Saturday, 28 November 2009

Berry, Berry Beautiful ! !

As I write today, a distinct chill has come into the air - a reminder that Winter is on it's way, soon it will be December, and our minds will be on all things festive - have no doubt I'll be blogging about the virtues of live plants as decorations and gifts over this period.... after all, nothing can beat a real tree at Christmas with the fresh pine fragrance and the nostalgic feelings they can conjure up - no matter how much glitter and tinsel you have, you can't beat that - or come close with a fake tree...... but less of that, for now....

As Autumn draws to a close, there are still some stars out there in the plants around the nursery and garden. These good doer's have been at it for week already, and are looking BERRY BEAUTIFUL, as I like to call it, berry beautiful indeed; festooned in coloured jewels, shimmering like rubies and diamonds in the weak sunshine. You would be forgiven if I have you a little confused at this point, for I am waxing lyrical about those plants that are covered in berries at this time of year. We of course have the usual suspects, like the Pyracanthas, "soleil d'or" is covered in golden berries whilst others like "Red Column" stand out like a belisha beacon in a mixed hedge row with their brightest of scarlet fruits. I think it must be a bumper year for pyracantha this year, perhaps you have found the same in your garden?, or after seeing them all around want to try some yourself? The good thing with these is that they are evergreens so will add some lovely winter structure to the shrub border, as well as some nice white blooms in late spring time - it is these that later give us the colour parade of berries. Not only this, but they are a veritable wild life habitat in themselves - providing food through the year for birds and insects, as well as providing a favourite nesting site for birds. The song thrush really appreciates a large one of these to bring up a family in. If you're into hedge rows, they are great, especially in urban areas as they tolerate pollution with ease, and any would-be burglar confronted with a thick Pyracantha hedge will certainly think twice - useless rather strange, with a liking for being impaled on spiky thorns that is!

Enough of that usual suspect and on to a couple of others - the female Skimmia reevesiana has masses of Red berries right now, and compliments the male Skimmia Rubella perfectly, which is in bud right now and all through the winter until spring. The black birds have taken a particular liking to these this year - so I suspect most of these red globes will be gone before the soltice. The rare Skimmia Kew White also has a mass of berries, but they are less visible than those of the red varieties, so here's hoping they last a little longer.

Hinting at the festive period again, we also have holly putting on a good show.... I don't think you can beat a traditional green variety like "J C van Tol", which always reliably produces a nice crop. The variegated Hollies are also good, but I just like these. . . . if you have woods near by, there may be mature holly trees of traditional prickly Ilex aquifolium, these can get very large, and act as a magnet in the Autumn and Winter months to all bird species as the berries ripen to the familiar red shades. Even wood pigeons will descend if there regular food sources are covered by a dusting of snow. With snow mentioned, we better move on to two more unusual berry plants - before we get all festive and nostalgic again with the white stuff mentioned!

The unusual Callicarpa or Beauty berry as it is commonly called should certainly be grown more often. This deciduous bushy shrub seems to be little known by many gardeners, but it is a valuable addition for the display of fruit at this time of year - in a striking aubergine-purple colour! For the best and heaviest crops of fruit it is best grown in groups for cross pollination between plants. Other than posting a picture and letting you make your own mind up if you like the berry display or not, I'm saying nothing more on this one, apart from the distinct berry colouration reminds me on the foil on a popular and well know brand of milk chocolate - I think you'll agree with that one.

The gorgeous Cadbury Daily Milk foil/wrapper (there, I said it) coloured berries of Callicarpa bodinieri Profusion - the Beauty Berry

THERE IS FAR TO MUCH FOR ONE POST ALONE, SO THIS ARTICLE IS TO BE CONTINUED . . . . . (also reedited, refined and re tuned, soon)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

We had a little accident . . . . .

20,000 Tulip Bulbs, loose in boxes, stacked on a trolley . . . . . . .

trolley being unloaded from a truck. . . . . . .

but the trolley doesn't stop rolling when it should . . . . . .

trolley tipping over, spilling all the bulbs on the road outside the yard - PRICELESS

I feel a special offer for mixed tulips coming on!!!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Autumn Foliages is an Explosion of Colour on our Nursery

We've had the camera out, and took a walk through the nursery recently to check out all the stunning autumn foliage. The colours have been amazing this year. It's not only the usual suspect like Acers that are putting on a good show either, there are many other plants that you may not have thought of as having colourful foliage. The colours occur as the leaves prepare to fall, as the chlorophyll and other elements in the leaf are broken down and drawn back into the plant to nourish it.

