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Anaerobic Digestate - The Future of Fertilising?

Anaerobic Digestate - The Future of Fertilising?

If you’ve come into our shop and bought or picked up a bag of Melcourt’s Farmyard Soil Improver, you may have discovered that the main ‘feeding’ component in it is anaerobic digestate. It’s also the reason why The Natural Plant Food Company came into business. So we’d like to introduce it to you, via some basic explanation and greenwashing.

To start, you'll need to know that anaerobic digestion is the process in which organic matter (from plants or animals) is broken down by microorganisms without the presence of oxygen. This creates high levels of both methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), alongside small amounts of water/vapour. The carbon dioxide is then extracted to leave just methane, a natural gas that is used for fuel.

 

 

Organic matter doesn’t just disappear into the atmosphere after this process, so what’s left behind is anaerobic digestate (crazy!). This is a mixture of both liquid and solid, which is then extracted for use as fertiliser. The digestate is made up of 90 – 95% of the original biomass and retains the raw levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK), as none of which are present in the biogas. You may recognise these elements as the magic three always mentioned by gardeners.

The solid digestate looks a bit like compost, which is why it's perfect when blended with green compost/bark fines to create Melcourt’s farmyard. Which is also vegan friendly, by the way. 

The liquid looks like what you’d expect from digested organic matter, smelly and brown. This makes it a lot easier to apply to things like houseplants, because you wouldn’t want solid organic matter in your house; or on the top of existing plants like lawns, where it can be added to water.

 

What makes it so great is that this whole process is renewable and every product of the process has a use. The biogas goes off to homes or industries via the national network, the digestate to whichever horticultural or agricultural use its fate lies in. It can even help fertilise the crops that then create the waste for the next batch of biomass, one big circle.

Meaning that farmers, like the owners of The Natural Plant Food Company, can not only put their bio waste to good use, but also help the planet by helping to decrease the amount of synthetic chemicals produced and used in food/plant growing. Never mind all the renewable energy it creates and fracking it can help to stop.

Alternatives like this are important in horticulture, an industry which is seemingly “green” on the outside but produces a lot of waste! By helping to support sustainable waste processing, even down to their recyclable packaging, Melcourt and The Natural Plant Food Company  are doing great things. Not to mention that all their materials are sourced from the UK, so no extra fossil fuels are burnt in big overseas shipping operations. We, for one, are all for it.

 

 

P.S: We're not really greenwashing, we really do try to do better. Enjoy the cows!

Jed Waldron
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Biochar - Older Than You Think...

Biochar - Older Than You Think...

We’ve been stocking Biochar from a few different suppliers here at the shop for a little while, but we’ve never stopped to really figure out how or why it works. Turns out that it all goes back to indigenous settlers in the Amazon and the work of Dutch soil boffin Wim Sombroek. Who would've guessed?

The idea of Biochar comes from ‘Terra preta’, which is a black anthropogenic soil found in the Amazon basin, especially in Brasil, where Sombroek completed most of his research. Some studies suggest that these dark soils actually take up 150,000 square kilometres, which is 3.2% of the entire rainforest. So 3864 times the size of Waltham Forest.

 Within these soils, archaeologists have found traces of bone, pottery, compost, manure, and charcoal.   

It’s believed that the indigenous people of the Amazon would smoulder biomass by placing earth over burning agricultural waste. How they worked out that this would help plant growth is unknown, but we do know that when they mixed it with the other available substrates, it would boost what was otherwise weak soil for crop growing.

The addition of organic matter and broken pots etc was already a common process by the time these dark soils were fully examined. What did cause interest was the charcoal that made the ground so black. Upon investigation, scientists found that aside from improving soil structure, the charred biomass locks in carbon. This allows it to be taken out of the atmosphere and buried or sequestered into the ground indefinitely. In fact, over an area of 250–700 square kilometres the dark soils were found to sequester up to 3–7 megatons of extra carbon, when compared to any uninfluenced soil.

