Thursday, 31 October 2013

Fruits of the Forest - 'A feast of Fungi'.

Fact: Fungi are the largest and possibly the oldest living organisms on earth.

With this interest fact in mind, we will take a look at Fungi and when and where to study this neither plant nor animal species. There are around 70,000 species world wide and approximately 12,000 in the UK alone with 2,700 being found in the New Forest.

Interesting Fact: Mold is in fact a fungus and important in many blue cheeses which we consume at home. Yes, some of us have fungus in our fridges!

Fungi (and mushrooms) are unique and unlike plants themselves, they do not in fact covert the rays from the sun into energy and obtain their nutrition from the likes of vegetation and animal matter either living or dead.

Many species are not visible to the human eye for the are tiny in structure and many being hidden underground - The fruit of fungi is what is usually visible above ground and forms only part of what most probably is a much larger and complex structure underground. These large structure make them in to one of the most important elements of the ecology of forests for they share vital nutrients to plants such as trees and form an important part of the whole life of forests and woods by aiding the decaying process. Amazingly fungi structures can expand to tens of thousands of feed underground and come in all varied colours, sizes, structures and shapes.
Interesting Fact: Yeast, which is a fungus, is used in everyday food items such as bread, wine and beer.

You have to take great care when handling any fungi as some are extremely toxic and can cause damage to your health and even kill you if eaten! Always wear the likes of disposable gloves when handling them and if you desire to go mushroom picking in the woods / forest then adhere to guidelines such as:

  • Never simply pick and eat mushrooms!
  • Try and leave mushrooms as you find them if they are not edible, they are important to the survival of any woodland.
  • Wear protective clothing and especially disposable gloves.
  • When picking mushrooms do not mix them in your basket / container and wrap them in paper rather than in plastic / foil etc as they still need to breathe!
  • Leave some for others to enjoy and remember not to trespass on private woodland!
If you want to enjoy growing your own mushrooms at home there are many easy-to-use kits, supplied complete with everything you need that you can purchase which will contain safe and edible mushrooms to enjoy!.

Fungi are natures recyclers which help to prevent our woodlands from being covered in dead plants and animals that simply go to waste.
Mushrooms make a delicious food for many people either fresh or cooked within well known and traditional English meals. From salads to oven baked pies, mushrooms are used to compliment many of our favourite dishes, but remember as mentioned before - Make sure you know what mushrooms you are adding to your dish, especially if you have guests round for dinner as many are poisonous!

The structure of most fungi contains a thread like hyphae which then form a web which root in to the ground usually though also within trees and other damp areas. It then produces what we see, the mushroom or toadstool which is the fruit element. The season of Autumn is the time to see the fruiting bodies of fungi and they are abundant during wet and mild weather conditions. Ideal area to spot them are within woodland, but many peoples gardens will have fungi with them even popping up over your lawn.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

What should I do with fallen leaves in my garden?

It's the time of year that leave turn to red or yellow and start to fallen on our lovely neat lawns and beds, but what exactly should you be doing with them?

Leaves need collecting up regularly during autumn months and early winter as they can damage your lawn, but instead of placing them on to the bonfire or taking to the rubbish tip, turn them into a great free fuel for your garden which is leaf mould – This really will be worth it's weight in gold.

"Leaves are a great source of "brown," high-carbon material for the compost."

Try to rake up at least once a week using if you can, a rubber rake or at least spring-tined lawn type though of course an ordinary garden rake can be used.  If you like power tools, then use a leaf blower to collate leaves into heaps overs your lawns / beds.

Many people will store the damp leaves within bin liners which have perforations, usually in dry storage areas such as sheds and garages (remember that varied leaves take shorter or longer periods to fully rot down).
You can also rot down your leaves within a cage in your garden, usually a simply structure of four wooden posts with wire netting tacked around them to contain the leaves.

"Leaf mould us usually made up of nothing more than fallen leaves from your garden, it's a great soil amendment."

Leaf mould is a good source of fibre that really helps your garden soil to both retain moisture and improve drainage. Leaf mould and using leaves within compost, will help you when you want to grow choice dwarf bulbs, unusual woodland plants, vegetables and your containers etc.

You can also mow your leaves for those who prefer not to collect and store them. This is a simple yet effect process involving you in no raking or collecting whatsoever, simply mow over them with your mower at it's highest setting which will break them down a distribute them evenly.

For plants that are ideal to plant during the Autumn months please do visit the Gardening Express website.