Some of our favourites at the moment:

Acer aconitifolium - lovely deep cut foliage, green in summer, and now deep red!

Ginkgo biloba - Beautiful buttery coloured autumn foliage of our ginkgos, prior to its fall.
Showing the foliage colour changes of our Ginkgo.

Cotinus Royal Purple - the deep purple summer foliage now gives way to a more fiery shade

Witch Hazels - In the New Year, we will be enjoying the unusual spidery flowers and heady scent, but for now, these Hamamelis provide an intense show of foliage colour.

Something a bit different . . . . . . . . .

Startling coloured foliage of the Aronia, the berries of which can be used as a "super food"

Even our Hydrangeas are getting in on the act, this Hydrangea macrophylla certainly has a deep blush to it!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

We've released a UK exclusive - Buddleja Lo & Behold(TM) Blue Chip!

Just a quick posting to let you know about our new plant, your can read our full press release, here
or here,

but in the meantime, you have the picture above, and can visit our website. Don't forget to put your clocks back an hour this weekend!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Flowering now!

We've been taking some pictures around the nursery today, not many, just a few - we just had to take a little time to capture all the Autumn magic that surrounds us, as the plants go through their colour transformations, with foliage ablaze in all shades, the deepest burgundy reds, scarlets, ochres, yellows and golds, oranges and even deep cerise pink. There is even a plant that has the colour of one of the more exotic dishes available in one of G.E. HQ's favourite tandoori restaurants! More of those photos to come later. But first, we just have to share what looks to be a wonderful planting combination - not just in our eyes, but also in the view of the bees and butterflies that have been sampling the sweet nectar provided by these plants for weeks.

Cat mint, Nepeta Sixhills Giant , combined with Sedum ''Herbstfreude'', a reliable performer in the garden, and a variety that is also known as 'Autumn Joy' for obvious reasons!

The spectacular cat mint has been doing it's job since June, flowering all through the summer. Beautiful powder blue flowers are produced in the hundreds by this plant that is a star for hot summers as it is drought tolerant. With it's drought tolerant nature in mind, we decided to team it with our friend the Sedum, which is also very resilient in dry conditions.

Over summer the Sedum developed its large plates of flowers atop of its fleshy stems and cool
(as a cucumber) green foliage, that set off the cat mint, with its silvery grey-green leaf tones, a treat. Since late August, as the flowers started to open on the Sedum, this partnership has been going from strength to strength, here we are nearly two months after the Sedum started to bloom, and we are still enjoying this spectacle, and if you go back to the start of June when the cat mint started to come into its own, that's nearly six months of colour from this perfect plant pairing, but it wont just end here in Autumn.

Those large heads of rusty red-pink flowers, that make the Sedum such a first rate garden plant, not only look fabulous now as other plants are running out of steam, but will give a lengthening period of interest right into the cold and icy Winter months. As the flowers inevitably fade, Jack Frost will be out doing his work, covering all in a fine layer of frozen water that will bedazzle as it glints in weak winter sunshine that gingerly cuts through the crisp winter air. These flower heads will jump out like diamond encrusted cushions of treasure, jewels in the winter wilderness when our friend jack has been out spinning his magical dusting of frosting.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Good News

GOOD NEWS - not only can you follow our blog, you can also follow us on twitter -

Our New Blog

Welcome to our new blog. We have created this for you to see what is going on in our nursery quickly and easily. The plan is to post pictures of plants through the seasons on this page, as well as other info that we think you'll find interesting.

Gardening Express, based in Chelmsford, Essex, is a leading online Garden Centre in the UK. The business was created by founder CEO Chris Bonnett, and has grown to be a thorn in the side of traditional rivals with it’s dynamic approach and new thinking. The concept is simple; a dedication to quality, service and value for money, has resulted in this entrepreneur taking Gardening Express to be one of the UK’s largest online garden centres in just a few short years.