Popular pests and diseases to look out for

Our gardens are our sanctuary, a place where we can escape into our own little patch of nature. We pride ourselves in the time and effort it takes to make our backyards one to show off. So, to ensure our gardens remain impeccable is to keep it healthy and one of the best ways to maintain a healthy garden is to familiarise yourself with the common garden pests and diseases.

Not every leaf spot, scab or miscolour is an indication of a pest infestation or fungal/bacterial disease, some symptoms are caused by planting conditions or environmental stress. It’s important to spot early signs of pests or diseases as precautions can be made to prevent any unwanted damage as the sooner a pest or disease is identified, the easier it is to eliminate.

But what are the main signs to look out for? Here is some information and expert advice on the 10 most common pests and diseases of hedging plants in the UK, including what to look for and how to deal with them.

Firstly, pests. As all gardeners are aware, there’s always some kind of pest eating away at your plants, but that’s just nature. It doesn’t mean your garden is fighting off an infestation as the healthiest of gardens have all types of bugs which do a sterling job in all sorts of ways, from helping to decompose plant matter, enriching the soil, to aiding with pollination, letting your plants blossom. However, it’s the ‘bad bugs’ which warrant action. Here’s a list of the most conventional UK pests we encounter in our gardens and some advice on stopping them.

Aphids

Aphids are the first on our list as this 3mm long insect is the most common pest your hedge plants will encounter. This sap sucking bug will usually infest young, soft growing tips of plants in spring and summer. With over 500 species in the UK, they are mostly referred to as ‘greenfly’ or ‘blackfly’ but come in all kinds of colours such as yellow, light green and even pink, with some covered in a woolly layer, as with the beech woolly aphid. Aphids multiply quickly, but move slowly so with early identification and correct methods of removal, they are relatively easy to control.

aphids

Aphids themselves are difficult to see however the impact of an aphid infestation is visible to the naked eye. Look for misshapen, curling leaves with a yellowing distortion. You can also check the underside of affected leaves as these troublesome bugs tend to hide there. If leaves or stems are covered with a sticky honeydew, this is an indication of an aphid infestation as this substance is produced by the insect as waste.

Natural predators will do their best to reduce the presence of aphids however you can get rid of them by wiping the infested leaves with a damp cloth or spraying with cold water. Chemical control is also available or use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.

 

 

 

Scale insects

Another sap sucking insect, is the Scale, these are limpet-like insects with a protective shell-like casing. There are more than 25 species of scale insect and they are active all year round.

scale

They weaken the growth of young plants, and some species produce white egg masses on stems and on the undersides of leaves. Like aphids, they too leave behind a sticky honeydew substance as a manifestation of their presence.

It is possible to remove scale insects with a brush and warm soapy water or you can purchase an effective insecticide spray.

 

 

 

 

 

Winter moth caterpillars

When discussing winter moth caterpillars, we are not referring to one specific pest. Winter moth is a common name given to the species that have adult moths, they are present and lay eggs from November to April. This name can be deceiving to us gardeners as these insects do all of their damage during the caterpillar stage and can lead us searching for the wrong pest. The caterpillars appear in spring, chewing their way through new growth, leaving holes in leaves and disfigured foliage behind.

Using pesticides in late March to April will prevent winter moths from infesting your plants as they have not hatched, leaving them vulnerable to chemical control. In conjunction with this, attracting birds to your garden is an effective way of eliminating hatched winter moth caterpillars. These insects are favoured among bird species such as tits, so encouraging them with the correct bird food or planting bird friendly hedging will benefit you and your efforts to prevent a winter moth caterpillar strike.

Spider Mites

If you’re a greenhouse gardener, these insects may be your number one enemy as they enjoy wreaking havoc on indoor plants, but will also enjoy attacking outdoor plants, especially Buxus sempervirens. Spider mites are made up of around 1,200 species, live in colonies and are often found on the underside of plant leaves. They leave tiny yellowish green mites and egg shells under affected leaves and if left untreated, a heavy infestation will see fine silk webbing in addition to leaves losing their colour, turning yellow, and may dry up and fall off.

spider-mites

We recommend discarding the use of pesticides as they are quick to develop resistance to them. Regular clipping of the hedge, ensuring that the clippings are disposed of immediately, is an effective way to prevent spider mites from infesting your healthy plants. Insecticidal soaps, horticultural oil or simply washing your plants with a strong blast of cold water are all valuable methods of removing spider mites.