Monday, 28 October 2013

5 Top Tips for Planning your Next Year's Garden.

When it comes to gardening, it really isn't an acceptable excuse to say 'I'm not great at planning' as what you sow you will reap! By spending time in planning and designing your garden, you will undoubtedly be thankful for your efforts during the following Spring and Summer months.

Firstly, you need to know (if you don't already) the kind of buying and planting your garden will require as this will depend on regions, location ie by the sea or not, are you located on flat land or on the side of a mountain 1,000 feet above sea level or urban / rural setting. Each of these locations will change the style and success of plants and flowers in your garden. Sometimes, the best way to see which plants are ideal for your garden is to take a walk down your street and see how other peoples gardens are growing, make a note of what is doing well - Also refer to the experts online, if you are purchasing plants or flowers online then ask them questions when making your order, most will gladly give free advice.

5 Top Tips to use for planning your next year's garden:

Look at where you'll be growing your garden. Not only the location of your garden, but also will you be planting in raised beds, containers, a community garden plot? Are you looking for privacy from a busy street or neighbours are is this a space going to be where small children should be comfortable in?

What do you want to grow and when? You know the space you're working with, so look at designing out the layout of the plants and flowers that you want. Simply list everything you want to grow!

Learn from last years mistakes! As with anything in life, it pays to learn from your mistakes. Dig out anything that you felt was misplaced or did not perform in the way you were hoping for.

Should you be buying seeds / bulbs or plants? Think about when you are going to be planting and what you should be buying. You need to come up with a schedule, based on your design / plan, of when to plant everything.

Prepare your soil! Autumn is a great time to be working in your garden and with your soil as it will be easy to work with (moist) and ideal for planting (warm still from summer). Before planting anything in your garden make sure you dig to loosen the soil and adding organic material. By taking time to prepare and work on your soil in the Autumn you will save yourself much disappointment by improving chances of a beautiful and fruitful Spring and Summer!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

UK Storm 2013 - Latest News

UK Storm 2013 - Latest News

If you have not already heard about the storm that is on the way, where have you been??

The Met Office have issued their latest severe weather warning on the coming events here if you want to keep up to date with the developments.

It is getting late in the day now, rain has started already here, and we have done everything we can at GE HQ to make every thing as safe and secure as possible, and are closing our operations down for the day on Monday - the safety of our team is paramount to us. Please be safe and secure where ever you are, and if you have not done so already, here are a few things you might want to do in the garden to prepared for the high wind. In our book, a storm forecast to have Hurricane strength winds with gusts in excess of 80mph, that's been given a name has to be nasty! With lots of rain forecast in a short space of time, flooding is of a great concern too. Earlier reports were saying the storm was named Christian, but the latest name is that of #StJude - 'the patron saint of depression and lost causes'! according to twitter, so a very apt name!

Anyway, here's some things to consider for the garden for this weather event, or any for high winds in the future, luckily, I was able to complete most of these jobs earlier today.

> Secure patio furniture, planters and the like, preferably bring indoors or stand in the garage.

> Flying debris & gravel can cause injury, anything liable to get picked up by the wind could smash windows. Put watering cans, buckets etc away

> Got a greenhouse?? Make sure the clips are all secure holding the glass in. Keep the doors and windows shut so it can't be lifted, make sure it is well anchored down too

> Probably a bit late in the day, but if you have any trees with weak or damaged boughs, they are liable to fall. Get them removed.

Around 15 million trees were lost in the last comparable storm of 1987, when I was just a boy, I remember seeing many big trees felled like matchwood, even mature majestic trees, like the legendary Seven Oaks at that location in Kent were affected, with 6 out of those 7 felled.

With many trees still in full leaf, and ground soft from the rain, it's likely many will get blown over tonight. Keep safe if you have large trees close to your home that could potentially blow on top of roof tops and come crashing in. Watch out for any old Chimney pots too.

All the cushions from patio furniture and glass topped tables are safely stowed inside for us. Fingers crossed for the best, although it is always better to be over prepared.

Perhaps the news has gone a little over the top because of what happened in 1987, when one weather man who we won't mention made the mistake of saying no storm was on the way, after which the worst in living memory hit us, so it's pretty safe to say the media want to cover themselves this time.

Think about pets with this bad weather too. If you have any that live outside, it may be worth bringing them indoors - bunny hutches, guinea pig runs etc could all be blown over/apart in the wind, with inhabitants left petrified, and exposed to terrible conditions and predators too. It could be a good idea to bring them in later this evening, before dark.

I'm a little worried about our hen house, we've anchored it pretty well though, but do check yours out if you have pet hens, also if you have an aviary, as we do, ensure its secure, consider shutting the birdies inside for the night if possible.