Sombroek recognised the importance of this and dedicated most of his professional life to bringing the Amazonian dark soils to the attention of the world through his research.

 This eventually led to scientists to burn biomass themselves using the process of pyrolysis, which burns fuel without the use of oxygen. This process allowed the mass production of what we now known as ‘biochar’.

In agricultural and horticultural settings, biochar becomes particularly useful in long term nutrient and water retention. It’s microscopic honeycomb structure helps to hold in nutrients from surrounding fertilisers and creates the perfect environment for microbes to breed and flourish; both of which are vital for root and plant growth. Also, as it biodegrades very slowly (think hundreds of years), it provides a near enough permanent way to improve soil structure, break up soils like clay and improve aeration.

If that wasn't enough, it takes on extra shifts helping the planet distribute and hideaway carbon, nifty stuff.

 

We’ve found that because biochar doesn’t contain any nutrients or fertilisers itself, you can use it across the garden or home, helping to improve what is already there or whatever you add. Whether that’s improving the soil that your Monstera sits in or making sure that new turf is going down on the best ground.

Carbon Gold, our main supplier of Biochar, demonstrate this by splitting their products into different use categories. This allows them to add fertilisers such as seaweed and growth stimulators like mycorrhizal fungi to match the application, whilst keeping biochar as the base.

So what you see in those nicely branded little tubs here in the shop or on our website actually has links back to one of the world's oldest civilizations. Talk about tried and tested...

Jed Waldron
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RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023 - What We Found Interesting...

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023 - What We Found Interesting...

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is THE horticultural event of the year, it’s famous for royal visits, ground-breaking displays and setting the tone for the year to come in horticulture. This year we saw a big focus on rewilding, mental health, environmental issues, and accessibility. We even saw dandelions feature in an award-winning garden, which is untraditional to say the least. For us, a few gardens stood out, not only for their horticultural efforts, but for highlighting certain aspects of our society.

The Centrepoint Garden – Cleve West (Gold Award | Best Construction Award)

This garden by previous award-winning designer Cleve West features the remnants of an old town house that has been almost completely reclaimed by the natural world. West came up with the idea to be used as a metaphor for youth homelessness, backed by Centrepoint, a charity that provides support to homeless young people.

The garden features a whole load of plants that you’d find in a usual rewilding situation, such as nettles, dandelions and even Buddleja (which can be found growing just about anywhere it's allowed to). Other additions were the use of Cordyline australis and other plants you'd typically find in a Victorian townhouse garden and could survive years of neglect. Down to the fallen birch and smaller saplings planted around it, the level of detail here definitely deserves the gold award.

The Platform Garden designed by Amelia Bouquet and Emilie Bausager (Silver-Gilt Award)

One of the smaller spaces this year but one that we can personally relate to being right next to an overground station (in The Old Station Yard no less). This display takes its concept from the Energy Garden collective who 'green up' spaces that go otherwise unused on London Overground platforms.

The two English Gardening School graduates chose plants that are drought tolerant, edible, or anti-pollution and made sure to re-purpose any old concrete structures to demonstrate how these platforms can be transformed. Some notable plants used being Santolina chamaecyparissus, Mentha spicata and Pittosporum, all of which we often have in stock, if you fancy spicing up Wood Street station.

The Green Gap Garden designed by Grow to Know (Tayshan Hayden-Smith and Danny Clarke)

Another London-centric one, but that’s where we are!

Grow to Know was set up in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster in an effort to reconnect the local community to green space and this is actually the smallest garden to debut at the flower show. Their aim was to call attention to the ‘green gap’ between London's privileged and deprived communities. 

The garden totals 4.2m², which is a 1:10 scale representation of green space available to the residents of Notting Dale ward in Kensington, where Grenfell Tower is. The only greenery in the concrete crack is compiled of UK wildflowers.

This is another one we can relate to, being a relatively small garden centre in an urban area, we try to make the most of our space and help others to do so with theirs. Green spaces are so important for mental well being, especially for those faced with the tribulations of city life.

