Attracting Wildlife to the Garden

Encouraging wildlife into your garden is a winner all-round. They can help out your garden plants and you would be doing a good deed for all those creatures in need of a home or food throughout the winter. Flying visitors such as birds, butterflies and bees are pretty to look at and help improve your garden’s production. Encourage hedgehogs, toads and frogs too – they act as fantastic pest control, reducing the need for pesticides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what you can do to turn your garden in to a wildlife haven.

Bees

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bees are great to have around the garden. You want them in your garden to feast off your flowers to make them continue to pollinate and keep your garden looking spectacular. Bees love blue, purple and yellow flowers and plants so keep that in mind when planning your garden displays.

Here are some tips to keep bees doing their jobs as pollinators:

  • Plant single flower plants as most double flowers make it difficult for the bees to get the pollen and nectar.
  • Avoid using pesticides wherever possible.
  • Provide water for pollinators using a shallow dish filled with stones/marbles and water to provide a safe water source.

Bee Friendly Plants

  • Dahlias
  • Asters
  • Sedums
  • Cornflower
  • Heather

Birds 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Provide nest boxes/wooden houses for birds to nest in. (Place near trees or bushes so the birds can make a short flight to safety).
  • Improve soil with well-rotted compost to introduce worms and slugs and other soil insects to provide food for birds.
  • A simple bird bathe will give the birds somewhere to bathe as well as doubling as a water supply.

Bird Friendly Plants

You can plant different shrubs/trees/flowers that will either provide food for birds in the form of seeds, berries or nectar, give shelter and warmth under dense foliage or they will attract insects which birds and other wildlife can feed off.

Here are some of our top choices:

  • Honeysuckle
  • Rowan
  • Viburnum Opulus
  • Holly

Ladybugs 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ladybugs are a great help in the garden for eliminating destructive and damaging crop pests like aphids, mites and scale. Here are some tips for attracting ladybugs to your garden:

  • There are several pollen plants that attract ladybugs that tend to be yellow and white, such as Angelica, Cosmos and Fennel.
  • Plant decoy plants what will attract aphids away from your desired bug free plants until the ladybugs remove them for you. Aphid attracting decoy plants could include: Early Cabbage, Marigold and Radish.

Ladybug Friendly Plants

Ladybugs eat two things: insect pests and pollen, and there are several pollen plants that ladybugs like, including:

  • Calendula
  • Chives
  • Cosmos
  • Marigold

Bats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know that attracting bats to your garden is one of the safest and most efficient methods for natural insect control? One little brown bat can eat 1,200 insects per hour!

A great bat attracting method is to build a bat house to provide a warm cosy shelter for the creatures. Since bats tend to set up colonies in the early spring, building a bat house is the perfect winter project! Some tips are:

  • Use a rough, nontoxic wood (such as plywood or cedar) to make your box. The rough surface will make it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house.
  • Place in a warm, sunny position for warmth
  • Keep it close to a freshwater source (pond, stream)
  • Support on a pole or the side of a building

Bat Friendly Plants

The key to attracting bats to your garden is to plant night-scented flowers, such as:

  • Yucca
  • Evening Primrose

Frogs  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attracting frogs to your garden is beneficial for the welfare of your plants. Frogs make great inset killers so why not attract some garden frogs to help with those little pests.

  • Build toad houses – overturned flowerpots buried lightly in the soil make great shelters.
  • Avoid using pesticides in your garden. Frogs are sensitive to chemicals so use natural sources of nutrients in your garden such as compost.
  • Keep pets away from the part of the garden set up for attracting frogs.

Frog Friendly Plants

Toads and female frogs usually spend winter on land, under rockery stones (or in a log pile). Recommended rock plants are:

  • Aubretia
  • Hardy Geraniums
  • Sedums

Hedgehogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just like the shrew and the vole, the hedgehog is an insectivore with a voracious appetite. An adult hedgehog can eat up to 200 grams of insects per night, making the perfect pest controller in your garden. So, why not attract them to the garden with a few small tips and help these little creatures as their population has dropped in recent years. Here are some tips to draw these little creatures into your garden:

  • Leave areas of the garden naturally unkempt with fallen leaves, twigs and dead vegetation, which they can use to build nests.
  • Leave bowls of water out in the winter as hedgehogs drink lots of water. Top the water up regularly.
  • Avoid using slug pellets as they are fatal for hedgehogs

