Jan 5th

What to do in the garden in January

By Mary B

What to do in the garden in January


There's always something to be doing in the garden, whether it's pruning, tidying or sowing, so we've put together our top gardening tasks for January.


***** Cold Weather Update *****


With warnings of a cold snap you may be concerned that some of your garden plants, which have shown signs of growth, may be damaged. Here is some advice from a horticultural team on how to best protect your plants.

Even in mild areas, tender plants that cannot be left outside with protection should really be taken into the greenhouse or conservatory when there is risk of a cold snap. In cold areas, you are best moving things inside much earlier, in the autumn. Any tender lants that are being over wintered outdoors need protective straw or fleece.

In cold spells, protect non frost-proof containers (terracotta pots for example) with bubble wrap, hessian or fleece, to prevent them cracking. Grouping the pots close to a south-facing wall may provide additional protection to the most vulnerable ones.

Protect newly planted trees, hedges and shrubs from cold winds and frosts, which can loosen and lift the roots. Gently re-firm them in if you notice this problem, and erect a temporary netting windbreak if there is no natural shelter. Thick dry mulches will protect the roots from cold, and branches can be covered with fleece, or even packed with dry straw and then covered with fleece, for tender plants. A wooden frame with clear polythene stretched over it does a similar job for evergreens without blocking the light, but don’t let the polythene touch the leaves, as condensation could freeze or cause rots.

If you find that some plants are damaged by frosts etc, then they may well need a bit of a boost when they regrow in spring. We recommend mulching with compost and using fertiliser such as Incredibloom etc as this will help the plants when they need it.


Jun 9th

Danger of Slug Pellets to Hedgehogs


There have been reports that there is a big increase in the slug population. May I respectfully ask that you take 5 minutes to read the information in this Blog.....Thank you.



Slug Pellets Kill Hedgehogs

Take part in the snuffles Keep Hedgehogs Safe challenge by using chemical free slug management methods. 

“There is nothing we can do for hedgehogs that have been poisoned other than give pain relief as they always die”

Snuffles Top 10 Tips for Effective Slug Management

1. Collect the slugs in the evening
One method of doing this is to create a slug friendly area by planting lettuce and cabbage just for the slugs. When they gather for their night time feast you can go around your garden and gather them up or leave them in this area. There are several ways of disposing of them including putting them in a bucket of salty water. This seems a rather cruel way of killing them off but please choose the least painful method.
2. Encourage predators
Birds, frogs and toads all like to snack on slugs. Ducks and some hens also enjoy snacking on them too. Hedgehogs eat slugs but too many can lead to lung worm.
3. Beer traps and sprays
Bury shallow plastic containers around your garden (take away containers are the ideal size) put beer in each one. Alternatively pour some beer into a spray bottle and spray all the weeds. As the slugs like the beer so much the idea is that they’ll eat the weeds, leaving other things alone.
4. Egg shells
Collect and wash egg shells then heat in the oven to harden them. Put the egg shells in a food processor and blitz until small, then place a protective ring around seedlings or anything you want to protect from slugs.
5. Copper Tape
Place a thick band of copper tape around areas that you want protecting or around plant pots. This is a great slug deterrent.
6. Bran
Place a circle of bran around each plant ensuring it doesn’t touch the stems. As slugs are almost entirely made up of water, the bran has a desiccating effect which kills them.
7. Planting flowers and herbs
Some plants are known to repel slugs so placing plants such as Astrantia, Lady’s Mantle, Dianthus, Foxglove, Geranium, Peony, Lavender, Phlox, Alyssum and Lobelia, African violet, Strawberry Begonia and Gloxinia may help.
8. Avoid watering your garden in the evening
Slugs are most active at night and thrive in moist conditions. Water the garden in the morning so the surface soil will be dry by the evening. This can reduce slug damage considerably
9. Orange and Grapefruit Skins
If you place halves of squeezed oranges or grapefruits the slugs will be attracted to the shells and makes it easier to gather up the slugs and then dispose of them afterwards
10. Garlic spray
This is a well used deterrent. Make a spray by boiling 2 bulbs of garlic crushed in 2 pints of water for 5 minutes. Strain the mixture and add more water to make up to 2 pints. Let the mixture cool before use. Use a spray bottle and spray the area you want the slugs to avoid

Please help to keep hedgehogs safe by spreading the word about the danger of slug pellets.
Mar 16th



