Chickens,Gardening,News

The Gardeners year gets under way.01 Mar

The Gardeners year gets under way.

The specific definition of the exact timing of “spring” varies according to local climate, cultures and customs. At the spring equinox, days are close to 12 hours long with day length increasing as the season progresses. Spring and “springtime” refer to the season, and also to ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection, and regrowth.

In spring, the axis of the Earth is increasing its tilt toward the Sun and the length of daylight rapidly increases for the relevant hemisphere. The hemisphere begins to warm significantly causing new plant growth to “spring forth,” giving the season its name.

Suddenly there is everything to do. Buds on the plants are starting to fill, shoots beginning to appear. By now, especially after the few dry days we have had all the dead vegetation from last year’s plants should have been removed. Best to do this asap if not yet done so that when the new shoots come through they do not get damaged.

Camellia

Planting new plants at this time of year gives them time to settle in before the hot summer?

Roses need pruning now if you are going to give them a hard prune, I love pruning roses, I have still got to do the roses in the Courtyard. I find the harder I prune them back the better the flowers.

Lawns will need  a weed and feed, we have got a great £10 box that will do 165m sq.

Chicken poo great natural fertiliser 10kg bucket for £9.99

As we are now in March we will be filling up very quickly with wonderful ranges of plants. I have been busy over the last few weeks sourcing great quality plants at amazing prices, over 90% are grown here in the UK.

Chicken lovers we had 300 new hybrid laying pullets in yesterday, in all colours of the rainbow.

All our offers are on the website.

‘Easter goodies’ non-fattening

“‘Easter goodies’ non-fattening”

Look forward to seeing you, good advice on hand should you need it.

We have got egg loads of lovely Easter gifts.

Have a relaxing weekend!

Ashley

www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk

Chickens,Gardening,News

Late Night Shopping details. National Poultry Show at Stoneleigh – this weekend16 Nov

We took delivery of our bare root hedging today, no Ash trees I am afraid!! Christmas trees will be with us in about 12 days’ time. All our Christmas trees are English grown, the majority of them are from the Fasque Estate in Kincardineshire, Scotland. They have supplied us for the last 5 or 6 years, fantastic shape trees and they keep their needles, I don’t think we have had more than 6 returned in that time period. We have got a lot more of the taller trees in this year (over 2.5 meters) as they are usually the first to sell out. The team are getting very excited about the oncoming festive season, they don’t like the quieter months of October and November. The highlight is watching some families choose their tree, it can take a very long time sometimes hours!! January and February are tolerable as March (lots of customers) is around the corner. I have spent a lot of my time during November buying our Gardening products for next year. I have got a lot of new products coming in over the next 3 months to help you enjoy your “Love of the great  outdoors” and gardening experience. I have also been trying to secure funding to expand the Garden Centre, not easy in the current economic climate. We have had a great year this year and have thoroughly enjoyed having you all as our customers. I hope you have enjoyed coming up here to Bell Plantation, we have got loads planned for Gardening 2013.

Smiling Christmas Tree Team

“Smiling Christmas Tree Team”

The sausages served in the Café are again our own produce!  Delicious!

This weekend 17th & 18th we have a stand at the National Poultry Show at Stoneleigh, it would be great to see you there – Chris and Jo will be manning the stand.

We have got loads of offers on over the Christmas period, late night shopping until 9pm on 6th, 13th & 20th December. Mulled wine and mince pies.

Most Marvellous vintage Sunday 25th November.

Bell at Christmas

Keep an eye on the website for details www.bellplantation.co.uk

Have a wonderful weekend

Ashley

Chickens,Gardening,News

Fruit Trees and Spring Flowering Bulbs.03 Aug

Many thanks to all of you who came last Sunday to our Most Marvellous day. We had a fantastic day, I have never seen so many people in our Courtyard. We will be having an event on the last Sunday of the month.

Our Spring flowering bulbs started coming in this week. Despite the high rainfall they have been successfully harvested, dried and packaged in Lincolnshire.

Lavender Frizzle

“Lavender Frizzle”

I had a day out this week (surprise, surprise) to our fruit tree supplier in Tenbury Wells. A fantastic 400 acre farm covered in fruit trees and glass. About 1.2 million trees to choose from, espalier, fan, cordon, etc. We will be getting some in the next few weeks. If you have any special requirements drop me a line and I will see if I can get it for you.

