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English Woodlands Burrow Nursery Blog

  • On promotion this month - Pyrus Chanticleer

    Pyrus Chanticleer – or the ornamental callery pear – is now on promotion online at English Woodlands. An early flowering ornamental pear, Pyrus Chanticleer is a hardy, wind tolerant plant, which even manages to be resilient in exposed, coastal winds. Furthermore, it is tolerant of atmosphere pollution.

    Functional throughout the year, its lovely cream spring flowers and glossy green leaves are stunning in the summer and are followed by a good yellow red colour in the autumn, that lasts as long as late November.

    Ultimately reaching heights of 12m in maturity, Pyrus Chanticleer is fully prunable too.

    For all these reasons, Pyrus Chanticleer just happens to be among our favourite trees.

    To take advantage of a 20 per cent discount on these trees during March, simply enter the code ‘MARCH14’ at the checkout when order.

    Visit our promotions page to see all the pear trees on promotion this month.

    pyrus chanticleer

  • Focus on Salix – Willows

    With some areas of the country having been affected by wet ground and flooded landscapes over the course of this winter, we have been thinking about trees and shrubs that are resilient enough to withstand waterlogged or wet conditions.

    One such species that can be effective in these conditions are Willows (Salix species), which can be used for a variety of purposes in soil that tends to be wet.

    Ornamental, yet functional trees

    When established, specimen trees that can withstand wet sites actually help to reduce water in the area. Their roots are notable for their durability: they can absorb water through the roots, which are then carried through the tree and transpired out through its leaves.

    Willows can be used as specimen trees – such as the iconic Salix alba chrysocoma (famously known as the weeping willow) and are often seen beautifying river banks and ponds, but they also have many uses as shrubs.



    Basket making

    Traditionally willows have been used in basket making, with the common osier or Salix viminalis commonly used for this purpose; other varieties such as white willow and scarlet willow (Salix vitellina and Salix alba britzensis) can be used for basketry too.


    While plants are usually kept coppiced (i.e. cut close to the ground to encourage further growth) to provide stems suitable for basket making, they can also be left to grow as a single stem and pollarded (cut higher up) to avoid damage from any curious, passing animals.

    Stabilising river banks

    Planting willow by rivers or streams is thought to help reduce bank erosion and prevent flooding. While native shrubs and taller plants are useful, willow trees are an ideal choice for this purpose, as they root easily and are quick growing.


    Willows are an ideal specimen shrub to feature in a winter garden. To be planted in broad drifts and pruned in the spring to encourage the brightly coloured new growth, Willows can be used to startling effect alongside bulbs such as snow drops, and with trees such as the white stemmed Himalayan birch (Betula utilis jaquemontii)

    English Woodlands supply Salix willow bare root trees and shrubs from November to March in varieties suitable for coppicing, hedging, river side planting and ornamental use in the garden as well as specimen trees in containers all year round - it is a genus well worth discovering!

  • Protecting Plants From Rabbits, Deer and Farm Livestock

    The vast majority of freshly planted plants, especially young ones, need protection from rabbits and deers. What protection is required depends on numerous factors, such as the plant’s species, its size, its shape and the position it is planted in.

    Ideally rabbit proof wire, stock fencing and deer netting can all be used to deter any animal from accessing the planting area, which avoids having to protect individual plants.

    English Woodlands are always on hand to advise the best and most appropriate protection for your plants. As a starting point, however, we suggest the following guidelines:

    Protection from rabbits -

    Protecting Container grown ornamental and fruit trees

    Small ornamental and fruit trees of a size between 150cm-200cm, generally require protection from rabbits. Ideally, spiral guards offer the best protection here, protecting rabbits from gnawing the bark at the bottom of the stem, while usefully the spiral guards expand as the tree grows. If the stem is damaged all the way round the stem, it can be fatal to the tree.

    Larger trees are usually more durable, coping without rabbit protection. However if rabbit damage is likely, wider diameter spiral guards are available.

    Protecting Bare-root hedge plants

    Bare-root hedge plants should be protected from rabbits with spiral guards too. With plants of up to 80cm in height, a cane placed inside the guard is usually required to keep the plant and guard upright. Plus, if you are planting small holly trees within a mixed native hedge, don’t forget these need protection too – for rabbits are attracted to holly in particular!

