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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!


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.



British Yorkshire Pudding Day!

British Yorkshire Pudding Day is celebrated annually on the first Sunday of February.  Traditionally Yorkshire puddings were made in one larger tin that was divided into portions rather than the smaller puddings we know and love today!  They were originally served before the main meal to fill empty stomachs to reduce the amount of meat needed especially during harder times.  Roast beef is the meal that Yorkshire puddings are known to accompany but they are delicious whatever they are served with!

Finding the right Yorkshire pudding recipe can be a challenge as oven temperatures, electric or fan assisted and dietary requirements are all factors.  We have everything you’ll need to make your own Yorkshire puddings here at Lagan Farm Shop (including some delicious Irish Moiled topside and brisket roasting joints from our very own farm next door!) as well as our favourite recipe from Jamie Oliver:


  • vegetable oil
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 100 ml milk
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 225°C/425°F/gas 9. Get yourself a cupcake tin and add a tiny splash of vegetable oil into each of the 12 compartments. Pop into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes so the oil gets really hot.
  2. While the oil is in the oven, beat the eggs, flour, milk and a pinch of salt and pepper together in a jug until light and smooth.
  3. Carefully remove the tray from the oven, then confidently pour the batter evenly into the compartments. Pop the tray back in the oven to cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until risen and golden.

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.



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)


  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.


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.

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

Green Toys & Alphabet Jigsaws

Are you searching for a children’s gift that has that extra something? If so, take a look at Green Toys and Alphabet Jigsaws at Orchard Park!

Green Toys are made in the USA from 100% Kerbside collected recycled plastic. By reusing and recycling plastic it saves energy, reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions and minimises the carbon footprint.

Green Toys also meet all international toy safety standards, contain no BPA, PVC or Phthalates.  They are robust, colourful and fun and can be used anytime, including mealtimes, as they are dishwasher safe!

Alphabet Jigsaws were established in 1997, creating original handcrafted wooden jigsaw puzzles. Their extensive range suits a broad spectrum of ages and are designed to both educate and entertain.  They familiarise younger children with numbers as well as letters and introduce older children to geography.

Alphabet Jigsaws are British designed and hand made in Sri Lanka using ethical methods of employment and sustainability. Each jigsaw and fridge magnet is individually cut and painted by hand to be durable, colourful, challenging and above all fun!

Each jigsaw comes with a natural cotton draw string bag for storage of the puzzle pieces.

Painted using non-toxic paints and primers, all Alphabet Jigsaw products meet the required European Toy Safety Standards.

Elf on the Shelf® Adoption Centre Dorset

Orchard Park Garden Centre are incredibly excited to announce that we have had the nod from Father Christmas himself and been approved as one of the few official UK Elf on the Shelf® Adoption Centres! Now you can take home the magic this Christmas from Orchard Park and create a wonderful family Christmas tradition.

What is the The Elf on the Shelf®: A Christmas Tradition?

The Elf on the Shelf®: A Christmas Tradition is a magical story that explains how Santa’s scout elves help him manage his naughty and nice lists. Each book comes as part of a box set that also includes one of Santa’s scout elves.

The scout elf receives its Christmas magic when their family gives it a name, and that special magic allows the elf to fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day’s adventures and to manage his naughty and nice lists. Upon returning from their nightly journeys, the scout elves hide and wait for children to find them!

Are there any rules for adopting an Elf on the Shelf®?

There are two simple rules that every child knows when it comes to having a scout elf. First, a scout elf cannot be touched; Christmas magic is very fragile and if a scout elf is touched it may lose that magic and be unable to fly back to the North Pole.

If your scout elf has been touched, you can apologize by writing a letter to Santa, or saying you’re sorry to your elf. Then, please sprinkle a little cinnamon beside him or her before you go to bed; cinnamon is like vitamins for scout elves, and it helps them get back to the North Pole. Once they arrive, the North Pole doctors will check them out.

Second, a scout elf cannot speak or move while anyone in the house is awake! A scout elf’s job is to watch and listen.

When does my scout elf arrive?

Scout elves typically appear in their families’ homes at the beginning of the holiday season. On Christmas Eve, the scout elves return to the North Pole with Santa Claus—until next year!

How can I adopt a scout elf?

Much like you would go to a pet shop to adopt a pet, your Elf on the Shelf® can be adopted too. Orchard Park is an official Santa-approved Elf on the Shelf® adoption centre and we like to make sure that every scout elf receives a good home. You can find many Elf on the Shelf® products for your family Christmas tradition here too! Remember to call ahead to make sure the elves are ready for adoption before you arrive.

The Great Autumn Clear Up!

The Great Autumn Clear Up!

Glorious autumn leavesWhilst we may not want to let summer go, there’s no denying that autumn has arrived and is comfortably settling in around us. Known as the ‘season of harvest’, we’ll soon be reaping the bounty that we sowed in spring and glorious colour will be coating the trees and paths as the leaves turn and tumble.

Although the colder nights and shorter days will naturally bring plant growth to a halt, there’s still plenty to do in the garden. A little bit of effort before the winter kicks in will go a very long way!

Tidy up pots, planters and borders

Time to clear out summer bedding. Divide & reposition any perennials that need it. Remove as many weeds as possible. Clean up foliage from roses, peonies, and any plant with diseased foliage. Remove and dispose of dead plants. Only compost healthy plants, if it showed any signs of disease, it should be disposed of to reduce the risk of re-infecting your garden next year with the same disease.

Mulch the beds

When the beds are tidy, mulch them with a thick layer of well-rotted garden compost or bark chips to keep the soil in good health and protect any slightly tender plants.

Protect from frost!

Wrap tender plants to protect them from harsh winter conditions. Fleece is cost-effective and can be bought by the metre, or Orchard Park stocks a great range of cloches and tunnels.

Inspect your trees

Remove any broken branches, making a clean cut close to the trunk. Orchard Park stocks a great range of long handled pruners, secateurs and pruning saws that are perfect for this task. Remember this is just a tidy up and major pruning should not be done until trees are fully dormant. Check tree ties and stakes on young trees.

Compost sack full of leavesClear the ground

Remove all fallen and rotting fruit from the ground around trees—they will attract pests and diseases which may last through the winter. Don’t leave autumn leaves on the lawn. Instead, rake them up and add to the compost heap in thin layers mixed with other material. Leaves will make good compost quicker if they have been shredded. Use the mower to chop them and pick them up. Give your lawn a final cut before winter and an autumn feed to strengthen roots.

Don’t forget your equipment…

Clean and store away your tools. Remove all traces of soil and if you’ve been trimming diseased plants, disinfect pruners and dry fully before storing away. Spray a little WD40 or light oil on steel tools. Scrape the old lawn clippings off the mower.

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