Saturday
May282011

Plant of the Month | Lavender

Lavender is very much part of the “English“ garden scene, it is valued for its fragrance and long flowering period (you can see them come to life throughout July through to September). However, it’s their vivid blue, pink or white colour and silver foliage that has made them such a sought after flower; when we think of Lavender we envision a purple meadow in the countryside and our noses filled with its sweet aromatic scent.

It can be grown as a shrub or a low growing hedge; it enjoys light, well drained soil and needs to be trimmed back with shears after flowering, giving you the chance to lightly shape it in April. They are a low maintenance plant, as most varieties will spread around 2ft across, when pruned a few times a year and kept in a well drained soil. 

This is just one of the reasons why Lavender is our Plant of the Month, and to celebrate its beauty we are offering you two lavender varietiesfor £15. In our collection you will find a great assortment of lavenders that will fit perfectly in every English home, allowing you to fill your garden with their   evocative scent.

A Selection of our varieties

•    Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’

This variety is often used as a low hedging lavender. Grows between 45-60cm in height and produces blue-purple flowers.

•    Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’

This variety is ideal for patio pots, but can also be used as a low hedging lavender. Grows between 30-60cm in height and produces deep blue flowers.

•    Lanandula stoe.Lilac Wings

“French Lavender” with intensely aromatic foliage and “bumble bee” like flowers throughout the summer and into the autumn. They prefer sunny and moist (but not wet) positions.

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

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

Notcutts

Friday
May272011

Growing Beetroot

It’s my Veg of the Month and easily one of my favourite vegetables I see in the salad bowl. The beetroot is a mighty vegetable that boasts a vibrant colour and a delicious taste, plus they are so easy to grow. I’m flabbergasted when I see how many people are putting beetroot in their trolleys at the supermarket, all it takes is a little patience (12-16 weeks) and you will have your very own beetroot that tastes better than what you buy.

Even if you don’t have an allotment, you can do this at home; all you need is a small plot where you can grow some vegetables or simply only beetroot!  

Like I have previously stated in my Veg of the Month post, delicious beetroot can be ready to eat in four easy steps:

1.    The best way I have found to grow beetroot is to sow the seeds about 5cm apart in rows 23cm apart. With early sowings protect them with a cloche or fleece, but with later sowing protect with a wire netting as this will deter birds away.
2.    When the crop is large enough to handle, you can begin to thin them out. However, this is less important if you are growing the beetroot as a salad leaf. If they are growing for the intention for picking leave about 5cm between each, but if they are being grown for salads and cooking leave about 10cm.
3.    It is very important to keep the crops weed free and watered well during dry spells and should be repeated every two weeks.
4.    The beetroot should be ready for harvesting between 12 to 16 weeks, but remember to water the rows the day prior.

Harvesting

Top Tip: Water prior to harvesting, it will help lift the roots with least disturbance to the other plants.
Now that the 12 to 16 weeks (depending on the variety - round rooted varieties take about 12 weeks, whereas long rooted types take the latter) are over you can begin to harvest. Go through the rows, harvesting the bigger roots first to allow more room for the others to develop.

Lift the plants carefully; long rooted types will need a fork underneath it to prevent any bruising or cuts that will make them bleed and lose their beautiful colour once cooked. To remove the leaves from the root simply grasp them firmly above the root and twist again, this will prevent any damage and bleeding.
Have fun growing your beetroot,

Mr McGregor


Wednesday
May252011

Planting Potatoes | A Reflection

Potatoes seem to be one of the most popular vegetables to grow, yet people new to the “grow your own community” are a bit wary when it comes to preparing their seeds, storing them and the many ways you can grow them. So I thought I would share with you what I have found to be the best way to grow potatoes (through my many trials and errors I may add).

I have been growing on my allotment for many years now and have 27 years experience in the field, but I would never consider myself an expert; I learn something new every day and that is one of the many reasons why I love to get my hands dirty.

