How is YOUR gardening faring after this autumn? The rain and high winds promptly put paid to our usual autumnal burst of foliage colour, which was disappointing. However, it’s not all doom and gloom as the wonderful bark colour from the Birch, Dogwoods and Willows have more than compensated. As we start to decorate our homes and gardens in the run up to Christmas, suddenly the sparkle returns. However we need to inject some late colour in the way of plants to keep the succession going. Due to the atrocious weather many of us have delayed the planting of popular wnter flowering Violas, Pansies, Polyanthus, ornamental cabbages, pots of Helleborus niger, the Christmas Rose and the delicate Miracle Cyclamen -
As we are gearing up for the festive season there will be seasonal Poinsettias, Orchids, Azaleas, Christmas cacti and potted Hyacinths to enjoy. Speaking of tradition our customary ‘Thank You‘ gesture of free mince pies and mulled wine (or fruit squash) is extended to all our customers over the December weekends running up to the big day.
As I write this the cut Christmas trees have arrived, the mercury is dropping, Brexit has yet to be completed, but at least we can all take comfort that Christmas, in all its guises, is nearly upon us.
On that note, may we wish all our customers a peaceful and fruitful Christmas -
SHOP NEWS: COFFEE LOGS, THERMAL SOCKS AND SLIPPERS
There’s nothing like a roaring open fire to help beat the winter blues. As wood and multi-
Continuing the winter warmers theme we have plenty of gift ideas, including a lovely range of both men’s and women’s slippers starting from £9.99 a pair. Our perennial best-
Fun novelty men's socks, featuring many great designs, are plentiful this season and make a perfect stocking filler at £1.99 a pair. Another cracking offer is a special purchase deal on a range of ladies’ winter gloves at only £1.99 and there are plenty of colours available. Men’s version are £2.99 a pair.
Ladies’ super soft thermal bed socks with a luxurious brushed interior are designed to keep you cozy and warm. They are available in a wide range of colours. You’ll find them in the Shop. £3.99 a pair, Buy One Pair and Get One Free.
OUR CHRISTMAS THEMES AND FESTIVE FOOD
With sleigh bells fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about how best to decorate your home for Christmas 2019, writes Pauline Brown. I think we can truly say our Christmas display is inspirational -
From arriving in the entrance porch you get a taste of what is to come -
As you move into the shop you are confronted by a sea of silver with a little turquoise with animals, baubles, foliage, candle holders, gnomes, snow blankets and even pots. At the end of this area is a tree decorated with the same colours -
As you proceed you will be looking up into a six foot tree beautifully decorated in shades of red and white. This may be too large for your room, unless you live in a house with a vaulted ceiling, but, no matter you could easily replicate this on a smaller scale. Here you will find large and small candy candy sticks, matching little boxes, stars, baubles and the tree topped, not with the traditional fairy or star but a striped hat!
Move in further and you will see a tree in more traditional colours, with Poinsettias, Hellebores, holly berries, robins and toning baubles. On this tree in particular the setting of the lights right into the tree seems really effective giving it a real depth.
Out in the seasonal tunnel behind Father Christmas and his reindeer, who are waiting for children to have a seat on the sleigh, are a series of artificial trees, and a enormous one decorated simply with silver lights, showing how simplicity can also be so attractive.
We have plenty of home and kitchen inspiration too, including the collectable Wrendale range of mugs and plates. The mugs would make great stocking fillers as they all are beautifully illustrated and the mug is made from fine bone china produced by Royal Worcester. They are dishwasher and microwave safe.
Impress your guests this Christmas with a fine selection of sweet treats and delights from our festive Food Hall. From traditional Fatherson mince pies, Christmas puddings, festive loafs and Stollen to spiced mulled cider and sparkling English wine -
We also have a couple of great offers from Cottage Delight. Look out for the Mini globes offer which includes All Butter Lemon Curd, Classic Cheese Makers Pickle, Winter Berry Chutney and English Country Cider Chutney. Choose any three for £5.50.
In the Cottage Delight Delicious Duos range you can choose from A Splash of Sparkle (Peach Bellini Jam and Strawberry Daiquiri Whole Fruit Jam), A Twist of Gin (Gin, Orange & Lemon thin cut marmalade and Lemon & Gin Curd) and The Tea Party (Original Strawberry Whole Fruit Jam and All Butter Lemon Curd). £4.29 each, 2 for £7.50.