Jed Waldron
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Pelargoniums - An Overlooked Stalwart

Pelargoniums - An Overlooked Stalwart

We don’t think Pelargoniums get the respect they deserve, yes they’re a little bit old fashioned and usually come in bog-standard colours; but what’s wrong with that?

Like most plants that are now staples of any UK garden centre, the Pelargonium or Geranium was a favourite of the Victorians, but were around long before Vicky hit the throne.



Their story begins way back in the 16th Century when seeds were collected from South Africa and passed around the European horticultural scene.

Pretty much every country from France to Holland to Great Britain had their hand in collecting and recording different types of Pelargonium in botanical journals. French botanist Charles Louis L'Héritier managed to catalogue 90 species in Aiton's 'Hortus Kewensis' (1789), which was published after his death.


When South Africa came under British rule the collection of Pelargoniums became a little bit difficult, which forced horticulturalists in continental Europe to experiment with hybrids. The Dutch flower traders were the most successful, finding that certain varieties could flourish within colder climates. So successful in fact, that we still buy our Geraniums from Dutch growers to this day.



They’re a great way to add a bit of instant, classic colour to window boxes or provide entertainment whilst nurturing on a windowsill throughout the year. We usually have loads in stock throughout the summer within our bedding plant range, both the standard and trailing varieties.

Jed Waldron
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How to Lay Turf Lancaster's Walthamstow

Turf And How To Lay It

Having a nice lawn can become a bit of an obsession, mostly because it requires consistent dedication to get right. Whether that's killing off moss or making sure you don't have any water logging.

In fact we've been obsessed with lawns since the 18th century when they were associated with wealth. If you can maintain a lawn you either have time to do so, or the money to pay someone else to. Now anyone with a garden can have one, which I suppose is still a luxury if you live in London.

Either way, you can't deny the satisfaction in lying down on a good bit of grass when the suns out.

 

 

If you’re looking to have a lush looking lawn in time for the summer, the easiest way to achieve it is by buying and laying fresh turf.

'Turf' is what we call rolls of grass that have been lifted by removing the top inch or so of soil from the ground, keeping  the blades and part of the root system in tact. It is then easily transported and laid wherever you need it. 

The turf that we sell is grown by Paynes, a family business who have been selling and growing turf on 140 acres across Essex and Suffolk for over 50 years. If you’ve noticed any lawn outside St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey or in the Olympic Park, it was probably supplied by them!

It’s usually delivered to us on the same morning we deliver it to you, so it’s as fresh as possible.

Our landscaping team are experts in getting turf down, but for those thinking about doing it themselves, we’ve put together a little guide using our collective knowledge spanning over 30 years.

 

Preparation

This is really most of the hard work. Good preparation will lead to a good lawn, there's no shortcut.

The first step is to clear the space of all weeds and debris. This means raking out any stones or leftover hardcore and pulling up common weeds like couch grass or clover. Once you’ve one this, rotovate the soil for 20-25cm (RHS recommendation) using a fork or a rotavator if you’re lucky enough to have access to one.

You’ll find out at this stage if you need to level or raise the soil bed. This can be achieved with screened or basic grade topsoil that can be easily raked.

You may want to check the pH of existing soil as turf does the best on neutral ground.

It’s then usually a good idea to fertilise the soil using a feed or by mixing in a well-rotted compost or manure, do make sure it is well rotted to prevent any sinking later on. Then wait a week or so and removed any weeds that pop up.

Walk over the space or use a wooden board to lightly compact the soil and check for any irregularities that need a bit of extra leveling. You don’t want to tightly compact the soil using any machinery, as this will hinder growth.

We recommend not laying weed suppressant fabric under turf or using turf from suppliers that grow turf on plastic mesh/netting.

 

Laying The Turf

Start in a corner and work across, patching the turf rolls out like brickwork.  

Try and get the edges as close to each other as possible and make sure everything is level. You may want to keep top soil in a bag or bucket close by to do some on the spot leveling or fill any gaps.