It's likely tomorrows rush hour will be a nightmare tomorrow, and we will surely see roads blocked with fallen trees, and chaos on the railways. Please keep safe, and remember, material possessions can be replaced, people can't, keep inside and safely tucked up out of the bad conditions and avoid the risks of injury and flying debris. If you don't know what 80mph winds and rain look like, or what happened in 1987 have a look on Google and youtube - you have been warned!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Garden Tool Care and Maintenance.

Cleaned, sharpened and serviced tools always work better!

Petrol and Electric Mowers.

Always disconnect from the power socket or remove the sparkplug etc when working on or maintaining a garden mower. To store petrol mowers over winter, remember to drain / run down the fuel. Change the machine oil ready for spring, making sure that the level is topped up.
Remove any of the grass and soil from the underside rollers, blades and ideally also from the grass boxes using a stiff brush and then use hose to finish things off.

Apply some grease to the height adjusters and turn them slightly to prevent them from seizing up. If the blades of any rotary mower are chipped or blunt, look to have them sharpened and balanced by a servicer. Remember: Cylinder mower blades are best sharpened professionally.

Tool sharpening.

Take time to look at your tools which are likely to have become blunt from use so their cutting edges will need to be sharpened. Most of your tools can be sharpened yourself using the likes of a fine metal blade / sharpening stone, though any damaged or very badly worn blades will need replacing or professionally sharpened. If you have any doubts about how to carry out the repairs consult your local servicer.

Avoid tools rusting by attending to your tools regulary. Once you have finished with maintenance on your tools, remember to wipe them down with an oily rag before storing.
For your bare wooden handles look to use boiled linseed oil. Rub the oil on with a rag and then allow the wood to absorb the first coat before applying more oil. This will prevent them from drying out and splintering during storage.

Do not leave tools outside! Not only will keeping them in proper storage keep unnecessary moisture away from your tools and increase their lifetime, it will also protect your valuable tools from theft. With just a little effort and some of your time your garden tools will be in tip-top shape for the Spring and Summer months and indeed, for many years to come. Even tools that have been neglected can be nursed back into shape. Cleaner and well maintained tools with no doubt be easier to use and make gardening more enjoyable!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

How to plant a tree.

The best time to be looking at planting trees is in Spring and in Autumn as the soil is ideal both for digging and also giving your tree the best start / foot growth opportunities, especially in Autumn when the ground is still warm from the Summer months and now moist. Planting your tree during these seasons will give it time to acclimatise and root out ready for the harsher elements such as cold and frost in Winter or the Dryness and Heat of Summer.

When purchasing your tree, make sure it is correctly labelled and ideally it will guidance for planting as not all trees can be planted anywhere.

Tools you need for planting a tree:

  • The tree itself.
  • Spade, ideally good quality.
  • A wooden stake and a hammer.
  • Tree ties
  • To conserve moisture; to improve the fertility, also a bag of mulch.
  • Fertiliser pellets.

Start off by locating the correct position in your garden for your tree, then dig a hole the same depth as the root ball and as much as twice as wide. Next hammer a stake into the hole slightly to one side, just make sure it's straight! Take your fertiliser pellets and add some to the base of the whole that you have dug with some lose soil.
Take the tree you wish to plant and loosed some of the compact roots slightly before placing the root ball centrally in the hole. Fill in the hole with the soil and at the same time mix in more fertiliser, whilst doing so compact the soil by lightly stamping down to firm the surround area and at all times make sure that the tree is straight. With your tree tie(s) use the wooden stake to give extra support, though make sure not to tighten too much. Finally, add your mulch to the base of the tree area and then water well.

Where to order online Scary Plants For Your Halloween Garden.

An evening of fun, trickery, trick or treating and scary costumes so what plants and flowers should you buy for your home and garden?

Physalis Franchetii - Chinese Lantern:

Tiny, creamy-white flowers from July to August followed by bright orange-scarlet berries enclosed by papery, red lanterns. Chinese lanterns are perfect for providing autumn interest in well-drained areas of the garden.

Ophiopogon Planiscapus Nigrascens - Black Ornamental Grass:

An award winning grass-like plant with low-growing tufts of very dark purple blades, that actually appear to be black. Racemes of pale lilac-pink flowers appear among the foliage in summer, followed by black berries in the Autumn. Looks fantastic with other grasses, especially if grouped in tubs, it provides a brilliant contrast with most other plants.

Cordyline Renegade - New & Exclusive Purple Black Cordyline:

Renegade is a hot new Cordyline in a trendy designer colour - dark purple-black with a glossy lacquered finish. Also known as the New Zealand Cabbage Palm.