DON’T MISS OUT ON OUR CHRISTMAS SPECIAL PROMOTIONS
We have two cracking Christmas promotional offers available to our customers which have been running throughout the month of November and will continue right through December until Christmas Eve. To help celebrate the launch of our Buckingham Garden Centre branded jute bag this month, we will be giving away the bag, worth £3.99, to all of our customers who spend £30 or more at the Tills.
As a further incentive if you spend £30 or more we will also give you a special 20% Off Voucher which can be redeemed from the 27th December until 16th February 2020.
Both offers run until Christmas Eve.
OUR PICK OF THE TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS PLANTS
After the obvious Christmas tree and Poinsettia, there are other plants which we use to decorate our homes at Christmas time. Here are a few of the popular favourites and a little back story to each of them, writes Chris Day.
CHRISTMAS ROSE Top slot is the Helleborus, or Christmas or Lenten Rose. If you visit the Netherlands at around this time of the year you will see that the Dutch use this herbaceous perennial quite differently to us. They plant them in decorative planters and bring them indoors as a focal decoration through the holidays. Here we tend to use them as a seasonal container plant or a cottage border plant. They prefer a well worked soil with some compost added. They grow well in sun or partial shade. Young robust plants are available in 9cm pots for £2.95, or look out for larger potted plants in our herbaceous section.
HOLLY The tradition of decorating the home with native evergreens is a truly ancient one. Since pagan times evergreens have been valued for their ability to retain signs of life in the middle of winter -
IVY According to pagan traditions planting ivy up and around the house was done to ward off evil spirits. As a decorative evergreen, ivy (Hedera) is perfect for creating swags and adding to rustic wreaths. There are so many colourful varieties from simple shades of green to complex variegations. As well as being a reliable and often vigorous climber, the ivy makes a formidable groundcover plant. The form ‘Hibernica’ produces large glossy green leaves and makes an excellent soil covering plant growing to around 15cm (6in) high and providing useful evergreen coverage. If you want a more colourful variety then look no further than ‘Goldheart’ (pictured right) with its rich green foliage with a large central splash of buttercup yellow. This variety is tolerant of dry conditions and heavy shade, but colour will be better in sun or semi-
MISTLETOE It is supposed to possess mystical powers which bring good luck to the household and wards off evil spirits. It was also used as a sign of love and friendship in Norse mythology and that's where the custom of kissing under Mistletoe comes from. The plant itself is unusual. It is an evergreen parasitic plant that attaches to a host plant to take up the water and valuable nutrients it needs to grow successfully. It grows in the branches of host trees, such as Hawthorn, Apple, Poplar and Lime and is often smothered in small white berries from late autumn until spring. Bunches of Mistletoe at £5.99 can be found in our Seasonal Tunnel.
LOOKING AFTER YOUR FRESHLY CUT CHRISTMAS TREE
Once again we will be creating our wonderful festive forest of cut Nordman Christmas trees in our Seasonal Tunnel from mid November onwards. Nordman Fir (Abies normanniana) or sometimes known as Caucasian Fir, holds its glossy mid-
PREPARE THE TRUNK Just before you install your tree, saw off the bottom 2.5cm (1in) of the trunk. This creates a fresh cut and opens up the pores in the trunk, which otherwise can block up with sap within a few hours of being cut. The tree is then able to drink water through these open pores via capillary action.
WATER YOUR TREE It is a good idea to place your tree outside in a bucket of water after the new cut has been made and let it soak in the water for at least a day. When you bring the tree indoors place the tree in plain water -
KEEP IT AWAY FROM ANY HEAT SOURCES Position your Christmas tree away from any heat sources such as radiators and fireplaces. Heat dries out your tree, so the further away from potentially damaging heat sources the better, and the fresher your tree will remain.
THEN KEEP ON WATERING IT! Keep the Christmas tree stand topped up with water. Your Christmas tree may drink 1-
OUR TOP TIPS FOR A WELL ILLUMINATED CHRISTMAS TREE
Once in position and ready to be dressed always add the lights first as it's more difficult to do this after you've added your decorations. Our advice would be that you start with a string of lights with the plug as the starting point, wrapping it around your Christmas tree’s trunk, working your way up from the centre of the base of your tree. Continue wrapping the lights evenly around the branches placing near to the trunk, and then weave it upwards up to the crown. Once you reach the crown of the tree weave your way back down, arranging the lights further out near the tips of the branches and continue weaving until you reach the base of the tree (or until you run out of lights!). Remember, when weaving, the bulb should be positioned under a branch with the bulb underneath it angled upright over the branch. By doing this you will help to create depth within the tree which will help show off and illuminate your baubles, tinsel and trimmings to their best.
