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

Gardening

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!

 

Read More

It’s Butterfly Season!

Sir David Attenborough 300x300As well as being beautiful to look at, butterflies have an important role to play in the garden as they pollinate flowers.  Butterflies and moths are valuable indicators of a healthy environment and healthy ecosystem.  Areas rich in butterflies and moths are often rich in other wildlife such as earthworms, spiders, molluscs and snails which all have their place within your gardens eco system. As butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment it makes them an excellent biodiversity indicator and a decline in numbers is an early warning sign for other wildlife loses.

Butterfly numbers have decreased in recent years and Sir David Attenborough is calling upon the public to help reverse butterfly decline by taking part in The Big Butterfly Count, the world’s largest butterfly survey.   It was first started in 2010 and fast became the world’s largest survey of butterflies with over 36,000 people taking part in 2016 counting almost 400,000 butterflies and day-flying moths across the UK.   This year’s count runs from Friday 14th July to Sunday 6th August.

It is easy to get involved and counts are welcome from anywhere: parks, school grounds, meadows or even your own garden.  Each count lasts 15 minutes and can be done from one spot or whilst out on a walk.  If you are counting from a fixed position, count the maximum number of each species that you see in a single time (this is to avoid the same butterfly being counted twice by accident).  If you are doing your count out on a walk, total up the number of each butterfly species                                                                                                             that you saw in the 15 minutes.

To record your butterfly count and to download your free butterfly identification chart visit CLICK HERE.

How to attract more butterflies

To encourage more butterflies into your garden you need to provide a welcoming environment by growing the right type of flowers.  Adult butterflies are especially fond of plants with long, tubular flowers that grow in sheltered sunny areas to feed on the nectar.  The butterfly season starts in March and runs right through to October/November time when the frosty weather starts.

Some of the best plants for butterflies are as follows:

Buddleja davidii

This is one of the best known plants for attracting butterflies and is commonly referred to as a ‘butterfly bush’ with fragrant and high nectar flowers.  There are many varieties of Buddleja davidii to choose from and will grow in most soils as long as it is in a sunny position, they will produce blooms throughout the summer and into the autumn.

Verbena bonariensis

This tall perennial has erect, branching stems that grow up to 2meters in height with clusters of small purple flowers from summer to autumn.  Verbena Bonariensis can be grown in most soil types as long as it is well drained and works particularly well in flower borders to add height.

Hebe

Hebes are great evergreen shrubs that attract a wide range of insects including bees and butterflies.  These summer and autumn flowering evergreens are suitable for rock gardens, shrub boarders and ground cover with flowers ranging from white and pink to purple and mauve.  Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterflies are particularly drawn to Hebes.

Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’

With dark grey-green leaves and upright racemes full of mauve flowers, this bushy evergreen perennial attracts bees, butterflies and moths from March right through to October.  Erysimum can grow in moderately fertile, well drained neutral or alkaline soil in full sun.

You can also attract butterflies to your garden with artificial butterfly feeders which you can buy or make yourself at home.

 

Why not make your own butterfly feeder!

To do this you will need the following:

  • 1 empty clean glass jar with a screw tight lid (make sure it doesn’t leak)
  • 1 Kitchen sponge (about ½ inch thick)
  • Hammer and nail
  • Scissors
  • Saucepan
  • String – x2 pieces 24 inches each
  • Sugar
  • Water

Optional

  • 3 brightly coloured plastic mesh scourers OR Silk flowers (you will also need glue to secure these to the jar)

 

Step 1

Start by making your butterfly food by mixing 10 parts water with one part sugar in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Take off the heat and allow to cool.

Step 2

Punch a small hole through the centre of your jar lid using the hammer and nail.  If needed, ask an adult to help with this to avoid any accidental injury.

Using your scissors cut a strip about ¼ inch wide from the kitchen sponge and trim it down so it is roughly one inch long and ¼ inch wide on all sides.

Carefully poke this one inch piece of sponge through the hole in the lid made by the nail.  This is fiddly and has to be done carefully as to not tear the sponge; it should be a snug fit.

Step 3Butterfly Feeder One 275x300

Turn your empty jar upside down and tie both pieces of string together around the top of the jar with double knots opposite to each other as shown in the picture.

There should be two knots, one on the left and one on the right, each with two pieces of string off of each.  Take the two pieces of string closest to you (one from the left and one from the right) and tie another double knot one third of the way up the jar.  Repeat with the other two pieces of sting on the other side.

Repeat the above process with the second lot of knots roughly 1-2cm from the top.  Tie all four pieces of string together in a knot at the top to make it secure.  After that it should look like the picture below.

Butterfly Feeder Two 275x300

Step 4 (optional)

To make your feeder bright and attractive to butterflies you can decorate your jar by placing plastic mesh sponges into your jar before pouring in the sugar solution or by gluing silk flowers to the outside of the jar.

