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

Saturday
May212011

In the Garden

Not only have I been busy on the allotment, I have also been taking time out over the bank holidays and weekends in the garden. I have been training Mrs McGregor’s roses, redecorating her craft den, maintaining the containers and borders and getting out my garden furniture. However, after all that hard work I noticed the lawn is looking a little worse for wear; I should have paid more attention to it while I was tending to the borders.

It’s time for some damage control to get my lawn looking healthy; I believe there is nothing better than a luscious green lawn, but with winter just gone and the sun being quite hot, my lawn is looking far from a thing of beauty. We haven’t been getting a lot of rain over the past couple of months either, leaving my garden looking quite bare. Lawns tend to usually bounce back after a good shower, so a good watering with the hose is in order.

Mowing and trimming the lawn is becoming a regular activity for me in the garden as grass naturally grows more vigorously when the weather is warm. After mowing I have always found it best to rake up the thatch from cast away clippings and put them into the compost bin; having those nutrients will really help create a healthy compost you can put back into the garden (but if you have treated the lawn, don’t put the clippings with the other compost material).

However, I will also have to feed to lawn with a summer feed to promote a lush green colour and scatter grass seeds for an even ground cover. When I asked Mrs McGregor to fetch some feed from the garage she gave me what we had left over in the autumn feed, good thing I checked the label before distributing it across the lawn! There is a great deal of a difference between the two; an autumn feed contains nitrogen that will encourage vegetative growth over the cold months, whereas a summer feed will help the grass regain its lush green colour.

I have also found that the key to a great looking lawn is all in the aeration; to do this pierce the lawn with a garden fork or aerator, this will encourage invigorating and energetic gardening activity, which alleviates compaction.  

Mr McGregor

Thursday
May192011

Our Summer Season is Launched

Our summer season collection has just been launched on Notcutts.co.uk and what a great range of flowers and garden essentials we have to offer you. Now is the time to get your hanging baskets ready to help dress the walls and fences of the garden and have an abundance of containers brimming with colour and fragrances across the patio. Summer is such a wonderful time, the grass is green, the sun is out and the flowers are filling our borders attracting wildlife to our homes.

When we think of the summer, we can’t help but day dream about the barbecues we will be having with family and friends, getting our hands dirty planting new flowers and watching them blossom to their full glory. And with our summer season collection you can do all of that.

You can find a great range of flowers to incorporate into the garden, amazing deals on a variety of barbecues and so much more, the possibilities are truly endless. When the sun is out who wants be stuck inside when there is so much to do and see in the garden?

If you want to be sure your garden is being put to good use, not only by your family and yourself, but by wildlife, there are some quick and easy steps you can take. Putting up a bird table will encourage birds into the garden, but to keep them visiting over the sunny months why not put up a nest box in a tree and create a safe home for them? Another creature you may want to encourage in the garden is the bee, they are humble insects that many gardeners love to see in their gardens. As they collect pollen and nectar, cross pollination occurs, which can have incredible effects in the borders.

There is so much you can do in your garden, making it a sacred place to relax in; you never get twogardens looking the same, which makes gardening such a fun, personal and rewarding activity .

Notcutts


Tuesday
May172011

Mr McGregor: Veg Of The Month!

I love beetroot, not only for the taste and its versatility (you can make pretty much anything from beetroot; enjoy it in a salad, make a soup and much more), but also because of its colour. Just by grating or slicing small pieces of the crop onto a salad livens up the plate instantly and when you grow your own you can find the crop produces many different patterns and shades. Not only does each and every crop give you something a bit different, you can also experiment with the varieties that are available to you.

Beetroot varieties include:

•    Beetroot Bolivar – Duchy Originals Seeds
•    Beetroot Alto F1 Hybrid
•    Beetroot Kestrel F1 Hybrid Seeds
•    Beetroot Boltardy Seeds and more

Growing your Beetroot (Sow March to July)

•   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 wire netting as this will deter birds away.
•    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.
•    It is very important to keep the crops weed free and watered well during dry spells and should be repeated every two weeks.
•    The beetroot should be ready for harvesting between 12 to 16 weeks, but remember to water the rows the day prior.

An appetising Beetroot recipe

You can see how much I love beetroot and the dishes you can create with it, as it was my Veg of the Month in June last year. Last time I shared with you a great beetroot risotto recipe and I must say it went down quite well with the family; they couldn’t get enough of it! So this time around, I am going to share with you how wonderful beetroot is when tossed into a salad, a warm mackerel and beetroot salad. Looking around for inspiration to put a new twist to the much loved English salad, I came across this on Good Food, and it looks delicious, so had to try my hand at it.

Ingredients

450g new potatoes , cut into bite-size pieces         3 smoked mackerel fillets, skinned
250g pack cooked beetroot                                  100g bag mixed salad leaves
2 celery sticks, finely sliced                                 50g walnut pieces
6 tbsp good-quality salad dressing                        2 tsp creamed horseradish sauce

Method

1.    While you are boiling the potatoes until tender (about 12-15minutes) prepare the mackerel fillets and beetroot. You want to flake the mackerel into large pieces and cut the beetroot into chunks.
2.    Drain the potatoes and when allowing them to cool slightly mix the salad dressing and horseradish sauce together in a salad bowl and season. When the potatoes have cooled a little tip them into the sauce.
3.    Add the salad leaves, mackerel, beetroot, celery and walnuts, and toss gently.

Simplistic yet full of flavour,

Mr McGregor