As a customer said to me the other day, you really couldn’t have written the script for this winter weather. Mild wet weather isn’t winter-
SHOP NEWS: MOSS, BIRDCARE, TOOLS & PLUG PLANTS
The mild weather is causing problems with lawns, warns Peter Mason. At the time of writing my lawn has a dandelion and several daisies in bloom, and moss and moss and moss. It's a bit early to treat moss, but you can be ready by taking advantage of some mad clearance prices on moss killers.
For instance Green Up MossFree Lawn Tonic 83m² is reduced from £6.99 to £2.99 each or 2 for £5.00. Scotts Lawn Builder + Moss control 100m² was £10.99 and is now £3.99. The 400m² size was £32.99 and is now £9.99. Please hurry as stocks are limited and must be sold by 29th February. The products can be used for the rest of the year.
The birds have been very hungry despite the mild weather, and will be even hungrier as natural food becomes scarcer. They will also be looking for nest boxes in a couple of month’s time. We have our usual wide range of food and feeders and boxes. Look out for some massive price reductions, particularly on Gardman products in our "Cheep" Prices -
We now stock Kent & Stowe garden tools in the Shop and we read with interest one of their stainless steel spades has recently won the Gardeners’ World magazine’s coveted Best Buy award! The stainless steel spade is sturdy and well balanced with an ash wooden shaft and Y-
We start selling young seasonal summer bedding ‘Plug Plants’ from mid-
In the Houseplant department we have a rather special combination gift idea featuring a red ceramic pot with a gorgeous white Phalaenopsis orchid displayed in a gold sleeve -
PLANTS OF THE MOMENT
Hellebores prefer a well-
Flowering earlier than normal this year, Camellias certainly don’t disappoint. The cold winter of 2010 saw many people losing their beloved plants and I think we’ve taken a while to reconnect with them. If the last couple of months are any indication, camellias are certainly back for good! They require a lime-
Check out our 9cm Primroses (standard range), in a great range of colours, now 99p each, or purchase 10 for £9.00.
GARDEN CENTRE GARDEN VISITS PLANNED FOR 2016
Here are the gardens we plan to visit this year. In April the National Herb Centre with the National Trust’s Coughton Court. In May we’re up to Derbyshire to explore Chatsworth House and its amazing garden. A two centre visit to Painswick Rococo Garden and Sudelely Castle Gardens in Gloucestershire will tempt us in June.
We’re off to The Diss Experience at Blooms of Bressingham, in July, which includes the Gardens (The Dell, pictured right) and Foggy Bottom, Bressingham Steam Experience and the Dad’s Army Collection.
After our successful visit to RHS Hyde Hall and the flower show last year we thought it would be good to experience the RHS Wisley Garden and Flower Show offering in early September this year.
We hope to be visiting both Highgrove and Steane Park once again, so look out for dates as they are confirmed on our events pages. If you wish to go on a list for any of the visits, please leave your details at the Customer Service Desk.
At the small gem of Evenley Wood Garden, snowdrops were planted in large drifts and together with daffodils they create a wonderful display in an otherwise natural environment of the Wood. They flower for almost two months with the 80 varieties of snowdrop, spread throughout this 60 acre woodland garden, they provide a fantastic opportunity to discover the differences between individual varieties. The garden begins the season in February when the gates re-
Open daily from 6th February until 30th October, 11am -
For more information about the programme, please call 07789542416.
For general enquiries call 0777630784 or 07788207428, www.evenleywoodgarden.co.uk
EVENLEY WOOD GARDEN COMPETITION
We have two Evenley Wood Garden Season Tickets, worth £30 each to give away. To enter the competition for a chance of winning a Season Ticket, please answer the following question:-
Who is the owner of Evenley Wood Garden?
A. Tim Vine
B. Tim Whiteley
C. Tim Curry
Pop down your answer A, B or C together with your name and address to competition@buckingham-
The closing date for entries is 29th February. Our Competition rules apply.
MEDICAL DETECTION DOGS OUR CHOSEN CHARITY 2016 PT1
Every year staff and partners of the Garden Centre select a charity which is then promoted by various means throughout the year and this year the local charity, based in Great Horwood, Medical Detection Dogs has been adopted.