    Bare root tree and hedge plants, for woodlands, roadside planting, screen and shelter belts

    Tubex tree and shrub shelters offer solid, but bio-degradable protection from rabbits, deer and herbicide sprays, provide the tree with support and an ideal microclimate for fast, healthy growth. Although they need to be supported by an appropriate stake, the shelters come ready with ties attached.  Tubex shelters are ideal for broadleaved bare root plants for woodlands and gardens, shelterbelts and roadside planting, with the larger sizes able to give some protection against roe and fallow deer.

    Shrub shelters are similar, but wider in diameter than the tree shelters, and are suitable for shrubs and multi-stem plants.

    Protecting Evergreen hedge plants and trees

    Evergreen plants such as Conifers, Pines and Hollies benefit from good protection and ventilation, so a perfect solution is to use a mesh guard. We supply these as either preformed tubes or rolls of recycled plastic that will degrade over time.  As with our spiral guards, mesh guards need to be secured by a stake. Beech trees, although not evergreen, also benefit from good ventilation and so mesh guards are favoured over solid protection for this species.

    Providing Deer protection for standard trees

    Trees with a 1.8m clear stem are still vulnerable to deer damage to the stem and lowest branches. To prevent this, deer fencing should be used to keep deer out. Where this is not possible weldmesh tree guards are ideal. Alternatively, you can construct your own barrier with four stakes and stock, and deer or rabbit wire between the stakes.

    To view English Woodlands complete selection of planting accessories, visit our category page. If you are seeking further advice on how to protect your plants, you can visit our contact page to pose a question to our staff, or give them a call on 01435 862992.

  • Trees and shrubs for windy sites - Crataegus – Hawthorns

    Commonly called Hawthorns in Britain, Crataegus is originally a Greek name, Krataigos, which refers to the strength of the hawthorn’s hard wood.

    There are many varieties of Crataegus, featuring broad as well as lobed leaves. Aside from the native hawthorn, which produces thick hedges, there are also ornamental varieties of crataegus that can make for some lovely garden trees, due to the variety of flower colour on show – some feature good autumn colour too.

    One of the hardiest native trees is the Crataegus monogyna (or the common hawthorn), which is often seen wind pruned and durable; coping in exposed sites where other plants would suffer. Hawthorns are also notable for being able to tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, as long as the soil is not in drastically poor condition.

    Naturally, if left to grow as a tree, the hawthorn can reach heights of up to 6m (depending on the site). This, along with its dense branching pattern, means that hawthorn trees are generally good for screening.

    Traditionally used for hedging, either just as a single species or mixed with other plants, it is thorny and bushy enough to be made stock proof.

    The flowers of the crataegus monogyna in May/June are an important source of nectar for insects and the red berries (or haws), an important food source for birds and small mammals in autumn and winter.

    Finally, Hawthorns can regenerate effectively when cut back to the ground.

    Examples of Ornamental Hawthorns:

    Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’

    A small round headed tree that can ultimately grow to up 4-8m in height, with scarlet pink flowers in spring and small round haws in autumn.

    crataegus pauls scarlet 400

    Crataegus alba Plena

    A similar round-headed tree like the Paul’s Scarlet, but with double white flowers which age to pink.

    crat mono 400

    Crataegus prunifolia Splendens

    A small round headed tree ultimately 5-7m in height, broad glossy leaves which turn, gold, orange and red in autumn at the same time as the plentiful berries that ripen to bright red. Good for screening. A real gem.

    crataegus prunifolia splendens 400

  • Trees and shrubs for windy sites

    Trees can be of real benefit to windy and exposed sites, and can be more effective than solid walls and fences in reducing the effects of wind and gales. As an example of their effectiveness, deciduous trees and hedges can help slow down swift winds and offer shelter over a distance that is two to three times their vertical height. These trees and hedges will also help create shelter for the less resilient, more vulnerable plants in your garden, such as herbaceous perennials or vegetables. This year we have seen strong winter gales but even in normal conditions some sites are more exposed than others. Below is a selection wind tolerant trees and hedges for you to consider.

    Conifers are likewise hardy, and can help protect from strong winds. Here a few examples of conifers suitable for sites exposed to the toughest winds:

                    Cupressus x leylandii

                    Juniperus - Juniper

                    Larix – Larch

                    Pinus - Pines

                    Taxus – Yew

                    Thuja – Western Red Cedar

    Finally, here are some shrubs to consider:

                    Cornus - dogwood

                    Elaeagnus - Oleaster

                    Euonymus – spindle

                    Prunus spinosa – blackthorn

    If you'd like any extra help picking out an appropriate tree or shrub for your garden, do not hesitate to contact English Woodlands at any time, as we are more than willing to advise on which trees are the most suitable for your site.