 

 

 

 

 

Vine Weevil

Vine weevil is a beetle known to infest a wide range of ornamental trees, hedging plants and fruits with the tendency to favour plants kept in containers. These 10mm, dull black bugs can be found on plants in spring and summer and will leave irregular notches on the leaves as a sign of their plague. Adult weevils are difficult to find as they mostly come out at night. Give your plant a good shake if there are vine weevils present, as they will fall off your plant when force is administered. In addition to the vine weevil beetle, in autumn and winter, root-eating, soil borne grubs target the roots of a plant which will inevitably cause plants to weaken and die.

vine

Precautions can be made to prevent a vine weevil attack such as chemical and physical control. Check your planting areas, root balls and pots for vine weevils before planting or repotting. There are also a number of insecticides that can be used to treat damaged plants and give protection against a potential attack.

Fungal Diseases

It’s recorded that around 85% of most plant diseases are caused by fungal-like organisms. Their symptoms result in miscolouring, leaf markings and unusual substances covering the surfaces of plants.

 

 

 

Honey fungus

According to the RHS, honey fungus has been the most commonly reported garden disease for 20 years running and is deemed to be the most damaging fungal diseases in the UK. Made up of several destructive species, honey fungus spreads underground attacking the roots of healthy trees, shrubs, hedging, woody and perennial plants.

honey

Honey fungus hinders the growth of developing leaves, whilst causing mature leaves to become pale. At ground level, white fungal growth appears between bark and wood and in some cases, golden brown mushrooms appear briefly on infected stumps, usually in autumn. Honey fungus is a tough disease to get rid of, often digging out the affected shrubs and surrounding plants is the only option to minimise potential spread to other parts of the garden. If you have a known honey fungus contamination in your area, we have a number of plants resistant to this disease. Species such as Box, Hornbeam, Griselinia, Lavender, Lonicera nitida, Yew, Holly, Hebe, Hazel and Blackthorn – all are great choices.

 

 

 

Powdery mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease which occurs on specific species and targets the foliage and stems. Often associated with water stress, powdery mildew appears in summer and autumn. If your plants are experiencing this disease, it can be easily identified as a white powdered substance will be materialise on the foliage.

powdery

You can neutralize powdery mildew both naturally and chemically. Raking autumn leaves and disposing of them will impact the level of water stress your diseased plants will encounter. There are also heaps of chemical products to treat powdery mildew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phytophthora

Phytophthora is a genus of plant-damaging Oomycetes that can also have a negative effect in natural ecosystems. This fungal disease attacks the root system and is the common cause of root and stem base decay of a wide range of trees and shrubs. Its presence derives from heavy or waterlogged soils causing large roots to appear blackened and finer roots to rot away. Above the ground symptoms arise once the root decay is well advanced. Deciduous plants will yellow and branches are likely to die back, whereas conifer plants will turn a dark matt green or brown.

As this disease is caused by waterlogged soil, it is important to improve the drainage with grit or land drains and for potted plants, ensure the pots have an effective drainage system.  If you are experiencing a Phytophthora infestation, remove and destroy all infected plants and replace topsoil in effected areas as soon as possible. To fully avoid this disease, you can plant species which are less susceptible to Phytophthora, such as Berberis, Hornbeam, Leylandii, Hazel, Hawthorn, Photinia and Western Red Cedar.

Bacterial Diseases

Bacterial Canker

Bacterial Canker (Pseudomonas syringae) is a disease caused by two closely related bacteria that affect the stems and leaves of a number of the Prunus genus, although Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry laurel) and Prunus lusitanica (Portuguese laurel) are more resistant to this bacterial disease than their relative species.

This disease is also known as ‘shothole disease’ as infected plants display small brown patches on its leaves in midsummer, which eventually fall out to leave small round holes. Alongside these unsightly leaf disfigurations, sunken dead areas of bark will joined by a gluey ooze.