Hedgehog Friendly Plants

Hedges provide a great habitat for hedgehogs as they provide free access between gardens, unlike walls and fences. Species with large deciduous leaves are great for hedgehogs collecting leaves for their nests. Here are some top picks:

  • Beech
  • Berberis
  • Buddleia
  • Pyracantha

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12 Days of Christmas In The Garden

Winter is coming and to celebrate the season and the upcoming festivities filled with mulled drinks, festive foods and presents, we’ve selected our 12 favourite Christmas themes flowers to bring an extra hint of magic and sparkle to your homes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Amaryllis Christmas Gift

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amaryllis is a perfect festive plant because it naturally flowers in both spring and winter. This striking Amaryllis, Amaryllis Christmas Gift, is named after it’s stunning snow-like blooms that are guaranteed to add character to your household in winter.

  • The amaryllis was quite revered in Victorian times and carries strong associations of pride. During the Victorian era proud women were thought to be beautiful so this was certainly a compliment to the amaryllis.

2. Crocus chrysanthus Prince Claus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These stunning goblet shaped flowers bring one of the first bursts of colour to the garden in spring, and Crocus chrysanthus Prince Claus blooms beautiful white flowers with purple cores rising from the centre. Crocus are sometimes referred to as the ‘snow crocus’ and are viewed as the herald of spring.

  • Crocus have a natural insulation. Crocus plants can cope with the cold weather and occasional frosts as their leaves and petals are covered by a waxy cuticle.

3. Dahlia Santa Claus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This fun and festive Dahlia is the Dahlia Santa Claus; a stunning bi-coloured Dinner Plate Dahlia, the largest of all the varieties, with red and white striped blooms. A wonderful summer plant that suits all garden borders and patio pots, as well as making perfect cut flowers.

  • These colourful spiky flowers bloom from midsummer to first frost, when many other plants are past their best.

4. Crocus Chrysanthus Snowbunting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starch white golblet shaped flowers with an orange throat. The RHS have given the Crocus ‘Snowbunting’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit. This beautiful crocus variety is perfect for creating a blanket of snow in rockeries or containers.

  • Saffron-based pigments have been found in the prehistoric paints used to depict beasts in 50,000-year-old cave art in what is today Iraq. Later, the Sumerians used saffron as an ingredient in their remedies and magical potions.

5. Lonicera purpusii Winter Beauty (Honeysuckle)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lonicera purpusii Winter Beauty (also known as the winter flowering Honeysuckle) produces masses of creamy-white fragrant flowers in midwinter. This plant flowers reliably by Christmas year after year, with flowers lasting until early spring. Sprigs of this honeysuckle are perfect for those festive winter flower arrangements!

  • During Victorian era, Englishmen often planted honeysuckle in front of their houses to keep evil spirits and witches on the safe distance.

6. Holly Blue Angel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do as the classic Christmas Carols says and “deck the halls with boughs of Holly”. A classic winter wonder, Holly Blue Angel. This shrubs shiny evergreen, blue tinted foliage producing masses of red berries in winter is a staple of Christmas plants.

  • The idea of decorating your home with holly for Christmas dates back to ancient Druids. They believed that the protective qualities of the plant would safe guard them against bad luck and evil spirits.

7. Phlox Peppermint Twist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just like cinnamon and ginger, peppermint is a staple theme of the Christmas festivities. This unique Phlox Peppermint Twist is not dissimilar from the stripes of those well-loved Christmas treats candy canes, with their prolific pink flowers with distinctive white stripes.

  • Phlox make great plants for wildlife, and tend to attract hummingbirds in bird gardens.

8. Rose Hot Chocolate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who doesn’t love some hot chocolate in the winter time? Rose Hot Chocolate is a beautifully unique coloured Rose that produces blooms of rusty orange with velvety smoked chocolate brown, reminiscent of a delicious winter sweet treat.

  •  Ancient Romans used roses as room decorations, and sometimes wore the flower as a necklace. It was also believed in Roman circles that anything said “under the rose” was deemed to be top secret.