  • Evergreen Specimen Conifers – The English Woodlands January Offer

    At this time of year, gardens can look a little bleak, so the value of evergreens, and particularly stately specimens such as conifers, are obvious. We like to make sure our promotions reflect this, and that’s why we’ll be offering a full 20% off any purchases of evergreen specimen conifers throughout the month of January. Just enter the code JAN14 at checkout to claim the promotional discount for yourself.

    Autumn to spring is an ideal planting time, we supply specimen conifers as mature plants in containers that can be planted anytime conditions are suitable. Whenever you plant, this is the time of year to appreciate them. Conifers can add a focal point in a large medium or small garden, depending on the variety. They add form, foliage detail and colour to a winter garden.

    There’s a wide variety in stock this month, starting with larger plants like the distinctive, pencil-shaped Juniper Skyrocket, now only £91.20 for a 200-250cm tree.  For a smaller specimen the slow-growing Korean Fir (Abies Koreana) is discounted to only £44.20 for an 80-100cm plant, though with an ultimate height as great as 10 metres.

     Korean Fir

    The Korean Fir, displaying green, narrow needles with a silvery underside

    You may also want to take a look at Pinus sylvestris, or the Scots Pine. Read more about it in our previous blog, it is a justifiably popular tree – quick growing, wind tolerant and native to the British Isles. A hardy conifer with an initially pyramid-like shape, it eventually spreads to more of an umbrella shape, at an ultimate height of anywhere between ten and thirty metres.

    There’s plenty more on offer, from the Himalayan and Blue Atlas Cedars, to Redwoods and Cypress trees. Just use the code JAN14 at checkout to claim your promotional 20% discount.

    As ever, if you’d like to know more about our current and upcoming offers, stock, trade enquiries, or would simply like some advice on plant choice and planting technique, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.

  • Pinus sylvestris - Scots Pine

    This month we’re going to be taking a look at evergreen specimen trees, plants which stand out thanks to their beauty or stature. Today we’re taking the time to look at Pinus sylvestris, or the ‘Scots Pine’.

    Pinus sylvestris - Scots Pine A shot of Pinus sylvestris from around the nursery

    Historically, the Scots Pine was the only pine native to northern Europe. It unfortunately became extinct in both England and Wales anywhere from 400-500 years ago, and could only be found in Scotland. Fortunately, it is now common in some areas of the English countryside.

    It’s a strikingly tall tree in maturity, with an ultimate height of anywhere between 10-30 metres. Whilst young Pinus sylvestris is pyramidal, though later on will become broadly umbrella shaped, with a long, straight trunk.

    Pinus sylvestris Pinus sylvestris in a sunny site, displaying vividly coloured needles

    Pinus sylvestris in a sunny site, displaying vividly coloured needles

    The needles can appear blue or grey-green, and the tree also produces pinecones. While it prefers a sunny site, the Scots Pine will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. It’s fully hardy, proven capable of enduring conditions from exposed and coastal sites with sandy soils to the acidic Scottish highland moors. It’s also tolerant of both heat, drought, wind, frost, and short periods of waterlogged soil.

    If you’d like to find out more, feel free to visit the store page listed above, or click here for other sizes. Don’t forget to call or contact us for more information, and check back later in the month for more evergreen specimen trees.

  • Windy & Wet Weather Planting Advice

    Traditionally, tree and hedge planting is done during the dormant season for deciduous plants. Leaves are falling; plants are just ‘ticking over’ rather than actively growing, so they suffer less stress from lifting and transplanting from autumn to late winter.

    Unfortunately, this often coincides with bad weather, and this year is no exception. Some areas of the UK have been severely affected by waterlogged ground and flooding, which naturally leads to a delay in planting. In the meantime, we’re able to offer a little advice.

