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Welcome to this weeks newsletter

It’s starting to really feel like autumn now, what with a steady stream of leaves raining from the trees in a shower of scarlet, ochre and tan. Coats and hats go on and the pleasantly warming task begins of raking them all up again for making next year’s black gold – well-rotted leafmould, the best soil improver there is (and not just because it’s free!) Set aside a handful or two of dried leaves, though, as they make a great thick, protective mulch to protect the roots of borderline-hardy plants like dahlias, hardy bananas and Mexican salvias: frost is just around the corner, so it’s as well to be prepared.

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 – 17:30
Tuesday 09:00 – 17:30
Wednesday 09:00 – 17:30
Thursday 09:00 – 17:30
Friday 09:00 – 17:30
Saturday 09:00 – 17:30
Sunday 10:30 – 16:30
The Restaurant, Bistro & Bakery close 30 minutes before listed closing times

On Sunday, the Restaurant, Bistro & Bakery open at 10:00

Plant of the Week: Arbutus

This striking small tree’s common name says it all: the strawberry tree is an eye-catching sight when its clusters of huge, fat, scarlet fruit emerge brilliant lipstick-red against the handsome, glossy evergreen foliage looking for all the world like giant strawberries. It takes a year for the delicate froths of ivory-white, bell-like autumn flowers to develop the fruit – so often they’re both on the tree at the same time.

This is a fantastic choice for a smaller garden, making a spreading, shrubby tree to about 8m (24ft). It grows just about anywhere, including in coastal areas, and needs minimal pruning, just the odd snip to keep it in shape.

National Tree Week

As you’ll know, our plants of the month this month are trees – and happily this week is also National Tree Week (28 November – 6 December), run by the Tree Council and this year celebrating its 40th birthday as the UK’s largest festival of all things to do with trees.

It’s a good excuse to get together with your local community and green your neighbourhood: each year 8000 volunteer tree wardens, schools and community groups plant about a million trees around the country. There are loads of fun tree-related things to do as well, from woodland walks to fairs and workshops. To find an event near you, or organise one yourself, visit the website at www.treecouncil.org.uk/take-part/national-tree-week.

The week also marks the start of the winter tree planting season, giving you a fantastic chance to plant a tree in your own garden to mark the occasion. You’ll find a fine selection of trees for every garden on sale right now in our garden centre. Choose from graceful Japanese maples to grow in containers to all kinds of fruit tree and glorious specimen trees like Liquidambars, cedars and red oaks for a handsome garden statement that will last for many years to come.

What to do in your garden this week:

Job of the week: Test your soil

Knowing your soil helps you find out the range of plants you can grow well, and also helps you improve your results. Work out the texture of your soil by rolling some into a sausage: if it sticks together, it’s nutrient-rich but heavy clay, if it falls apart it’s easy-to-work but hungry sand. A simple-to-use soil test from the garden centre also tells you the pH: low pH acid soils grow beautiful blueberries and rhododendrons, while high pH alkaline soils support peonies, clematis and pinks.

 

Flowers:  
  • Plant out spring bedding including primulas and bellis
  • Pot up lily bulbs for next year
  • Dig up and store dahlia tubers
Fruit & veg:  
  • Lift and divide rhubarb crowns
  • Winter prune fruit trees and bushes
  • Plant garlic cloves now as they need a good spell of frost to do well
Greenhouse:  
  • Regularly pick off yellowing or dead leaves and faded flowers
  • Check overwintering plants for aphids and other pests
  • Hold back on the watering and never leave water sitting in plant saucers
Around the garden:
  • Clear out bird boxes and put out food for the birds
  • Clean or chuck old pots and trays
  • Stay off the lawn in frosty weather to avoid killing the grass

 

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