Try not to leave footprints on the fresh surface. This can be achieved by either not walking on it or using a wooden board to spread the pressure. You can also use the board to lightly press down and make sure all areas are flat.

You can brush some soil over the top to ensure that all gaps are filled.

Neatly cut any edges with a border spade.

 

Aftercare

One of the main reasons it’s recommended that you lay new turf in the autumn/spring is that the regular rain and mild temperatures encourage growth. Saving you money and time on watering.

If you are laying turf in drier periods, keep it well watered using a sprinkler every 2-3 days in the early morning or evening, increasing the frequency if it’s a very hot summer.

Whatever the situation, you won’t want any of the blades to dry out, so be vigilant.

Try not to walk on the turf for a week to allow for it to establish.

Regular mowing is important and you can start when the fresh lawn has grown an inch or two, but never cut more than a third of the overall height off or when wet.

Jed Waldron
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Camellia - Not Just A Pretty Face

Camellia - Not Just A Pretty Face

We’ve just had the spring equinox, so brighter days are just around the corner. Speaking of corners, I spotted a huge Camellia tree that was fully in bloom whilst on lunch today, just near Shernhall Street, which prompted a bit of research.
They are native to China and belong to the Theaceae family, which also includes tea plants. Camellias have been grown for centuries for their beautiful flowers and for their oil, which is used for various purposes, including tool maintenance. More on that later.
The history of Camellias dates to ancient China, where they were used for medicinal purposes. The plant was then introduced to Japan in the 9th century and quickly became a symbol of love and affection. The Japanese developed many different varieties of Camellias and used them extensively in their gardens and for tea production.
'Above a single straw mat,
fluttering in the sunlight—
red camellia blossoms.'

Utagawa Hiroshige ca. 1840

The plant was introduced to Europe in the 18th century by the famous botanist Joseph Banks, who was part of Captain Cook’s ‘first great voyage’ on HMS Endeavor and was responsible for making Kew Gardens a leading in world botany under King George III. It quickly became popular among the wealthy classes.
One of the most interesting uses of Camellia plants lies within the oil that can be extracted from their seeds. In Japan, Camellia oil has been used for centuries to maintain and sharpen tools, particularly Japanese swords. The oil is rich in antioxidants, which help prevent the metal from rusting and protect it from wear and tear. It also acts as a lubricant, making it easier to sharpen the blades.
This makes it great for using when storing carbon steel kitchen knives, sharpening secateurs or using crean mates to get rid of any rust or sap residue. 
So it looks like we probably sharpen our Hori Hori  just like a Samurai. Who said gardening isn't cool?
In the UK, Camellias can be found growing in various gardens and public spaces as ornamental plants in gardens and parks. It's best to plant them in the ground in the Autumn, but you can plant them into pots during the spring, just make sure you keep them watered throughout the summer.
They require well-drained ericaceous soil, partial shade and are relatively easy to grow but frequent watering in the summer months is essential if you want lovely blooms the following year. No pruning required to promte flowering.
They also winter to spring, producing large, showy flowers in a range of colours from white to pink and red. Usually responsible for giving a bit of colour before anything else has woken up.
Jed Waldron
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Aspidistras - Portraits, Fields and Flowers

Aspidistras - Portraits, Fields and Flowers

In 1822, a large leaf plant with small dark and almost unnoticeable flowers was documented and named by Botanist John Ker Gawler. Taking the Greek for shield ‘Aspid’ and borrowing from a similar genus ‘Tupistra’, the Aspidistra was born and began to take the world of the middle classes by storm.

Originally found in shaded and damp areas of forests, it’s most common in China and Vietnam but can be found elsewhere in the across the Asian continent. They grow little dark flowers close to the soil, which misled people into believing that slugs and snails were responsible for pollination. It was later discovered that small organisms called Amphipods and even fungus gnats take care of that.

This naturally dark habitat made them perfect for dark and dingy Victorian homes. Once they were hardened in ‘hothouses’ across London, they began to become a popular feature of upper to middle class homes, commonly found in parlours, lobbies and even ballrooms. William Bull, a nursery owner in Chelsea, recorded selling one for 10s. 6d. in 1861. That’s equivalent to over £1.5k in 2023.