Many of you will be aware that a number of their dogs, Barton , Alice, Whizz and Kiwi (pictured below) and Ember have spent some of their time training with Pauline and Richard at the Garden Centre before moving on to clients with type one diabetes, or with Kiwi to continue training on the Bio detection team and be at the Garden Centre when she is not ‘working’. Customers will also have seen the dogs from the Medical Detection Centre in their distinctive red coats training in the shop and outside at the Garden Centre. With all the connections of the Garden Centre to this charity it seemed a good choice to try to raise some money for them and increase their profile with the public, as, not only are they always needing funds to continue their valuable work, but also more volunteers to help socialise the puppies.
If you pick up one of their leaflets from the shop, or visit their website, www.medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk, you can read in detail about the amazing work this charity is doing by working with the powerful scenting instincts of dogs to help detect and manage human disease.
There are two aspects of their work, one to train and partner dogs to alert and support people with life threatening conditions, mainly type 1 diabetes (pictured Steven with his diabetic alert dog Molly), but also Addison’s disease, Narcolepsy and severe allergies where the dogs are trained to alert their partner so preventing dangerous medical episodes such as coma and anaphylactic shock. They are continuing to investigate other health conditions which the dogs may have the ability to provide assistance for. Having met some of the people these dogs have been partnered with it is amazing to hear how partnership with a dog has completely changed the life of the partner and in many cases their whole family.
The other aspect of their work is training dogs in cancer detection. Their aims are to assist scientists through research into the development of electronic systems (E noses) that will assist in the early detection of cancer through cheap non-
MEDICAL DETECTION DOGS OUR CHOSEN CHARITY 2016 PT2
One could carry on writing about the great things this charity has and is achieving, but we need to make you aware of the things we are planning in order to help raise awareness and some money as well (we hope). The dog that really helped to launch the charity was one owned by Dr. Claire Guest, the head of the charity, whose name is Daisy, (photo of Daisy right and left) so Daisy will be our theme! The plant Daisy is one of thousands in the Asteracaea (formally Compositae) family, so all hardy plants of that family at the Garden Centre will be marked with a label with the Medical Detection Dogs logo (photo of logo) and when sold the tills will automatically allocate 10p from the value of the plant to the charity, and this is where we would like our customers to join in by donating a small sum to the charity. This will be completely voluntary, but if they would like to help there will be a Charity Collection tin by the till for them to put a donation in.
There will also be a ‘wishing well’ available somewhere at the Garden Centre, but mainly in the entrance foyer, where donations can be given. This will display some pictures of dogs and partners to help make you aware of the work, and there will be a dispenser nearby with leaflets which can picked up.
We are also working out how to organise a ‘Daisy Chain’ competition, hopefully getting local schoolchildren involved, so keep an eye out for this.
Medical Detection Dogs issue a periodic newsletter appropriately called ‘Sniff’ and in this we will be giving a special code which people can type in when ordering from our web site which will automatically donate a percentage of any orders made to the charity, and there will be an option for them to also donate when ordering.
Very attractive notelets with a portrait of ‘Daisy’ are available for sale from the gifts department of our shop and all the money from sales of these cards will go to the charity.
We hope to offer other ways to help this charity especially giving not only our local customers but also those throughout the country an easy way of helping, so keep your eyes and ears open for further news.
Pictured right former Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins with Pauline Brown and Barton whilst being socialised.
TOP TASKS FOR LATE JANUARY / FEBRUARY
GREENHOUSE Check that heaters are working. Remember to ventilate the greenhouse on sunny days. Make a start cleaning the glass and structure ready for the season ahead. Inspect Dahlia, Canna and Begonia tubers for rot or drying out.
VEGGIES Plan your crop rotation for the coming season. Spend time looking through seed catalogues to pick the varieties for this season. Continue to harvest Parsnips, Brussels, Turnips and Leeks (pictured left). Do your homework and opt for slug resistant varieties of potatoes before you buy. Good varieties to select include ‘Arran Pilot’, ‘Cara’, ‘Desiree’, ‘Estima’, ‘Maris Piper’, ‘Pentland Javelin’ and ‘Rocket’ and these are all available in store and ONLINE.
FRUIT Prune Apple and Pear trees. Remove the three ‘Ds’ dead, diseased and dying wood. Shorten the previous year’s growth on each main branch (primary) by about one third to a bud facing in the required direction. This will encourage the development of new branches and spurs and maintain a good shape. Apply an organic winter wash to fruit trees and bushes before the plants break dormancy. Prune Currants and Gooseberries especially new bush or cordons. If ground is not waterlogged or frozen you can plant bare-
PLAN your beds and borders in good time and make a wish-
ROUTINE Put out food and water for the hungry birds – check daily and clean all feeders regularly. Throw out old food and replace with fresh -
BRITAIN’S BEST KEPT SECRET GARDEN -
Wrest Park, near Silsoe in Bedfordshire is a real jewel, writes Chris Day. We discovered the house and garden last year almost by accident on a drive into the country. Wrest Park is an English Heritage Property and being long standing National Trust members we had to take a leap of faith and decided to take a nosey around.
