flowers to encourage more new growth.

If you would like a lovely display of colour in your planted containers later in the spring, but really have no idea how to choose complimentary colours, take a look at our displays of bedding plants here at Grosvenor.  Grouped so that you can instantly which look good together, please ask us for help.  Or choose a pre-mixed range of bedding in packs of six.  Don’t worry, you can’t go wrong!

You can begin to prepare your edible garden by digging over any area where you plan to grow vegetables.  Use compost or soil conditioner and leave the surface as rough as possible to take advantage of any frost which will help improve the structure of the soil.

Prepare your vegetable patch now

Prepare your vegetable patch now

Tomatoes  are really the easiest starting point for anyone wishing to begin growing their own fruit and vegetables.  With so many varieties to choose from, choose a tasty option to suit the space you have available.  A grow bag or raised bed is the perfect way to get growing!

Generally one of the colder months in the year, you do need to make sure your tender plants and fruits are protected from frost so make sure you have that all-important fleece to hand.  If you manage to keep frost damage at bay, your fruits will swell beautifully in the summer.

The roots of fruit trees and bushes should be fed now with slow release plant food or granules.  A few handfuls will keep your plants fed throughout the season.  You should also dig the food into the top layer of soil and mulch with compost to retain moisture and even suppress weeds.

If we continue to enjoy mild weather for this time of year, you could sow your broad beans, parsnips and peas but always remember to just be careful and cover with fleece or a cloche so that any germinating seeds are protected.

Don’t forget that birds and wildlife really do need our help all year round but especially during the colder months.  Our range of bird feeds, fat balls, feeders and tables will make sure you have everything you need to encourage birds to your garden.  Always remember to keep your bird baths topped up with fresh water and never let it freeze!

Our January Plant of the Month - Primula

Our Plant of the Month this January is the Primula.  Versatile, evergreen or herbaceous perennials, the Primula has flowers of a beautiful, sunny, deep yellow in springtime with green foliage for interest all year round, even during the colder bouts this month.

More than 500 species exist in the Primula genus, including Cowslip and Polyanthus.  One of the most well known is Primula vulgaris meaning ‘prima’ (or ‘first’) and ‘rosa’ (or ‘rose’), therefore symbolising the ‘first rose’ or spring has sprung.

Most Primulas offer delightful splashes of colour in gardens throughout the spring but if we continue to enjoy a mild winter, you may see the Primula over these months too.

Available in a wide selection of colours including brights and pastels from blue to pink, purple to red and white to yellow  - whatever your preference and colour scheme, you are sure to find the perfect shade for your garden or planted container.

Easy to grow, the Primula is unfussy about soil type or its location and will be equally at home on a sunny patio or in a shaded border.  If you use it to add colour to a pot, make sure you water it frequently so it

Our Plant of the Month in January - the Primula

Our Plant of the Month in January - the Primula

does not dry out and use a multi-purpose compost.  And of course, always remember to deadhead any plant regularly to encourage new growth and longer flowering.

Grosvenor helps family on BBC One’s ‘DIY SOS: The Big Build’ programme

Members of the team at Grosvenor Garden Centre on Wrexham Road in Belgrave, near Chester have supported a family featured on the popular BBC One series ‘DIY SOS: The Big Build’.

Donating £1200 worth of plants and a teak garden bench to the family, the team spent two days at the project planting raised beds and hard landscaping.

The Grosvenor team helps family

The Grosvenor team helps family

“We were thrilled to help transform the home of the family in Dolgarrog,” commented Pete Davies, Plant Manager at Grosvenor.

“Support of the local community is very important to us here at Grosvenor and our involvement in the programme was not only a great experience for us, we were able to add the finishing touches to the newly created garden in this much needed new home.” Pete continued.

Football table winner!

Congratulations to Mark Hogan from Chester whose name was pulled of the hat to win a Jaques football table worth £199.
“My family and I called into the Garden Centre before Christmas to choose new lights for our Christmas tree and decided to enter the competition to win the football table.  I was delighted to win such a fantastic prize, especially as I picked it up on my birthday!” said Mark.

Mark Hogan, winner of Jaques football table

Mark Hogan, winner of Jaques football table

Well done Mark and we hope you enjoy many years of table football!

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.