Gardeners are asked to record which garden berries and fruits are being eaten by wild birds. The survey lasts until the end of March 2013 and it “seeks to establish berry availability, which birds are feeding on what berries, and how quickly berries are removed from plants”.
I know from the view outside my kitchen window that the blackbirds love the berries on my Silver Holly (Ilex aquifolium Argentea Marginata) – I can see the branches twitching up and down as the birds jump along them towards the outside edges where the berries are most plentiful. Pigeons love them too but their weight is too great for most of the branches but it doesn’t stop them trying –it’s quite comical at times when they can see bunches of berries but can’t get to them – there’s usually a great deal of flapping which can’t be easy when a bird is in the middle of the Holly tree!
I’ve also got a great love for Pyracantha, here’s the orange berried variety which is being trained to cover all the stonework around my kitchen window (can you see the lovely Field Maple trees across the road reflected in the window – gorgeous buttery yellow colour at this time of year). The berries on Pyracantha seem to mature later than the Silver Holly so often it is still covered in berries at Christmas.
We also have red berried Pyracantha. We bought tall red Pyracantha for friends as their wedding present because their anniversary is in late December and hopefully it will always be looking really good at that time of year.
And then there’s the less used but wonderful yellow berried Pyracantha – we don’t sell anything like as much of this as we do the red and orange but I don’t really know why – it’s very bright which is what you want in winter.
Anyway, back to the berry survey – here’s the link to take part http://www.bto.org/news-events/news/get-ready-garden-berry
Thank you to those who decide to participate in this survey – it will provide important information which will help wildlife conscious gardeners in the future.
The website also has a useful list of garden plants which produce berries which you can access here http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/gbw/gardens-wildlife/gardening/plants-fruit-seeds
The Royal Horticultural Society and the Horticultural Trades Association are both promoting autumn planting and we wholeheartedly agree. The trouble is that we’re not really in the mood to plant a hedge in autumn when there are fine days but they are few and far between and most people leave it until spring when the warmth of the sun can be felt on your back and you don’t need thermal underwear and three layers of socks!
But actually, virtually all the plants we sell (exceptions below) have better establishment if they are planted in autumn and indeed before the 1960’s all plants were sold as bare root or root ball for autumn/winter/early spring planting.
The reasons are
- The soil retains some warmth (I know that’s surprising but honestly it does) whereas if you are planting in spring, you are planting into cold soil.
- Those plants that are dormant (deciduous species) especially benefit from autumn planting because although they have no leaves, their roots are very much still active and it gives them a chance to get their roots down properly before they have the spring burst of growth.
- The autumn and winter normally takes care of watering whereas spring and summer planting requires the gardener to do this regularly and thoroughly – and we know that doesn’t always happen.
- They’ll be more self sufficient when drier weather comes along
I mentioned that there were exceptions to the autumn planting recommendation. In exposed windy sites, evergreen hedging is better planted in early spring although it’s absolutely fine to plant evergreen hedging all year round in 98% of the UK. All the hedging we sell is hardy but some is hardier than others! If you are in the north of Scotland or in a very cold, windy site, please take advice from us if you are buying hedging in autumn/winter.
Go to www.hedgesdirect.co.uk
One of our best selling species is English Yew – or to use the latin name, Taxus Baccata.
It makes a beautiful dark green hedge and it’s slow growing so it’s very easy to maintain, giving a sharp edge when just trimmed.
It has another wonderful attribute in addition – which is the ability to re-generate from very hard pruning.
Often old hedges get a bit neglected and they can get too thick or full of weeds. Not every species of hedging plant will recover from a very hard prune (by which I mean cutting back the width by up to 50%) but here are a couple of photos showing how this very old Yew hedge has recovered during the first and second year’s after a really severe prune (not that I’d really recommend that a hedge is treated this severely without being done by an expert!). In the first year, the main stem of the plant – which is almost a tree trunk – is clearly visible and there’s a bit of nice new growth.
In the second year, the main stem is almost covered in lush new growth, and it’s back to being a hedge again.
Although Yew is the most expensive species we sell (because it’s so slow growing it takes years longer in the nursery to reach a decent height than most other species of hedging plant) it’s an aspect that’s worth thinking about for those investing in an important hedge (prestige properties for example).
How about this for a beautiful Lavender hedge. This driveway has a double row of Hidcote Lavender on each side of the drive – immaculately kept and punctuated with Irish Yew (Taxus baccata Fastigiata) which is available to order on our sister website www.ornamental-trees.co.uk where if you use the discount code HD54DF2 you’ll get a 10% discount of any tree(s).
