Tag Archives: outdoors

Rockin’ Colour – New to Longacres

For when you want something a little bit more eye catching and bright in your garden, you need Rockin’ Colour!

Forget your quite little corner of peace and bliss; some people want a garden that the astronauts can see from the International Space Station! And we can’t blame them; everyone wants something different and there isn’t much that’s more different than our Rockin’ Colour range!

Our 20kg bags are currently £5.99 each or 2 for £10, so you can fill up your garden and make it a unique place to spend time in for less. You can view our range online by clicking here.

Love it or hate it? Let us know in the comments section below!

Flower Display (Large)

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.

Real Christmas Trees from Longacres Garden Centre

Christmas is just around the corner!  Where has the year gone?  Here at Longacres we have a huge array of Christmas trees ready for you to dress in your favourite colours and styles, with potted trees available from early November, and cut trees from the end of November.

Potted Christmas Trees

Whether you prefer a non-drop Nordmann Fir or a potted Blue Spruce, we have a range of trees and heights for you to choose from.  Don’t forget to order early for any trees 10ft or above as they do sell out quickly!   You can order your tree online and pop in to collect it when convenient using our Click and Collect service.

Real Christmas Trees

Fancy a bigger tree this year but worried you won’t fit it in (or on) your car?  Worry not!  We provide a delivery service (local area only) with named-day delivery, 7 days per week, for just £5.

Wreaths and GarlandsIf you don’t have the time to decorate your tree, our lovely florists provide a tree decoration service in situ.  Please enquire for pricing.

As well as trees, we have a range of holly wreaths, reindeer planters (which also make great Christmas gifts), and tree stands.

Reindeer Planters

Tree DecorationsIf you’re not keen on a real tree we have a large variety of artificial trees, including pre-lit ones, ready for collection.  Of course no tree would be complete without its decorations.  We have an amazing assortment of Christmas decorations available, from delicate glass baubles to strings of glittering lights, to complement your tree and your home, at this festive time of year.  Don’t forget the fairy or star for the top!

Before you plan your shopping trip to Longacres, remember that Santa is now in his grotto right up until Christmas Eve.   So, how about surprising the little ones with a trip to see the man himself?   For more information, click here. We hope to see you soon!

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!
Colourful Christmas Lights

Safety Tips When Using Christmas Lights | Longacres Garden Centre

Keeping Things Festive This Christmas: All About Christmas Lights Safety

The Christmas season is one of the most celebrated events of the year. To brighten up the cold dark nights homeowners decorate with festive and colourful lights, from the interiors and exteriors to their Christmas trees.

As electricity and cold weather do not mix well, you need to ensure the security of the lights and their wires. By keeping your house safe from electrical problems and fire, you can relax and enjoy the festivities. This gives you peace of mind knowing that the only things that will light up are the bulbs, not your entire house.

Quality Over Price

First, never purchase substandard products. These lights may save you some money, but when things go wrong, you may end up spending more. It is logical to choose more costly yet quality lights, as these have less chance of malfunctioning and blowing up.

For Outdoor Lights

If you are planning to place the lights outside, always get ones that are specifically for outdoors. These specialised Christmas lights have distinct materials that enable them to withstand the rain, snow and other elements. If the lights are damaged, replace or throw them away immediately. Do not try to reuse them.

For Christmas Trees

Artificial trees are readily available. If you want to keep a real one, however, you have to be extra careful, as wood burns easily. Choose a freshly chopped tree because old ones have probably dried out, making them a bigger fire hazard. Always keep a fire extinguisher around in case the lights blow up.

Reusing Old Lights

One way to save money during the Christmas season is by reusing decorations from last year. Be careful with lights, though. Before placing them around the house, test them out to see if they still work properly.

As Christmas is fast approaching, it is ideal to shop around for festive decorations that will light up your house. Here at Longacres Garden Centre, we offer artificial pre-lit Christmas trees and a wide range of Christmas lights. These products come in a variety of designs to meet individual needs and tastes, whether you like plain or multi-coloured lights. Browse our selection of high-quality products and contact us today for inquiries.

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.

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

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

English hedgehogs in a dramatic decline… but we can all help!

Hedgehog

At the age of 23, I can honestly say that I have only a handful of memories of ever seeing a hedgehog. When I was around the age of 6 or 7, me and my family became aware of very timid hedgehog visiting our garden in the evenings for a spot of dinner. Sometimes we’d catch a glimpse of it but not always… and after a week or so it stopped visiting.

I vividly remember one evening my mum waking me up and excitedly telling me to go and look at something outside. Confused and sleepily I stepped forwards slowly and could see the hedgehog in the middle of the grass… but it was hunched over and didn’t look quite right. For a horrible few moments I worried that it had hurt itself, but on closer inspection we noticed the hedgehog drop something.. it had been holding a baby hedgehog! The mother took a few small steps backwards, allowing me and my mum to really get a closer look of the baby. After a minute or so, the mother stepped forwards, picked up her baby, walked away and we never saw her again.

It felt like she had been using our garden as a maternity ward and before leaving wanted us to understand why she had been there. It is a fond memory of mine, especially as I haven’t ever seen a hedgehog since.

SOS Logo

Were you aware that, devastatingly, English hedgehogs are disappearing about as fast as tigers are worldwide? To be more precise – they are in decline by around 97%. Surprisingly, there is also evidence to suggest that they are suffering just as badly in the wider countryside as they are in more built-up areas.

This shocking revelation comes as a result of a number of different factors: loss of hedgerows and grassland due to urban development, digestion of pesticides and herbicides, and believe it or not but even tidy and sterile gardens have majorly contributed (fences and roads have been pushing hedgehogs into smaller inhabitable areas).

But we can all help to stop this species being lost forever through a number of different ways:

  1. Place down some tubing in your garden and fill it with dried mealworms, cat food and water (make sure it’s large enough for a hedgehog – you don’t want it to get stuck!). This provides a fantastic and cost-effective home or pit-stop for passing hedgehogs.
  2. Leave a messy patch in your garden (compost heaps or log piles work too!) and hedgehogs may use these to create a nest for hibernating or rearing babies – messy patches are beneficial to hedgehogs because they attract insects!
  3. Hedgehogs won’t ever stay in just one garden – they need more space: streets, neighbourhoods and linked gardens. You could help make this possible by cutting one or two small holes in your garden fence (approximately 13cm x 13cm in diameter) to allow them to move easily around from garden-to-garden – then make sure to let all your friends and neighbours know to do the same!
  4. Wildlife World Hogilo House

    Hogilo House from Wildlife World

    For those of you with a bit more cash to spare, why not consider buying a Wildlife World Hedgehog House (£47.99?) or a Wildlife World Hogilo Hedgehog House (£44.99)? Place these in a shady and peaceful area of your garden – and make sure that you’ve cut a hole in your fence for them to access it! Both of these homes can be bought online or in store from Longacres Bagshot and Shepperton.

  5. Don’t litter! Even something as small as an elastic band can kill a hedgehog.
  6. Donate to a hedgehog charity and provide funding for research into ways to stop hedgehogs from going into extinction. You could even fundraise for them by holding a charity event!
  7. Try to avoid treating your lawn with herbicide and putting down slug pellets.. these can kill hedgehogs if digested in large doses.

For many of us, hedgehogs played a part in childhood memories of ours, but at this rate our future generations won’t be lucky enough to ever see one.. so let’s all get involved and help save the species!

Hedgehog