Make sure you get your Box hedges trimmed well before the Autumn/Winter. They could probably do with a good feed to prevent yellowing. General maintenance, dead head roses, spray for black spot and mildew.

I have seen cabbage white butterflies about, cover up your brassica’s to prevent them laying their eggs on your plants. Agralan make a great net that should last for years.

Teak Root Furniture

“Teak Root Furniture”

As usual we have got loads of great stuff, great offers on furniture (worth buying for next year)! Keep an eye on the website.

Enjoy your Garden, have a great weekend

Ashley

www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk

Chickens,Gardening,News

Bell Bumble Bees!15 Jun

Great excitement here this week, despite the appalling weather our Bumble Bees arrived!! We ordered them a couple of weeks ago.

Bell Bumbles 1

“Bell Bumbles”

Bombus terrestris Audax a really friendly, hardworking pollinator. They work in cool, windy, damp conditions. Bless them! We ordered ours complete with a wooden box to give them a bit more protection, they would have been ok in the cardboard box they came in. Bumble bee population is in decline due to habitat reduction and pesticide use. Buying a small colony and releasing it in your garden is a great way to re dress the balance. Once you have opened the box you don’t have to do anything else. It is great having them around and watching them work. Details will be on our website or give me a call if you are interested in having some.

Bell Bumbles 2

“Bell Bumbles”

Gardening tips !!

Tough doing anything when it’s like this. Great weather for weeds because you can’t get to chop them. Wind apparently is going to be a big problem this weekend. Batten down the hatches tie up or cane your tender herbaceous borders, check your tree ties.

We have named the pigs, chosen a winner for our crown drawing and paint the cockerel competition. Look out for the cockerel near the A43.

Great new furniture in Oxley’s (lifetime guarantee) and Sika. Design. 350 Chickens came in this week Cluck Cluck.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

Chickens,Gardening,News

100 New Chickens and Summer Café Menu24 May

I am pleased to say we have had another delivery of 100 chickens today. We took advantage of very low stock levels to have a real deep clean. It has been very quiet for the last 5 days not a chicken on the site, the first time in probably 15 years. Chickens are great lawn scarifiers, they scratch moss and bugs out of the soil and fertilise at the same time. If you leave them in the same place for too long they will over scarify and dig holes in the lawn. Move the pen every few days to avoid damage.

Columbian Blacktail Hen Web

"Columbian Blacktail Hen"

Chelsea was amazing, so many amazing plants, the Foxglove display was one that particularly caught my eye. One of the growers was telling me that they were dealing with low temperatures of about 4 degrees centigrade on Monday night, while I was talking to him it was 27 degrees centigrade in the tent.

Primrose Carousel

We will hopefully be stocking some amazing metal and wicker furniture that we saw at the show. I have a meeting next week to finalise the agreement. I’ll keep you posted. At least now there is a chance of sitting in the Garden.

As usual we have got loads of lovely stuff and Sheena has done a new Summer Café menu.

 

Enjoy the fresh air.

Look forward to seeing you

Ashley

P.S. keep an eye on the website for great deals.

www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk

Chickens,Gardening,News

Fantastic New Plants and Easter Gifts05 Apr

Hi

What a change from last week! Suddenly we are in to protecting the growth made by tender plants. Cover up, wrap up tender plants with fleece, bubble wrap or up turned pots, another alternative is to bring plants under cover if possible. We have probably had 15 deliveries of fantastic new plants for the Easter weekend mainly from British Growers, with minus 5 degrees forecast for tonight it’s a job to know where to put them all.

There is still plenty of time to sow seeds, potatoes, corms and tubers for cropping and cutting this year.

With the hose pipe ban nearly in place water butts have been flying out the door, we have still got 20 – 30 butts in store. Micro irrigation systems and leaky pipes are sometimes allowed within the ban as you know we stock Gardena.

Vegetarian Pig

"Vegetarian Pig"

The majority of our Chickens are reared in Totnes in Devon. Due to the fuel problem there has been no white diesel in the West Country so we have struggled to get our Fowl. We had 100 pullets delivered this week and have another 200 due in next week.

The shop looks great very Easter orientated, chickens bunnies and guess what no chocolate only hot stuff in the Café.

Easter Gifts

"Easter Gifts"

We have got some great new businesses moving to the site, hopefully opening before the end of April.

