News and announcements from Grosvenor Garden Centre, Chester

Grosvenor

Visit Grosvenor’s New Real Food Festival this weekend!

Visit us here at Grosvenor Garden Centre this weekend and honour the tastiest produce from the region at our new Real Food Festival.

Fresh fruit and vegetables from John's farm at Grosvenor's Real Food Festival

Enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables from John's farm at Grosvenor's Real Food Festival

On Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th July from 10am until 4pm, the Festival offers visitors the chance to see many of the popular favourites from the Centre’s monthly Farmers’ Market.  Held in conjunction with Celyn Farmers’ Market, the stallholders and artisan producers from around the region will be happy to talk to visitors about their farming and cooking methods while visitors taste their freshly made, home-grown and home-baked goods before buying to enjoy at home.

Delicious produce will be available throughout the weekend including vegetarian sweet and savoury foods, breads, pork and fresh vegetables, cheeses, sauces and preserves, duck eggs, cakes and pies.

“Our monthly Farmers’ Market, held on the second Friday of each month here at the Centre, proves extremely popular and our annual Real Food Festivals are always well attended.  Next weekend will see a combination of many of our favourites from our monthly Market located within our plant area and tastings in our diverse food department all weekend too,” commented Dave Maguire, Grosvenor’s Food Department Manager.

“We are delighted to once again host the Festival to celebrate the excellent produce available from Cheshire and North Wales and offer everyone the chance to save food miles and support local produce,” Dave concluded.

For more information or to exhibit, please call Grosvenor Garden Centre Customer Services on 01244 625200.

Grosvenor Garden Centre launches support for local B.I.R.D. Charity

We have just announced B.I.R.D. (Brain Injury Rehabilitation and Development) as our nominated charity for 2012/13.

Helen Schielke and Sam Corner from B.I.R.D. with staff at Grosvenor Garden Centre

Helen Schielke and Sam Corner from B.I.R.D. with staff at Grosvenor Garden Centre

Located close to the Garden Centre in the village of Eccleston, B.I.R.D. is a small charity with only six members of staff including physiotherapists and psychologists, yet the team supports around 200 adults and children each year.

Using techniques, rehabilitation and treatment tailored to the needs of the individual, B.I.R.D. helps not only people who have received a brain injury through an accident or stroke, but also adults and children with long term conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy and dyspraxia.

“We work hard to devise a treatment or rehabilitation programme that can be followed at home and monitored through regular assessments here at the Centre,” stated Helen Schielke, practice manager, B.I.R.D.

With the help of staff and visitors to Grosvenor Garden Centre, the Centre hopes to raise a considerable amount of funds over the next 12 months to support the efforts of such a worthwhile charity.

“The team at B.I.R.D. works hard to ensure the best possible outcome for all the families in their care and by offering our support, we hope to raise not only a substantial amount of funding to aid their work, but also to help raise awareness of their valuable operation on the outskirts of Chester,” said Wesley Haywood from Grosvenor Garden Centre.

“Any funding is most welcome and we are delighted that Grosvenor Garden Centre has announced its support of B.I.R.D. throughout 2012, our 30th anniversary year,” concluded Helen.

The announcement that we have chosen B.I.R.D. as our charity of the year is the latest in a long line of ongoing community and charity initiatives supported by us here at Grosvenor Garden Centre.  See previous blogs for more details including our Guerilla Gardeners who hit the community for Garden Re-Leaf Day in March.

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!

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.

Record funds raised for Claire House!

We have raised a record amount of more than £15,000 for our nominated charity, Claire House Children’s Hospice.

Following two years of fundraising activities, raising £8,000 last year and £7,360 this year, members of the Grosvenor team took part in an abseil from the Liver Building, bake sales and the completion of three gruelling marathons by one of our longest serving members, horticulturalist Charles Ashley.

Charles, aged 54 from Llangollen, raised more than £3,000 for Claire House by completing the 2012 London Marathon last month in four hours and 15 minutes.  Charles has also completed two Snowdonia marathons on behalf of the charity, bringing his personal total to more than £6,000.

More than £15,000 raised for Claire House!

More than £15,000 raised for Claire House!

“Charles’ determination to raise such a valuable sum of money for Claire House knows no bounds and we could not be more proud of his efforts,” said Iain Wylie, managing director.

Together with monies raised from in-store collections, we have continued our fundraising endeavours for Claire House to help the hospice continue to provide respite, palliative and end of life care for more than 160 children each year with life limiting and life threatening illnesses.

“I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone at the Garden Centre and its customers for raising such an incredible amount for Claire House over the past two years,” commented Jane Collingwood, Volunteer Manager, Claire House Children’s Hospice.

“Support from businesses such as Grosvenor Garden Centre is essential as we endeavour to help not only the children in our care but to support their families too from locations as wide-ranging as Cheshire, Merseyside, North Wales, Wirral and the Isle of Man.  The fantastic amount of money raised by the team and customers at Grosvenor is very much appreciated by everyone at Claire House Children’s Hospice,” concluded Jane.