To prevent Bacterial Canker from infecting your plants, carrying out all pruning in July or August when tissues are more resistant is an effective way to reduce the chance of infection. On infected plants, cut out all cankered areas, pruning back to healthy wood. You can then paint all pruning wounds with a wound paint to protect your plant from reinfection. While mentioning the possibility of reinfection, it’s important to remove and destroy these cuttings.

Firebright

Hedging plants such as Cotoneaster, Hawthorn, Photinia and Pyracantha can be effected by this waterborne bacteria. Most apparent in late spring and autumn, this disease attacks the shoots of blossoms, giving the plant the appearance of drying out and sun scorching. Cankers on branches, especially where infected shoots join larger branches appear and a slimy white liquid will leak from infections in wet weather.

Prune and destroy all signs of infection immediately, soaking your cutting tools with disinfectant between cuts to avoid spreading the bacteria. Jersey fluid or methylated spirits are recommended by the RHS.

Here at Hedges Direct, we ensure that all of our stock is pest and disease free. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above but are unsure on whether you can correctly diagnose your plants, we have an expert service team who are more than happy to help identify any pest or disease infestation and offer advice. We simply require you send in some pictures of the plants in question to helpdesk@hedgesdirect.co.uk

Go For Gold!

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games are truly under way and I must admit, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching all the different sporting events and getting in the Olympic spirit by cheering on team GB.

I’m sure that you can guess that my recent obsession with the Olympic Games inspired me to write this blog. Like the thousands of athletes competing in Rio, I too am going for gold. However, I’m not talking about the prestigious gold medal presented to the winning competitors, I’m talking about golden foliage as a glittering addition to a garden design.

At Hedges Direct, we offer a range of hedge plants with lavish foliage displaying golden tints, perfect for creating a garden worthy of first place.

Golden Bamboo is certainly the first to mention. Its strength and speed are similar to those of a 100m sprinter with the intention to get to the finish line in the quickest time possible. This hardy species breaks our growth records achieving 60+cm a year. The Usain Bolt of the plant world.

gold bambooGolden Bamboo

Our conifer varieties boast fantastic shades of gold. Golden Leylandii and Monterey Cypress ‘Goldcrest’ are beautiful, evergreen species with golden yellow spray-like foliage. Monterey Cypress ‘Goldcrest’ has the brighter foliage of the two species and has a lemon scented fragrance in summer, especially when cut or brushed.

Gold leylandii

Golden Leylandii

Monterey

Monterey cypress ‘Goldcrest’

Golden Elder, which displays an attractive bronze colour when young, turns golden yellow with maturity. Lonicera nitida ‘Baggessen’s Gold’ is the perfect option for summer colour as it is well suited to sunny areas and its leaves are capable of reflecting sunlight which emphasises its golden tint. Golden colours can also appear on variegated foliage, Golden Privet and Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald n Gold’ have green glossy leaves with an outline of golden yellow giving these hedge plants a contrasting appearance.

Lonicera

Lonicera nitida ‘Baggessen’s Gold’

Privet

Golden Privet

Euonymus

Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald n Gold’

This blog couldn’t have arrived at a better time as Hedges Direct welcome a new hedging species to their team, Ilex Crenata ‘Golden Gem‘. Slow and steady wins the race with this plant as it will achieve 10-20cm per year and will therefore require little maintenance. It’s a golden alternative to the green Ilex Crenata and the popular Buxus sempervirens as it is used for creating a low garden border.

Ilex

Ilex Crenata ‘Golden Gem’

You can utilise the brilliant foliage of these plants as individual features or as a bright setting to offset the colours of other plants. So bring home the gold with my suggestions and make your garden a winner.

 

 

 

The Hedging Network: A Focus on Robert Hughes

Here at Hedges Direct, we’re passionate about introducing our customers to reliable, experienced landscapers and garden designers in their local area. In order to pair up our customers with local planting professionals, we created The Hedging Network, which allows you to locate and choose from our database of approved horticultural experts. Having worked with these companies on previous projects, we’ve built up strong, trusting relationships and we’re confident in the knowledge that our quality products are in the hands of professionals. So, now when you see The Hedging Network’s ‘Approved’ badge, you too can be confident that the expertise and reliability demonstrated by your local landscaper or garden designer, sufficiently meets the standards expected of The Hedging Network.

