Category Archives: Planting

Plants Online – March 2017

Lighter evenings creeping in and a slight increase in the temperatures only points to one thing….It’s time to start planning your gardens!

Whether it’s a stunning climber you’re after to cover that old fence panel or wall, a glorious Azalea or Rhododendron to produce a burst of colour to that dull corner of your garden, some beautiful good old fashioned Roses to grace your beds or borders, or simply a revamp your old baskets and containers on your patio with our ever increasing range of Perennials and Bedding plants – now is the time to take a look at our even bigger ranges of plants on our website.

We’ve gone all out this year to bring you a huge choice and plenty of variety when it comes to planting in your garden with a brand new selection of Clematis and climbers, a stunning selection of over 100 new Azaleas and Rhododendrons, a brand new selection of Roses including climbers and ramblers, a vast selection of over 500 perennials and not to mention our ever expanding selection of Bedding plants, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Couple this together with our amazing low prices and you really can afford to go all out this year and really make a difference in your gardens.

And don’t forget, we can deliver anywhere within the UK so no distance is too far for us, so check out our website today and start planning your garden!

Find our full range online here!

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Plant lily bulbs in pots

It’s not too late for planting lilies in pots (although you may have already done this in autumn).

Many lily varieties are suitable such as the ever popular and richly fragranced Lilium regale, ‘Stargazer’ or the pollen-free but scented bloom types like ‘Polar Star’ or ‘Broken Heart’. Choose a large, deep pot at least 25cm (10in) in diameter for three to four bulbs and make sure there is a layer of drainage at the base, for example crocks or gravel. Use a mixture of 60 percent loam-based potting mix (John Innes No 3) with about 20 percent added horticultural grit to improve drainage, plus 20 percent leaf mould or ericaceous peat free compost. Incorporate controlled-release fertiliser granules in the mixture to ensure plants are fed through the growing season. Bulbs should be planted with the pointed tip facing upwards and the basal plate with hairy roots dangling down. Plant stem rooting lily bulbs – those that root from the base and also the stem just above the base (Lilium longiflorum for instance) at a depth of 2-3 times the bulb height, and those that are basal rooting lilies such as the Asiatic hybrids for example Lilium maculatum, (although they are not normally scented) at a depth the same as the height of the bulb. Position in sun or part shade and water regularly. Taller plants may need staking.

NB lilies are potentially harmful to cats: see RSPCA website: www.rspca.org.uk or the feline advisory bureau: https://icatcare.org

You can find a range of bulbs online or in store right now.

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Starting off seed potatoes

First and second early potatoes are sprouted (chitted) before planting. This helps reduce the time the tubers spend in the ground and may lead to increased yields.

Put the seed potatoes in a single layer on a seed tray (or an egg box) with the end with the most ‘eyes’ or buds facing upwards. Keep in a cool, light, frost free place (an unheated room is ideal, but avoid direct sunlight). Dark shoots should grow to about 5cm (2in) within around 6 weeks. If conditions are too dark and warm – shoots will be pale and leggy. Choose four strong shoots and rub off all weaker shoots.

The tubers are now ready to plant in the ground, as long as soil conditions are suitable – around March in sheltered areas; April in colder places.

You can find a range of seed potatoes online or in store now.

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Protecting Your Plants Roots Over Winter

With the nights drawing darker by the minute and the daytime temperatures slowly decreasing, now is the perfect time to finish off those odd little bits within your garden, with one of the top priorities being to protect your plants by mulching up around them for added protection and warmth.

For your more established plants, protection isn’t needed as much as it is for your younger plants. With a major drop in temperatures, younger more delicate plants are at a high risk of being damaged or even killed off once the frost penetrates their root systems. The traditional method that has been used for generations to protect these more fragile plants is to use Mulch

The best form of Mulch has to be good old stable manure and non is better for this job than our Country Natural Stable Manure.

contnatorgstblman_1000For existing plants that need protection, simply add the stable manure to a little of the existing compost/soil and create a little mound around the base of the plants. Do this individually to create a warmth barrier around the root systems and to add much needed winter protection.

Another great use for the Country Natural Stable Manure is for preparing your garden for next year prior to planting plants or veg. Not only does it greatly improve the structure of your soil but it also helps to retain the water that some soils can’t hold on to. Its main job is to feed the soil the nutrients from when it breaks down and thus, creating the perfect environment for your fruit and veg next year. Simply scatter generously onto the soil/compost area you wish to use next year and turn it over with a garden folk until it is all mixed in. Over the next months, any frosts will help to kill off any bacteria that is in the soil and with the added bonus of the stable manure, you’ll have the perfect start for a wonderful crop of veg or plants in your garden for next year.

Ornamental Fruits for your Small Scale Garden

Most people love holly with its rich shiny leaves and bright red berries. There are many other plants with highly ornamental fruit that provide interest, often during autumn and winter when flowers are scarce. The following are a few of the many choices available.

Starting small with the summer dormant bulb Arum italicum subsp. italicum ‘Marmoratum’. It has short columns of showy red berries in autumn, followed by marbled leaves that last through winter. Plant this with Hellebores and spring bulbs and it will naturalise if happy. Another lowly, often overlooked plant is the Gladwin iris, Iris foetidissima, with informal clusters of red berries in winter and fan-shaped spikes of green leaves. This is useful in difficult shady or dry places, a plant of quiet quality. Finally try Honesty, Lunaria annua. (Also available with showy variegated foliage). The sprays of white or purple flowers are followed by rounded white papery seed pods that appear in summer and which are loved by children.

Ornamental Fruit

Moving on to compact and medium-sized shrubs there are new ranges of the Tutsan, Hypericum that have been developed with a resistance to the rust disease that had blighted them. Some of these have names prefixed with  ‘Magical’ or ’Miracle’. They are truly eye-candy when the shiny yellow flowers combine with clusters of berries from late summer. The berries are coloured in shades of white, pink, red, and mahogany, all eventually turning black. One example is Hypericum x inodorum Magical Sunshine = ‘Kolmasun’. They make attractive shrubs, around a metre in height with pleasing foliage and a neat shape that looks good in the foreground. Try some of the smaller and sometimes prostrate cotoneasters that have white flowers in May and masses of berries from August or September. The low-growing or prostrate Cotoneaster conspicuus ‘Decorus’ has orange-red autumnal fruits. For a characterful plant, good in a container or enhancing a rockery or raised bed the small but craggy Cotoneaster microphyllus has small red berries that last and last.

Ornamental Fruit

Many roses have showy hips (don’t deadhead if you want these to develop), they include the prickly Rosa ‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’ that has fragrant pink flowers. Finally, the exceptional flagon fruits of red-flowered Rosa ‘Sealing Wax’ stands around 2.5 metres in height but can have lower shrubs planted in the foreground.

Many climbers also have showy fruits. The bold pyracantha is probably the supremo for in-your-face displays of red or orange berries from autumn. Among the number available is Pyracantha Saphyr Orange = ‘Cadange’.

Ornamental Fruit

For something different there are the purple autumn pods of the annual climber Lablab purpureus ‘Ruby Moon’. If you are really brave and can handle a 12 metre high climber, there’s the shiny green wall-covering leaves of Celastrus orbiculatus. Its fruits are curious with yellow-lined pods that burst open to show its red berries. For a warm spot the subtle Schisandra rubriflora has dangling red flowers and red fruits, both distinctive and unusual.

Ornamental Fruit

If you have room for larger shrubs consider the native guelder rose in the beautiful form Viburnum opulus ‘Compactum’ with clusters of shiny red fruits. The larger Viburnum opulus ‘Xanthocarpum’ is a beauty with its translucent orange berries. For intrigue, try the blue berries of Clerodendrum trichotomum, the large but delicate sprays of red berries on Nandina domestica ‘Richmond’, that last all through winter, or, finally, the violet fruit of Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii ‘Profusion’ these have a haunting quality all their own, most effective in late autumn.

Ornamental Fruit

There are also plenty of ornamental fruits on trees, but these have to wait till next time when ‘Trees for Small Gardens’ will be covered.

Enjoy!

This blog post was kindly contributed by Susan A Tindall.

Brand new to Longacres | Miniature World from Vivid Arts

Vivid Arts Miniature World Display

So many of us are renting houses or flats these days that not all of us have the luxury of a large garden, nor the time, to be able to make it lavish and beautifully planted. Similarly, many people are downsizing their gardens, or may only have some planters and pots on a garden patio. As a result of this, many people have begun a hobby of creating miniature gardens.

The craze of creating miniature ‘fairy-sized’ gardens kicked off in the USA and has finally reached our shores, and we at Longacres are thrilled to be a part of it.

Vivid Arts Miniature World DisplayBrand new to Longacres Garden Centre is the Vivid Arts Miniature World range, a wide selection of hand-painted and highly detailed fairy doors, cobbled paths, wildlife, lamp posts, garden gnomes, gypsy caravans, bridges, terracotta pots and much, much more. Along with our extensive range of plants, pots and planters we have everything you need to create your very own miniature world.

You can view and order the Vivid Arts Miniature World range on our website. Alternatively you could pop in to our Bagshot store and see the beautiful display we have in our houseplants area if you require some inspiration, where our knowledgeable team will be able to offer some great advice on which plants would really complement your miniature garden.

Prices of the ornaments range from just £2.49 to £21.99.

Here are some of our top tips for creating a miniature garden:

  • Vivid Arts Miniature World DisplayYou can create them in a window box, an overgrown area, your garden’s border – you can even revive an old broken pot too! So long as they are in an area where they won’t be harmed by too much sunlight or water (it all depends on which plants you choose – feel free to ask a member of our plants team for advice if you are unsure!)
  • Miniature gardens work both indoors or outdoors – just make sure you don’t over water an indoor one!
  • Be prepared to frequently maintain your miniature garden. They are living and breathing after all – just a few snips here and there will stop the garden looking overgrown.
  • Cobbled paths and wooden fences really add to the realism of the garden.
  • Dwarf and slow-growing plants work really well in miniature gardens!

Autumn Bulbs at Longacres Garden Centre

It seems like Autumn has arrived doesn’t it? Hard to believe we’re only just approaching the end of August.  At least the rain is good for our gardens (and ducks apparently). Whilst many of your plants are still blooming in the garden, the weather is definitely beginning to change and it would seem a good time to consider the next crop of flowers that you would like to see in your tubs and borders.  Bulb planting time has arrived.

At Longacres you can choose from a wide range of bulbs.

At Longacres you can choose from a wide range of bulbs.

One of the advantages of bulbs is that we tend to forget about them a bit after planting, and then get a lovely surprise the following spring.   Having a range of bulbs within your garden or pots can mean you are treated to flowers almost year round.

Many of us probably think of plants in terms of those that traditionally bloom in spring – daffodils, crocus, tulip – and those that bloom in summer.  However, there are many that happily bloom in autumn and even mid-winter. Cyclamen, for example, can survive in temperatures from zero degrees upwards and come in a range of stunning colours.  Winter Aconite, with their look very similar to that of the humble buttercup, can flower from late winter to early spring.  The Lance Leaved Lily produces fragrant flowers from late summer through to early autumn.  Not forgetting the Chinese Chive, or to give it its Latin name – Allium Tuberosum. Doesn’t that sound like a great Harry Potter spell?

Autumn Bulbs at Longacres

Bulbs are an ideal choice for young children.

At Longacres you can choose from a wide range of bulbs for your pots and borders; some of which are on fantastic deals of 3 for £10 and 3 for £12.  Bulbs are an ideal choice for young children as, unlike established flowering plants, they cannot really damage a bulb when planting – especially if they are as enthusiastic about gardening as their parents!

Both children (and adults, of course) may like to take advantage of our ‘cram a pot’ section.   A large pot of daffodil bulbs is just £3.99 – and you can even keep the pot!  Also on offer are a range of specialist bulb planters, starting at just £1.99.  You can find them all around the bulb section.

Autumn Bulbs at Longacres

Longacres offers a ‘cram a pot’ section in their bulbs area.

We look forward to seeing you at Longacres soon.

Using Hydrangeas in the Garden

HydrangeaIn a container:
Hydrangeas all enjoy plenty of moisture. If you can’t, or don’t wish to spend time watering the garden but can manage a few containers, fill one or more with hydrangeas. Paired pots of hydrangeas are round in shape, have a formal look and look good placed one each side of a path or entrance. Try the stylish white-flowered Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Black Steel Zebra’ which is around a metre in height and spread, with a floral season that starts in July. For a really compact container plant the 45cm high Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Papillon‘ which has flowers that are pink in alkaline soil and shaped like some begonias. This could be placed with containers of Begonia (Nonstop Series), to intriguing effect and they should both start to flower during July.

In the border:
Hydrangeas can be surprisingly effective as part of a mixed planting in a flower border. The more delicate flowers of the lacecap forms with their domed heads can be interesting.  For pink flowers try with frothy magenta pink Astilbes such as Astilbe chinensis var. tacquetii ‘Superba’, or as a contrast to elegant hardy Lobelias such as Lobelia ‘Compton Pink’. Alternatively the exuberant whorled flowers of Monarda such as pale pink Monarda ‘Fishes’ make good companions.

If you have acidic soil and can grow those elusive blue hydrangeas (for example 1.5 metre high lacecap Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Zorro’, try them with the dark blue columnar flowers of monkshood such as Aconitum napellus, the warm lavender-blue of Phlox paniculata ‘Eventide’, or the stately pale blue spikes of Veronicastrum virginicum. All these border selections enjoy plenty of moisture.
Hydrangea

For something dramatic:
Hydrangea paniculata forms can stand 3 metres or more in height and are at their best from late summer, going through autumn. They develop large heads of conical flowers, often white or pink, and turn pink with age. They are spectacular in flower, yet often overlooked. These need plenty of moisture and acidic or neutral soil. Try 3 metres tall Hydrangea paniculata ‘Brussels Lace’, or for a small garden use modern cultivars at half the height such as Hydrangea paniculata ‘Silver Dollar’. Smaller Hydrangea macrophylla or serrata forms can be grown in front of them. They can also be grown in the company of other stalwart garden favourites with different seasons of interest such as spring flowering Forsythia, the colourful winter stems of dogwoods such as Cornus sanguinea ‘Magic Flame’, or evergreens such as Camellia and Pieris.

For exceptional foliage:
The oak leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia forms) have large leaves, like those of an oak in their shape. They have rich autumn tints as well as beautiful flowers and can look sumptuous. These come in a range of sizes but at 1.5 metres, with a greater spread, try Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Sikes Dwarf’. These hydrangeas look beautiful when grown with witch hazels such as the pale yellow winter flowers of Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ which has fine autumn colour that complements the hydrangea.

For that awkward wall:
Hydrangeas can be the perfect solution. In the mildest parts of the country try Hydrangea serratifolia. For north-facing walls, Hydrangea anomala subsp. Petiolaris with its white lacecap flowers in spring, is a first rate choice.

Enjoy!

This blog post was contributed by Susan A. Tindall

Wild Flower Tillers Turf featured on Love Your Garden!

