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Garden Design

  • Aromatic plants now in stock!

    Thyme in variety

    New stock of Lavender, Rosemary and Thyme now available -
    and the fragrance is wonderful!

    Ideal for a sunny site and well-drained soil - or in pots and troughs. Design with herbs in a kitchen garden, in between stone slabs or use as edging plants. And just wait for summer!

     

  • Attract Bees to your Garden with Ornamental trees

    Whether you like them or not, bees are of critical importance to our environment: they are pollinators for fruit and vegetable crops, and they are producers of honey and other medicinal foods.

    Unfortunately, with the global bee population in decline due to habitat and disease problems, the pollination of fruit trees and cultivation of fruit and vegetables is in jeopardy. Yet garden owners can do something small to counter this, by planting a number of ornamental/fruit trees in their back garden to attract bees, helping them on their way to provide vital food sources and to keep our fruit-bearing trees pollinated.

    Firstly, you may want to be aware that certain flowers are more accommodating to bees than others. Single flowers tend to be your best bet, as they are larger, and therefore more accessible for insects to find the nectar and pollen. In contrast, many double flowered plants do not produce nectar at all.

    It also may be worth maintaining a varied seasonal plan, in which your flowering season stretches from early spring to the very last days of summer. If you plant too early, there is a large chance the pollen will be all used up in a short space of time. Aiming for what we might call ‘staggered interest’, with a variety of perennial plants, will see the flowering season extend from early spring right up until the end of summer, giving the bees a great deal of support over the longest period of time.

    In terms of suitable species for attracting bees to your garden, English Woodlands has a number of suggestions:

    • Spring – ornamental crab apples and pears, such as Malus and Pyrus species
    • Early flowering Cherries such as Prunus cerasifera Nigra
    • Hawthorns such as Crataegus prunifolia and Crataegus Monogyna

    As for summer flowering trees, Tilia lime trees are certainly attractive to bees (although some species are more so than others, for instance, some have a soporific, almost narcotic effect).

    In late spring and early summer, shrubs such as Elder and Cotoneaster cornubia are valuable sources of nectar, while climbers such as Honeysuckle will all variety before the autumn.

    Finally, as late summer gives way to autumn, Arbutus unedo, a strawberry tree, has both flowers used as a pollen source for bees and fruits for birds, while the shrub Elaeagnus ebbingei has small white fragrant flowers, making it a bee-friendly option as a hedge plant.

    arbutus enedo

    For any more tips on which trees are best for attracting bees to your garden, or for any general inquiries, please get in touch with us. The knowledgeable English Woodlands team are available Monday-Friday on 01435 862992, or you can leave an inquiry on our contact page and our team will gladly get back to you.

  • Read Our Selection of the Best Trees For Screening to Protect your Privacy….

    One of the most common problems we hear about our customers’ gardens are their  ‘next door nightmares’ – a term some apply to the likes of unsightly extensions, overlooking windows from other houses, and even trampolines (and trampolining children!)

    The summertime is the time when many of you will have the chance to enjoy your garden in peace and seclusion. Ensuring you have the background you want during the summer season is something well worth planning in advance for.

    Although Autumn to Spring is the traditional tree-planting season, here at the nursery we receive enquiries all year round about screening – and summer is certainly an ideal time to plan for autumn planting.

    We have plenty of screening solutions that will suit your garden preferences, whether you simply want a bit of privacy, if you want to create a haven for wildlife or even if you want to create your own artistic paradise.

     

    Evergreen Trees and Hedge Plants

    When our customers come seeking screening solutions, evergreen plants tend to be a popular choice, due to their year-round endurance.

    Evergreen conifers such as Cupresssocyparis x leylandii (Leyland) are great fast growing plant with thick foliage, that can work well if pruned regularly.

    Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar) is a great alternative that you can trim back hard if necessary and it will still regrow.

     

    Alternative Evergreen Options

    Photinia Red Robin and Prunus Lusitanica (Portuguese laurel) are non-conifer evergreens that can achieve a total 5-6m in height, they are hardy and popular hedge plants that many of our customers also grow as standard trees.

    Other non-conifer evergreens include:

    Laurus nobilis (Bay) - great in a sunny well-drained site, and very pruneable

    Ilex (Holly) – a hardy and wind tolerant tree

    Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree)

    Cotoneaster cornubia (Semi-evergreen)

     

    Deciduous trees

    The advantage of using deciduous trees for screening is that there is a lot more variety available. Many of these trees grow quickly, and add foliage, flower and fruit interest.