Now is the time for thinking about getting out into our gardens. I am beginning to hear the sound of lawnmowers and strimmers, emanating from nearby gardens. If you are thinking of 'tidying' your garden, in the next few days, can I please ask that you think about hedgehogs, and other wildlife.  Lawnmowers strimmers and forks/spades can cause terrible injuries to hedgehogs. Please check the area you intend to work on, for hibernating or sleeping hedgehogs. They love to hide in long grassy areas, just the area you might think of mowing, strimming or digging. And it's not just hedgehogs that could be hiding out there. If you are going to 'turn' your compost heap, please don't immediately stick a fork into the pile. Please go gently when first moving it. Hedgehogs, slow worms, frogs may be snuggled down in the warm compost.  If possible, leave an area of your garden 'wild'. You might think it looks a bit messy but it is a Garden of Eden to wildlife! Piles of logs, leaves and shrubs/hedgerows make ideal wildlife areas. If possible sow an area of wild flowers. It doesn't have to be the size of a meadow! Small areas all add up. I buy the £1 boxes of wild flower mix from the Pound Stores. These have never failed me.....yet! The butterflies and bees love the flowers....and will love you for supplying them much needed nectar.  It is important to make a 'corridor' between gardens. Link your garden with your neighbour's garden by making a 4-5inch square gap in the fence (an easy guide is the size of a CD. If you have gravel boards and think it cannot be done, it can! You need to dig a hole underneath the board, not necessarily easy but it will help immensely......obviously you need to work with your neighbour to do any of these things!  Please, please STOP using slug pellets. They are lethal to hedgehogs and other wildlife. For alternative slug control methods, visit:- www.hedgehogstreet.org or www.slugoff.co.uk Garden netting can also cause immense problems for hedgehogs. Place garden netting above ground level, to stop hedgehogs getting caught up in it.  If you have a pond please make sure it has access out of it. Make a ramp, a plank of wood covered in chicken wire, to avoid the hedgehog slipping. Stepping stones are another alternative, or a beached sloped exit. Hedgehogs can swim but obviously need to get easy, quick access out of the water.  Keep deep holes or drains covered, so hedgehogs can't fall in and become trapped. These areas can be a slow, lingering death trap.  Check bonfires before lighting. If you can move a bonfire, before lighting, it would be ideal. If you can't move it, please check it carefully prior to lighting.  Thank you for taking the time to read this......I don't mean to be a bore.......but if we all do our little bit, then our grandchildren will have the wonderful experiences of seeing wildlife, as we did.  Any/all comments and suggestions gratefully received.  Kind regards to all LJ

Mar 11th

From: The Daily Mash

By Colin L


A COUPLE’S garden is full of random objects including a stone frog playing a guitar and some sort of archway, it has emerged.

Teacher Martin Bishop and his wife Sarah have spent years acquiring items of outdoor tat for reasons that neither of them can adequately explain.

Bishop said: “When you’ve got a garden you feel you should put weird stuff in it. For some reason I spent a day installing an archway on the garden path, but it doesn’t lead anywhere except a rockery containing some badly moulded plastic fairies that light up.

“It’s ironic because our house is quite tastefully decorated, yet the garden is full of junk, like a metal dragonfly.

“The strangest thing is the sense of achievement now we’ve put arbitrary objects everywhere, so maybe £24.95 for a concrete rabbit pushing a wheelbarrow wasn’t a rip-off after all.”

Sarah Bishop said: “I think they pump hallucinogens into the air at the garden centre. It’s the only explanation for us putting a large fountain depicting the Greek sea god Poseidon in our pond.

“Still, the swinging garden seat is great for sitting on while trying not to spill your drink. 

“And the wooden bees on sticks are fun. Or are they? I have no idea.”

Aug 16th


By Geoff J

A few years ago a neighbouring allotmenteer suggested I should grub up my moth-eaten gooseberry bushes - so I kept them, and planted some more. More recently I regained a half allotment I had be persuaded to give up about seven years' ago. It has three gooseberry bushes. (to continue...)

Jul 11th

From: The Daily Mash

By Colin L

Man has no career aspirations



RETAIL worker Stephen Malley has no desire to do a job other than the one he is already doing.

34-year-old Malley works in a garden centre, helping people with advice on products and ensuring that the displays are kept looking tidy and presentable.

He said: “I like talking to customers, most of whom are alright. The people I work with are pleasant and it’s rarely too stressful.

“To be honest I like going home and not having to think about it too much. I do some gardening or watch the football.”

Malley’s cousin Tom Booker said: “It’s like he’s just got this job that isn’t high-powered or particularly well paid but he stubbornly refuses to feel any self-loathing. I’m not going to say that’s outright wrong but at the same time I don’t really like it.

“I’m pulling in 82k working in finance and that doesn’t even seem to annoy him.

“He should at least be doing a course in the evenings, even if it’s just in massage or Spanish.”

Booker’s sister-in-law Emma Bradford said: “I’ve shown him copies of GQ magazine with pictures of all the trousers and suchlike that he could have if he were a bit more ambitious.

“He nods and smiles almost as if he is humouring me. Doesn’t he realise I’m the one who’s trying to patronise him?

“Clearly he is mentally ill.”

Apr 15th

It struggeled - & lost!

By phillip J W

We have had what we call 'The Pond' in a corner of our garden for as long almost as I can remember. It has sat there & done pretty well nothing & been a problem to no one until this year when it was an absolute magnet to our Grandson Luke.


With this in view I have seen to it's demise.   Once the water had drained I was posted urgently to rescue Jean's Lilies.


These plants were amazingly well established, but eventually I got a minimal purchase on the roots. It fought me tooth & nail, squelching & oooozing at me from deep down.

It almost had me once, but I just managed to save myself from going in head first.


