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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

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

National Tree Week 2015

National Tree Week

This week is National Tree Week (28/11/15 to 06/12/15) which is the largest tree celebration in the UK and encourages people to get involved by either caring for existing trees or planting new ones.

There are many great reasons to plant a tree. The knowledge that you are creating or contributing to a landscape that will be there long after you’ve gone can be a wonderful feeling. It can also be very comforting revisiting a tree that has a significant reason for its existence such as personal memorial to a loved one.

There are also chance saplings, started by birds or squirrels, that grow tall before you realise they are there. If they’re not in quite the right place, they can easily be moved to a better site. It breaks our hearts to think of them dug up and thrown away, there’s usually a space for them somewhere!

National Tree Week provides a great chance to check the trees already growing in your garden.

  • Are young trees properly staked and the area at the bottom of the tree clear of weeds and grass?
  • Have you pruned away any damaged, diseased or badly positioned growth to help a young tree grow strong?
  • Don’t forget that older trees can also need a little attention, especially where trunks may have cracked or split and allowed rot to set in. The care of mature trees is usually a job for a qualified tree surgeon; it is not worth the risk of ignoring dangerous limbs or obvious cracks and rotten sections.

Thinking of planting a new tree?

You have to be a little careful when choosing where to plant a new tree.  For example, you will have to make sure it will be far enough away from drains and walls but apart from that most places are suitable.  When it comes to choosing a tree you need to first establish if you want it to provide shade/shelter from the elements or if you would like it for fruit or flowers. A good shade tree will have great foliage to keep you cool in summer and may also provide shelter in winter by acting as a windbreak. Flowering trees often produce fruit as well, whether it is to feed the family or the wildlife. Blossom attracts insects and birds to the garden which provides natural control of other pest problems.  It is also important to check the predicted mature height of your chosen tree so you can be sure the location is correct.

Why not come and visit us and talk to our plant team at Orchard Park who will tell you what grows well on your soil and what will suit your needs.

There are so many wonderful trees to choose from, but here are some of our favourites.

  • Great trees for shade: Norway maples, Holm oaks and cedars
  • Flowering trees: hawthorns, crab apples and cherries
  • Trees for fruit: Apples, plums and damsons

Orchard Park Garden Centre, Shaftesbury Road, Gillingham, Dorset, SP8 5JG
Tel:01747 835544
info@orchardpark.uk.net
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