North Dorset’s leading Garden Centre with Florist, Café and award-winning Farm Shop
Tel: 01747 835544

Plan it and Plant it – this Autumn

Autumn is usually the safest time to plant hardy plants whether they are trees, shrubs, bulbs or perennials. The warm and reasonably moist soil is so welcoming for plant roots; the conditions are just right for encouraging new root growth without the burden of having to support masses of leaves. The result is that the plant is nicely settled before the spring when the pressure is really on and the plant is calling for the maximum amount of water and nutrients to support top growth.

plan-it-plant-itSo plan your project now and then plant it this autumn. Clay soils around this part of the world can be difficult to manage if they are too wet at the end of the winter but with a little added coarse grit and well-rotted compost they are very productive and this is usually another good reason to get things done sooner rather than later. For many folk new to gardening, timing the garden care jobs can be a bit of a mystery.

Lawn care and weed control are good examples but if you can understand what is happening to the plants then the mystery lessens. As temperatures fall, growth rates get slower as the plant prepares for the dormant season. They will want to make sure that their fruits are ripened and dispersed to provide for the next generation, or draw back all the goodness from their leaves to store overwinter and provide for the following spring. Read More

Growing Bulbs

Plant Guides

Bulbs Through the Seasons

It’s planting time again! Hardy plants that get their roots down into the warm, moist soil at this time of the year, get a flying start when the next spring arrives. That goes for evergreen as well as deciduous shrubs, herbaceous perennials and of course bulbs!

You need to plant spring flowering bulbs, including alliums, crocus, tulips and narcissi in Autumn, before the first frost arrives.

Spring is the time to plant most summer-flowering bulbs including gladioli, irises, dahlias, nerines, agapanthus and lilies (which can also be planted in autumn).

Typically, the earlier you buy bulbs, the better the selection and quality, and we have a wide range of great quality bulbs in store now!

Using bulbs, you can create a mass display, add height to a flower bed, try a small clump of a low-growing variety in a border or grow them in pots. All the nourishment for the flower is stored in their bulbous roots. After they have bloomed, many bulbs can be left in the soil to come up again the next year – so simply check the information on the packet and get planting!


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Jobs for the Month, July

Hoeing at Orchard ParkMostly it’s just weeding and watering required this month. Weeds grow all year round but never more so than when you are away on holiday!

Hoeing is the safest and most environmentally friendly way of controlling them but it has to be done frequently and in dry conditions. Good gardeners usually have a hoe close to hand to fill in the odd spare moments.


Grow your own at Orchard ParkGrow-your-own can be really rewarding! There are always going to be a few problems with bad germination or slug damage, but salads are cropping and early peas are ready for picking now.  Beans have been slow to get going for some reason, but courgettes are wonderful this year; the key now is to keep things going. Regular cropping is essential otherwise plants believe they have done all they need to do. At the same time, keep them fed; especially the tomatoes. Another good move is to sow fresh crops – a few sown often works well. A short row of salad leaves every couple of weeks will give a continuous supply of tasty fresh green goodness. There’s still time to sow spring onions, radishes, Swiss chard, spinach, late carrots, spring cabbages and cauliflowers to overwinter.

Fruit picking at Orchard ParkIn the fruit garden

Bush fruit need picking and tree fruits may need thinning, or at least some summer pruning to make sure the crop gets a good chance to develop to a good size.

Young trees will benefit from watering.





Clematis, especially newly planted ones, can collapse overnight, often due to a fungal infection that blocks the vessels in the plant stem causing it to collapse and wilt.

The fungus itself is commonly found in the soil and finds its way into the plant through rain-splash when the stem is damaged, either by careless planting or a slug attack. Unfortunately there is not a lot you can do except cut the plant back, give it a liquid feed and perhaps treat with a systemic fungicide.

Usually the Clematis makes fresh growth and will eventually overcome the problem.

Greenhouses at Orchard Park

Prices start from £289

Greenhouses and conservatories get very hot and most plants should be outside. If not, then the glass should be coated with white shading paint or green netting.

Many houseplants enjoy a summer holiday outside and especially like a shower of rain to give them a new lease of life; make sure they also get a feed to support new growth.





Tubs and baskets need regular care to be at their best. Dead-heading, watering and feeding are all vital.

Repeat flowering herbaceous perennials also benefit from dead-heading, or cutting back and given a feed and mulch treatment.













Hedgehog Awareness Week 4th–10th May 2014

Hedgehog Awareness Week is organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and takes place each year.


If you have a garden hedgehogs are to be encouraged… they are known as the gardener’s friend for good reason! Your resident hedgehog will gobble up all of the critters that eat your plants and flowers, such as slugs, beetles and caterpillars… Read More

Easy Guide to a Greener Christmas

Gardening Know How

christmas decorations around fireplaceFor centuries, Christmas has been celebrated by bringing nature into the home. Far more environmentally friendly than synthetic glitz, plants offer natural beauty and wonderful fragrances. As well as the real Christmas trees and exotically coloured houseplants on sale at your local garden centre, you can decorate your home with bowls of pine cones or colourfulm leaves, twisted stems or teasels in a vase, garlands of ivy, holly and mistletoe, and natural tree decorations such as cinnamon sticks tied with ribbon and studded oranges. So for a greener Christmas, why not add a little natural country charm to your decorations – and get the kids to help!