Eventually I had him, & he came out on top of me as I sprawled on the bank, gasping for breath.

It had lived all that time in a thin alluvial mud where I also found the leg of a Shetland Pony, half a tractor & the remains of a French missionary.


Soon there will be no sign of a pond; soon we shall be Pond-less. 

Jan 21st

Polytunnels: Essential Kit for the Serious Grower

By Mary B

The uglier relation of the greenhouse, polytunnels are proving increasingly popular with gardeners, as a way of extending the growing season. One advantage over a glasshouse is the cost. Whatever your budget, you will get a larger growing area for your money if you opt for a polytunnel.

What to Grow

With a polytunnel, spring arrives six weeks early to your plot, when early crops of lettuce, carrots and herbs can be sewn. In summer, include heat-loving plants such as aubergines, tomatoes, peppers, basil and coriander. Brassicas, oriental greens and winter salads are great for autumn, while in winter you can enjoy perpetual chard and spinach. And if you love your soft fruits, over 90% of British strawberries are grown in polytunnels, so you may wish to include those. It’s even possible to grow several red and green grape varieties. Any delicate plants can be overwintered in the tunnel as well.

What to Look For

Not all polytunnels are equal, so it’s important to know what to look for. The polythene should be thick and have good insulation properties. If possible, the cover should be 180 microns thick and made up of several layers. The plastic should have anti-drip properties, so that condensation won’t cause a problem. If the cover is opaque, the light will pass through and bounce around inside, benefiting the plants. It’s essential that the tunnel has doors both ends for maximum ventilation, otherwise you’ll end up all sorts of pests and mildew.

Word of Warning

It’s important to choose the right site, as although it may look like a large tent, a polytunnel is a permanent structure. You don’t want anywhere that’s too windy or somewhere that’s going to annoy the neighbours. Depending on the height you opt for (usually over two metres) you may need permission from the council. If you’re not keen on how it looks (and no one could blame you) you could build a screen of attractive flowers or shrubs. If you place it east-west, it will get maximum sun but could suffer from more pests than if it’s north-south. Don’t be fooled into thinking that erecting one is simple and quick. You will need some DIY skills and someone on hand to help with the covering, but the time and effort will be worthwhile.

Decent greenhouses can be expensive per cubic metre and if you ever want to upgrade, it means demolishing the old one and laying new foundations. A polytunnel, on the other hand, requires less outlay and will extend relatively easily, if you find the growing bug takes hold.

This is a guest blog provided on behalf of  Premier Polytunnels.  


Jan 19th

Five Quick and Easy Improvements for the Garden

By Mary B

Five Quick and Easy Improvements for the Garden

As we near the end of January, spring begins to poke its head around the corner and before we know it, it will be time to get the garden organised for the warmer season. If you have reached the golden retirement age time will be on your side. So it’s time to get the garden in shape with some quick and easy improvements.

If you need inspiration, here are five quick improvement ideas that can be done in a flash.


  1. Repaint Your Decking

Tired and dirty decking can make a garden look grim and drab. A simple paint or polish job could transform your garden instantly and create a welcoming atmosphere just in time for the spring bloom. When you repaint your decking, it could be a good idea to also consider adding a special coating such as ‘anti-slip’ or ‘anti-carbonation’.


  1. Add Some Garden Lighting

There are fewer things as inviting or welcoming as garden lighting. Make your home a guest friendly environment and prepare for the summer parties ahead. If you have family over for barbeques or dinner parties, outdoor lighting can make your garden safer in the evening and it also lights up your home beautifully. Find an extensive range of beautiful garden lighting including wall lights, ground lighting and post lights. 


  1. Buy Some Garden Furniture

A beautiful patio isn’t complete without some stylish and inviting seating. Whether you choose a simple garden bench or a large table and chair set, the right furniture can really help to transform your outdoor space. When buying furniture for your garden, it’s important to consider the different materials such as wood, plastic, metal, wicker or rattan. Each will have a different cleaning / repainting / polishing method so always ask the retailer for care instructions.


  1. Hanging Plants

Prettify your front or back garden with some lovely hanging baskets. Get these in time for spring and watch the colourful flowers blossom just in time for the sunny season. Hanging baskets are available pre-arranged from your garden centre or you can create your own.


  1. Add a Bird Feeder to Your Garden

Attract birds to your garden by adding a bird feeder. Birds are great if you love waking up to the sound of gentle chirping or if you want your garden to feel more friendly and ‘alive’. Bird feeders are available from most garden centres or online garden shops. But if you want to make your own, you can create one from various recycled or unused materials in the home.



This is a guest blog provided on behalf of Scotlight Direct.

Jul 10th

Sounds of Summer.

By phillip J W

I have just been out to lay out the hose for watering the garden early tomorrow morning. 
I thought there were swarms of midgis in the air around my head -
Went on with laying out the hose - then looked up & discovered they weren't midgis at all.
They were clusters of Larks, very high in the clear evening sky, swerling round & round.
They were so high I could only JUST hear their screeches.
                                     ...Fasinating sight as the light began to turn pink. 

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