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Monthly Archives: July 2013

  • Summer Pruning for Fruit Trees - Top Tips Inside!

    Usually, formative pruning will take place during winter, when the structure of the tree is most visible. But just because you’re used to this doesn’t mean you should discount the importance of summer pruning on certain plants. Trained fruit trees requiring restriction, such as cordons, fans and espaliers, are particularly important to prune in summer. You can also prune free standing trees in summer to avoid cutting into old wood in the winter.

    Why is this important? A few reasons:

    • Fruit ripens better! It’ll also produce a better crop the subsequent year. The less energy your tree dedicates to new branches, the more is reserved for sustaining fruit.
    • They’ll heal quicker! Compared to cutting into old wood, actively growing new wood will recover far faster.
    • The weather’s better! This might not have much to do with the pruning itself, but relaxing outside in the summer is a nicer day than forcing yourself outside for winter work.

    So when should you prune?

    • Pears should ideally be pruned around mid-July.
    • Apples can wait until mid-August, however.
    • Plums and Cherries are ripe for pruning during mid-summer, but only on a dry day. Otherwise you risk opening them to infection by fungal diseases like Silver Leaf.

    But how should you prune?

    Keep track of your new shoots, and wait until the oldest third has started to get woody and stiff. Check which have grown longer than 20cm, and cut them back to three leaves above the basal cluster (this is the cluster of leaves at the base of new shoots). For new shoots coming off existing side shoots, cut back to one leaf above the basal cluster.

    Throughout this, be careful to leave smaller shoots. They often have fruit buds at the ends, and you wouldn’t want to limit the next year’s yield. Be especially aware whether your tree is tip-bearing, if you’re pruning an apple tree. Even some of the longer shoots may be set to bear fruit at the tip, and aggressive pruning can destroy any chances of a healthy crop.

  • Trees & Shrubs for Bees - Introduction

    Firstly, why should you encourage bees into your garden?

    It’s a good question. Even if you’re averse to the fuzzy creatures, you can’t deny how important they are to the environment. As pollinators for most fruits and many vegetables, one in three mouthfuls of food you eat will have relied on bee pollination somewhere down the line.

    Considering the rapid declines affecting the global bee population, this is a sobering thought. Fortunately, you can plan your garden to encourage and shelter bees, providing valuable food sources and keeping our trees pollinated.

    Trees for Bees You can attract bees to the garden through species like the crab apple

    So then, how do you encourage bees into your garden?

    While you obviously need flowers, bees won’t relocate to anywhere without the chance to pollinate, certain flowers are more ‘bee friendly’ than others. Ideally, stick to single flowers. They’re larger, and make it easier for insects to gain access to nectar and pollen. In comparison, double flowered plants often contain little to no nectar.

    Secondly, keep on top of your garden’s seasonal plan. You might have a fantastic display of summer foliage, but if your spring flowerers are all spent there’s little reason for bees to stick around. Try and aim for staggered interest, extending the flowering season from early spring to the very last days of summer. Not only will this give bees plenty of support, but you’ll get a stunningly coloured garden over a large part of the year.

    What should you plant to encourage bees into your garden?

    Many garden favourites are excellent for bees, with apples, crab apples, and cherries performing well (particularly ornamental, single flowering cherries). You could also consider ornamental pears, or hawthorns and blackthorns.

    We’ll be updating with more tree choices a little more in the next couple of weeks, starting with Tilia (Limes). Be sure to check back regularly.

  • Hydrangeas

    July is closing out, so there’s no better time than to take a look at a few species with standout summer interest. Hydrangea is a genus made up of around 70 deciduous, flowering plants, originally native to Eastern and Southern Asia. With persistent summer flowers, they’re often couple with popular spring flowerers (such as Rhododendrons) to create long-term interest in the garden.

    Hydrangea head 1

    They make for fabulous flower arrangements, with a variety of colours to mix and match (and the heads can make brilliant home-grown decorations!), so today we’re going to briefly take you through some of the species brightening up our nursery this summer.

    Hydrangea macrophylla

    An amazing standby. With the potential for large pink, blue, or white flowers (depending on soil type and availability) arriving during late July and August. At the ultimate height of 2 metres they’re stunning additions, visit the link above to see more images proving the point.

    Hydrangea petiolaris

    As a climber, Petiolaris stands out from the rest of the Hydrangea crowd with aerial roots and twining shoots. Initially slow growing, this unusual yet expansive shrub can eventually cover the entire side of your house! Provide a preferably cool site with partial shade, and you’ll be treated to an immense display of fragrant, white flowers from June to July.

    Hydrangea Vanilla Fraise

    One of our most popular plants last year, and deserving of every drop of attention received. You’ll be treated to large, creamy, conical white flower heads during late summer, aging to deep, raspberry pink once autumn rolls around. Fully hardy and fairly fast growing, you can expect to see this popular choice reaching approximately 2 metres in height, given a sheltered site with sun or light shade.

    Whatever you do, don’t overlook Hydrangeas this summer. When other flowerers are coming down from their peak, these specimens offer an exhilarating long-term display, excellent for prolonging seasonal interest in the garden as late as autumn.

  • Tree Ring Planting Accessories (20% off until August 31st!)

    Wherever in the country you are, there’s no denying that summer has arrived in full force! Temperatures are up, grass is growing, and a good number of you are hopefully making the most of your beautiful Summer Foliage while the season is ripe. But summer’s a busy season, and if you’re looking to keep your garden trim and neat there’s a lot of work to be done, particularly if you’re planting any new trees in the future.

    tree ring

    Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and methods available to you which make maintaining a trim summer garden an absolute breeze. We’ve actually got an offer on at the moment to help out, with  a whopping 20% discount off our collection of Tree Rings until the 31st August. Coming in a variety of diameters, from 68-180cm, they’re a simple way of keeping edges neat and sensible.