We have Hidcote Lavender in P7′s (7cm pots), 1.5 litre pots (they’re the most popular), 5L (gives a very quick result) and normally we’d have 10L
pots (currently sold out) which give an instant effect. We sell plants individually, on pallet deals (for 75 plants) or for huge projects, you can have a lorry load!
We also have English Lavender (Hidcote is an english variety too but we call the other one English to differentiate it – the latin name is Lavandula angustifolia), and a lovely white variety (Lavandula Arctic Snow), the one with the rabbit ears (Lavandula Stoechas) and a very compact variety (Lavendula Little Lady).
We love Lavender!
Here’s our new despatch building, with a 7.5ton Parcel Force van to give it some scale. It wouldn’t all fit on the photograph! The inside shot shows Rick and a few boxes before the carrier van arrived. In busy season, the whole barn will be full of packed boxes – it won’t seem like a big barn then.
The team are quite pleased! Packing plants is hard physical work and we’ve now got big workbenches to make it a bit easier. Roll on bare root season!
In the meantime, there are plenty of container grown plants ready in tip top condition – this photo shows Photinia Red Robin and Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata).
Jamie Shipley is our despatch manager and he’s on holiday in Dartmouth this week but can’t give it a rest! Here’s a photograph he emailed to me today of some stunning Royal Jubilee topiary created out of number of different varieties of hedging – which just shows that topiary is an art form and hedging plants are versatile. Well spotted Jamie.
Despite wet weather across most of the country, Lavender plants are selling like they are going out of fashion. These tough, drought tolerant plants are wonderful additions to every garden and in my own garden at home I recently replaced an old and slightly woody Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender) with lovely little bushy Lavender Hidcote plants, planted at 4 per metre and which, in just the one week since I planted them, have increased by about 50%! The leaves are very heavily scented – really noticeable when you are taking them out of pots and manhandling them. I had a couple of spares so they’ve gone in nice terracotta pots on my terrace steps and I expect them to completely fill the pots within a few weeks.
This year, as well as the staple 1.5L pot size we also have 5L pots for those looking for bushier more mature specimens and we have small but beautiful quality cell grown plants which are ideal for those with a little more patience than budget. They should still flower this summer and if not this summer then definitely next summer. At the other end of the spectrum, we’re also patiently waiting for some mega 10L pot specimens to be ready – just a couple more weeks hopefully. They’ll be real statements.
The key with all Lavenders is to plant them in dry soil or plant them in such a way that rainwater will run away from the roots (on little soil mounds). Other than when you first plant them, they need no watering unless we have a really long dry spell (imagine Lavender growing in Provence and you won’t go far wrong).
The photo shows my kitchen window which will be surrounded by Pyracantha when it’s fully mature (just coming into flower) and the little Lavender plants in a slightly wibbly wobbly row (which won’t matter when they expand a bit more) and the spares in pots on the steps. Behind the bench is a Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata Atrovirens) hedge which was 60cm in 2L pots about 3 years ago – and is now very bushy and dense because we’ve trimmed it a little.
We’re in full swing with pre-order despatch
We’re settled into the new nursery that we moved into during the summer – and we’ve now sent almost all the bare root and root ball pre-orders (ordered by customers from July onwards, despatched at this time of year when the plants are dormant).
We don’t like it when customers are asking “when will I get my order” but it’s inevitable in early November as we despatch 4 months worth of bare root and root ball orders in two or three weeks.
As well as a challenge for us, it’s a challenge for our carriers who dedicate more of their capacity to us at this time of year– both Parcel Force and Ainsworth and Martin have been absolutely brilliant this year.
Our full time despatch team is supplemented with temps (who have all been excellent) and even “the management” get their hands dirty at this time of year. Paul Shipley, our MD, even worked the Sunday of his birthday!
So, after working 7 days per week of long hours, we’re delighted to say that it’s only a handful of small complicated orders that are still waiting to be despatched – and now we can catch up with the steady stream of orders that have been coming in throughout early November.
It’s been a very good season for us – thank you to all the customers who pre-ordered – and thank you to all our suppliers for pulling out all the stops for us – and an especially big thank you to all our despatch and sales teams who have (as always!) been marvellous.
Welcome to Rick and Steve who join our despatch team in readiness for our busy autumn and spring seasons. They both have a wealth of nursery experience and anyone who receives a pallet from us will see the skill they employ to ensure that their plants reach their recipients in great condition.