Tuesday
Jul262011

Getting Children back out into the garden

Get your children or grandchildren off their game consoles and into the garden with our fantastic range of outdoor games. Today, it seems we don’t see much of our children as many prefer to sit in front of the TV playing and talking to their friends online. However, next time you have a BBQ why not ask them if they would like to have a few friends over, set up a little corner where they can sit and put out a few games outdoors? As soon as they see that they have their own little spot to play they will want to be out in the garden all day long. There are so many fun activities you can incorporate into the garden, simply by setting up a cricket set or blowing up a paddling pool; kids will forget they had a console.

When it’s nice and hot outside it’s fantastic to know that your kids can cool off in a padding pool. As soon as the pool is blown up you will put an almost instant fun factor into your garden; children won’t be able to resist splashing each other and playing games once they’re in the paddling pool.

Here are a few games you could place in the garden:

Mini Badminton Set
X-Base All Surface Swingball
Catchball Hand Shaped Game
Square Sandpit With Soft Cover

Setting up a place for them all to sit together to eat the BBQ food is also a great way to keep them outdoors and away from the television set.

After the barbecue is over, there is another way to get your kids enjoying the garden more frequently; why not get them involved in growing their own veg and herbs? With this great range of kids seeds and kids tools your children are sure to love getting their hands dirty planting and digging up their prize vegetables.

Notcutts

Friday
Jul222011

Plant of the Month | Hibiscus

The Hibiscus is a tropical plant that needs light and, perhaps more importantly, warmth to thrive. They are one of the most dramatic shrubs you can grow in a temperate garden climate and with the right care they will be a long-lasting, lovely addition to your garden.

In Suffolk the Hibiscus has become a speciality crop for Notcutts, so much so that we’re now proud to offer you an expert cultivated range of Hibiscus in all our garden centres, with a specialised selection available online. It is a crop that starts its life growing in our nursery fields, before being grafted and replanted and eventually potted into its final container. This allows the young plant to put on enormous growth, which enables the nursery to bring you a better value plant when it is in its final pot.

Instead of appearing in clusters like many shrubs, the Hibiscus produces individual blossoms that droop gracefully at the end of each long stem. There are many different varieties, which all come in an assortment of colours from pale pinks and vibrant yellows to clear orange and dazzling vermilion. As with the colour, the size and shape of the petals varies from plant to plant also; you will never have two Hibiscus plants that looks the same.

A selection of our plants

•    Hibiscus syriacus ‘Blue Bird’
(Oiseau Bleu). Vigorous. Aptly named, the flowers measure fully 8cm across, resembling blue saucers.
•    Hibiscus syriacus ‘Hamabo’
Large pale blush to white flowers, crimson blotch at the base of the petals.
•    Hibiscus syriacus ‘Lavender Chiffon’
(Notwoodone) (PBR). Semi-double with lavender petals and red rays at the base.
•    Hibiscus syriacus ‘White Chiffon’
(Notwoodtwo) (PBR). Cream buds, opening to pure white semi-double flowers.

And much more can be found in our Plant of the month category.

So why not take a look today, and see which Hibiscus plant will best suit your garden

Notcutts

Wednesday
Jul202011

In the Garden

As well as being busy on the allotment, I have paid a lot of attention to the garden as well. Weeding, watering, hoeing, mowing and so on; this short break Mrs McGregor and I have planned, I believe is well and truly deserved.

The first point of call was Mrs McGregor’s roses; they have given us their first flush of blooms so a bit of tender loving care was needed. I dead headed the faded flowers, sprayed them to prevent diseases and feed them some good old fertiliser. Fingers crossed after all of this we’ll be getting another flush soon.

If you would like some information about pruning roses, I have found this wonderful guide that segregates the information into rose type, making it easy to find the information that’s applicable to you.
Next on the list was to look after the summer bedding; keeping down the weeds and hoeing the soil as well as giving them a weekly feed. After a couple of hours of being on my hands and knees (which I love, but must admit my back is feeling the effects), the beds are looking marvellous once again.

However, all this labour wasn’t the hardest part of my garden chores, choosing the bulbs we want to grow next year certainly was! Luckily we have time on our side, but I would really like to incorporate some rare breed flowers into the garden to add even more interest into the back of the house. I will have to do some research on the internet, but may leave that to Mrs McGregor to do while I’m at work. Let’s just hope she doesn’t get too ahead of herself or carried away with the varieties we have to choose from.

Maybe it would be a good idea to wait until we get to the RHS Flower Show and see what they have to offer us.

