Top tips for looking after your Christmas tree
I am delighted to say that all our non needle drop Christmas trees have arrived, down from near Inverness in Scotland. We have nearly 1000 to choose from! Early bird gets the best shape, mind you they are all beautiful shaped trees, we have used the same supplier for the last 6 years. Our Spruce trees arrive early next week as they don’t tend to hold their needles as well as the Nordman, Noble or Fraser fir.
What you can you do keep a tree fresh longer?
We will cut the stump when you first buy it, if you would like us to? At least an inch above the previous cut. Put the tree in water immediately, and maintain the water level in the tree stand if possible. Keep temperatures in your home slightly cooler, if possible, and position the tree away from the kitchen. Also, keep fruits away from the tree as they give off ethylene. Ethylene is produced in response to a variety of factors — environmental, physical, or abuse. It’s the same hormone that causes a banana to ripen or leads any fruit or flower to their end. Putting ethylene inhibitors in a tree’s water has been shown to prolong its life in scientific experiments, and researchers eventually hope to develop a consumer product that would do the same. Lastly, leave the lights on at night. Being left in the dark causes a tree to respire more, using up its carbohydrates and causing it to “starve to death”.
Does it matter what kind of lights you put on your tree?
As a matter of fact, it does. Researchers tested different spectrums of light — red, white, and blue — and found that trees with white full-spectrum LED lights had the greatest longevity, retaining their needles for an additional 30 or 35 days. Trees with blue lights performed the worst.
At the University of Cambridge, researchers are conducting experiments to introduce the genes of a harmless glowing bacteria called Euprymna scolopes into other species. If the glowing bacteria could be introduced into trees we may soon be putting our presents under a self-illuminating Christmas tree?
Donkeys , sheep and calves are now on display in our live nativity scene, they are so sweet!
Have you seen our new Christmas tree on the roundabout? If you would like one please let us know!
Warm clothes, smiley people, great trees, gorgeous animals and great food. Drink in the Café and get £1.00 off you spend in the Farm Shop.
Have a lovely weekend
Thanks for your support for the Philippines + Christmas trees now in stock
Wow! What a fantastic response to last week’s blog. Alexia and her team of happy helpers were overwhelmed by the generosity of the local population. Our garden sheds were full to the brim within a few days of the word going out. Last Wednesday there was frantic action to sort all the donations into medical, clothing, blankets and food boxes and get it onto pallets prior to the arrival of an artic lorry at 12 noon. Members of the ‘Filipino Community of Oxfordshire’ www.filcomoxford.org.uk arrived to help get the last pieces packed. I loaded 24 full pallets of donations onto the lorry. We have had to stop collecting as the RAF who are flying out the parcels cannot cope with the volume of donations. I am sure Alexia from Blakesley would like to thank everyone who came along to donate, pack and help. Thank you.
At last a bit of cold weather to knock the leaves off the trees. I would be a bit odd going into December with leaves clinging to the branches. Now the trees are moving into their dormant phase it is a great time to move them, we have between now and the end of February to move them around out of the ground without any soil on them. Bare root trees can be purchased much cheaper than pot grown trees, or you can buy a much larger tree for the same money as a smaller pot grown one. We cannot keep them in stock as they have a limited shelf life, we can however, order them in for you and if you wish we can organise or give you a price to plant them. My son Luke, owner of The Groundcare Company, will be more than happy to plant them for you. He is a good lad!
Not all trees move as well as bare root trees, we will be able to give advice on what moves well and what doesn’t. Any trees out of the ground should have their roots covered to stop them drying out and preferably not be out of the ground for too long.
I am delighted to say our FANTASTIC Christmas trees have arrived, they are all non needle drop. They are all Scottish grown near Inverness, we have used the same supplier for the last 6 years as they are such great quality. The traditional spruce arrive in a week or two, they are grown in Leicestershire.
I’ll do a bit more gardening stuff next week.
You must come and see our wonderful miniature Donkeys, they are on loan to us from Mr and Mrs Honeywell. It really is very generous of them to part with their most beautiful friends for a few weeks.
Have a great weekend.