Step 5

Fill your jar with the cooled sugar solution and screw the lid on tightly so it won’t leak.

Finally, find a sunny sheltered spot in the garden to hang your butterfly feeder and wait for the butterflies!

BBQ Season at Orchard Park

Top Tips from Orchard Park for the Perfect BBQ

To celebrate National BBQ Week 2017 (29th May – 4th June) we will have special offers on our range of Weber BBQs and accessories as well as in Lagan Farm Shop butchery.  To kick off BBQ season we have put together a guide on how to create the perfect BBQ!

Get the Right BBQ

This may seem like an obvious statement but having the right tools for the job is essential, which also applies to barbequing!  The debate over which is best, gas or charcoal, is a fierce one but with the help from Weber we hope we can help you decide.

It is recommended that you choose a BBQ which is best suited to your needs.  Charcoal BBQs add to the excitement and anticipation; setting out the coals, lighting them and then waiting until they are up to the perfect cooking temperature is what makes a perfect BBQ for some.  Others prefer the convenience and spontaneity of a gas BBQ as they offer the flexibility to just ‘fire it up’ whenever you like and start cooking almost immediately, adjusting the temperature with simply a twist of a dial.

Here at Orchard Park we have a great range of Weber BBQs (along with accessories) and are able to offer advice to help you choose the right BBQ for you.

Make Your Own BurgersLamb_Cooked_Burger

Our Lagan Farm Shop butchers have been busy making burgers, sausages (available gluten free), rump steak kebabs and chicken skewers as well as marinated sticky BBQ ribs all ready for the grill!  There is no doubt about it, homemade burgers are simply better! If you would like to give making your own a go, we have grass fed beef and lamb mince available from our own farm next door.  There are so many different flavour combinations to choose from achievable by simply adding different seasonings or fresh herbs.  Lamb burgers with freshly grown and picked mint from the garden and sweet chilli beef burgers are always a firm favourite.  Lagan Farm Shop also has a selection of chutneys, pickles, seasonings and sauces.

BBQs Aren’t Just Good For Meat

Contrary to popular belief BBQs aren’t just for the meat-eaters among us and can be used to create a variety of hearty vegetarian meals.  Pizzas, pasta dishes, flat breads and even cakes can all be cooked and baked on the BBQ by using some of the Weber accessories.  Take a look at some great recipes available from Weber, click HERE to open the link.

Finally, Set the Scene

This year make the most of your outdoor space and let your garden be an extension to your living area.  Here at Orchard Park we have a range of quality garden furniture from Cosy Bay and Alexander Rose, along with a range of decorative fencing, aggregates and stoneware, garden lighting, outbuildings and of course plants that can transform your garden into a space for entertaining and relaxing.

So what are you waiting for? Make the most of your summer and get grilling!

Weber

Things to do in the Garden in Spring

Spring has now sprung! There is blossom on the trees and hawthorn hedges are leafing up, along with the cheery blooms of daffodils and primroses enjoying the sunshine between the rain showers. Now is a great time to start sowing and planting outdoors but be mindful there is still the risk of occasional frosts.  Here is a list of things to do in the garden at the end of March and through April:

Keep weeds under control before they get a hold

Weeds can be controlled with the help of weedkillers or by cultural and organic control measures that rely on killing or restricting the weeds physically.  This can be done by removing them manually, smothering weeds with plastic, burning or by using weed barriers.

Protect fruit blossom and non-hardy plants from frost

Most top fruit and soft fruit are very hardy but once they start spring growth the flowers and buds are particularly vulnerable to frosts.  You can protect frost sensitive plants by wrapping in fleece or by using a cloche.

Sow hardy annuals and herb seeds

Many vegetables, annuals, biennials and herbaceous plants can be grown from seed sown outdoors. The secret to success is to prepare a good seedbed, free of weeds and with a crumble-like soil-surface texture.

Sow new lawns and repair any bare patches

Patches in lawns can appear for a number of reasons and when they do, it is always advisable to repair them. Re-seeding or turfing these areas will prevent weeds germinating in the bare patches, and of course, it will look much better. It is best to repair these areas in the spring or autumn.

Top dress containers

Growing plants in containers is a great way to bring life and colour into otherwise dull spots in your garden such as patios, balconies and even window boxes.  Almost any plant can be grown in a container.

Plant summer flowering bulbs

Bulbs are great for adding colour to your garden. Planting summer-flowering bulbs such as lilies and gladioli can provide dramatic, tall blooms that are scented.

Put up some bird boxes

Birds will be looking for suitable places to nest and bird boxes increase their choice of nesting sites. Bird boxes hung on walls tend to be safer from predators such as cats than those hung on trees.  A north or north-east facing position is best as strong sun can make nest boxes too hot and uninviting.