Mr McGregor


Tuesday
Jul192011

Weekend Trip

It’s time to take a long weekend, especially as the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park is coming up. It’s one of the largest shows in Cheshire and when I was reading up on it I was told about “innovative garden designs”, “relaxed ambience” and “summer perfumes that fill the 24 acres of magnificent parkland”. Quite a description wouldn’t you agree?  It’s most certainly a sentence that gets my gardeners fingers tingling with excitement.

As it’s in Cheshire, Mrs McGregor and I will be spending four days away from Suffolk to enjoy the fresh and creative ideas, whilst joining in with the celebration of community gardens. While we’re there we can even get to sit down and enjoy some fine dining with Fortnum & Mason; what a treat that will be.

It’s going to be a truly spectacular place to be during 20th to 24th July. There is a chance for us to pick up some expert advice, shop for our garden (although, I don’t believe we have any more space for another lot of plants) and take inspiration from the many small gardens.

Tatton Park is also home to a stunning Neo-classical mansion and an old Tudor hall, both brimming with a wealth of history. Mrs McGregor and I love to sink our teeth into British history and Tatton Park is a national treasure that is sure to provide us with the perfect excuse to have a nosey about.

The event begins on the 20th of this month, but we’ll be heading up there on the 22nd (Friday) to attend the show over the weekend. Having Friday free will give us time to look around Chester itself, which I’ve heard is quite quaint; there are old cobbled streets, which line the beautiful city, making it a pleasant walk between store to store.

It’s going to be a memorable trip,

Mr McGregor

P.S. Don’t worry, the kids will be with their grandparents while we’re away.


Monday
Jul182011

Veg of the Month

It’s that time again, to name my crop of the month. I tend to have difficulty choosing between the array of crops that can be grown or harvested during the month. However, this time it was simple, I knew exactly which crop I wanted to talk about. My Veg of the Month is the plump and juicy tomato.

My son has recently tried his hand at growing his own tomatoes for the first time and he did extraordinary well. The brilliant thing about tomatoes is that you can grow them pretty much anywhere. You don’t need much space either, you can just have a spare space on the balcony and plant them up in a growing bag. When tomatoes are provided with the minimum amount of care, they will respond with guaranteed crops. However, if you look after them well, they will repay you with a bumper harvest. No matter if you look after them properly or with a light touch, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good yield.

How to Grow with Tomato Seeds (January to April)

•    Sow seeds in seed trays, cell trays or pots filled with good, fresh sowing compost. Sow 6mm deep and cover with sieved soil or fine sand and water, adding fungicide if you wish to combat damping-off disease.
•    Cover the pots or trays with a propagator lid and put them in a warm place until germination take places (usually 7-10 days).
•    When germinating the minimum recommended temperature is 15°C, but your tomato crops will do better if you can provide 18°C at the start.
•    As soon as the seedlings are through they need plenty of light to prevent them from becoming leggy.
•    Once most of your seedlings are through, remove the propagator lid.
•    Once the seedlings have opened their seed leaves and they’re large enough to be handled prick out those grown in trays and place them in individual pots to continue good growth.
•    Maintain watering, ensuring the compost is damp, not wet.
•    Pot up the plants in stages until they are in roughly 12cm pots. The new compost you put into the pots should give your plants enough nutrients, so there is no need to feed them during this process.
•    Once the flower opens on the first truss plants, plant them out or put them in their final container. If you’re growing an indoor type you may wish to plant them in a growing bag, filled with potting compost.

How to Grow with Tomato Plants (April to July)

•    Remove the plant from its existing pot and plant so that the compost on the top of the rootball is level with the new compost in the container. Firm and water.
•    However, if you’re planting out, harden off the tomato plant beforehand.
•    Feed and water well, a good tomato food generates bumper crops.
•    Cordon plants need weekly attention, pinching out sideshoots as they grow.
•    As the stem grows taller, support the plant with a cane. This should be done as soon as the tomatoes are planted. Replace the original cane with a bamboo cane and string.
•    Outside plants should be supported with strong stakes.
•    Trim tomatoes by removing the lower leaves as the trusses ripen to ensure the fruit is given enough sunshine.

Your tomatoes should be ready for harvesting from at the earliest June to the latest October.

Tomatoes are such a staple crop to have in the kitchen; there are so many recipes that involve having tomatoes and so many ways for you to eat them, raw in a salad or cooked in a ratatouille, for instance.

Whatever you wish to do with your tomatoes, enjoy them; they taste a lot better when you know you’ve grown them yourself,

Mr McGregor