Cordyline 'Renegade' also not only has striking colour, but the foliage is also thick, broad and arching. This creates a really dramatic architectural effect. It is a compact, tight clump forming variety and an excellent choice for the modern looking garden. It can be used in garden borders or patio containers alike. Why not create a really stunning effect on your patio, deck or balcony with this smart looking plant?
A brilliant selection of Heuchera bred for its uniquely coloured foliage that is retained throughout the winter months. Perfect for providing colour in winter and early spring mixed containers, hanging baskets and window boxes, or simply in the garden. A wonderful richly coloured Heuchera with bold tones of maroon and blackberry with ebony veins.
The Black Rose! - Originally bred for the cut flower market, and now offered exclusively for your garden at home, Black Baccara is a Hybrid Tea Rose with large luxurious, black blooms of the highest quality that age to deep red. Give it pride of place in your border and you will be rewarded with colour all summer. A very productive and desirable plant.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

What to do in the Garden in October.

This is the month to get planting, pruning, cutting, clearing, burning, servicing and much more! Autumn is the season where there is much activities in gardens across the UK and many people still buying and ordering plants online to get things ready for next Spring and Summer.

Beware of Frost!

October is a month where will start to see frost so action must be taken to bring tender plants such as your Fuchsias and Geraniums inside, Begonias should be lifted and then potted and placed in protective areas such as your greenhouse. Other garden plants will need protection too by placing in sheltered areas or given them cover with a sheet etc.

It's time to tidy things up!

You garden can become quite full of dead leaves during October so clearing your lawn and borders is priority. Brush or rake them off and ideally place them on to your garden compost heap or storage them in to vented black bags and keep for next years feed for borders etc.
Remember to tidy parts of plants that have died and debris such as twigs and branches. Also consider garden pathways, patios and ponds and clean them if needed.

What you should be planting.

It's a month for planting with popular purchases to include Foxglove, hardy heathers, herbaceous perennials and clematis, spring bulbs, lilies and much more. It is also a very good time to plant trees and shrubs thank to the ideal soil condition which is still relatively warm from summer and moist.

Preparing the Soil.

Before planting be sure to prepare your soil by digging over the soil and taking out any weeds. Ideally, add some well rotted compost (remember to turn over your compost heap from time to time).

Have you a greenhouse?

The greenhouse will be in use this month by bringing in plants that need sheltering from the change in weather, protecting from frost etc. Watering will still be taking place though frequency now reduced. If you have heaters in your greenhouse make sure they are serviced and working, open vents still on warm days, but remember to close them during nights.

Servicing your Garden Tools.

Now is the time of year to be servicing your tools such as sharpening sheers and blades, sending your lawn mower for a service etc. Hose pipes should be reeled back in, outside garden taps should also be closed down (remember to do so via the stop cock inside your home).

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Get your garden in shape with Autumn planting!

A recent survey carried out by RHS came up with the surprising statistic that "most people have forgotten that Autumn planting gets gardens in shape for the following year, helping many plants to better establish themselves. Only 12% of people think that Autumn is the best time to get planting!"

So, why should you be working on your garden during Autumn?

As the days get shorter and the temperature, especially evening times, starts to fall, the garden is very much primed for some action, especially as the soil will still be warm from summer combined with being damp from the change in weather which encourages root growth. This makes for easier planting and garden maintenance conditions to include any landscaping works such as excavations for ponds.

Autumn time is also the season to be pruning, trimming back and cutting plants, bushes and trees plus
moving tender plants, to include any aquatic ones, into the greenhouse. With the ideal planting conditions, fruit bushes, perennials, shrubs, bulbs and trees can be purchased and added to your garden ready for Spring and Summer next year.

Remember to collect debris from the garden to include all those leaves which will make for great fertilizer when stored on your garden compost heap. Add to your compost house hold waste too to include tea bags and coffee grounds, newspapers, egg shells and many more, though research what you can and can't decompose.

Monday, 21 October 2013

What to do in the garden in October.

October will generally offer mild weather with the colder night temperatures often making the ground conditions damp and soft, one of the easy times to approach digging!
The Autumn months are some of the most busiest for gardening activity as the temperatures start to fall and many plants are requiring cutting, pruning, trimming back ready for winter. You will also be planning your next years Spring and Summer plants by planting bulbs, bushes and trees which take to the soil type of Autumn which is generally still warm and also very moist. We mustn't forget that Autumn is also a very attractive season to enjoy your garden with stunning colours being offered on many plants and tree foliage.