I’ll keep you posted

 

Have a lovely Easter, relax and enjoy the Great Outdoors

Regards

Ashley

www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk

Chickens,Gardening,News

Spring Customer Evening This Thursday!26 Mar

Thursday 29th March 6pm – 9pm

Celebrate the arrival of spring with us and get 10% off everything* for one evening only.

All your favourites for less including: herborium plants, gifts section, poultry centre and much more!

Join us at the Plantation for an evening of relaxation and bargain hunting!

http://www.bellplantation.co.uk/spring-customer-evening/

*(excludes all current offers and discounts)

www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk

Chickens,Gardening,News

Plenty of Primula Colour09 Mar

Plenty of Primula Colour

"Plenty of Primula Colour"

I got into trouble last week for posting pictures of Sheena so I’ll have to give that a break for a week or two, then I’ll catch her out again.

All you dog walkers will be pleased to know that the sheep have gone from the field so feel free to let your dog’s off the lead. I suppose the muck is still a bit ripe if your dog has the urge to roll in it, best wait until it has rained.

If you have rhubarb pop a bucket over the top or buy a terracotta rhubarb forcer! This will encourage some lovely early crop able sweet growth, you only need a couple of weeks growth for a good crop from an old root.

Get some fertiliser on the garden phosphates and potash take longer to get through the soil to the roots than nitrogen, so best to get it on earlier so that the rain (if we have any) washes it through the soil to where it is needed.

We have installed 4 extra pens for our chickens, we now have 350 pullets in stock which arrived this week.

We are also getting some new piglets, which arrive before this weekend.

Jo our resident plant expert with fresh new herbs

"Jo our resident plant expert with fresh new herbs"

Have a good Gardening week

Best wishes

Ashley

www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk

Chickens,Gardening,News

Spring is just around the corner. Vibrant Primulets & Poultry housing tips.17 Feb

Hi

Spring is just around the corner, yesterday I picked up the first scent of the new season, how exciting! Potatoes earlies, Jersey Royals could be planted in the next week to 10 days. Get them chitting in a cool frost free shed/garage.

The cold weather has supressed the amount of people we have seen over the last week, so we have been able to get on with treating our poultry houses. A good pasting of creosote helps preserve the wood and kills the mites.

Mashing the mites

"Mashing the mites"

We have stocked up on watering cans and water buts following the news that there may be a drought this summer, all the more reason to mulch the shrub beds to keep in the moisture, increase the organic matter and fertility.

You can colour up your Garden with vibrant Primulets, these ones have been through all the cold weather and still look great.

Colour up your garden

"Colour up your garden"

Look forward to seeing you soon

 

Regards

Ashley

www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk

Chickens,Gardening,News

Happy New Year. New Garden shop in our Greenhouse. Seed Potatoes and Black Araucana in stock now.13 Jan

Hi Happy New Year to you all. Apologies for not keeping in touch Flu, Burglaries and Christmas have kept us all busy.

We have got loads happening as usual here at the Garden Centre. Our Seed Potatoes arrived yesterday are now all out on sale.

We had a new delivery of Chickens this week 250 point of lay pullets.

We have got a new variety Black Araucana that lays in excess of 220 blue / green eggs. Not quite as many as the normal hybrid but a great colour.

Brown Araucana

 

We have created a new Garden Shop in our Greenhouse all our Garden sundries will now be under one roof, this will enable us to keep a larger range of tools, fertilisers and seeds.

I hope we see you soon, we have a great team of people here to help you with your Garden or Poultry at any time.

 

Best wishes

 

Ashley

Bell Plantation Garden Centre

www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk

Father’s Day Beer & Burger this weekend

Father’s Day Beer & Burger this weekend

We’re having a bit of a do for fathers day this weekend. We’ll be using our brand new Napoleon BBQ to cook up some delicious home-reared, home-made burgers and we’re also welcoming Phipps brewery who’ll be letting you have a FREE taste of some of their delicious beers. We’ve also got some live music to entertain you while you relax in the courtyard. The weather is set to be pretty fair so pop down. Click below for more information.

Beer and Burger

An if you’re a keen gardener then come along to our Roses workshop on Saturday where our Plant expert Steve will be talking you through a bit about legendary roses growers David Austin Roses, as well as loads of hints and tips on how to look after your Roses. Click below for more information.