Donate to the Philippines at Bell Plantation + our Donkeys have arrived
We have been asked by Alexia from Blakesley if we would act as a Collection Centre for donations for the disaster appeal in the Philippines and of course we will.
If anybody has any of the items below they wish to donate please bring them to Bell Plantation Garden Centre
- toiletries (unopened) and soap
- basic first aid items (plasters, bandages etc)
- washing detergent
- clean old clothes
- or anything else anyone may feel appropriate!!!
The DHL shipment will be leaving next weekend so if anyone is wanting to donate, please can they let me have the items by the end of next week. In connection with the ‘Filipino Community of Oxfordshire’ (www.filcomoxford.org.uk) Alexia has organised a collection of items to be shipped directly to those in great need. DHL Oxford have agreed to send these items via freight free of charge and member of FCO will be receiving these goods in the Philippines to ensure that they are distributed as the donors would have intended. Alexia has specifically asked that this appeal provides items for the displaced children and new / expecting mothers, purely on the grounds that she thought a focus to the collection would be more worthwhile.
The calves have settled in well and are now drinking their milk out of the bucket really quickly. They have been joined today by Donkeys and Sheep. Bring the kids down to see them – they are adorable I promise you!
I am delighted to tell you that we are installing a Biomass boiler to heat the Farm Shop, Most Marvellous, Kinetics Gym, the Garden Centre, the Café, Grand Union Design, RDK Mobility and hopefully Beech House vets. Initially we will be using wood pellets or chips, in time we hope to grow Willow coppice which we will harvest to fuel the boiler. The first phase is installed, we hope the second phase will now move ahead quickly so we are fully functional by Christmas?
Gardening, still time to plant bulbs we still have quite a few to choose from and they are now 25% off. With the recent frost the summer bedding will now be dying. Winter pansies and viola under planted with crocus, muscari or snowdrops will give some really good colour through the dark winter months.
Have a great weekend
Please let us have some goods for the Philippines.
Come and see the Calves, tips for winter gardening and we now sell Aggregates
We’ve got 2 beautiful calves in for the Christmas period so please bring the kids down to meet them. Go to our facebook page www.facebook.com/bellplantationgc and have a go at naming the calves. They are just behind the shop so go straight through to see them. In the next couple of weeks they will be joined by some other friends – pigs, sheep and even some mini donkeys!
We are also selling aggregates if you need some stone for your garden come and have a look at our range. We’ve got slate, washed gravel, decorative chipping, potting grit, sand and lots more.
Brighten up your winter garden with some colour
Winter colour in the garden is less abundant than the summer, however, there are a lot of shrubs that have very colourful stem colour. Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ has bright red woody stems, Cornus sanguinea ‘Winter Beauty’ has bright orange and yellow winter shoots. Helleborus niger (Christmas rose); this little beauty can flower from early to late winter. There are many different hybribs of Helleborus; they give a massive range of colours from creamy white through to dark purple. They are perennials so they will come up every year.
Clear up the leaves
The low temperatures forecast for the next few nights will accelerate the leaf drop from the deciduous trees. If you have somewhere to put the leaves in a heap they will rot down and make absolutely lovely compost. Some people fill black dustbin bags and stack them in a big heap to rot down. Better to do that than send them away in the green bin. If your leaves sit on the lawn for too long they will stop the light getting to the grass, this will cause browning of the grass. It will probably grow back once the light returns when the leaves are removed and the temperatures rise in the spring. If there is no re growth of the grass a bit of over seeding may be required. It is therefore better to remove the big accumulations of leaves from the lawn once every 1 – 2 weeks to stop grass die back.
A great summer for Apples but now we’re getting ready for Christmas
Now it is November I think it is reasonable to let you know that we have put out the majority of our Wonderful Christmas decorations. What has made putting Christmas out in the middle of October feel odd is that we haven’t really had an Autumn to date, October was relatively mild. The lack of cold frosty weather hasn’t yet killed off your summer bedding plants. Dead bedding plants usually encourages planting of winter colour, viola, cyclamen, pansies and spring flowering bulbs. We still have plenty to choose from.