 

national-nest-box-week-workshop

Seed Potatoes

Our new season’s range of seed potatoes are now on sale, and are certified Elite Basic Scottish Seed grown from healthy stock and produced in areas free from pest and disease.

Choose from:

1st early, 2nd early and main crop varieties depending on when you want to harvest them.

You can grow-your-own on a small scale every bit as easily as in a larger garden or allotment.

Container growing has some great advantages – you can get an early crop when prices in the shops are high. Container growing produces spuds with loads of flavour and almost non-existent skins so no need to peel.

All you need is a pot or growing bag of some sort, a vegetable or multi-purpose compost and a sunny spot in the garden.

Potato Chitting 325x325All seed potatoes do best if they are given a start by ‘chitting’. This simply means encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before planting. To do this you need a cool but frost free place with some light where the seed potatoes can be set out and allowed to make shoots of about 2 or 3cm long [that’s an inch]. An egg box or similar works well to hold them upright,

Plant out when the shoots are formed and the weather has improved; traditionally Good Friday was always seen as the best day to plant!

Container growing can start earlier and will give you an earlier crop.

We have loads to choose from:

2kg bags of First early, Second Early and Maincrop varieties at £3.99

10 potato ‘Taster’ packs £1.99

10 potato ‘Special Varieties’ £2.49

Apple Day at Orchard Park

What is Apple Day?

Apple day is a celebration of the English apple and the orchard held annually in October. It is a day, or few days, to recognise the diversity of apples in the United Kingdom and was first started in 1990 by a local arts and environmental charity, Common Ground and launched in Covent Garden market.  The following year in 1991 apple day was launched Nationwide with over 50 events ranging from village hall markets to larger apple roadshows.  Apple day has been celebrated every year since and has grown from a small local event to a nationwide celebration of the humble apple.

200pix-by-250pix-apple-day

 

Apple facts

  • Apples float in water because 25% of their volume is air
  • In Ancient Greece tossing an apple to a girl was a proposal of marriage and catching it was a response of ‘yes’
  • There are more than 8,000 varieties of apples – the largest variety of fruit to exist
  • It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider
  • To prevent apples turning brown once sliced add a few squeezes of lemon juice or lime juice.

 

Orchard Café Apple Scone Recipe

600g Stoates Self Raising Flour (plus a small amount for dusting/ rolling out the dough)

500g approx. Bramley Apples Diced (a sweeter apple can be used if preferred)

3 Free Range Eggs

125ml Buttermilk

125ml Milk

80g Butter

50g Caster Sugar

1 Free Range Egg (for glazing)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 160*c for fan assisted ovens or 180*c/gas mark 4.
  2. Rub the butter and the flour together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs then add the caster sugar. Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and gradually add the eggs and milk.  Add the diced apple and mix until a dough has formed.
  3. Scatter some of the flour put aside for dusting onto the work surface and tip the dough out onto it.  Sprinkle some more flour onto the dough and your hands and knead very lightly before patting/rolling the dough till it is about 2cm thick.
  4. Cut out 12 scones and place on a baking tray.  Brush tops with beaten egg and cook in the oven for 12 minutes until lightly browned and risen.  Serve with butter and enjoy.

scones

Flowers for my Valentine

There are many stories as to how the Valentines tradition of receiving a red rose from a known loved one, or a secret admirer, was started and the modern day celebration of the day has evolved and been shaped throughout history.

The red rose is considered to be the flower of love and passion, featuring in songs, poetry and paintings for many years and therefore it’s only logical that it should be the bloom of choice for Valentines!

Here at Orchard Park we have some beautiful red Naomi Roses with their smooth, perfectly red velvety petals they are the ultimate rose for those extra special romantic gestures.  Out of all commercially grown roses Naomi Roses are the only ones that are scented and have a sweet yet subtle perfume.

The red Naomi Rose has an excellent vase life which means you can enjoy their beautiful large head of subtlety scented petals for longer!  They have a strong stem and are incredibly striking making them the ideal bloom for your loved one.

Late spring: May at Orchard Park

Garden Planting this May

So far, so good! Spring in North Dorset has been kind to us all, gardeners and outdoor lovers alike. The weather was a bit on the cold side at first but has stayed relatively dry and is warming up nicely with no serious frosts to spoil plants.

You’ll have noticed that blossom has been absolutely glorious this year. Cherries started off with the early flowering Myrobolan, then the purple-leafed sand cherries before the more ornamental Japanese cherries started their display. Not to mention the magnolias and the ornamental pears!

At the time of writing, all looks well and we are hoping that the pear trees blossom will escape harm from frost along with the plums and bush fruit, especially gooseberries and blackcurrants. That would mean a substantial fruit crop later in the year, so it would be worth investing in a little protection, such as a fruit cage, to keep the birds off.