David Austin Roses

Otherwise, enjoy the weather and see you soon.

Freddie

We’re Hiring – We need an energetic Cook / Chef to join our team..

We’re Hiring – We need an energetic Cook / Chef to join our team..

cakes

Chef / Cook

We are looking for an experienced and energetic cook/chef to join our fantastic team at the Bell Plantation Café.
Located within the Bell Plantation Garden Centre at Towcester, the cafe is open Mon-Sat 9.00-17.00 and Sunday 10.00-16.00. Hours of work will be between 30-40 hours per week with weekend work required.

The right person is an active team player who loves producing fresh and delicious food in a very efficient manner. We want someone who can bring extra ideas, creativity, passion and energy to our already lively and busy kitchen.

The right person:

  • Has a can-do, proactive attitude towards work, but is calm under pressure.
  • Has a passion for food, previous kitchen experience and a food hygiene certificate.
  • Is a real people person – loves working with others.

You will be responsible for:

  • Menu Planning including creation/costing/execution to deliver the required margin in consultation with the Café Manager.
  • Calculate usage of all wet and dry produce and order responsibly
  • Preparing and creating hot and cold food for the Café following the menu plan to a high very high standard
  • Baking delicious cakes, scones, and cookies daily.
  • Working to the manager’s guidelines to produce consistent portion and quality of food.
  • Kitchen maintenance – cleaning of surfaces, cooking equipment and pot washing.
  • Keeping the required cleaning and training records to achieve a high EHO star rating
  • Being an active, positive member of the team, bringing ideas and passion to the job.

  • Please apply with a CV and covering letter to Sarah in the Cafe via Cafe@bellplantation.co.uk, drop in and see her or call 01327 354126.

    It’s been a while – enjoy the Bank Holiday Weekend

    It’s been a while – enjoy the Bank Holiday Weekend

    My apologies for not keeping in touch over the last couple of weeks, I have sent out my little ditty but no one received it due to technical problems with the system! Haven’t got a clue, it doesn’t involve soil! Anyway we have nearly missed May,so far been pretty cold, plant growth is certainly behind where it was this time last year.

    Chelsea
    Again this year Bell Plantation sponsored Nicolas Moreton’s www.nicolasmoreton.com stand at the Chelsea Flower Show. This involves me, several of the Bell Plantation and Groundcare Company team spending several days at Chelsea building Nicolas’s stand. The atmosphere at the show build up is amazing,camaraderie flows, the change of scenery is like watching speeded up film in real time. Horticulture is a wonderful industry to be involved in, unfortunately in recent history it hasn’t been cool! Maybe things are starting to change, I hope so. So many people are missing out on a great vocation.Great fun,very wet and hard work. I must say the stand looked great when it all came together. Nicolas is an amazing sculptor using natural stone, based near Towcester.
    Beef Shorthorn

    We finally have some Wappenham beef in the Plantation Farm Shop. This is the first of my Beef Shorthorn cattle to be sold in the shop, hopefully the first of many if you enjoy eating it. She was born and bred in Wappenham, ate grassed based food all her life and was never injected with anything, she was a real sweetie! Beef Shorthorns are a traditional English breed of cattle developed over several hundred years to produce the tastiest meat. The meat has traditional marbling (small deposits of fat) in the meat which adds flavour and aids cooking. As we don’t yet have a butcher in the Plantation Farm shop the meat was butchered and flash frozen before coming back to the shop. I look forward to your feedback on the meat?

    As the weather is a little cooler than normal this year it makes life a little less frenetic,although there is still a lot to do. As it is not too dry it is a good time to get some weed and feed on the lawn, or even just feed if you have no weeds. Mowing a lawn regularly and removing the grass depletes the nutrients in the ground. Every time you cart a box of grass off the lawn you are taking away some of the essential minerals needed for good plant growth. Poor ground favours weeds and moss, it is therefore essential to keep the soil fertile, this in turn will help suppress weed growth and moss.
    Keep feeding all your plants this will keep their leaves green.
    Herbaceous

    Our plant area is as full as it has ever been with wonderful plants (several featuring at Chelsea flower show) Steve and Judy have done a great job sourcing a fantastic range of plants.