•    When it comes to finding your potato seeds make sure to buy them from specialist seed growers and not from your local supermarket. I have found that some of these seeds are sourced out of the UK and can contain potato viruses and diseases.
•    After you have bought them you want to store the seeds in a dark and cool area until you are ready to chit (this speeds up the growing process). If you find that white shoots are appearing before you want to begin to chit, simply rub them off gently. You want to begin to chit your potato seeds 6 weeks prior to planting them, so February would be a perfect time (ready to plant in mid/late March to early April). 

After a while you will begin to see little shoots appear and the potato begin to turn green (which is normal). The sprouts may also be different colours, depending on the variety you have chosen. Once they are about 2cm long you can begin to plant them, weather permitting.

You can plant potatoes in a variety of a ways; in a container, potato planter, raised bed, in the garden/allotment or in tyres.

Planting potatoes in containers:

Add about 6 inches (15cm) of compost at the bottom of the container and push the seeds approximately 2 inches (5cm) down. Water well and make sure there is enough fertiliser at first and again when they are roughly 16 inches tall.

I will later share with you the other ways you can grow potatoes,

Mr McGregor


Monday
May232011

My New Garden Furniture Set

Previously before I have shared with you that I have been busy getting the garden ready for the BBQ season, which meant getting my old garden furniture out. Some of it was in quite good shape, which I was surprised about, especially as we have been experiencing some very harsh weather over the winter months. However, a couple of pieces didn’t quite make it and have had to be taken down to the dump.

Mrs McGregor wasn’t too upset about this, as it gave her the chance to shop about and see what new designs she can incorporate into the garden. We began to shop for a new garden furniture set, perfect timing for the Notcutts sale, which has proved very popular indeed!

We really like the Provence 6 seater suite we found on the Notcutts website; with the oval shape table we can have family and friends close together and everyone will be able to see each other. There was also the opportunity to choose the chair cushions and covers as well, which was marvelous as we didn’t have to compromise on what we wanted.

I’m really proud of what we have decided on, it’s very stylish and sits nicely in our garden; it’s a traditional design, but it has a modern twist to it, which makes it such a versatile piece. The fact that the chairs are stackable is yet another reason why we bought it; I don’t want them to be constantly out and I don’t want them to take up too much room in the garage either, so being able to stack them up in a corner is ideal.

Now that our new garden furniture is placed wonderfully next to Mrs McGregor’s rockery (which I have been weeding regularly now that the sun is out) and the arbour has overcome the harsh weather, all that is left to do is strip the bench and varnish it. I think that will be a job my son and daughter can help with, which I’m sure they will be delighted about.

Mr McGregor


Sunday
May222011

Clematis: A talk by Raymond Evison

For all of you gardening fanatics and Clematis lovers, we are happy to announce that Raymond Evison OBE will be visiting two of our garden centres on 18th and 19th June. The topic of choice is our beloved Clematis, a plant multiple Gold Medal winner at Chelsea, Raymond knows oh to well, as the owner of The Guernsey Clematis Nursey Ltd.

The nursery is the leading producer of young clematis plants in the world. Not only does Raymond have his very own nursery that specialises in young varieties, he also has a joint venture with Poulsen Roser A/S that breeds and develops new Clematis for indoor and outdoor planting.

Raymond first became interested in the great Clematis at the tender age of 16 and since then has built upon his expertise.

On 18th June Raymond Evison will be visiting our Norwich garden centre and will be hosting two talks throughout the course of the day (11am and 2pm). The next day (19th June) Raymond will travel to the Wheatcroft garden centre to give his talks (also at 11am and 2pm). The talks will cover a variety of topics including:

  • The latest varieties of clematis
  • The clematis seasons
  • Perfect partners for clematis
  • Planting clematis in a container
  • Pruning and feeding clematis

 These events are a great opportunity  to learn more about the beautiful Clematis from the world’s leading breeder. Numbers are limited so please book at the garden centre. For the Norwich event call 01603 453155 or email norwich@notcutts.co.uk. For the Wheatcroft event Call 01159 216060 or email info@wheatcroftgc.co.uk

Don’t miss this fantastic event,

Notcutts