Our Dorset Farm Shop

We had a lovely visit from the reception class at St Mary the Virgin CE VA Primary School in April. Following their current theme, ‘On the farm’, they enjoyed a veggie workshop, tour of the farm shop and a sausage making demonstration from our butchers Chalky and Phil!

Regulars to the farm shop will have noticed some tasty new treats on the shelves, including these, quite frankly, marvellous Honeycomb Dips from Mighty Fine Chocolate.

If the words ‘Honeycomb’, ‘dipped’ and ‘chocolate’ haven’t already grabbed your attention and you’re a little more visual, check out how delicious they LOOK here!

Stylish Garden Entertaining

With the Bank Holiday looming, have you thought about how to get your garden set for the summer? If the thought of getting prepared leaves you trembling at the knees, never fear! We have the perfect guide to getting your garden summer ready.

We have wonderful ranges in store to really give your garden the magic touch, whether you’re looking for a reliable Weber BBQ with innovative accessories or a sturdy yet stylish Alexander Rose dining set, we can suit any budget.

Dorset Events

We’re counting down the days until Weber join us for an unmissable opportunity to see their 2 hour live cooking show, with fantastic barbecue recipe demos and tastings! The shop will be open afterwards for you to shop if you wish, and ticket holders will get a special discount on Weber products on the evening. Click here to read more about this event.

Job Vacancies at Orchard Park

Would you like to join our friendly, hard-working team? We’re on the look out for brilliant people to join our cafe and office. Come and take a look at the positions we have available!

How To: Grow summer bedding plants

Summer Bedding Plants

Summer Bedding Plants for sale

Bedding plants provide a wonderful splash of colour and create a decorative seasonal display for relatively little effort. They brighten up a border, fill gaps between plants that haven’t yet flowered, and look wonderful in pots, tubs and hanging baskets throughout the summer.

Bedding can be grown from seed, bought as young seedlings (plug plants) or purchased in packs or pots ready for planting out. Most bedding plants are annual, which means that they complete their whole life cycle, from seed to flower, within one year, and then die. They are discarded at the end of the season which gives you the freedom to change your bedding displays every year!

Getting Started

Pansy seedlings growing in trays

Pansy seedlings

 

Bedding plants are easy to grow from seed and don’t require anything too fancy. They will thrive in a seed tray or pots covered with a polythene bag on a windowsill, which means that you don’t need a greenhouse. Seed packets all have sowing dates on them.

If you would prefer established plants, seedlings or plug plants, these are readily available at your local garden centre or nursery. Seedlings will need pricking to ensure their roots have room to grow. Keep potting on your plants to larger containers when they outgrow their current ones until they are ready to be planted out in the garden and the weather is warmer with no risk of frost.

Growing and potting your summer bedding plants

To pot up your seedlings and plant plugs, first water the plants well and then lift them gently out of the soil. It is very important when handling them that you do so by the leaves rather than the stems. If you damage a leaf, it will grow back, but damage the stem and you’ll lose the plant.

Plant them into their new home to the same depth as before and firm down the compost. Use a liquid feed to water them in.

It is important to acclimatise new plants to the outdoors before they are planted into their final spots in beds, borders or containers. To do this, harden them off by moving them to a cold frame, an unheated porch or a sheltered spot outside.

How to plant out your summer bedding plants

Petunias in bloom

Petunias in bloom

 

It is important to wait until the risk of frost has passed before you plant out your new bedding plants to their final positions, usually mid to late May.

A few hardy varieties can be planted out earlier such as calendula (pot marigold), pansies, violas and primulas. These add colour to your garden in early spring, and can then be replaced or added to for the summer.

Caring for your summer bedding plants

Pink begonias growing in a border

Begonias in flower

It is important to water daily during dry spells using rain water from your water butt where possible. Continue to use a liquid feed each week during the flowering season.

Pay most attention to the plants in containers and hanging baskets as they are at most at risk of drying out. There are many products to help retain water in the soil such as gels, crystals and pellets that can be incorporated into the compost before planting to reduce the amount of watering needed, but you must remember to check the soil regularly.

The plants will be encouraged to keep flowering by regular deadheading, so keep an eye out for any fading blooms, which will also keep your displays looking wonderful throughout the summer!

 

Image credits: Seedlings © Brian Pettinger, Petunias: © PARSHOTAM LAL TANDON, Begonias: © cobalt123


Orchard Park Garden Centre, Shaftesbury Road, Gillingham, Dorset, SP8 5JG
Tel:01747 835544
info@orchardpark.uk.net
© 2013-2015 Orchard Park Garden Centre
Site designed by The Graphic Edge
Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Delivery Terms | FAQ & Returns Policy