    Last Saturday we had 100 Silkie hens delivered, what a site I have never seen so many Silkies in one place at a time, they looked amazing. Silkies are well known for their calm, friendly temperament. Among the most docile of poultry, Silkies are considered an ideal pet. Hens are also exceptionally broody, and make good mothers. Though they are fair layers themselves, laying about three eggs a week, they are commonly used to hatch eggs from other breeds and bird species. We also managed to hatch 3 of our own Chinese geese, the goslings are on show in our poultry shop.

    I hope the TV coverage of the flower show has inspired you, we would love to help you achieve you dream garden, if you need any help give us a shout.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

    Wappenham Beef and Chelsea Flower Show

    Wappenham Beef and Chelsea Flower Show

    Chelsea

    I am delighted to say that again this year we are sponsoring Nicolas Moreton’s Exhibition at Chelsea flowers show. This means the Bell plantation team have spent several days down in London building and landscaping the stand, yesterday we got absolutely soaked! We had to bash on as time stands still for no one and there are deadlines to meet! I wish Nicolas every success at the show. www.nicolasmoreton.com The atmosphere at the show build up is amazing,camaraderie flows, the change of scenery is like watching speeded up film in real time. Horticulture is a wonderful industry to be involved in, unfortunately in recent history it hasn’t been cool! Maybe things are starting to change, I hope so. So many people are missing out on a great vocation.

    Herbaceous

    With Chelsea flower show next week, herbaceous perennials will be in the spot light, this range of plants are the colour pallet of the garden, they grow quickly every year from the ground and provide a spectacular amount of colour, foliage variation, seed heads etc I am pleased to say Judy and Steve have put together our biggest ever selection of these plants, they look amazing, I will give them a pat on the back. A large proportion of the plants are grown by one of the largest exhibitors at Chelsea, Hillier Nurseries. This range of plants are really easy to grow, if you would like some help on what grows or goes well together ask Steve or Judy.

    Beef Shorthorn

    I am delighted to say that we now have home produced Wappenham Beef in our Farm shop from our . The particular animal in the shop was born and raised in Wappenham, it never had an injection in its life, a very healthy Beef Shorthorn, she was a sweetie. The Beef Shorthorn breed was formed back in 1783 in the North East of England. They were one of the most popular breeds in the UK until the 1970’s, 80’s when the very heavy muscled breeds, Charolais, Limousin etc came over from France. The French breeds were very lean but they didn’t have the fat marbling in the meat which adds flavour and aids cooking. People are now appreciating taste and quality a little more which has aided the popularity of the Beef Shorthorn.The rise in popularity has lifted the breed off the endangered list of the Rare Breed survival trust. My Beef Shorthorn cattle are really docile, they make great mothers, they have plenty of milk to feed the calf and they don’t eat too much. They make my life easy, so much so that I can go to work at the Garden centre every day, I deal with the cattle early am and late pm every day and at weekends. I hope you enjoy the quality and flavour.

    Jenny and Jill thank you very much for your custom, I hope you had a wonderful weekend planting. I know in time your garden will look amazing. Remember to water all your plants well once you have planted them and then keep them watered through the summer, once a week,maybe more if it is hot.

    Hopefully see you soon,

    Ashley

    Wappenham Beef from my Farm

    Wappenham Beef from my Farm

    Pretty sleepy this morning sat up until 3 am watching the TV, what a surprise?

    Our Garden centre is absolutely full of wonderful plants and people. Steve and Judy have sourced the best looking selection of UK grown plants for all purposes and types of garden. Over the last few days we have had some well overdue rain, the ground was getting a bit dry, enough now a bit more sun please.

    Now is a great time to plant Dahlia tubers, Gladioli corms and Lily bulbs These plants will provide a great splash of colour in mid to late summer. The flowers are great for cutting and bringing into the house. Dahlias can either be purchased in bags as a large root /tuber or as a growing plant. Planted in the garden as a tuber it will provide a much bigger plant and more flowers than a pot grown plant. Gladioli are usually found only in a bag as a corm, planted now they will grow vigorously to about 1 meter tall and produce a long flower 300mm -450mm long. Lily bulbs also grow quickly and produce a very heavily scented flower, beware of the pollen on a lily it tends to stain clothing.