Last Sunday Sheena and I went to Earls Colne to collect some more apple juice (for the Café) from our friends Sally and Angus. They have had one of the heaviest crops of apples ever. Angus has never in living memory picked apples after the clocks have changed, this year however there is another 3 weeks of picking. This lateness is due to the very cold Spring 2013 and the extremely heavy crop. Despite the house shaking in the wind last Monday morning and a couple of mature trees blowing down ( one just missing the apple cold store), most of the fruit stayed on the trees, the electricity went back on Wednesday. It was far worse down there than here in Towcester.
Our Christmas trees come from Kincardineshire in Scotland, we have used this supplier for the last 6 years with absolutely no problems. They are beautiful trees. The prices will be the same as last year. We will be taking delivery of the trees the week beginning 25th November. Also in the middle of November our farm animals will be arriving forming our ‘live nativity scene’, pigs, calves, sheep and others. We had accompany ring us up in October who hire out Reindeer, price per day £900, I would put on some antlers for a day for that price. We will stick to our farm animals! Does anyone know where I could find a Camel?
We have loads of good gift and gardening stuff in store.
Live Nativity scene for Christmas at Bell Plantation Garden Centre
Autumn is well under way, so far slightly on the warm side. Leaves starting to fall, they make great compost. Great time still to plant spring flowering bulbs, we still have got plenty available, they would appreciate going in the ground within the next 4 weeks.
Our Christmas products have made their way onto the shop floor, all the stuff we purchased last February looks fine all displayed together. We will be having live animals at the Garden Centre from the middle of November cattle, sheep, pigs and other furry friends forming our nativity scene.
Tomato production from my 4 Suttons grafted tomato plants has been absolutely fantastic, growth has finally slowed up and the plants will soon be in the compost bin and the green tomatoes in a pickle jar. One truss of tomatoes ended up growing to 750mm long. Tomatoes are said to be the world’s most popular fruit. They are certainly a great quick growing plant, easy to grow which will encourage the younger grower. Get your children a greenhouse for Christmas! I had one for my 10th birthday (wasn’t that long ago)!
Driving into work yesterday I noticed a row of Ash trees with black leaves at the top half of the tree and traditional Autumn colours on the bottom half of the tree, I do hope it is not Chalara fraxinea, Ash die back! I guess we will have to wait until next spring to find out.
Still time to weed and feed lawns. Prune back long straggly roses and branches, gales forecast next week.
We had a wonderful evening yesterday at our late night shopping supper evening in the Cafe. Yesterday morning we had 6 bookings, we ended up doing supper for 36, a great success I am sure everyone who attended would agree? We were encouraged by the fab comments and by how many people said we should make it a regular event? Do you think that would be a good idea?
We could do music and supper for groups of friends on certain evenings? We might even have time to organise 1 or 2 before Christmas? I sometime feel like a bit of a dance and nowhere to go?
If you fancy getting some friends together let us know how many we may be able to get something together maybe £15 – £20 head meal and music. Booze extra.
Enjoy the great outdoors
Dinner at the Bell Plantation Thursday 23rd October
It’s our Christmas open evening tomorrow night in the Garden Centre, 5.30 – 9pm. We’ve got loads of great Christmas decorations in so come along – as always the best stuff goes first!
We’ve got a fantastic deal for dinner in the Plantation Cafe – 2 courses for £10 and a meal for only £5 for kids.
Marcus will be cooking a delicious Home-made Soup or Chicken Liver Pate (not sourced from the Poultry Centre) for starter, Lasagne or Roast Chicken (again, not from the Poultry Centre) for main and Hot Home made Apple Pie and Cream for dessert (£5 for an extra course).
We have a lot of bookings already so please call 01327 354126 to book your table – click here for address and directions
Come and meet our new Manager Sarah ( with Sheena below).
Christmas Open Evening this Thursday 24th October 5.30pm until 9pm
Come down this Thursday evening to our official Christmas open evening. We’ve got loads of amazing decorations and gifts that will make your house sparkle this Christmas.
We’ll be offering complimentary mulled wine and home-made mince pies in the shop. It would be great to see you there.