     Flooding Geograph

    ©Jonathan Billinger, geograph.org.uk

    Wet and Windy Weather? Bear these tips in mind…

    • Your newly planted trees need to be secure, make sure they’re staked well. View our page on single staked and double staked trees if you need a helping hand.
    • After windy weather check your stakes and ties are securely fastened
    • Abrasions can damage the bark. Make sure your trees aren’t loosely rubbing against their stakes, or anything else for that matter!
    • Stakes aren’t just for trees, some large shrubs may need staking to help them establish. This is especially true for evergreens. When there is no clear, single stem (as is the case with many shrubs), place one stake at an angle through the shrub to the main branch. See our link on single staking above.
    • For Specimen Trees, another option is to use a rootball anchor at time of planting. These allow you to secure large, standard trees without relying on visible stakes and ties.
    • For waterlogged ground, wait until the surface water has drained away before you plant. If it remains waterlogged consider improving drainage before planting, or the site could cause problems down the line.
    • If you can’t plant right now, bare root plants can be easily stored until conditions are better suited. Take a look through our cold weather planting & storage advice for more details

    Plant choice

    Remember that only some tree and shrubs can cope with periodic flooding, others will suffer in waterlogged conditions. Make sure you’re aware of the soil conditions around your property, and check that whichever specimens you plan to plant can cope with them.

    Don’t be afraid to ask us for a hand, we’re more than happy to direct you towards species well-suited to your needs. Contact us at 01435 862 992, or leave an e-mail via the provided contact form.

  • Trees & Shrubs for Wet Conditions

    While the winter may be the best time to plant dormant deciduous plants, the chance of extreme weather needs to be considered, with 2014 being no exception. Many areas in the UK have suffered from floods and waterlogging, with conditions expected to continue through January.

    Most trees and shrubs prefer good drainage, but some species cope better than others with periods of flooding and waterlogging. If your site is susceptible to these conditions, you may want to consider some of those pictured below. Click the slideshow for a few extra details.

    If any sound interesting, Scroll down to find a link to each product's store page, complete with extra images and details.



    Any of these are highly recommended if you're expecting wet soils. See below for additional links and species you might be interested in, though. If you'd like any extra help picking out an appropriate species for your site, feel free to contact English Woodlands at any time, we're always happy to lend a hand.

    In addition to these, some species will tolerate wet ground and only short periods of flooding, seen below.

    • Acer pseudoplatanus varieties – Sycamore
    • Betula Nigra – River birch
    • Catalpa bignonoides – Indian bean tree
    • Cornus sanguinea – common dogwood
    • Cornus stolonifera – yellow dogwood
    • Euonymous europaeus – spindle
    • Quercus palustris – pin oak
    • Quercus robur – English oak
    • Sambucus Nigra – elder

    Most evergreen conifers prefer well-drained soil, though some will tolerate wet ground and short periods of waterlogged soil.

    • Pinus sylvestris – Scots pine
    • Thuja plicata – Western Red Cedar
  • Plants for Christmas - Hollies

    Holly is a classic plant for Christmas, and any gardeners with a vested interest in the seasons. Even before Christmas, holly was used to decorate homes in celebration of the winter solstice, and the plant has only gained popularity as an ornamental specimen since then.

    It’s smart, hardy, evergreen, and makes for a useful native shrub or tree. There are many varieties to explore here, though you’re likely most familiar with the native Ilex acquifolum. Female trees produce the vibrant, red berries we now associate with Christmas, though they need the help of a male tree nearby to pollinate.

    This is one of the reasons Ilex acquifolum is commonly put to use in hedging and boundaries. In mixed hedging and rural areas there will usually be enough of both trees to produce holly berries, and once fully established holly provides a prickly deterrent to humans and animals alike.

    Ilex acquiform

    Ilex acquifolum, showing striking colours in berries and foliage

    Other varieties are self-fertile, and will generally produce berries whether there are other plants around or not. If you’re looking for a gift or purchase for planting in a smaller garden this is the way to go. See variegated hollies for good examples of self-fertile specimens. Ilex aquifolium argentea marginata has a cream and green leaf, while Ilex ‘Nellie Stevens’ boasts a glossy green leaf slightly less prickly than common holly, with a good crop of bright red berries. Placed nearby a house with light falling on variegated hollies can really brighten up dull, winter days.

    Nellie Stevens

    ‘Nellie Stevens’, featuring smoother, glossy leaves

    If you have a keen interest in topiary, there are even holly variants to compare with conventional topiary box. Ilex crenata, the Japanese Holly, is an ideal smaller shrub for shaping into a stunning bonsai or topiary specimen.

    While fit for many purposes, holly’s undemanding nature makes it especially appropriate as a gift. It’s generally appropriate for most soil types and situations. It’s wind tolerant, and the green varieties are shade tolerant too.

    So if you’re still stuck on finding the right plant for winter, it’s worth taking another look at holly.

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