    Beef Shorthorn

    I am delighted to say that we now have home produced Wappenham Beef in our Farm shop from our farm. The beef was frozen when butchered so will be sold frozen and taste delicious and fresh when you eat it. The particular animal in the shop was born and raised in Wappenham, it never had an injection in its life, a very healthy Beef Shorthorn, she was a sweetie. The Beef Shorthorn breed was formed back in 1783 in the North East of England. They were one of the most popular breeds in the UK until the 1970’s, 80’s when the very heavy muscled breeds, Charolais, Limousin etc came over from France. The French breeds were very lean but they didn’t have the fat marbling in the meat which adds flavour and aids cooking. People are now appreciating taste and quality a little more which has aided the popularity of the Beef Shorthorn.The rise in popularity has lifted the breed off the endangered list of the Rare Breed survival trust. My Beef Shorthorn cattle are really docile, they make great mothers, they have plenty of milk to feed the calf and they don’t eat too much. They make my life easy, so much so that I can go to work at the Garden centre every day, I deal with the cattle early am and late pm every day and at weekends. I hope you enjoy the quality and flavour.

    Jenny and Jill thank you very much for your custom, I hope you have a wonderful weekend last weekend planting all your specemin shrubs . I know in time your garden will look amazing. Remember to water all your plants well once you have planted them and then keep them watered through the summer, once a week,maybe more if it is hot.

    Have a great weekend

    Would be good to see you

    Ashley

    April Showers?

    April Showers?

    Warm windy sunny weather and no rain, we are watering everything like crazy in the plant area. All hands on the pump and 1 man down, get well soon Steve.
    This is a very exciting time for us filling the Garden Centre up with beautiful new plants and products for you to see.
    We took delivery of our 24 pallets of PH Professional range of compost, it feels and smells delightful compared to the normal main brand composts, it is a little more expensive but you will get much better results, better germination when planting seeds, better growth from seedlings, shrubs, tubs and planted containers. The reasons for better performance are a balanced pH value, the correct bulk density measured in grammes per litre of compost, correct trace element balance, it contains a wetting agent to help re-wetting and drainage. We currently use it a lot here at the Garden Centre for our containers and hanging baskets.

    Mr Fitzpatricks Cordial
    Erris (Farm Shop Manager) and I had a great day out at a food fair in Birmingham this week, Wow! We didn’t need lunch or a drink as we tried so many wonderful samples of tastey food and drink. To our delight there are numerous foods grown and made very close to us here at Towcester, watch this space as I am sure we will be stocking some of them very soon. One product we have actually got in this week following the show (not so local) is Mr Fitzpatricks Vintage Cordials from Preston, we loved it so much we brought it!!. A great history and a fantastic tasty drink, we have a range of 12 of their flavours. Have a look at their website www.mrfitzpatricks.com Who needs alcohol?

    Grafted Tomatoes
    Our vegetable plant stock is nearly up to capacity. The Grafted Vegetables came in this week. Grafted vegetable are a little more expensive than normal seed grown veg, it is claimed that you get 75% more fruit per plant, there are 6-8 trusses on a tomato plant, longer cropping period, grow well at lower temperatures. Some of the grafted plants have been grafted with 2 different types of tomato onto the same root! Suttons also delivered a massive range of Chilli plants, all the plants have a marked label showing the ‘Scoville rating’ (how hot a chilli is). They make a really attractive plant approx 30cm – 60 cm tall.

    Watch out for the frost, keep new plants protected from the frost. Water all your pots and containers as it is so dry at the moment. Feed all your shrub beds and borders with a dry feed. Weed and feed the lawn. Plant seeds in the veg garden, don’t plant all the seeds from the packet at the same time as you will have too much food to eat at the same time.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley Warren

    My April Walkabout

    My April Walkabout

    I gave an interview on BBC Radio Northampton at about 8.00am this morning (Thursday), I was asked by Bernie Keith, did I think it changes had been beneficial to the traffic flow around the roundabout, I said I hoped it would create a significant improvement but it was a bit too early to tell. I was then very late for work as the roundabout had experienced its first serious accident since being re developed. I hope those concerned were ok?

    They say a picture can paint a thousand words, that probably true but it doesn’t get across how wonderful our Garden Centre looks right now, so I ran round the Garden Centre (probably not quick enough for some) with my i phone, link attached.

