Wednesday
Aug102011

Teenagers and Gardening 

My name is Matthew Kirkum and am 15 years old, currently completing work experience at Notcutts Garden Centres. I feel I have grown up with gardening, what with my mother a keen gardener and my father working in horticulture. However, my gardening expertise is very limited; in fact mowing the lawn is possibly the only gardening skill I possess.

There is a sense that many people my age are oblivious to gardening and the joy it gives to many people. There is a danger that the stereotypical gardener is one of an older generation.  I believe this is a false assumption and feel it’s important for people my age to become aware of this fact and do something about it. An easy way to get into gardening, even for a novice like myself, is growing your own vegetables and fruit. Whether it’s simply just growing a tomato plant, an asparagus or a bunch of carrots, the sense of achievement felt at dinner time when you eat something you have grown, is of utmost satisfaction.

It doesn’t seem right however, that we should be so uninterested in gardening, what with bright colours being all the rage; surely flowers would be well suited to a teenagers bed room? Maybe it’s just that we don’t recognise the benefits of plants and have the wrong impression?

When I was young I received a small cactus as a present. I watered it every day caring for it as if it would die on me at any second. It was the sense of owner ship and caring that excited me. Asked to do the weeding the answer would unquestionably be a no. But when I do get the chance, usually because money is involved, getting the roots of the weeds out of the soil is a therapeutic task with a sense of achievement.

Gardening could be introduced to children and teenagers through school projects and trips to gain more knowledge on the subject. Gardening has captured the imagination of many people so why should children and teenagers be any different?   The Venus fly trap and other carnivorous plants appeal to me and, I dare say, to others like myself. Exotic, curious looking plants fascinate young children along with the ability to grow their own gardens. A misconception can lead to teenagers believing that flowers are the essence of gardening, yet BBQs, greenhouses, water features and more, all fall under the same category.  

Work experience has meant that I have been able to be involved with many aspects of Notcutts including the garden centre. Whilst I was there, I did notice a gap in the market for teenagers and children who are interested in gardening. On the other hand, I was pleased to see many young families walking through the entrance with children excited by the plethora of colours displayed in the scene before them.   Hopefully this negative attitude towards gardening can be amended in teenagers across the country in order to continue the British love affair with gardening.


Monday
Aug082011

Firepits and chimineas

When the heat of a barbecue disappears and evening draws in, why not cosy up to the warmth of a chiminea or firepit? Just because the sun has gone down doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to being indoors; why not enjoy your garden under the moonlight?

Not only do firepits and chimineas provide warmth, they also make attractive focal points in the garden too. Choose from a variety of designs that best suit your garden and enjoy all the benefits they can provide you, your family and guests.

When it comes to the collection of chimineas, we recommend the Mini Cast Iron Chiminea for the smaller garden; it’s large enough for you to benefit from the heat it gives off, but small enough for you to incorporate it into the garden without having the fear of it taking over the whole garden. We really like the safe-guard mesh used around the chiminea; it enables you to place it anywhere in the garden as the beautiful flames will be seen from all directions.

For larger gardens, we think the Tangier Metal Chiminea is a great choice; it closely resembles the design of the Mini Cast Iron Chiminea. However, it’s taller and has been designed with cooking in mind; a metal plate is placed in the middle of the elegant bowl. It’s an extremely attractive piece to have in the garden and is ideal for heating large areas.

Firepits are another incredible feature to have within the garden and they offer a reliable source of warmth. From the shape of a pit, ideal for large gardens to the design of a basket, perfect for small spaces, there are many firepits for you to choose from. We still can’t get over the beauty of the Napoli Firepit and it’s so convenient too. When not in use, you can also benefit from it as a coffee table; the perfect place for you to rest your summer Pimms and lemonade, whilst reading a book in your back garden. Having the best of both worlds means this firepit is certainly reasonably priced at £149.99; Enjoy the garden with the warmth of a chiminea or firepit this summer; you can also find some of our outdoor heating in our fantastic half price summer sale as well.

Notcutts

Thursday
Jul282011

On the Allotment

July is one of my favourite months and thanks to some bouts of sunshine and a bit of elbow grease I have been able to harvest an abundance of crops. As soon as I walked onto the allotment I was greeted by a wonderful sight and once I came home arms filled with crops, Mrs McGregor’s face dropped, astonished at how much I was able to harvest.

However, there was a tragedy; my lettuces bolted, but on a positive note I’m still able to grow some more this month. I will just have to keep a beady eye on them this time round. However, I did manage to harvest: French beans, beetroot, peppers, carrots, potatoes and spinach; a pretty healthy yield if I do say so myself.

My son eventually got to pick his tomatoes as well, which he was very proud of. Over the past couple of years he has been watching me grow them, so this time around I thought it would be nice to have him see how brilliant it is to grow your own. He was getting a little impatient coming to the end of June, walking out into garden a couple of times a day to check if they were ready yet. Now that they are, the whole McGregor family are enjoying them in an array of salads; my favourite has to be the Greek salad.

Now that all my early crops are lifted, I will be replacing them with some winter vegetables. Later this month I will be sowing peas, turnips and kohl rabi (and more lettuce). It’s also a great time for me to start planting some winter cabbages, broccoli and leeks. Now that the danger of frosts has passed the pumpkins I sowed in May can be planted outside too; Halloween this year is sure to be a lot more fun.

Lastly, my never-ending job, a lot of watering and keeping the weeds down.

Mr McGregor


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