The entrance wasn’t especially well sign-
The formality of the house is echoed in the gardens laid out by George London and Henry Wise for Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Kent, then modified by Lancelot "Capability" Brown in a more informal landscape style.
Let’s start by saying there’s plenty of obvious restoration work going on. I read that in 2006 when English Heritage took over the house, it set out on an ambitious 20-
You enter through a modern visitors centre and start by walking through the restored Italianate Garden with its fancy French curves which is stunning to look at. It was filled with glorious bedding plants and looked a picture with not a weed in sight!
The park is divided by a wide gravel central walk, continued as a long canal that leads to a Baroque pavilion banqueting house designed by Thomas Archer and completed in 1711. The interior of the pavilion is decorated with impressive Ionic columns in trompe-
Other surprises in the gardens include a tucked-
BRITAIN’S BEST KEPT SECRET GARDEN -
Then there is a small dog graveyard with headstones for family pets down the years, and a good source of inspiration for anyone stuck for a name: Douba, perhaps? Or Freuah, Una, Little Dick, Dingey, Busy, Fury, Dorroch, Phedra, Nissy, Kelpie, Tottie, Petsy or Pet.
A Wellingtonia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) planted at the end of the Crimean War in 1856 was in its earlier years brought into the house annually to serve as a Christmas tree, one of the earliest surviving examples known in the UK. Each year it is decorated with stars (pictured left) for Christmas as part of an annual ritual which is taken quite seriously!
The walks which snake around the park provide wonderful views across the countryside. There is a memorial column dedicated to Lancelot "Capability" Brown in the eastern part of the garden. Interestingly the column has the inscription: "These gardens, originally laid out by Henry Duke of Kent, were altered by Philip Earl of Hardwicke and Jemima Marchioness Grey with the professional assistance of Lancelot Brown Esq. in the years 1758, 1759, 1760."
However, for me it’s the long, Versailles-
The planting is very naturalistic throughout the park grounds and it reminds one of Stowe Landscape Gardens with Capability Brown’s midas touch in evidence.
The garden and the house together made it a memorable day and we therefore went back to the main entrance and took advantage of the opportunity to upgrade to a full English Heritage membership.
For more about Wrest Park: do check before travelling especially early in the year as opening times can vary and the house may be closed for an event. Full details can be found at the link below:
EVERY SUNDAY Stock up on your fresh fruits and vegetables as Aston Clinton-
SATURDAY 30th to SUNDAY 31stJANUARY Take part in the Big RSPB Garden Birdwatch which will bring you closer to nature. It takes just an hour and is suitable for all ages and abilities. www.rspb.org.uk to register and take part.
WEDNESDAY 10th FEBRUARY In our first talk of 2016 Chris Day discusses the issues surrounding problem garden pests and diseases in The Good, The Bad & The Bugly. Chris looks at some of the worst culprits and offers some practical solutions along the way. The talk starts at 4pm. See below for details of venue and cost.
SATURDAY 27th FEBRUARY POTATO DAY Come and chat to the veg experts – Thompson & Morgan’s Colin Randel, King’s Seeds Jason Breed, Members of the Buckinghamshire Branch of the National Allotment Society and Moulton College’s Fritz De Zutter. We’ll have plenty of varieties of seed potatoes for sale too! We also launch our new School Challenge which this year involves growing Cosmos, the flower of the year.
SUNDAY 28th FEBRUARY SPRINGTIME SCION WOOD SWAP DAY We are delighted that The Mid Shires Orchard Group are bringing their 8th Scion Wood Swap Day to the Garden Centre. You’ll be able to see and get involved in the process of apple grafting if you want to have a go. We will be selling apple rootstocks so for a small grafting fee you can bring along your own scion wood (your own specific varieties) to have them grafted whilst you wait.
WEDNESDAY 9th MARCH Local RSPB representative Barry Oxley will be joining us to talk about Gardening with Wildlife. Barry will explain how the way you garden affects the environment beyond your boundaries. Barry will be giving lots of practical advice to make your garden the perfect wildlife destination. Please see below for talk venue, entry details and cost.