    I don’t do pride, however I would like to say that our great team of people have got this Garden Centre looking as good as it has ever done. Now the sun is finally starting to warm us and the soil up the plants are responding with good growth and flower. We have missed out on a long spring as March was so dull. Plants are all now moving into top gear all at once. It is a great time to feed all plants by throwing some fertiliser onto the ground around the plants. Growmore is a well balanced feed with an application rate of 50-100 grms per meter square. It will move into the soil slowly with rain or watering, it will remain in the soil for several months after application. Feeding plants well will encourage growth, encourage flowering, reduce stress and therefore reduce disease.

    As it is the middle of April it is important to get some vegetables in the ground either seeds or plants. We have got seeds, small plants or big plants plus great advice. If you are trying to encourage the younger generation Radish germinate and grow very easily, I am not so sure they will enjoy eating them though! Beetroot are also easy to grow from seed outside in the soil, they are also a great super food, and they make your wee go red!. Sometimes it can be as economic to buy some small veg plants rather than a packet of seeds. Small plants will establish better than sowing seeds in a less well prepared seed bed. Buying plants also buys you time, you will be able to harvest the plants sooner than if you planted seeds.

    heuchera

    Heuchera are a small semi evergreen plant that have a massive variation in foliage and flower colour. They are pretty tough and grow well in most soils. The foliage colours, textures and leaf patterns are amazing, they vary from lime green,oranges to dark green and light to dark purple. The flowers stand up well above the plant on this whispy stems white, red to purple. They are great at filling out a shrub be or herbaceous border.

    For all you more experienced Gardeners I have got 24 pallets of Professional PH Compost from Doncaster arriving tomorrow!!

    Have fun in your Garden, would be great to see you.

    Ashley

    My talk with Paulerspury Horticultural Society

    My talk with Paulerspury Horticultural Society

    I had a really great evening yesterday, I was invited to talk to the Paulerspury Horticultural Society about Bell Plantation, how I have developed it over the last 25 years, our plans for the future and our values, plus a bit about growing vegetables, it was good to see so many familiar faces. What on earth could I teach master growers about growing vegetables? We all had a good chat about the Bell Plantation and a small chat about growing veg. I asked what we could do as a business to help Growers and village Hortic Societies. The conversation moved onto the closure of Youngs Nursery at Blisworth. The majority of my Audience loved the professional compost PH from Doncaster that Youngs used to stock, as a result of this we have got a 24 Pallet load arriving here on the 17th April. I also learned of a few other want’s and needs that we will put into action in the future to accommodate the more experienced gardener. Thank you all for the feedback and information it was a pleasure. If you are involved with a Horticultural Society please drop me a line so that I can keep you posted with our new Gardener products.

    Camelia2

    Magnolias are looking fabulous, at the moment.They are grown for their showy,solitary,fragrant,flowers. They are fully hardy to frost tender depending on variety. They grow well in moist, well-drained, humus rich acid to neutral soil in sun or partial shade, they do not like a windy site, I have one Magnolia grandiflora either side of my front door in a windy position and they are not that happy, struggling to get established, I probably move them at the end of this year.

    Sheena walks Minnie our Jack Russell around the fields every day, last Thursday you could see Minnie walking in the rape field, by Saturday you couldn’t see her as the rape had grow several inches in just a few days.

    The strong sun this week has warmed the soil and encouraged all the plants to start growing. A few days after the first cut of the lawn is the ideal time to get a weed and feed onto the grass. Remember not to cut the lawn too short on the first cut. It makes really hard work for the mower and the human operator! Lower the mower over the first 3 to 4 cuts to the optimum level.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

    April Flowering Plants and Easter

    April Flowering Plants and Easter

    Not much sun last week suppressed the potential growth in the garden, the lack on sun meant the air was cooler and no solar gain to the soil delaying the full onset of Spring.

    Some of the first colour in gardens is provided by flowering cherries, Prunus ‘Kojo- no-mai’ and Prunus incisa ‘Paean’, these are both shrub like plants that eventually grow to height of about 1.5 meters, they are currently covered with pale pink flowers. A larger shrub / tree providing a mass of deep pink flowers is the Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii Nigra’ (bit of a mouth full) a really great tree/shrub with dark purple foliage, great for early striking colour. I planted a multi stemmed one in my garden last year it was about 3 meters tall, it is delivering the goods covered in flowers. They are a really tough plant that grow well in most soils. They are well suited to the soil type here in sunny South Northants!

    prunus kojo

    The wind has been a bit of a problem last week, check to see that any newly planted trees or shrubs have been moving around in the soil, if they have fill in the socket formed in the ground with some soil and heel them in firmly, adjust and tighten the tie.