    Although they lose their leaves, some deciduous trees and hedges have screening advantages. For example, trees that keep their leaves well into autumn such as Crataegus lavallei and Pyrus Chanticleer still give screening in the garden during sunny autumn days; other trees with large leaves such as Acer platanoides varieties provide good foliage cover during summer months when you are most likely to be in the garden; and trees with well branches crowns such as Crataegus – hawthorns - give some filtered screening even without leaves and let light in during darker months.

    Finally, pleached trees are another popular screening choice: normally planted in a line on a bamboo framework, and having the effect of a hedge on stilts, these are perfect for above-fence screening in restricted spaces. Tilia species, Carpinus and Pyrus Chanticleer are popular and functional options for pleached trees; you can browse our full range of pleached trees here.

     

    Advice

    Of course, all of this depends on your garden or site and the suitability of trees or hedges for the location – we aim to give the right advice to find a solution for your garden. If you want to talk to any of our friendly team about planning your options give us a call on 01435 862992.

    Or, you can leave us a message on our contact page, and we’ll endeavour to promptly get back to you.

    Thuja Occidentalis Brabant Thuja Occidentalis Brabant
    Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer
  • 15% off Rite-Edge Aluminium Edging Products

    Now May’s here, there’s a wonderful abundance of new growth and fabulous blooms, and in most soil types conditions are ideal for planting

    With all the warm weather and eye-catching blooms though, it is easy to ignore the edge of borders. Of course, this means that grass can soon encroach in areas where it shouldn’t be encroaching.

    In order to help you demarcate borders between the edges of lawns, our Rite-Edge aluminium edging products can be used to smarten up grass and shrub borders. Alternatively, these products can be used for delineating gravel or paved areas. Easy to install as either straight or curved edging systems, these are available in silver, brown or green colours.

    During the month of May, we are offering 15% off our Rite Edge products. To view the products included in the promotion, please visit our promotions page. You can activate the 15% discount at the checkout by using voucher code MAY14. This discount code is available until 31st May 2014, so make the most of it while you can!

    Happy Gardening and enjoy the warm weather!

  • Hedge Planting – Bare Root Plants

    We’ve already discussed some of the essentials for planning a new hedge, such as deciding on function, preparing your site and soil, and digging a trench.

    Of course, correct planting technique is just as important as informed preparation, so read on for some quick advice on finishing off your hedge. Today we’ll be looking specifically at bare root hedging.

    Where should I store them?

    Without a rootball to cover them it’s important to keep your bare root plants protected until you’re ready to plant. They can be stored in a cool, sheltered area for up to week with the roots in the bag they were supplied in. Alternatively, dig a trench and heel them into the ground in bundles for considerably longer. Find out more on our Cold Weather Planting & Storage Guide. Remember that roots should be damp, but not sitting in water.

    How should I plant them?

    Once your roots are un-bagged and ready to plant, remember that they’re still being exposed to the elements, the wind and sun can dry them out. Cover them with damp hessian or sacking right up until they’re in the ground to protect and moisten the roots.

    We often advise customers to submerge bare root plants in water for up to five minutes right before planting, to ensure they’re moist. This is an excellent time to use Myccorhizal fungi, which is particularly good or planting bare root plants. The granules can be mixed with water to create a dip. You can download our Rootgrow guide for detailed information on doing so. Simply select the download marked ‘How to Use Rootgrow’ for more information.

    For physical planting, please refer to our Successful Tree Planting download, which covers all elements of planting, staking, and supporting your new plant.

    How many will I need?

    We’re often asked how many plants you’ll actually need to purchase for an effective hedge. This naturally depends on the space you hope to screen, but we do have some guidelines for you to work from.

    A new, mixed hedge will typically be spaced at about 5 plants per metre (or 4 plants per yard!). This allows you to plant two, staggered rows for maximum coverage and access to nutrients.

    ----X------X------X------X------X------X------X------X------X----
    X------X------X------X------X------X------X------X------X------X

    The diagram seen above represents recommend spacing. Each plant is spaced 40cm along from the next on the row, requiring five plants per metre, spread between 2 rows. The rows themselves are around 30cm apart.

    Will they need protection?