This is the first article in our new ‘A focus on…’ series, which hopes to shine the spotlight on some of our Approved members. To kick start the series, we interviewed one of the founding members of The Hedging Network, Robert Hughes of Robert Hughes Garden Design. A two time RHS award winning Landscaper turned Garden Designer from Cardiff, who is currently living his dream working through a long list of design projects and show gardens. We managed to grab a few minutes with him, in between projects, to gain a snippet into his busy schedule –

 

  1. How did you get started in the industry?

I graduated in Product Design in 2003.  I decided to enter landscaping industry after being inspired by the exciting, architectural and daring designs created by Diarmuid Gavin on Homefront in the garden around that time.  From then on I gained experience by building gardens whilst studying at home in order to achieve my dream to become a Garden Designer.  I established my company in 2008 and went on to win my first RHS Silver gilt medal with my first garden in 2009.

A focus on Robert Hughes Garden Design 2

  1. What does a typical day look like?

Having only recently given up the tools, my days are now much more relaxed. After a cup of tea to start the day and get the brain ticking, I sit at my desk with the views up to the local mountain and let the creative juices flow.  I’m usually juggling up to 10 projects at any one time so I will spend a few hours on one project and leave those ideas to incubate, I’ll then work on another project at a different stage and every now and again I’ll make a trip out to meet my clients to discuss the designs.

 

  1. Which of your projects have you most enjoyed working on, and why?

My most enjoyable project to date would have to be my recent RHS Cardiff show garden, ‘Office box’.  I’m always working towards reaching my goal of exhibiting my own style, having my own personal edge.  This garden is the closest garden I’ve created to date which really speaks of my personal taste and demonstrates my capabilities.

A focus on Robert Hughes Garden Design

  1. What’s your number one gardening tip?

Well I’m more of a hard landscaping expert so I think I’ll focus on that.  A common mistake most people make is using a jet wash to clean the algae from their patios.  This opens up the stones pores and means that the patio will probably go green twice as quick next time around.  There’s some products on the market which help prevent the growth of Algae.  Solve the problem before it arises and keep on top of cleaning off any dust, dirt or leaves to keep those patios looking like new.

 

  1. What are you working on next?

Along with many other exciting projects I’m currently working alongside a local Architect firm to create a contemporary garden which will complement their bold statement of a reimagined 1960’s contemporary house in Penarth, South Wales.  I am also currently seeking a sponsor to work alongside and start making plans towards exhibiting another show garden at one of next year’s prestigious RHS flower shows.

We hope you enjoyed this insight into his expertise. Stay tuned for the next installment in the series, coming in 2016 and head over to our Hedging Network to see what horticultural experts are in your area.

For landscapers and garden designers, if you would like to become an approved member of our reputable Hedging Network, please contact daniel.bentham@hedgesdirect.co.uk or give us a call on 01257 263873 and ask to speak to Daniel, Jenn or Kate in the marketing department.

How to improve your soil

When it comes to improving your soil, there’s many different ways to do this, as well as many benefits. Your soil can be improved by targeting two different aspects, the amount of nutrients and the structure.

By using the following products and processes, you can increase the success of your plants as well as well as the general condition of your soil.

Topsoil

This is the ideal, easy solution to improving your soil ready for new plantings. Topsoil is a specially selected, graded product and, as the name suggests, is the top layer of the soil – the upper 2-8 inches to be more precise. This section of the soil plays an important role when planting new hedges and shrubs as it supplies the bulk of the nutrients and it’s where the majority of growth takes place for the first few growing seasons.

Topsoil has a variety of uses in the garden, suited to the planting of hedges, shrubs and trees, whilst also being beneficial to new turf. From levelling your planting surface to increasing the nutrient count in the soil, topsoil is the perfect planting product and reduces the need to apply further compost or fertiliser.

For all round improvement and a nutrient boost for new plants, topsoil is the go-to option.

Topsoil1-min

Rootgrow

No garden should be without this planting companion. Made from a combination of native fungi, known as mycorrhizal fungi, Rootgrow is an all-natural product that is hugely beneficial to the roots of plants and the surrounding soil. When applied to the root system during planting, Rootgrow provides a sort of secondary root system that gives the plant easy access to the nutrients in the soil as well as reducing the impact of drought and other environmental factors that can affect establishment.