Remember to pay attention to your grass if you are after a lush green lawn for next year. Remove dead leaves, think about raking away dead grass, moss and any other debris. Another gardening tip for Autumn is to air your lawn by using a pushing a garden fork equally across it's area as this will help to prevent waterlogging and moss building up. Feed your lawn also at this time of the year with lawn soil of specialised feeders.

We like to recommend creating a compost heap to deal with all your garden debris which will simply break down and rot away, returning to nature. We advise not to place a compost heap close to or against walls or trees. Compost heaps are ideal for garden waste to include foliage, grass cuttings, weeds, small branches and even home waste to include veg and fruit, coffee grounds, eggshells, teabags and even paper waste to include cardboard and newspapers. When raking garden debris such as leaves remember that these are good fertilizers so a small sprinkling on your lawn or planting beds will not suffocate what's underneath.

Gardening Tools

There's no doubt that your gardening tools would have had much usage during the year so now is the time to look at sharpening, repairing, services and putting away! Another common thing to forget is the outside tap, that will soon need to be turned off from within your property at the stop cock. If you have enjoyed sitting in your garden during the warm summer months then it is likely you will have garden chairs and table, even though these may have been weathered proofed, it is still advisable to either store them in the dry or cover them.


We must all take time to support and maintain our gardening wildlife which comes in many different varieties. This is the time of year that some animals are seeking a place for hibernation. Setting up a winter bird feeder is also a nice way to entice wildlife in to your garden, ideally set any feeders in front of your favourite window at home to enjoy the activity of species such as robins and blue tits or attract red cardinals with black-oil sunflower seeds.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Some Autumn Gardening Tips.

To sum Autumn up in the gardening world, it is the perfect time to sit down and reflect on what you want in your garden for spring and summer. The time to plant spring bulbs or to prune those hedges, with the soil still warm yet moist it's your chance to build character in your garden by planting trees or digging out a pond... So if you think the summer is over and you've only the final mow of the lawn to do, you couldn't be further from the truth.

You will see many keen gardeners enjoying their green spaces with many visiting their local gardening centres or ordering plants online to prepare things for the forthcoming spring and summer. Below we have some top tips for Autumn for you to think about:

  • Plant spring bulbs.
  • Clear up beds and remove any dead leaves and foliage.
  • The earth is still soft and relatively warm so think about planting bushes and trees.
  • Rejuvenate tired lawns with an autumn feeding.
  • Think wildlife, provide homes for a hedgehog to hibernate, continue to feed birds to attract in new species.
  • Bring indoors any houseplants that have been in the garden during the summer.
  • Think garden tools, sharpen secateurs and replace blunt blades on lawnmowers etc.
  • Turn off outdoor taps at the stop cock or protect them with insulation tubing etc.
  • Remove weeds from paths and patios and give them a good clean.
There are many more things to do in the garden in Autumn, but above covers the most important and popular activities, just remember that the effort you put in during this stage of the year will give you the rewards for next spring and summer. If you have any other top tips to share then please do leave your comments below!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

How to research Plants and Flowers on Pinterest with help from Gardening Express!

It is important that as one of the UK's leading plant and flower suppliers, that we help those online to learn and understand the wonderful world of Horticulture. As part of our drive to be more social via the many social media platforms, we recently launched our Pinterest account and created a variety of boards filled with wonderful photographs of the plants and flowers that we supply, from early shoots in spring to the full blooms from summer.

Gardening Express Pinterest:

We invite you to peruse our near 3,000 image collection which have all been categorised under their correct species of genus. Already we have over 100 boards with some having many hundreds of pins which we hope you will find both engaging to look through, but also educational especially if you are trying identify plants online.

Gardening Express Pinterest Boards.

We are continuously adding new photographs to our Pinterest boards, but if there are any species we have yet to cover and you would like to see them featured then simply send us an email and we will look to get some photographs uploaded.
We are also welcoming photographs from yourselves, if you have some to share then we will be very happy to include them on our boards ~ We are very keen to feature a new section dedicated to fantastic gardens.


We've been really busy, but we are back! So much to update you on over the coming months...

We are ever so sorry that we have been away from releasing our regular blogs, but we are now back! It has been a very busy 2013 for #GardeningExpress so far with continued expansion to our nursery and items we are now offering on our website. Look out for regular blogs to be released that we hope will keep you entertained and educated on what we all love doing, Gardening!

As we are now in Autumn we are sure that all you keen gardeners will be preparing your lovely gardens for next spring and summer so remember to think about planting those bulbs and plants, especially as the earth will still be warm from summer and the perfect situation for some firm growth before the really cold weather hits us.