9. Tulip Peppermint Stick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tulip ‘Peppermint Stick has striking candy cane colours of red and white, which make ideal candidates for a christmas bouquet. As the season progresses, the flowers slowly open to produce colourful star shapes and then almost a complete white star when they fully open.

  • The Tulip is a classic flower of love, although it was considered more of a symbol for charity by the Victorians.

10. Snowdrops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the first flowers of the new year, the snowdrop is one our most endearing flowers. The much loved traditional Snowdrops produce honey scented nodding flower heads with pure white outer petals surround small inner petals with green tips.

  • Snowdrops were named after earrings not drops of snow. In the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries women often wore dangly, white drop-shaped earrings known as ‘eardrops’ thus inspiring the flowers name. Some other common names of snowdrops are: Candlemas Bells,  White Ladies and Little Sister of the Snows.

11. Tulip Christmas Orange

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tulip Christmas Orange is a flaming orange colour with a broad cherry flame. These flowers are also in demand for forcing around Christmas time for festive displays of colour.

  • Because tulips are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, they can mean rebirth.

12. Petunia Chameletunia Cinnamon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for something warm up your garden like the tasty cinnamon treats at Christmas time. Our Petunia Chameletunia Cinnamon has a beautiful profusion of orange-red flowers adding that perfect amount of sweet spice to your summer gardens.

  • All types of petunia can be divided in 4 major groups: grandiflora, hedgiflora, multiflora and milliflora.

Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year!

How to Plant: Dwarf Tulips

Need advice on planting Dwarf Tulip bulbs? We’ve compiled our gardening advice in this informative blog guide on planting, arrangement, and aftercare to help make your gardening job easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tulips are one of the most popular Spring bulbs for a reason. Fantastic colours and attractive shapes make them a stunning choice for your garden displays. There are a wide variety of Greigii/Kaufmanniana or dwarf Tulips within our range, from First Price, Little Beauty, Humilis, and Scarlet Baby; all with stunning colourful blooms that would be perfect for any spring border, or even hanging basket, and their spectacular foliage produces year after year whilst requiring minimal care.

Planting

Tulips do not need to be planted until October in to December. Plant bulbs in well dug soil about 8-10cm deep and approx. 15cm apart. It is often beneficial to use a little bonemeal or super phosphate mixed in with the soil. Tulips delight during their growth in a sunny location.

Video

In this video tutorial, our resident gardening expert Jeff talks us through how to plant Dwarf Rockery/Botanical Tulips, with great easy to follow advice on how to achieve a terrific spring rockery display.

Aftercare

After the tulips have bloomed and when leaves fade and turn brown, the bulbs can be lifted, dried, cleaned and stored in a cool place until planting time. This allows the bulb to store more food and produce flowers the following year. Tulips should not be grown in the same soil for several years, so replace with fresh soil every other year.

Click here to view our full Tulip range!

January Plant of the Month: Eranthis

January’s plant of the month is a cheerful, early-flowering bulb that will bring some much needed colour to your garden in these gloomy months.

Also known as Eranthis hyemalis, winter aconites beam a golden glow into the garden at a time when the sun rarely breaks through the clouds. These golden yellow flowers bloom the earliest of all spring flowers and will delight you with vibrant yellow flowers in January and February.

We strongly recommend trying Winter Aconites to kick off your spring display, and they are particularly recommended for rockeries and naturalising. These gorgeous yellow blooms are contrasted by beautiful green foliage, which covers the ground long after the flowers have disappeared.

Although bulb planting season is at an end, there is still time to get some last-minute colour in your garden. If you’re looking out at a wintery garden and can’t wait for spring, consider investing in our Eranthis in the Green available now ready for planting and flowering this year.

Our Eranthis in the Green offer guaranteed pre-grown success from these Eranthis hyemalis, supplied in the green ready to be planted straight in the ground.

Click here to shop Eranthis in the Green

Winter Favourites

winter-birdbath

 

When autumn leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air and gardeners across the country are frantically trying to get the last of that yeas plants in the ground before a frost settles in you know that winter is well on its way!

With some careful planning there is no reason for the cold winter months to mean the drab winter months in your garden!

Our favourite Winter Shrubs…

This is a rundown of our favourite winter flowering shrubs guaranteed to breathe some life and colour back into a winter garden.