Make an evening of it
Book a table in our Café and get a 2 course freshly made supper for £9.99. Kids meal for £5. Call 01327 354126 to book your table now or click here to contact us.
Please see below left: our recently married Garden Centre manager sporting one of our slightly abusive kitchen aprons (£16.99 in store now). Below right: Copper is in this year, come and view our candles and candle holders to brighten up your home this Christmas.
With the soil still relatively warm there is still time to plant garden plants and expect some good root growth before the winter. If you want to re arrange your herbaceous plants or divide them now is the time to do it. Cut the foliage back 50% if the plant is still green to reduce stress to the plant. Water after transplanting as the soil is still quite dry below the surface. A good insurance policy when transplanting or planting new plants is to use some “Rootgrow” microrhyzal fungi. An absolutely wonderful product as you can tell because I always mention it. It can be purchased in a small packet from £3.99 or a commercial bucket full. I planted 150 Holly ( Ilex Aquifolium) a couple of years ago, holly are sometime quite difficult to establish. In the past I have planted thousands in Milton Keynes with losses of up to 50% some years. The holly I planted at home using Rootgrow, all 150 plants survived, and the first year growth on each plant was at least 6 – 8 inches, amazing. It’s a shame the product was not on the market when I planted trees and shrubs in Milton Keynes. I have also used it on a few vegetables that I showed, good results?
Sweet peas can now be planted outside in the ground. If planted now they will flower early and provide much stronger healthier plants.
Garlic and onions can also be planted now. Make sure when planting garlic that the soil is god free draining soil and in a sunny part of the garden. It is a tricky plant to grow according to our customers, some people find it easy but I think the majority don’t find it easy, myself included.
Don’t forget there is still plenty of time to plant bulbs that will flower early next spring (only 4 months away)! We had loads more Allium and galanthus in this week.
Winter flowering pansies, cyclamen and heathers to replace summer bedding which is now just starting to go a bit off colour.
Free fill a bag of daffodils when you visit, irresistible !
Have a great weekend
www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk
Free bag of Daffodil bulbs this Weekend
It’s great to know the harvest is safely in and next year’s cereal crops are nearly planted. Thinking back to last year, it really was so wet during the summer and autumn. It made life in the soil really tough / impossible. This year is a pleasure – almost normal average weather except for last March. This spring the Eden Project reported a massive increase in the amount of flowers on all their plants (may be due to the extremely low temperatures this winter) and I think this was a national trend, this is now feeding through into the fruit on our fruit trees. Here at the Garden Centre we have never had so much fruit on our various fruit trees. We have got a really good selection of all types of fruit and nuts, apples, pears, plums, gauges, damsons, cherries, walnut, cob nuts, hazel nuts. The Autumn is a great time to plant trees so they settle down and get a bit of growth under their belt while the soil is warm. Next spring they will grow away with little effort and slightly less establishment maintenance required. If you have not tried the Rootgrow microrhyzal fungi you must give it a go it is a fantastic product. When planting new plants/trees put the required amount right at the bottom of the hole and sit the plant on top and back fill the hole with your loam mix. The fungi grows under the new plant and attaches itself to the root system of the plant and help it to grow by creating an additional root system.
While we were away over the last couple of weeks our Peacock at home has disappeared, he missed our company, they like having people around. His partner was nesting last year and a fox killed her while sitting on her nest. I had heard that he had been run over on the road outside. However a peacock has been seen in our local village and is causing a problem so this weekend I have got to see if I can catch it! They take off like harrier jump jets, I’ll have to see how I get on.
At the Garden Centre we are giving away a free bag of Daffodil bulbs worth £4.99 to all our customers this weekend!
We have also got 25% of certain herbaceous lines to try and encourage you to put them in your garden so we have got room for our Christmas trees!! 7 weeks away!
I emptied my AEROBIN COMPOSTER this week wow I did a little You tube clip, bit of a laugh!!
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90XcEKxcpwQ
Have a great weekend Sheena and I are off to Jo’s (our Garden Centre Manager) wedding.
www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk