Category Archives: Plants

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.

Hanging baskets and bedding plants at Longacres

It’s still not feeling too warm outside, but at least you can give your garden a splash of colour with our range of bedding plants and hanging baskets.

We have a large range of bedding plants currently available, starting from just £1.39 for single geraniums, and £2.29 for box bedding (and the range of bedding at Longacres is second to none!)

We have a range of hanging baskets in all sizes and colours available – starting from just £9.99.

hanging baskets at Longacres

If you prefer to make your own hanging baskets up, here at Longacres we provide everything you need from brackets and liners, through to drip feeders and plant selections.  You can even chose the colour scheme you desire from one of our selection packs, especially chosen for the variety of plants they contain to bring out the best in your hanging basket displays.

If you aren’t the greatest at remembering to water your plants, don’t forget we also offer a wide range of artificial hanging baskets, along with attractive artificial Gardman and Cadix Buxus Balls.

For all your bedding and hanging basket needs, we look forward to welcoming you to Longacres soon.

Planning Your Small Scale Garden

Part 2 – Planting Your Small Scale Garden


In a small garden every plant counts and plants with ‘multi-season’ interest are particularly valuable. Look for plants that offer flowers and fruit, foliage and flowers, or plants that have autumn colour or interesting stems or foliage during winter.

Plants that have both flowers and fruit
These include plants that have the added bonus of foliage interest as well. Berberis forms can really come into their own here, for example the tiny Berberis thunbergii ‘Tiny Gold’ which has yellow leaves, young red shoots, yellow spring flowers and red fruit in autumn. Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea ‘Admiration’ has red-orange leaves but is otherwise similar. There is now a range of disease-resistant Hypericum which have yellow flowers and coloured fruits, try Hypericum Magical Beauty = ‘Kolmbeau’ for its berries that start peachy-pink. If you want a good-sized, handsome shrub the fan-shaped, golden-leaved Leycesteria formosa Golden Lanterns = ‘Notbruce’ has red flowers and purple fruits that provide interest all summer through.Small Garden Flowers and Fruit
Plants that have winter interest
Consider flowering plants with foliage that changes colour in winter. Some Hebes have this quality, coming in a range of sizes and needing a spot that has sunshine in winter. Try the compact Hebe ‘Caledonia’ with violet flowers and rose-purple winter foliage whilst Hebe ‘Pascal’ has copper-red winter foliage. Amongst herbaceous plants Bergenia often have burnished winter foliage, for example Bergenia ‘Overture’ has bright pink spring flowers and leaves that are burgundy in winter. The stems of dogwoods can positively glow in winter sunlight – for beautiful variegated foliage and red stems try Cornus alba ‘Spaethi’ or Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ for good autumn colour followed by orange winter stems. These are cut back to near ground-level in spring, once established.Small Garden Winter Interest Plants
Plants with exceptional foliage
Evergreens in particular can provide interest throughout the year. Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Gold Star’ has dainty shimmering foliage and can be pruned for containment if space is limited. In warm gardens the exotic Coprosma and Lophomyrtus forms, some of which change colour at different seasons, can be fascinating. Try Coprosma repens ‘Tequila Sunrise’ or Lophomyrtus x ralphii ‘Red Dragon’ with red to black foliage. Slow but beautiful Nandina domestica ‘Wood’s Dwarf’ glows red in winter and is gold, green and red in summer. For foliage drama where a feature plant can be accommodated Fatsia japonica ‘Spiser’s Web’ is exotic, with huge variegated leaves.
Plants with Exceptional Foliage
Plants for a hot and dry place
Where your garden has a hot and dry area, herbaceous plants can be invaluable. Slugs permitting, try Alstroemeria, coming in a huge range of sizes and happy in a container, such as Alstroemeria ‘Orange Gem’. Striking Abutilon with big bell-flowers can be grown as annuals, try apricot-flowered Abutilon ‘Linda Vista Peach’. Colourful Zinnias have a long season, if deadheaded, an example being Zinnia marylandica ‘Zahara Yellow’ (Zahara Series). Sedums also have a place in a hot spot. In winter they provide architectural interest with their flat brown seed heads, try grey purple Sedum ‘Matrona’. Frothy purple fennel is lovely placed at the rear, especially Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’. Requiring little attention Salvias, such as the small shrub Salvia microphylla ‘Pink Blush’ has rich pink flowers for months whilst silvered Convolvulus cneorum is decorative all summer.Plants for a Hot and Dry Place

This has just dipped a toe into the possibilities. We haven’t even started on walls and fences that can be clad in repeat-flowering climbing Roses paired with Clematis…

Enjoy!

This blog post was kindly contributed by Susan A. Tindall

Valentine’s Day Flowers from Longacres

It’s not just a hint of snow that’s in the air at the moment, but good old love as well.  Yes, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner now, and as we like to say here ‘The early bird catches the £5 off discount’.  Okay, maybe not such a traditional quote, but one to bear in mind!

Dozen Red Roses BouquetHere at Longacres we are giving you the opportunity to show how much you love that someone special in your life by offering a hand tied bouquet of a dozen red roses in a lovely presentation box for just £34.99!  That’s a great saving of £5 on the usual price.  You need to place your order quickly though as this offer expires at 11:59 on 7th February.  You could then spend that extra £5 on a nice box of chocolates from our food section (we won’t tell anyone if you decide to eat them all yourself) or perhaps add a shiny red heart balloon to your arrangement for £2.99?

Lindor Chocolate Arrangement

Lindor Chocolate Arrangement

If the love of your life is a bit of an orchid fan, how about a vase filled with delicious Lindor chocolates and topped with a stunning arrangement of roses and orchids for £39.99?  More of a traditionalist but want a twist? No problem! 12 beautiful red roses with gypsophila, carefully created by our talented florists, can be yours for just £44.99.

Maybe you prefer that understated romantic gesture of a single red rose, beautifully wrapped for £5.99, or a gorgeous rose gift pack containing 12 short stem roses with delicate diamonte detail, a box of Lindt chocolates and a bottle of rose wine for just £34.99.

Shamrock Hand Tied Bouquet

Shamrock Hand Tied Bouquet

If you are looking for something different this year, we have a stunning hand tied bouquet of gerberas, pink roses and chrysanths for £25.99.  As well as for the romantics amongst you, this is also a stunning bouquet to send to the other special ladies in your life – your grandma, mum or daughter, with love.

To see the full range of Valentine’s Day cut flowers, take a look at the Longacres website. Now, where has that Barry White CD gone?

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!

Hellebores – the Christmas rose

Hellebores must be in the top ten of desirable garden plants, delivering flowers from December to May, and generally lasting for years if happy in your garden. The simple charm of the wild species has been supplemented by ever more complex hybrids to produce plants that are beautiful in both leaf and flower, excellent in a container as well as the garden.

Hellebores

Helleborus niger the Christmas rose, has always been one of the earliest forms to flower, often, as the name suggests, around Christmas. In recent years showier forms have been introduced with marbled foliage and flowers that turn pink with age, an example being Helleborus niger HGC Snow Frills = ‘Coseh 230’. The robust Helleborus argutifolius with its pale green scented flowers, is an old favourite and good for lightening shady spots. Its easy-going habit may not appeal to those who like rigidly disciplined plants.

Hellebores

The Helleborus x hybridus forms look particularly good planted in the garden. There are both single and double-flowered forms in shades of black, purple, maroon, red, white, cream and yellow. Many of them hang their heads so, in the manner of snowdrops, you need to lift the flower gently upwards with a finger in order to reveal the beauty within. Those with light-coloured flowers, for example Helleborus x hybridus Ashwood Garden hybrids – cream-spotted are visible at a distance and can be positioned so they can be enjoyed from a window. The dark-flowered forms, like the dark beauty Helleborus x hybridus ‘Hillier’s hybrid slate’, have an alluring mystery, so mysterious that they can completely disappear from view if incorrectly placed, so put these in the foreground. Elegant single-flowered forms, Helleborus x hybridus ‘Harvington double yellow’ for instance, can be combined with the many-petalled doubles.

Hellebores can be planted in small well-spaced groups or dotted amongst spring bulbs, pulmonaria, epimedium and primroses. Plan for their summer foliage effect when spacing plants as hellebores can become substantial. The hellebore x hybridus varieties have large whorled leaflets and, as they mature, make a mound of dark green foliage that makes a quiet interlude when not in flower. They can usefully be planted in front of taller deciduous shrubs that will be a highlight in your garden at other seasons. They thrive in part or light shade and can be planted on the ‘shady side’ of large plants, provided there is an access path that can be used to view them.  During winter, when, or before the plant flowers, the old leaves are best cut to the ground so the flowers are visible, the young foliage swiftly re-grows.

Hellebores

Luscious hybrids have been developed to maximise foliage, as well as floral appeal. These are both expensive and irresistible. They merit extra care, with soil that is always moist, a sheltered, partly shaded position and some space. They can work well as ‘spot plants’ in the garden, or often succeed best as specimens in large containers. Helleborus (Rodney Davey Marbled Group) ‘Anna’s Red’ with pink and green marbled foliage, Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pirouette’ with jagged silvered foliage, and dusky pink Helleborus x ballardiae Snow Dance = ‘Coseh 800’ among many others, are good examples of these aristocrats.

Enjoy!

This blog post was kindly contributed by Susan A. Tindall

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

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

Hebes in the Garden

Garden centres and online sites usually have a gathering of Hebes. The featured plants are generally small with long shiny leaves that may be green or carry bright, even curious variegation. There are often ‘tussocks’ of flowers in just about every shade but yellow or orange. They are indeed hard to resist, and are ideal subjects for containers on the patio. Surely one can do more with them.

Hebe 'Sparkling Sapphires'

Hebe ‘Sparkling Sapphires’

Containers have their uses. They are a good setting for many modern cultivars that have variegated foliage, Hebe ‘Sparkling Sapphires’ for example could be used in a pair of containers set on each side of a pathway. The golden foliage of Hebe ‘Golden Anniversary’ can provide a warm gold backdrop to busy containers that froth with annuals.

They can also look remarkably good planted in a border or as a feature, primarily for foliage interest. Invest in a group of three, choosing plants with a good solid form, such as Hebe ‘Autumn Glory’ with glossy green leaves and purple flowers in August and September. Plant in a triangle set half a metre from each other and this will develop as a striking feature for year round interest. This would contrast well with other variegated and showy plants. If you want just one plant, the willow-like foliage of Hebe salicifolia and its frothy mass of white flowers in summer, is a delight.

Hebe Bronze Glow = 'Lowglo'

Hebe Bronze Glow = ‘Lowglo’

Hebes also look surprisingly good planted singly in borders, or round the feet of roses. The rather unattractive rose stems can be completely hidden by a compact Hebe. Try Hebe Bronze Glow = ‘Lowglo’ with its bronzed foliage and blue spring flowers that combine so well with tulips in spring and pink or red roses in summer.

In addition to these lush, leafy Hebes there are other distinctive varieties. For sheltered spots the silvered grey and blue leaves of dainty Hebe ‘Glaucophylla Variegata’ can make an exceptional contribution. Use it as a tall highlight above low-growing herbaceous plants in a sunny spot. Even more exquisite is silvered Hebe pimeleoides ‘Quicksilver’ which has outreaching horizontal branches, wonderful as an edging plant or on a raised bed.

Hebe 'Mrs Winder'

Hebe ‘Mrs Winder’

Hebes that have close-textured foliage such as the tight dome of Hebe recurva ‘Boughton Silver’ make a huge contribution to often shaggy and characterful plants in a Mediterranean-style garden. The whipleaf Hebes with their conifer-like branches can make tiny specimens in a rock garden. Hebe ochraceae ‘James Stirling‘ (a curious shade of burnt gold, is highly distinctive.

Finally, Hebes for winter colour. Many Hebes have foliage that changes colour in cold weather, a valuable asset indeed for those long dull months. If you have space, try the magnificent Hebe ‘Mrs Winder’ coloured red-mahogany in winter, or the smaller Hebe ‘Caledonia’ which is rose-purple is equally good. There are others, worth a bit of research in your Plant Finder, if you have trouble choosing the one among many that are on offer.

Enjoy your Hebes.

This blog post was contributed by Susan A. Tindall