Viburnum

Very hardy, deciduous shrubs which produce dense clusters of richly perfumed flowers, often followed by berries. There are a dizzying array of viburnum varieties, with huge variations in leaf shape and forms of flower heads, some are evergreen and some deciduous, some flower in winter – others late in spring! The variety and versatility make them invaluable for gardeners seeking all year round interest – Viburnums are our 2016 November Plant of the month – you can find that article HERE.

Our Top choice Viburnum | Viburnum x bodnantense Dawn

viburnum-bodnantense-dawn

 

A very hardy, deciduous shrub which produces dense clusters of richly perfumed, deep rose pink flowers which eventually fade to candyfloss pink, and eventually white by late spring. In summer, attractive round purple berries are produced. Foliage is huge, ovate and toothed, with deeply scored veins which give it an almost quilted look. It boasts a particularly long season of interest, one of the many reasons it was awarded the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Skimmia

Fairly compact evergreen shrub that flowers from spring into early summer. Known for being hardy they are equally happy in a border or in containers on a patio. With a compact habit they are fairly low maintenance, perfect for growing in borders or containers on a patio.

Sarcococca (Christmas Box)

sarcococca-humilis-christmas-box

Amazingly easy to grow, dense and reliable evergreen. It has slender, tapering shiny leaves and produces sweetly fragranced flowers from December to February. After flowering, Christmas Box produces an abundance of attractive berries. Excellent in partial shade, even in drier soils.

Ilex (Holly)

 

Evergreen Hollies (or Ilex) will give all year round pleasure from the vivid new growth in spring and early summer to the berries in winter. When birds can’t find anything else to eat they will flock to the holly bush. Stems of holly are ideal for winter floral arrangements, and look particularly dazzling when painted silver or white. English Holly (Ilex aquifolium) is our December Plant of the Month.

Edgeworthia chrysantha

Edgeworthia chrysantha

This winter flowering gem was named after Michael Pakenham Edgeworth, who collected it in the Himalayas and brought it back to Britain in the mid-1800s. Cinnamon coloured branches provide a stunning contrast to the clusters of fragrant, tubular yellow flowers. A great plant for the winter garden, they rarely succumb to pests and diseases, but will need a sheltered spot.

Chinese Witch Hazel

Exotic Chinese witch hazel (also known as Hamamelis) are deciduous, winter flowering shrubs that produce clusters of sweetly scented, crinkled flowers in a range of fiery shades, bursting into life like mini firework displays from December to March.

Corylus avellana Contorta (Corkscrew Hazel)

 

corylus-contorta-with-catkins

 

A real conversation piece. This unusual and resilient deciduous shrub has the most amazing twisted stems and branches earning it the common name corkscrew hazel. In summer the branches bear a tangle of broadly ovate green leaves followed later by nuts. In late winter and early spring a mass of weeping yellow catkins unfurl. This curious variety has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. A great architectural plant and an ideal choice for creating a wildlife garden attracting moths, butterflies and a variety of insects as well as birds and squirrels. A slow growing shrub, it will reach around 1.8-2m after ten years.

Chimonanthus praecox

Chimonanthus praecox - Wintersweet

 

These are a truly striking sight, producing unusual pendant yellow flowers on leafless branches in winter. The flowers have a strong spicy fragrance, and last from November until February. It will grow into a good sized rounded shrub, or can it can be trained to grow against a trellis or wall. Introduced from China it is also known as ‘wintersweet’ or ‘Japanese Allspice’. They are hardy and noted for being able to survive a frost, although will appreciated a sunny, sheltered spot in the garden where they will make the most of the summer heat, ripening in winter where, after a good summer they will produce abundant flowers. These are a real winter beauty, and will not carry the same impact when it has lost its flowers, so it is worth considering their position carefully where space is at a premium – although its brilliant fragrance and particular beauty in the winter make it well worth growing.

Dogwood (Cornus)

Spectacular bushy shrubs, ideal for creating a showy feature in the garden, they bring a burst of colour that is particularly valuable in a drab winter garden. The shoots can also be used as part of an imaginative indoor cut-flower display, perhaps even spraying them gold and silver for a festive look. We’d recommend planting in groups of three for a truly fantastic show in winter once all the other colour is gone.