Finally the number of lights on a tree can make a huge difference to the overall effect of your Christmas display. Our recommendations would be for a tree 1m (3ft) or less, use 80 lights, a 1-
GROWING POINSETTIAS TO PERFECTION FOR CHRISTMAS
There’s no doubt the Poinsettia is emblematic of the Christmas season, says Chris Day. Incredibly there is an estimated production of 100 million plants throughout Europe with eight million sold here in the UK. Poinsettias are quintessentially part of our winter season and we do love them.
Our Poinsettias are locally grown in Leighton Buzzard, which is ideal as these semi-
In order to keep your Poinsettia looking good it is important to protect the plant from temperature changes and fluctuations in the moisture content of the potting compost. In order to do this allow the compost to dry out a little between waterings so that oxygen can get to the roots. Constant watering can effectively push out the beneficial oxygen and the roots can become stagnant and this usually results in dramatic leaf drop, yellowing and plant loss. Turn your plants once a week to encourage a balanced shape.
When positioning your plant keep it at around 20ºC, and in bright, but not intense light. For convenience use the Fito Poinsettia Feed Drippers (£1.09 each) which are simply inserted into the compost and will drip-
One of the most popular questions we get asked in the Plant Info Office is how to make a poinsettia bloom again next Christmas. Well, its pretty straightforward. Begin by cutting back the stems of your plant in spring to leave 10cm (4 in) high shoots. You will need to keep the compost almost dry then in early May water the plant thoroughly and re-
From the end of September careful light control is essential. Either cover the plant with a large black bin liner or pop in a dark cupboard from early evening, around 4pm and remove the next morning, around 8pm so that the plant is in total darkness for 14 hours. Continue this routine daily for 8 weeks, then treat normally. A well-
Poinsettias are now available so don’t miss them! Please ask about our gift wrap service available at the Customer Service Desk.
THE FASCINATING LOCAL STORY OF THE ‘GAGE’
Recently I read a book about Heirloom Fruit and discovered where the name ‘Gage’ is said to come from, writes Pauline Brown. Apparently early in the sixteenth century the French King Francis the 1st named a delicious plum in honour of his wife, Claudia, giving it the name Grosse Reine Claudia. Then in 1724 a French priest, John Gage, sent a consignment of this fruit to his brother Sir William Gage who lived at Hengrave Hall, near Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk. The labels were lost en route, so Sir William’s gardener conflated his employer’s name with the colour of the fruit, hence ’Greengage’. Another source of information states that this gage was believed to have come originally from Armenia and was introduced to this country in 1629 as ‘Parkinsons’. Its name was then changed to Greengage after it was sent to Sir William Gage. As with so many fruits it is difficult to be precise over the origins, but the most important thing is that it is well worth growing as it is delicious!
As I know a Sir William Gage who lives locally, I sent the book to him and his wife and they confirm that it was his great x 6 grandfather who received the fruit which has borne the name Greengage ever since. They were pleased to report that the home they now live in has a Gage, possibly Oullins, growing in the grounds of the property. This is huge and most years bears an enormous crop of large, juicy golden/green gages which are wonderful for eating as dessert fruit, for cooking, jam making and many other things. The tree was almost certainly purchased from us some thirty years ago!
So, what is the origin of all the other ‘Gages’ listed today? Are they all selected variations of that original consignment of trees? I think this is probably unknown, but all of the varieties listed for sale today that I am aware of are given a date origin of after 1724.
Gages are delicious and well worth growing in your garden in the form most suitable to the space available (as confirmed by ‘The Gages!’). They can be grown as bush, half standard, full standard or fan-
Finding that special Christmas gift for the little ones isn’t easy, however we have brought together a selection of half a dozen perfect ideas that would be ideal as a main present or a welcome stocking filler!
Let’s begin with these lovable and cute Christmas Squishmallows which are great for squeezing and cuddling. They have a super-
We have a great range of children's puzzles, including jig-
We have a lovely display of cute collectable soft toys including Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, Flopsy Bunny, the Magic Bunny and the hugely popular ‘I Know A Monkey’ which includes the book and the fluffy monkey character.
From basic alphabet and counting books through to Christmas related pop-
Now this is something a bit special, a tree hanging Gingerbread man decoration which may be available with your child's name or you can easily personalise him with your child's name. These gingerbread men smell of ginger, but are not edible! Look out for them in our Christmas display area.
Getting the kids interactive with nature can sometimes be a challenge but how about getting the little ones painting their own bird box and then setting it up in the garden for a spot of bird watching? This wooden nest box is made from FSC® certified timber and comes with four non-
LOOK OUT FOR THESE TEMPTING GARDEN CARD OFFERS!
