Monthly Archives: August 2014

French Marigold

Longacres Garden Centre for Best Plant Retailer Award with The Sun

For the third year, The Sun are running a competition to find Britain’s Best Plant Retailer to find the best places in the country to get good plants, at a fair price, from friendly helpful staff – we hope you think of Longacres in this way!

As well as letting us know you think highly of us, there are 40 x £25 prizes of National Garden Gift Vouchers that will be sent to winning voters chosen at random once the counting is complete. In order to have a chance of winning one of these, the voting slip needs to be completed with a full name and address.

We hope you will support our chance to become recognised as one of the best plant retailers by voting for us – from August 1st to 31st you will find voting slips and a box to put them in by the tills at Longacres Garden Centre. Thank you!

A Goldfinch on a snowy plant

Gardening with Birds: Best Birds to Keep | Longacres Garden Centre

Birds are a beautiful and exciting addition to any garden. It’s heart warming to see these creatures picking your garden to feed or make its temporary home. Bird watching may not sound exciting, but there is something very fulfilling about spotting an especially beautiful or rare bird. This explains why so many people choose bird watching as a hobby.

As a matter of fact, we love birds so much we have compiled a list of the best feathered friends to look out for in the garden, along with how to attract them.

Golden Opportunity

The first bird on the must-see list is the goldfinch. They are a very common bird, visiting over half of the gardens in the UK every week. Nothing brings these birds to the yard faster than sunflower hearts and nyger seeds. Bird watchers love spotting goldfinches because of the combination of their golden brown bodies and red faces.

House Guests

The next bird on the list is the house sparrow. These are a noisy bunch, and fly all over the country in small flocks. They make their homes in – well, homes. There is nothing particularly special about their diet, and will eat virtually anything made for birds.

Romantic Bands

Pushing the difficulty up a tick, the next bird is the collared dove. These birds are distinct because of the black collar on their necks. The only thing that makes this bird partially hard to spot is that they do not fly in flocks. Being romantic birds, collared doves only travel in pairs. When a bird watcher spots this bird, its partner is not far off.

Loud and Colourful

The chaffinch is one of the most colourful bird you can spot in a garden. They sport a shock of blue-grey plumage on their heads. Still, that is not their defining feature. Chaffinches have a distinctly loud chirp that lets people know they are coming.

Look Down

Watchers will need to do a bit of work to spot a dunnock. This bird’s favourite foods are worms and spiders. This is why they like spending time under bushes and around flowerbeds. This is the only bird that bird watchers look for staring down instead of up.

If you have any questions about birds and the best feed to attract certain types, contact us today. Our teams deal in bird feed all the time, and know a thing or two about the birds flying over British skies.

Burgers on a gas barbecue

Grill Green: Make Your Barbecue Eco-Friendly

During the last remaining sunny days of the season, no activity is as perfect as a barbecue gathering. There is an unmatched kind of joy when you and your friends gather round, laugh together, and enjoy great quality food and drinks.

But, whilst most people see the fun in this activity, some find barbecue gatherings environmentally unfriendly. Piles of paper plates, plastic cups, and disposable utensils abound, not to mention the bucketful of food scraps you have to deal with after.

Fortunately, there is more than one way around this, and with a little thought you can make your barbecue gatherings eco-friendly. Here are some ways that can help you green up your grill party:

Replace your grill

Although the good old charcoal grill gets things done, it’s not so green. You might want to replace that with a first-rate propane barbecue grill instead, as gas-fuelled ones still let you cook that marinated meat nicely without the harmful substances that coal emits.

Discard your disposables

Let go of the paper plates and plastic utensils the next time you organise a BBQ. Outdoor dishes and utensils are good investments, as their use goes beyond barbecues – you can take them to camping trips and picnics too. Pack some linens instead of paper towels.

If ever you go with the disposable route, try to choose biodegradable items.

Sort out the rubbish

Lastly, separate the party waste. Before the guests arrive, place some labelled bins where they can put their beer cans, wine bottles, plastic containers, and other types of waste for easy recycling and disposal post-party. For food scraps, you can instruct everyone to chuck their waste into a compost bin.

Going green in your next barbecue is not so hard. What’s even better is that we can help you achieve your objective of an eco-friendly BBQ. Here at Longacres Garden Centre, we’ll help you find everything you need to make your barbecue eco-friendly. Browse our website or contact us for more information on the products we have.

It’s competition time!

** It’s competition time! **

All you have to do is click like & share on this post and guess how many balls are in this pool to win the pictured pool and its content! (Staff excluded – sorry!)

How it works:

The closest or exact answer will be the winner and in the event of more than one person guessing the correct answer, the person to guess first will win. You can only guess once and your guess must be left in the comment section below the post on the Longacres Facebook page. The closing date is Sunday 17th August and we will announce the lucky winner on Monday 18th August!

You can click here to view our full range of pools. Good luck everyone and happy guessing!

Pool Comp

Bedding plants – trip to the proving grounds

[please note – you can click on all images for larger size]

We had a brilliant day out to the ‘proving grounds’ this week – where the existing, new and even experimental spring, summer and autumn bedding plant varieties are tested; and growers, garden centres and other groups come to make buying choices for the next year. Even the entrance was awash with colour – the large beds of Zinnia and Phlox looked brilliant.

Zinnia Bedding Plants


Phlox Bedding Plants







Everything is planted in beds stretching far and wide, with a change in variety in every row. They are watered just once, and then left to grow in whatever conditions the UK chooses to throw at them that season. It gives a very good indication of how they will cope with our climate – important as many of the experimental varieties are developed abroad in places such as Spain and the US west coast where conditions are ideal and just a little better than ours.

The verbenas were amazing – masses of colours to choose from, including some eye-catching hybrids. These two were favourites:

Verbena (experimental)

Verbena (experimental)

Verbena Quartz Redeye

Verbena Quartz Redeye






There were also rows of Salvias and an amazing mix of Zinnia as you can see below.


Salvia beds at the proving grounds

Mixed Zinnia

Mixed Zinnia







We found plenty of new varieties which will be available at Longacres next year (both instore and online, in our bedding plant section), along with some new hanging basket examples.

At the proving grounds they also included an interesting ‘invisible’ water feature in one of their show sections, and areas displaying the all of the plants in a variety of ways – beds, pots, hanging baskets, vertical walls and more.

The magic tap water feature

The ‘magic tap’ water feature

Close-up photography

Close-up photography

Petunia Hybrid

Petunia Hybrid







We had a great time – many thanks to Royden, Mel and Wendy at Perfect Choice. This was my first trip up there, but I’m hoping I can make it every year from now on.