WEDNESDAY 13th APRIL We are delighted to welcome Gary Leaver, Head Gardener at Hill Close Gardens in Warwick. Gary will give an insight into the history, restoration and year round appeal of these unique Victorian gardens. All our talks are in the Talks Room in the Restaurant, at the new time of 4pm, and will last approximately 45 minutes with time for questions. To book a seat please contact our Customer Service Desk. Garden Club Members free, £3 for non-
CHRISTMAS JUMPER UPDATE Back on the 18th December Garden Centre, Restaurant and Mail-
PACE UPDATE Throughout last year we were busy fundraising for the PACE Charity. Our final count for PACE, our chosen charity for 2015, is in and we will be delighted to present £578.92 for monies raised through tin collections, tombola and raffle through our Apple Weekend and Potato Event. Plus, a team from the Garden Centre took part in last May’s 20-
EAT UP AND ENJOY YOUR SPROUTS! PT1
If we believe what we read, our diet is very important and when the levels of sunlight and temperatures are lower we need to make sure our intake of vitamins from healthy fresh foods, especially vegetables and fruit, are maintained, writes Pauline Brown. Some gardeners seem to be able to produce good fresh lettuce, chicory and other vegetables all year round but I must admit I struggle and buying non-
One way to get over this, albeit to a small extent, is sprouts, but not the green knobbly ones growing on a stick but rather sprouting seeds! These really are easy to grow indoors taking up little space and they provide an excellent source of tasty and sometimes crunchy nutritious food. Also if you have young children or grandchildren they will love having a go as the results appear so quickly.
There are many different seeds which perform well including Alfalfa, Adzuki Beans, Broccoli, Chick peas, Fenugreek, Radish, Red lentils and Sunflower. Most are easy to buy either from your local garden centre, direct from seed companies, or from health food shops where you can usually find organically grown untreated seed, but be wary of are those which may have been treated with chemicals to help germination or stop disease as you will end up consuming the ‘treatment’.
If you have a seed sprouter this makes the process really easy, but if not, you do not have to invest in one as jam jars plus a material suitable for straining through, or even a lid with holes pierced in it, will do perfectly well. A piece from an old net curtain, if you have one, or horticultural fleece do a good job as a straining material. This can be held in place easily with one of those many rubber bands one gets from the postman and saved as they are ‘bound to come in useful someday’.
The trick with growing sprouting seeds is to soak them in tepid water for the correct time before draining and starting the sprouting process. A guide to the soaking times is as follows: Alfalfa, Adzuki Beans (pictured right), Broccoli, Chick Peas, Fenugreek, Red Lentils all 8-
EAT UP AND ENJOY YOUR SPROUTS! PT2
The time it takes for the seeds to be ready for eating varies a little, but none take too long, and it will depend on the temperature, but to give a guide the fastest are Sunflower which can be ready after only 1 or 2 days sprouting, then Red lentils in 2 to 3 days, Adzuki Beans and Chick Peas in 2 to 4 days, Broccoli and Radish in 3 to 6 days, Fenugreek in 4 to 6 days and finally the slowest is Alfalfa which takes 5-
Apart from the above varieties where you eat the swollen seed plus root and shoot, if you have some sunny windowsills available it is possible to grow sprouting green vegetables indoors too. There is the traditional Mustard and Cress but you can grow the Alfalfa, Radish or Sunflower (pictured right) in a different way on the windowsill to produce ‘miniature green vegetables’ rather than ‘sprouts’. In addition to these, Celery, Buckwheat, Peas, Red Clover and others produce a good variety of different flavours using the strength of the winter sun and the shelter of your house. To do this simply use gravel trays or flat waterproof containers such as those often supplied in the supermarkets to contain such things as tomatoes, then put a thin layer of moist compost in the bottom, cover this with damp kitchen paper and scatter the seed thinly over the paper, then put on a sunny windowsill to watch the magic begin. They will need to be kept constantly moist, and I prefer to use a small sprayer for this as it is easy to do, but if you do not have one simply apply water (preferably rain water) carefully to the compost.
Again the length of time from sowing to harvest is days not weeks. When the green leaves appear, the easiest way to harvest is to cut the shoots as near as possible to the moist paper with kitchen scissors (pictured left). When all is harvested the remaining compost and paper can go out on the compost heap as all is recyclable.
So, with little expense, you will be supplementing your winter diet with vitamin-
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Buckingham Nurseries and Garden Centre,
Tingewick Road, Buckingham, MK18 4AE, UK.
Tel: 01280 822133 -