It only takes one Rootgrow treatment to reap the benefits and notice a difference to your plants within a few weeks.

 

Well-rotted organic matter

Adding well-rotted organic matter such as compost or manure to your soil is both a traditional and effective way to improve your soil. You can start by improving the texture, digging into the soil and breaking up any large lumps which will be helpful to the root systems of new plants trying to establish. You can then dig in about half a wheel-barrow full of organic matter, ensuring as you dig back over you are making sure it’s fully incorporated into your soil.

The list of benefits associated with adding organic matter to your soil include: increasing the nutrients in the soil; improving the structure which provides easy access to the nutrients; improving the water holding capability; and attracting worms and other insects that play a part in continually improving the health of your soil.

Digging in organic matter

By using the above methods, the overall condition of your soil will be dramatically improved, including the drainage and surface of your site, allowing for more successful planting all year round. And, as the saying goes, it’s always better to ‘feed the soil, not the plant’.

#HD30Days30Prizes Competition Winners

After a successful month long competition to celebrate 10 years trading, it’s finally time to reveal our 30 lucky winners…

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Date Prize Winner
01-Sep Bee Friendly Border Pack Mike James
02-Sep Bird feeding station Donna Michael
03-Sep Planting Essentials Pack Susan Crosswaite
04-Sep Hedge Trimmer Nicki Ramsay
05-Sep Topiary Ball Phill Worboys
06-Sep Bee Friendly Border Pack Christine Abdy
07-Sep Planting Essentials Pack Jeff Hardy
08-Sep Herb Garden Pack Andrew Burns
09-Sep Hedge Trimmer Tim Zybert
10-Sep Hebe Hedging Pack Sarah Ridgeway
11-Sep Nesting Box & Pack of 6 x Fatballs Jane Berrow
12-Sep Lavender Bundle Stephanie Thornley
13-Sep Topiary Spiral Mark Milsom
14-Sep Mini Meadow & After Plant Barry Graham
15-Sep Wildlife Friendly Hedging Pack Harold Perry
16-Sep Garden Tools Bundle Julie Clark
17-Sep Olive Topiary Standard Sarah Fleck
18-Sep Wicker Bird House & Pack of 6 x Fatballs Peter Hutchings
19-Sep Hedge Trimmer Paul Williams
20-Sep Mini Meadow & After Plant Lee Gardner
21-Sep Rosemary Bundle Leanne Bucknall
22-Sep Planting Essentials Pack Jenny Moore
23-Sep Euonymus Hedging Pack Donna Foxall
24-Sep Topiary Ball Georgia McAllister
25-Sep Planting Essentials Pack Rafal Kozinski
26-Sep Hedge Trimmer Jacquiline Brassington
27-Sep Evergreen Hedging Pack Linda Bird
28-Sep Wildlife Friendly Hedging Pack Helena Haddock
29-Sep Nesting Box & 2 x Bird Feeder Seed Shapes Roger Stanley
30-Sep Mini Meadow & After Plant  Rudy Roversi

Thank you again to everyone that entered and helped to celebrate our 10th Birthday!

There’ll be plenty more competitions in the coming months so make sure you stay connected with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Macmillan Coffee Morning 2015

Last Friday, we joined the nation’s tastiest fundraiser, the Macmillan Coffee Morning, to raise money for a very good cause and enjoy some delicious cakes in the process. Altogether we raised £111.10 so thank you to all our bakers and cake tasters!

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See what else we get up to at Hedges Direct HQ by connecting with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Hedges Direct through the years…

As we’re celebrating our 10th Birthday this month, we wanted to give you an insight into the history of Hedges Direct and how the company has changed over the last 10 years.hedges direct team

2005 – Hedges Direct was established in 2005. In the very beginning, all business was conducted with one laptop and a mobile phone. There were 14 orders in the first week and as the team only consisted of myself and my husband Dave, we used to take our laptop on holiday and drive up a hill to get a broadband signal using a dongle so that we could download the orders – sometimes we even had to use the internet in local libraries to be able to work.

 

2006 – We moved from our home office in Bath into a portable cabin and began selling bare roots as well as container grown plants.