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Christmas at Orchard Park – why go anywhere else?

Looking for inspiration ahead of the festive season? Looking for presents for all the family, ideas for your Christmas dinner and decorations to make your tree stand out from the crowd? Orchard Park in Gillingham has Christmas wrapped up.  Inside you will find locally sourced ingredients for your Christmas dinner, presents for everyone as well as Christmas trees and decorations to get you in the Christmas spirit.

Orchard Park is now in its 7th year. It was built on the Clarke family’s farmland, Lagan Farm as an outlet for their prize-winning rare breeds, joined with a well-stocked garden centre and restaurant.

Ron & Sheila Clarke of Lagan Farm have been rearing rare breeds of sheep and cattle for thirty years and are passionate supporters of traditional British breeds. When they moved to Park Farm in Gillingham in the eighties, Mr & Mrs Clarke set up the Rare Breeds Centre with a view to educating the public about Britain’s native breeds and farming activities. The Clarkes added other traditional breed such as Irish Moiled, Red Polls, Longhorns and Belted Galloways to their collection as well as a variety of sheep breeds and began selling their meat but in many ways, they were ahead of the times. ‘In those days rare breeds were very unconventional but we have always known that they produce the best meat.’ Since then, numbers of herds of rare breeds have increased all over Britain as farmers recognise the benefits of cattle that can thrive in an extensive system and the message about the quality of their meat is spreading to the consumer. Mr & Mrs Clarke now keep herds of Red Poll, British White and Irish Moiled, chosen for their tender, marbled and tasty meat. Mr & Mrs Clarke have been instrumental in championing these rare breeds and thanks to their work and others like them, the British White is no longer on the rare breed survival list. Mrs Clarke says, ‘meat produced slowly, from a grass fed animal is always going to taste better than one that is corn fed and finished in a fraction of the time.’

Lagan Farm Shop at Orchard Park, with its team of skilled butchers, is fast becoming a destination for people who value the meat they put on their table. Particularly as the Clarkes ensure that the other producers that stock their shelves share their ethos. The journey from field to shop is kept to a minimum to ensure the meat you serve at your table is of the highest quality.  White or BronzeTurkeys from Dorset, succulent hams, duck and your Christmas goose are all available from the butchers together with Orchard Park’s homemade stuffing. Orders are being taken now but last date for ordering is 20th December. The Clarke’s work is really paying off with Lagan Farm recently triumphing in the Taste of Dorset Awards, with a win in the coveted ‘Best Meat Producer’ category. All the meat stocked in the farm shop can be bought fresh or frozen and Lagan’s team of experienced butchers also produce tasty sausages, burgers and faggots and delicious home made pies, pasties and sausage rolls.  Why not top up your freezer in case of unexpected guests!!

Orchard Park is strongly aware of the importance of supporting local producers, so you will find some familiar names on their shelves including Fudges, Purbeck Icecream, Pink’s Organics, Dorset Cereals, Moore’s Biscuits, Stoate’s Flour, cakes by Lavender Blue, eggs from Blackacre Farm and coffee from Spicers in Wimborne, and those are just a few. The shelves are groaning with eye catching and tempting treats to stock your cupboards for Christmas. The farm shop is also well stocked with festive drinks from local brewers & producers. You will find beer from Keystone and Piddle breweries, Lyme Bay Wines, Burrow Hill Cider and various warming tipples from the Somerset Cider Brandy Company.
Bespoke Christmas hampers can be prepared – all you have to do is choose the contents and we will do the rest!

In the garden centre there is a huge choice of Christmas trees both natural and artificial and there are 3 varieties of non needle drop trees of fantastic shape and quality.  There really is no excuse for a dowdy tree this year as in the Christmas shop you will find a wide selection of glittering decorations and sparkling lights along with garlands, Christmas stockings and candles.  Complete your decorating with a gorgeous Christmas wreath for your front door!

Presents for all the family will be easy with gifts ideas for all the family and a treasure trove for the gardening enthusiast.  Father Christmas himself will be at Orchard Park on 10th, 11th and 17th December so come along and say hello but in case you miss him we have our very own post box for Santa where Children (or grown up’s!) can send him that all important letter!

After all that shopping why not visit the Café where all kinds of festive treats including warming hot chocolates with all the trimmings, mince pies and homemade cakes are on offer daily and every Tuesday and Sunday throughout December a delicious 2 course Christmas lunch is being served.
Much of the fine food available in the farm shop is also served in the café, which caters for breakfasts, lunches and teas. Daily specials always include meat from Lagan Farm as well as fresh, sustainable fish from Brixham.

The floristry department is preparing beautiful Christmas bouquets to compliment your home or as a wonderful gift and a delivery service is available.
Come to Orchard Park for all your Christmas needs. Late Night Shopping is on Thursday 15th December.

Orchard Park Garden Centre, Shaftesbury Road, Gillingham, Dorset, SP8 5JG
Tel:01747 835544
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