Did anyone watch last night’s (Tuesday 11th August) final (and emotional!) episode of Love Your Garden with Alan Titchmarsh? If so, you probably spotted the beautiful wild flower turf from Tillers Turf. We here at Longacres are very proud stockists of Tillers Turf, with fresh deliveries coming in daily!

What are the benefits of wild flower turf?

  • It boosts the biodiversity value of the built environment by attracting in a wide range of pollinators
  • It helps to re-establish wildflower species that are under threat
  • It provides outstanding visual interest from early spring to late autumn
  • It creates an immediate visual effect
  • It is cost effective and requires low maintenance

If the wild flower turf particularly caught your eye and is something you’d like for your own garden, it is available as a special order; speak to a member of our friendly information staff for more details by calling us on 01276 476778.

Below are some behind the scenes photographs from the show!

Tillers Turf on Love Your GardenTillers Turf on Love Your GardenTillers Turf on Love Your Garden

Understanding Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas have showy flowers that last for a long time. Most hydrangeas enjoy part or even full shade, and they come in a large range of sizes, many being suited to growing in containers. They sound like the perfect garden plant. What else do you need to know about them?

Blue and pink
Pink HydrangeaThe flower colour of hydrangeas that aren’t white are in the blue and pink colour ranges. These shades change in response to the acidity or the alkalinity of the soil they are grown in. If you have chalky soil your blue-flowered hydrangea will gradually change to pink. This can be upsetting if you’ve planned a dreamy blue-flowered garden. If you can successfully grow healthy camellias or any rhododendrons in your garden borders, you have acidic soil. If you can grow blueberries, you have very acidic soil. Otherwise, it is likely that your soil is neutral or alkaline. You can grow your hydrangea in a container with acidic compost, and water using rainwater. It is worth the effort for one fabulous blue specimen.

Blue flower treatments
The acid to alkaline measure or the soil’s pH is, like earthquake measurements, increased by ten with each unit. Neutral soil is pH 7, and acidic soil at pH 6 is ten times more acidic than neutral. Although it is possible to ‘blue-up’ your hydrangeas, it only really works if your soil is slightly, rather than extremely acidic. In the old days, piles of nails were put round hydrangeas to release iron into the soil.

Blue HydrangeaThe mineral aluminium is largely responsible for Hydrangea ‘blues’. Alkalinity “locks up” the aluminium so the plant can’t absorb it, the addition of iron to the soil releases the aluminium content to the plant. Nowadays ’treatment’ comes in packets. Sequestrol which contains Iron chelate, can be watered in to the soil. Aluminium sulphate applied at 250 grams to the square metre, puts aluminium into the soil which the plant can absorb. Sulphur applied at 150 grams per square metre, lowers the pH by a useful 0.5. Treatments are likely to be needed annually, and using rainwater rather than the generally alkaline tap water helps when watering. An old party trick is to blue-up just one side of a hydrangea, so you get different flower colours on the same plant!

Mopheads and Lacecaps
Hydrangea flowers, especially in the case of the common garden ‘macrophylla’ form, have two types of flower. The “mophead” (Hortensia) has big, rounded flowerheads packed with individual florets that are sterile, and tiny fertile flowers that are hardly visible. The “lacecap” heads are flattish, and have tiny fertile flowers at their heart and showy infertile ones, often held on short stems, round the edges. Hydrangea macrophylla Early Blue = ‘Hba 202911’ is a mophead, while Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Taube’ (Teller Series) is a lacecap.

From traditional to trendy
The rather stolid image of the hydrangea has changed in recent years. Some of the new varieties are elegant, even dramatic. Hydrangeas have an important role to play in the most modern and stylish garden. One change to modern forms doesn’t involve the flowers at all. Varieties are now available that have shiny black stems, such as Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Black Steel Zebra’. Other varieties have near black foliage and flowers that change colour with age. These, and many more will be covered in next month’s article “Using hydrangeas in the garden”.

Enjoy!
This blog post was contributed by Susan A. Tindall