 

2008 – We expanded into a bigger portable cabin to accommodate two new employees and started selling cell grown plants and root balls.

 

2011 – The business relocated up north to Five Acres Nursery in Euxton, Lancashire.

 

2012 – A new despatch shed was built on the site to accommodate the increased number of orders being processed.

 

2013 – Hedges Direct first began selling turf and instant hedging.

 

2013 – This year saw the beginning of our relationship with ITV’s Love Your Garden.

 

2014Pleached trees were added to our catalogue of products.

 

2015 – Hedges Direct was awarded Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant accreditation.

 

2015 – September marks the 10th anniversary of Hedges Direct.

When is the best time to plant a hedge?

We often get asked when the best time to plant a hedge is and the answer is completely dependent on the root type of the hedging plants. Each root type has a specific time frame in which to plant to achieve the best results –

Bare roots

Bare root hedging must be planted when dormant, from November to April, however this planting period can be extended through to early May with the use of cold stored plants. Always check the ground is not frozen before planting and that frosts have not been forecast. All hedging plants are dormant during this period, however evergreen hedge plants hold their leaves whilst deciduous hedging loses them.

Root balls

Similar to bare roots, root ball hedging can only be planted during the dormant season, however this is slightly long for root balls, lasting from October to May with the exception of Box hedging, which can be planted in root ball form all year round.Yew root ball hedging

Pot grown plants

Pot grown hedging can be planted all year round other than when the ground is frozen, frosts are forecast or during very hot weather. You can store pot grown plants for a few weeks before planting in the ground, providing you keep them well-watered.

Cell-grown plants

Cell grown hedge plants can also be planted at any time of the year with the same exceptions that apply to pot grown plants.

Instant hedging

Instant hedging is available to buy and plant year round but we recommend that you avoid planting during both freezing temperatures and extremely hot weather.Griselinia instant hedging

Pleached trees

Pleached trees are grown as root balls so are only available for planting from October to May when they are dormant.

Ivy screens

These green screens can be planted any time of the year, providing the ground is not frozen or the weather is really hot.

Turf

The best time of year to lay turf is between mid-autumn and late winter, providing the soil is not frozen or waterlogged. You can also lay turf during spring but it’s best to avoid laying from mid-spring to early autumn as this period can involve spells of high temperatures and drought. Turf should be laid within 24 hours of delivery.

 

After planting, always ensure you keep your new plants well watered – our irrigation kits are great for this – and consider adding a mulch such as our weed supressent fabric to keep your site free of weeds. For more tips and advice on planting, take a look at our advice pages.

Birthday celebrations at Hedges Direct

Last week, the team at Hedges Direct spent the afternoon celebrating 10 years trading with a birthday BBQ. There were burgers, cake and even balloons to mark a decade in the industry. You can take a look at all the photos below and find out how you can join in the celebrations at the end of the blog…celebrating 10 yearsPaul and June enjoying 10 years

IMG_8377salesThe Sales Team

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BBQ Despatch-TeamThe Despatch Team

Despatch-Team-LunchRandomsBusiness Support Team

IMG_8383IMG_8340 Management-TeamHedges Direct Management Team

IMG_8380 Marketing-TeamMarketing Team

You can join our birthday celebrations by enterting our #HD30Days30Prizes competition. There’s a huge slection of gardening goodies up for grabs every day in September!

Celebrate our 10th Birthday with us by entering our #HD30Days30Prizes Competition

To celebrate 10 years of trading, we are giving away a prize a day throughout September in our #HD30Days30Prizes campaign. The month-long giveaway includes a huge selection of gardening goodies, from bird-friendly feeding stations to hedge trimmers that will help keep your Beech looking its best.

You can enter daily for your chance to win one of these fantastic prizes and help us celebrate our 10th Birthday!

HD-10th-Birthday-BannerPage previewEach prize draw will run for 24 hours on the individual day stated and the competition closes on Wednesday 30th September. Winners will be announced on Thursday 1st October. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on our Facebook page. Let us know you’ve entered @HedgesDirect using the hashtag #HD30Days30Prizes.

Stay tuned throughout September to see how else we’ll be celebrating and don’t forget to wish us Happy Birthday!