    Bare root native hedge plants are vulnerable to rabbit and deer damage, particularly in rural areas. Spiral rabbit guards can be used with canes to support them, or the entire hedge could be fenced off with chicken wire, with the base of the wire firmly buried in the soil.

    What about weeds?

    As with any new planting, weeds compete for water and nutrients and can be difficult to remove, so make sure you never let them establish at all. One way to reduce weed growth in new hedges is to plant through slits in a mulch mat, such as woven polypropylene.

    More information?

    We’ve also written a number of blogs on Successful Tree Planting, Rootgrow Application, and keeping your trees alive. If you’d like to see the entire collection, please visit our Tree Planting Methods category page, which has more than enough advice to get started.

  • Ground & Site Preparation

    Next month is going to be exciting. While we will continue to enjoy magnificent autumn colour and ideal planting conditions, bare-root and rootballed plants become available, being an ideal way to buy hedge plants. Soon it’ll be time to discuss all about hedge planting, from plant choice and planting technique to thoughts on garden structure.

    But if you want your hedges to enjoy the best start in life, there are a few important tasks to bear in mind before we can get around to all that fun material. As October comes to a close it’s time to start turning our eyes toward ground preparation. So pick your site, grab your tools, and bear these tips in mind.

    First things first, check if your proposed site has grass on it. All turf will need removing, and you’ll want to ensure you’ve cleared a large enough width to allow for soil preparation, so don’t be shy with the shovel. Remember to check up regularly, as you’ll need to keep the area weed and grass free while the hedge establishes.

    While you’re doing this, make extra-sure perennial weeds are removed. Weeds such as bindweed and nettles will come back again and again unless they’ve been dug out or weed killed initially. Removing these right from the start can significantly affect the establishment of the hedge.

    Now the soil’s clear, it’s time to prepare it for planting. If it hasn’t been previously cultivated it’ll likely be quite compacted, so you’ll need to dig over, or rotavate tougher soils, incorporating air back into the earth.

    It’s also best to add some organic matter, for instance well-rotted manure / leaf mould / garden compost, which will improve the structure of most soils, whether they’re sandy, clay, or a good loam. Just be sure not to add too much, particularly to heavy clay soils. This can encourage too much water to collect around the plants roots.

    Before you plant, you may wish to add a slow-release fertiliser, such as one based on blood meal, soybean meal, or fish emulsion. This will release nutrients into the soil over a longer period. Bonemeal is an excellent choice to add just prior to planting, ensuring the nutrients are available for healthy root development.

     bonemeal

    Bonemeal is one of the most popular fertilizers for slow nutrient release, particularly phosphorous

    Get all this done and your garden will be in excellent shape for planting next month. Check back then, and we’ll have more to discuss concerning planting choice and technique.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Make the Most of Summer – Thinning Apples, Pears and Plums

    June is just closing out, which means it’s time to start thinking about fruit thinning. Nature does part of the work for you, with fruit naturally falling to the ground as part of the ‘June drop’. Nonetheless, it’s important to get involved yourself.

    apple trees

    Thinning your fruit helps immature trees conserve energy, allowing them to expend it on developing roots, foliage and branches, creating a better infrastructure to harvest from in later years. This even carries over to mature trees. If a specimen expends too much energy on this year’s crop, there may be little to harvest upon the following year.

    This process benefits the remaining fruits, able to develop to a good size, with sunlight and oxygen easily penetrating branches to help even ripening of fruit and reduce disease. Similarly to how you wouldn’t plant grass near an immature tree, avoiding competition over resources aids the establishment of a productive garden.

    For Apples and Pears, you’ll want to start by removing fruit with an odd shape, position, or blemishes. Keep an eye out for the ‘king pin’, the apple at the centre of the cluster which will often meet these criteria and need removing. On newer trees, try to retain no more than 6 apples per three years of age. For older trees, try and keep one or two dessert apples per cluster, around 10-15cm apart. For cooking apples cut this down to one per cluster, 15 to 25cm apart. They can be removed using secateurs and scissors, or simply twisted off by hand.

    Plums have a habit of over cropping, so you’ll want to keep particularly aware of the above risks. Fortunately, they’re easy to thin out. Leave one pair every 15cm, and gently remove the rest with your thumb and forefinger to provide more than enough room to thrive and ripen.

    If your fruit have already dropped it’s time to get started, and you should ideally have finished thinning by mid-July. If you have any questions or queries don’t hesitate to contact us, and we’ll have someone on hand more than happy to help you with orders and advice.

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