The Victorians loved Aspidistras so much that they took pictures next to them, just to prove that they could afford one, as if having your photo taken back then wasn't enough. A brag that might even be too much for Instagram.

They also were a favourite of still life painters, featuring in works by Samuel John Peploe, Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell and Mark Gertler.

Known for being able to withstand poor conditions caused by dim gas lights and the smoke from burning coal, they developed the name ‘cast iron plant’ as nothing was found to kill them. A quality that allowed the plant to move down the class rankings as electric lighting became prevalent in upper class homes and sleek interior design took over towards the 1920s.

The Aspidistra thus became something to be mocked. It represented (in the words of the Oxford dictionary) ‘a symbol of full middle class respectability’. George Orwell published his sarcastically titled novel ‘Keep The Aspidistra Flying’ in 1936, in which he describes the aim of the middle classes as ‘To settle down, to Make Good, to sell your soul for a villa and an aspidistra!’.

The typecasting went further in 1938 when the Gracie Fields song ‘The Biggest Aspidistra in the World’ solidified the plant as a recurring music hall joke. What was once a symbol of wealth and respectability now couldn’t be touched with a barge pole.

People didn’t stop growing or forget about them though and they continued to be used mainly in floristry up until the 70s/80s when the plant made its way back into homes. Rather than being seen to symbolise or represent anything, they’re now appreciated for their elegant upright posture and luscious green leaves. Just as they should be when put as the centre piece of a room.

They're also pretty much always available in our shop, which is a testament to their popularity.

Jed Waldron
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Forysthia  - Thunberg, Bruce and the Start of Spring

Forysthia - Thunberg, Bruce and the Start of Spring

When you see a Forsythia in its full yellow bloom, you know spring has arrived. Now they’re not a rare plant in a UK garden, far from it, but they do have an interesting history. It starts in China, has an obscure connection to urine and includes a familiar face. Not hard to work out who that may be.

The Syringa Suspensa was discovered and named by Swedish naturalist Carl Thunberg (not that familiar face) in a Japanese garden around the mid-1770s, although they originate from China where they were staples in the gardens of the rich.

Syringa is the botanical name for the lilac genus and Suspensa meaning ‘hanging’. It wasn’t until 1804 that horticulturalists noticed that it had too many differences to be classed as a lilac, a new name was needed.

Who died in 1804? Only a royal head gardener, founding member of the RHS and controversial botanist William Forsyth. Yes, the great-grandfather of Bruce. He made headlines towards the end of his life for the invention of his ‘tree plaster’ which was made from lime, dung, ashes, soapshuds and urine. To be used to help tree wounds heal or, as he claimed, could even be a replacement for the inside of a tree.

So there we go, the Forsythia was born. Come 1878 Herman Zabel spotted a hybrid in the municipal gardens of Münden, Germany. This would be coined Forsythia x intermedia, which is probably the most common type of Forsythia you’ll see in UK gardens today.

They flower early in the spring and have a deciduous nature so are rarely used as a center piece, though they are perfect for place amongst or at the back of a border. They aren’t self-pollinating so rely on our insect friends for help, providing an extra bonus in helping pollinators get a head start.

Place them next to other shrubs/trees such as Acers or Dogwood. For some extra colour, plant Tulips, Iris or Allium around them.

Ultimate Height/Spread: 3m / 1.8m

Life Cycle: Deciduous

Position: Full sun, Dappled Shade

Soil: Well drained

Flowering: March / April

FACTS:

  • Forsythia branches are used to make bow style sticks for the Korean ‘Ajaeng’ instrument
  • They’re classified as part of the Oleaceae family, or Olive to you and me.
Jed Waldron
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Poinsettias - Aztecs, Colonialism and Marketing

Poinsettias - Aztecs, Colonialism and Marketing

Poinsettias are a Christmas staple, but how did they get here?