It may be the depth of winter however we have a selection of cracking plant offers to add colour and charm to your garden. The intriguing foliage colour of Heuchera ‘Walnut’ £12.99 (normally £16.99) features through the month of December. This RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM) perennial produces fabulous giant chocolate evergreen leaves which change colour to a burnt orange-
For January we will have Euonymus ‘Green Rocket’, the perfect accent forming evergreen shrub at a special price of £7.00 (normally £9.99 -
In February we have the wonderfully starry flowered Magnolia stellata which are usually priced at £34.99 each, however they are available to our Garden Card holders for just £19.99 each -
LINDENGATE: CHALK, CHERRIES AND CHAIRS PROJECT
There is definitely an autumnal feel in the gardens at Lindengate. There are the wonderful flowers of Michaelmas Daisies, and the first of the leaves are starting to take on their lovely yellows and reds, writes Paul Simmons of Lindengate. We are also starting to plan for bringing in or protecting our tender plants and we are planting the spring bulbs with our gardeners (service users).
At Lindengate we are excited to be involved in the Chalk, Cherries and Chairs project. This is a large Heritage Lottery Funded project being managed by the Chilterns AONB, (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and is to connect local people to the wildlife and cultural heritage.
There are two projects that we are involved in here at Lindengate. The first is a Chilterns Heritage Orchard which is to be developed over the next few years. The plan is to plant local heritage fruit trees, including the Aylesbury Prune -
The second project is called Rough Around the Edges which is encouraging local communities to manage their land to benefit people and wildlife. At Lindengate we will be carrying out sympathetic hedge and meadow management work. This will involve training our volunteers and gardeners in traditional management techniques such as hedge laying and scything. There will also be work on our established boundary hedge over the coming months. This will include laying and coppicing areas as well as planting up any gaps to develop a habitat which will benefit wildlife. A well-
For details visit www.lindengate.org.uk
WHAT’S ON THIS YEAR AND THROUGHOUT 2020
FRIDAY 13th DECEMBER We’re supporting ‘Save The Children’s Christmas Jumper Day’. ‘Christmas Jumper Day’ is an annual fundraising campaign in the UK which has been running for many years and is organised by charity ‘Save the Children’. To get involved and to donate go to:
WEDNESDAY 8th JANUARY GARDEN MASTER CLASS: Fruit Growing Guide. Our resident Plant Expert Chris Day starts a new series of talks at 4pm covering the main plant groups. The talks are open to all however we recommend you book at the Customer Service Desk or call 01280 822133. These talks are FREE to Garden Club members, £3 for guests.
SATURDAY 1st FEBRUARY GRAFT AND GROW DAY, 10am-
WEDNESDAY 12th FEBRUARY GARDEN MASTER CLASS: Vegetable Growing For Beginners.
WEDNESDAY 4th MARCH, 10am-
WEDNESDAY 18th MARCH, 11am-
WEDNESDAY 25th MARCH, 4pm GARDEN MASTER CLASS: Shrubs for the Smaller Spaces.
WEDNESDAY 15th APRIL, 4pm GARDEN MASTER CLASS: Creative Pots and Baskets.
WEDNESDAY 13th MAY, 4pm GARDEN MASTER CLASS: Growing Perfect Perennials.
WEDNESDAY 10th JUNE, 4pm GARDEN MASTER CLASS: A Guide to Growing Roses.
WEDNESDAY 9th SEPTEMBER, 4pm GARDEN MASTER CLASS: The A-
WEDNESDAY 28th OCTOBER, 4pm GARDEN MASTER CLASS: Hedging For All Gardens.
WEDNESDAY 11th NOVEMBER, 4pm GARDEN MASTER CLASS: Trees For All Gardens.
WEDNESDAY 9th DECEMBER, 4pm GARDEN MASTER CLASS: Be a Houseplant Expert.
SATURDAY 26th and SUNDAY 27th SEPTEMBER APPLE AND HONEY SHOW WEEKEND (NORTH BUCKS, BUCKINGHAM AND BUCKS COUNTY) 10am-
CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR OPENING HOURS
Tuesday 24th December 2019 -
Wednesday 25th December 2019 -
Thursday 26th December 2019 -
Friday 27th December 2019 -
Saturday 28th December 2019 -
Sunday 29th December 2019 -
Monday 30th December 2019 -
Tuesday 31st December 2019 -
Wednesday 1st January 2020 -
Thursday 2nd January 2020 -
*PLEASE NOTE: restaurant closes 4.00pm 27th December to 31st December
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