    Drive them into the ground either before or after planting, and they’ll create a smooth edge to keep grass, turf and gravel away from your new tree, while stopping mulches from spilling out. A clean edge can help add definition to ornamental trees and sculptures, and really makes the difference in achieving a striking, aesthetically structured garden.

    If you’re interested in picking up some tree rings for your summer planting, or any existing trees which would benefit from a little definition, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time. There’s always a friendly member of staff on hand to help handle enquiries and set up an order, or simply help out with any questions or advice you might be looking for.

  • Plants for Summer Interest - Trachelospermum jasminoides | 'Star Jasmine'

    You might recognise this slow growing, evergreen climber from our newsletter this July, or possibly by its common alias of ‘Star Jasmine’. This is actually a misnomer, as the plant isn’t a jasmine. It’s a fine comparison though, with oval, glossy leaves playing host to white, jasmine-like flowers with a sweet scent. They’re extremely fragrant, and fade to a pleasant cream in July-August as they age.

    "Star Jasmine"

    It’s a great summer plant, and you’ll find yourself spoiled for planting choices if you find yourself lucky enough to get one. As an evergreen it’s suitable for screen training on a trellis or fence, or it could be planted by pillars, pergolas, arches, and sunny porches.

    So long as it has a warm, sunny and sheltered wall to grow against, and well-drained soil to grow above, it can provide a soothingly sweet scent to pools, seating areas, and arbors. If your garden already features deciduous climbers, such as ever-popular roses, Star Jasmine offers a welcome evergreen element into the mix when partnered with them.

    It can reach an ultimate height of 7 meters, but don’t let that deter you if you’re short on space. Star Jasmine takes its time growing, and can be easily contained if you set out a defined, smaller space. Also generally hardy to the cold (with occasional reddened foliage during a chilly winter), you’re unlikely to have much trouble maintaining the plant. Just take care if the need to prune does arise, as the stems and leaves exude a milky juice when cut.

    Star Jasmine is available now from only £43.20 including VAT, and marks an excellent way to expand your summer garden with a soothing, fragrant specimen. If you’re interest in similar plants, don’t hesitate to check out our other climbing plants for a little more variety, and contact us at any time for help and advice.

  • Plants for a Mediterranean Garden - Olives & Figs (20% off until July 31st!)

    There’s no denying it, summer is really here. It’s already much hotter than expected, and the impromptu heat waves show no sign of slowing down this July.

    But a hot summer is a brilliant thing, just leaving us with more reasons to get outside and enjoy the foliage and wildlife the season accompanies. If you’re looking to make the absolute best of your Mediterranean summer, there’s nothing better to invest in than some Mediterranean plants. We’ve already introduced you to a few Mediterranean plants here, but in special celebration of the sun we’re knocking a whopping 20% off our entire collection of Olives & Figs until the end of July!

    olives

    They’re one of the first steps towards bringing in a little Mediterranean ambiance to your home. We find an especially good use is to place them as ornamental borders, around patios, swimming areas and gravel gardens, or alternatively pot them and move them to seating and entertaining areas. This is especially useful for Figs, which may require moving indoors during heavy frosts. Olive trees, on the other hand, make for a fairly hardy evergreen specimen, just bear in mind that their fruit won’t ripen in UK conditions.

    Figs will produce edible fruit around August and September, so it’s worth investing a while in advance if you’re interested. Remember that they require a little attention in order to get the best yield, though. Fig roots grow extremely vigorously, and restricting them will result in better fruit production. Either pot them or place the rootball in a fig pit, by placing some barriers around them in the soil, such as stone slabs or protective membranes.

    They’re both great ways to start off your Mediterranean garden, though throwing in some aromatics (like Lavander) and Vines can only help, you can read a few more of our recommendations in the post linked above.

    If you have any more questions never hesitate to contact us, we always have a friendly member of staff on hand and ready to handle any queries and enquiries you might have, whether you need to set up an order or are just looking for a little advice to get started with.

    Don’t forget about our special promotional discount on all Olives & Figs, though! Still running at 20% off until the 31st July, 2013.

  • Plants for a Mediterranean Garden - Introduction

    The Mediterranean features a beautifully diverse range of flora, but there’s absolutely no reason for it to remain over there. Many Mediterranean plants have made the leap to English gardens, creating subtle exotic interests to extremely great effect.

    olive trees

    Whether you’re looking to structure your entire garden after a geographical theme, or just looking to inject a little Mediterranean flair, you can’t go wrong with any of the following, as long as they’re provided with a sunny site and well-drained soil.

    Olives and Figs (Olea europa and Ficus carica) are excellent choices, adding distinctive Mediterranean flair. Of course, few species feel more naturally Mediterranean than palms, and the Chusan palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) and the Fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) provide a unique aesthetic and atmosphere. Though we would be neglectful not to quickly mention Cupressus sempervirens, the Italian cypress. This narrow, columnar evergreen features dark, dense foliage, and works especially well as an architectural or coastal plant.

    Alternatively, Vitis vinifera is a common vine perfect for ornamentation, particularly with the delicious autumn grapes for eating and processing. Aromatics also provide scent, flower, and attract the bees. We particularly recommend Lavender and Rosemary (Lavandula and Rosmarinus).

    In addition to these, a number of classic topiaries contribute Mediterranean charm, particularly Laurus nobilis, Prunus lusitanica (Portuguese laurel) and Buxus sempervirens. We’ve got a post covering some of these options, or you can head straight on over to our full topiary range. They’re perfect for planting in borders around patios, pools, gravel gardens or seating. Just add sun and you’re good to go!

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