The first cultivations of 'Cuetlaxochitl' were by the Aztecs in Mexico (long before the European colonisation of the Americas) and were used medicinally or as a dye. The name 'Cuetlaxochitl' is said to mean "mortal flower that perishes and withers like all that is pure". So they've been dying prematurely on us for about a thousand years.

Later in the 16th Century, Franciscan friars gave it the Spanish name 'Flores de Noche Buena’, meaning 'the flowers of holy night (Christmas Eve)'. This was based off the legend that a young girl had nothing to present to the Baby Jesus and was guided by an angel to leave weeds at her church instead. Over the course of the night, the weeds bloomed and created beautiful red flowers.

Fast forward to the 19th Century and the first US Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, is introduced to the Poinsettia, he loves it and sends some back to home to be cultivated in South Carolina. By 1833, the plant was given the common name Poinsettia. It's actually a type of Euphorbia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, for my fellow plant nerds.

Whilst Poinsettias were already associated with Christmas, the modern tradition is the result of four generations of hard work by the Ecke family. The first botanists to use a then secret grafting technique that allowed the plants to be strengthened and grown commercially.

In the 1950s, the family started to send free samples of their impressive Christmas coloured specimens to be used in television broadcasts and Paul Ecke Jr. even later appeared on The Tonight Show to promote them. Now they're everywhere. A stroke of marketing genius.

So that's a lot of history behind an often short lived plant. You can keep them all year round by the way, have a look on Gardener’s World for more info about that.
Jed Waldron
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Night Scented Plants

Night Scented Plants

Our planting designer Jeremy did a quick Q & A for a local society this week,
focusing on the subject of night scented plants. This is it.

Q: “Why do some flowers smell so good, just in the evenings?”

A: These “night scented” plants know what they’re doing! They produce an
essential oil late in the day that attracts their ideal pollinating partner -
moths. Over thousands of years they’ve worked out that moths hunt at night,
using scent rather than visual cues, to find food. That’s why most night
scented plants have relatively pale flowers - because colour isn’t as
important to them as an attractor - it also makes them stand out better in
moonlight.

Q: “Does the fragrance come from the actual flowers? Please explain.”

A: It’s not just the flower that can produce fragrance. Leaves, roots, buds,
bark, seeds and fruit can also give off scent. Rosemary leaves, ginger roots,
clove buds, cinnamon bark and citrus fruit I guess are the best known
examples I can think of quickly!

Q: “Name 5 varieties that you’d recommend to grow in east London in
Summer? (Thinking of species that look good and give off a lovely aroma in
the evenings)”.

A: Given the number of snails, foxes and cats in east London, I’m going to
give you two top fives - ‘night scented plants’ and ‘best, most snail resistant/
reliable/easy maintenance plants’:

Top Five Night Scented Plants to Grow in East London:
1. Lonicera periclymenum (Honeysuckle)
2. Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star Jasmine)
3. Zaluzianskya ovata (Night Scented Phlox)
4. Dianthus (Pinks)
5. Matthiola longipetala (Night Scented Stock) - sow seed in July for late
summer flowers.

Top Five ‘All-rounder’ Plants to Grow in East London:
1. Geranium ‘Rozanne’
2. Climbing rose ‘Claire Austin’ (by David Austin)
3. Erigeron karvanskianus
4. Fargesia nitida ‘Black Pearl’ (non-invasive, clump-forming bamboo) -
makes an awesome screen or hedge
5. Agastache ‘Black Adder’

Q: “How do fragrant plants affect hay fever sufferers? Are there any varieties
which are kinder for people with that allergy?”

A: It’s not the pollen, but the petals, and as I mentioned, other parts of the
plant, that produce fragrance. Pollen is a whole other ball game. It’s pretty
difficult to find flowers that don’t have pollen because that, of course, is how
they reproduce. What hay fever sufferers can do, is find the beauty in foliage
plants - plants that reproduce differently. Ferns are great. Ironically, some
ornamental grasses are good. Fatsia japonica is great for an instant tropical
feel. It takes a little research, but lovely outdoor spaces for the pollen-
sensitive can absolutely be done.