Our top Cornus Choice: Cornus Midwinter Fire

4.1.2

Cornus Midwinter Fire (commonly known as dogwood) is a shrub which produces ovate, mid-green leaves and small, cream/white flowers in May and June – however, the flowers are not the star of this show. In autumn, Cornus Midwinter Fire stays true to it s namesake, slowly revealing brilliant flame-coloured stems as the leaves fall away. Shoots begin a yellow-orange, with the tips turning a brilliant red as the season goes on, giving the shrub a flaming look.

Lonicera purpusii Winter Beauty

honeysuckle-lonicera-purpusii

Also known as the winter flowering honeysuckle. Masses of creamy-white, fragrant flowers are produced in midwinter. This plant flowers reliably by Christmas year after year, flowers lasting until early spring. Sprigs can be used for scented winter flower arrangements. We’d recommend planting Winter Beauty as a standalone specimen in the border, but it can also be trained up a wall or fence.

Mahonia

Fabulous evergreen shrubs producing large leaves, autumn flowers followed by colourful berries all throughout the winter months. With their compact habits they will work well in a mixed border, ideal for partnering with over evergreen shrubs such as Buxus, Camellia or a Photinia Red Robin.

Our Top Mahonia Choice | Charity Cabaret

The Mahonia Nitens Cabaret also known as Oregon Grape, is an amazing new introduction to the Mahonia range. It will produce the usual glossy holly like evergreen leaves you would expect from a Mahonia. It is a compact variety and produces its flowers from the end of summer and right through the autumn, with stunning oranges and reds. After the flowers have bloomed, blue berries will form, these work wonderfully with the winter foliage.

Jasmine

This marvellous fragrant shrub will flower throughout the summer and into the winter months. it presents gorgeous dainty star shaped flowers, usually pure white, pale buttery yellow or very rarely deep pink. A stunning adornment for any trellis, fence or wall, the pretty flowers bring a distinctive sweet scent. It will do well in most soils, can be pruned in early spring to keep to a tidy shape and keep it nice and healthy for repeated stunning displays year after year.

Our Top Choice | Trachelospermum jasminoides (Jasmine)

Trachelospermum jasminoides. Star Jasmin

A highly fragrant, vigorous climber that produces clusters of beautiful, star shaped pure white flowers from June throughout the summer months, which turn to cream with age. It has dark green leaves which turn bronze in winter. It is best to grow Trachelospermum jasminoides against a warm, sunny wall. Can climb to 8m, however prune after flowering to size required. This Jasmine is a stunning addition, for a wonderful display throughout the summer months perfuming the air with its sweet fragrance.

Callicarpia profusion

callicarpa-profusion

Also known as ‘Beauty berry’, it is a beautiful eye-catching medium sized deciduous shrub which produces masses of tiny star shaped lilac flowers in summer. When pollinated, these start to form the outstanding clusters of vibrant purple, almost metallic berries we see in autumn and winter. Not only do these berries bring a welcome splash of colour at a time when there is very little, they also provide a valuable source of food for birds during the colder months which they will thank you for. It is not just the berries that are showy- young leaves begin a bronzy purple colour, maturing to deep green in summer and fading to lime green, then eventually plum purple in autumn. We’d recommend planting in groups of three.

How to Plant: Indoor Amaryllis

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)

 

Amaryllis

 

 

Loved by beginners and experts alike because of their superb flowering potential with minimal effort required! Hippeastrum or Amaryllis bulbs are very easy to plant and will flower indoors during the winter months, producing spectacular showy flowers in a huge range of colours and shapes.

We have a huge range available, below are a few of our favourites, or you can browse our full range HERE.

Indoor flowering Amaryllis make excellent pot plants for indoors and are available in two different bulb sizes – the standard 26cm+ bulbs which will produce two stems per bulb, however for our giant 34cm+ Amaryllis bulb are the largest on the market and will produce three stems per flower bulb.

How to Plant – A Visual Guide

howtoplant copy small

Follow our simple step by step guide here or click on the link below to watch our garden expert Jeff Turner in our video tutorial on planting these winter flowering winter treats!

Aftercare

After the amaryllis has stopped flowering, it can be made to flower again.  Cut the old flowers from the stem after flowering, and when the stem starts to sag, cut it back to the top of the bulb.