Q: “Know any interesting facts about plants that smell in the evening?”

A: A few plants - certain arum lilies and the frost tender Stapelia, for
example, take fragrance in an entirely different direction. They smell like
rotting flesh! It’s actually brilliant because this attracts flies, which then
pollinate the plants.


Jeremy Hindmarsh is our senior planting and garden designer. He also writes
our weekly e-newsletter, offering gardening tips and advice. Subscribe at
https://lancastersonline.com

Email: jeremy@lancastersonline.com

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Establishing a Wildflower Border Using Seed

Establishing a Wildflower Border Using Seed

Rewilding and wild gardening have seen a huge increase over the last few years and you'll often walk past cordoned off areas of local green spaces that have been dedicated to creating a wildflower meadow.

We stock wild flower seeds here at the shop, just enough to cover a 10m2 space. Which should be more than enough to create a border in your garden.

Prepping, Sowing and Growing...

Wildflower seeds are best sown either in March or late September.

Remove all weeds and debris, if necessary use an appropriate systematic weed killer. If the area has been overtaken by weeds, it is important to reduce the number of weed seeds in the soil. It may be necessary to allow time for the first flush of weeds to germinate and then remove, before attempting to sow any wildflowers.

Wildflowers prefer poor soil with low quantities of nutrient because rich, fertile soils allow weeds and grasses to out-compete them - do not use compost or fertiliser on the area to be sown. Prepare the soil to a fine tilth once the weeds have been removed, ready for sowing your wildflowers.

Try not to disturb the soil any further as this may bring more weed seeds to the surface. Sow pure wildflower blends like ours at a rate of 3g/m2. It should not be necessary to rake the seed over as the light helps germination on many species.

The rate at which wildflowers appear will vary depending upon species -some annuals may take only a few weeks, while others (perennials) can take several months.

All annual species will flower the same year if sown during the spring or the previous autumn. Perennial wildflower species will establish during the first year of sowing and flower during the second year.

We have blended a combination of annual and perennial species in order to ensure that you get a flush of colour in year one from annuals, allowing perennial species to really shine alongside self-seeded annuals from year two onward.

Maintenance

Keep your flower meadow in good condition, by going over the area with a strimmer at the end of the season, in September or October - after the plants have all finished flowering. Follow up by removing the debris and then mowing the area, cutting down to 15cm or so.
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Top Tips for Looking After Your Christmas Tree

Top Tips for Looking After Your Christmas Tree

These simple rules will help you gain maximum enjoyment from your tree:

  • When you bring your tree home, take it out of its netting as soon as possible. This prevents mould and fungus growing in damp branches.
  • Take it outside and give it a good shake to remove any insects and needles loosened in transit.
  • Saw about 5cm (2”) off the bottom of the trunk and place it in a bucket of water, if you’re not going to put it up immediately. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don't cut at an angle or in a ‘V’ shape.
  • Water is the single most important means of looking after your tree. An average sized fresh-cut tree can consume up to four litres (1 gallon) of water in the first 24 hours after being cut; and then up to a 1-2 litres (1/4-1/2 a gallon) every day after that, depending on its size and your home’s heating system.
  • If you have under-floor heating, then your ‘log-based’ tree needs to be placed in a bowl or tray which is always kept topped up with water.
  • Tree stands with a built-in reservoir are the best way to support your tree and keep it watered.
  • Avoid putting your cut tree in sand or soil - this reduces the amount of water it can absorb.
  • Make sure that the water level doesn’t get below about 3cm (1”) from the bottom of the trunk.
  • There is no advantage to drilling a hole into the centre of the base of the trunk - the live part of the trunk is around the edge, just under the bark.
  • Position your tree away from direct heat sources (radiators, direct sunlight, fires, etc.).
  • If your tree is pot-grown, make sure you place its pot on a dish and keep it watered.


If you have any questions, please ask a member of staff. We’re always happy to help.

Merry Christmas!

The Lancasters Team.

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