    Fertiliser, now is a great time to go around all your plants with a huge bucket of Growmore or Chicken Poo, these granular fertilisers are best put on the ground now so that by the time the plant needs the nutrients the rain should have washed them into the soil. All plants will benefit from a good early feed, you will get better flowering, fruiting, colour, less disease, faster growth, spread the poo nutrients!
    If in any doubt about anything in your garden we have a wonderful well experienced team of friendly people here at the Bell Plantation, there is no such thing as a silly question.

    I must tell you,(however I am not supposed to market in this blog) we have a wonderful range of Chocolate in the farm shop that has been made in the form of hand tools spanners, paint brushes, nuts and bolts etc. The nut actually is threaded and comes off the bolt!! its very good chocolate too.

    I have just put our first Goose eggs of the season into the incubator,I didnt fancy scrambled egg this morning! 37.7 degrees centigrade a bit of humid air for 29 days and we should have some Geese, the wonder of life. Obviously they would be better hatched under a Goose Mrs Goose did not feel like sitting on her eggs at the moment.

    turf

    We’ve got a pallet of turf in stock if anyone wants a DIY weekend on the lawn. It’s £4.49 a roll or 10 for £40. It is the best quality turf so don’t hesitate.

    Have a wonderful Easter, we too will be having the day off on Sunday only (Sunday trading laws), it is one of the 4 days a year we are shut!!
    It is a great weekend for family life and of course Gardening.

    Happy days

    Ashley

    Ashley’s Blog

    Ashley’s Blog

    I am pleased to say that the works on the roundabout seem to be nearing completion. It seems to take for ever to get the last finishing touches together. Already the traffic flows have changed, it now really needs the new traffic lights working to prioritise the flow. I sound like a bit of an expert on traffic flow!! Sheena and I purchased some of the site here at Bell Plantation before the first A5 / A43 roundabout was built back in 1987, when it was just A5 north and south. We purchased the house that Klas Day Nursery now occupy. Since then the whole of the A43 from the M1 to Oxford has been re built, bypassing Towcester and Brackley. As a business trading through the re development of the roundabout has been difficult, I hope once it is complete you will all return to our wonderful family run, friendly business.

    We are still recruiting, we need a Chef for the Cafe, full time. We need a front of house person in the Cafe, 10-30 hours a week.We need a Farm shop assistant 20-30 hours a week, so if you know anyone who is interested please drop me an email.

    strawberries

    We have had so many deliveries of plants in this week, Judy was on her own in the plant area yesterday as Steve had his day off , 5 lorries arrived with plants, Judy was still smiling at the end of the day. We have got a small selection of fruit and vegetables to start off the season, tomatoes included. It is still too cold to put some of these plants outside, however if they are protected from the frost and in some cases given a small amount of heat they will grow on to provide an early crop of vegetables. Traditionally gardeners sowed their first seeds in the vegetable garden under a plastic cloche. Garden Cloches keep in the heat from the sun, the soil warms up more as it is protected from the cooling wind. During the night when there is no sun the warm soil prevents the air in the cloche freezing, this is not enough protection for tender plants ie tomatoes and cucumbers, they will need some heat protection until mid April. Cloches are great for early beetroot, lettuce, cabbage, carrots etc. It is amazing how positioning plants against a sunny wall can make a difference, brick or stone walls absorb a huge amount of heat from the sun, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers etc planted against a wall in a container or in the ground in a grow canopy will be protected from the frost by the residual heat from the wall and the tomato canopy, all this extra heat will allow earlier cropping.

    Time to prune roses, I have spoken to the team at David Austin in the past re pruning their roses, they said they prune most of there roses with a hedge cutter!! Shrub roses may be? When you only have one or two it is important they fit your garden and they are growing in the direction and shape you want them. Early in the season you can prune back harder than later in the season. If you prune back hard later in the season it will delay flowering.

    Just a quick note!! We have our own Pork sausages available in the Farm Shop in a couple of weeks we will have our home produced beef. A complete, locally grown Sunday lunch in one shop!

    Our team look forward to seeing you.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

Father’s Day Beer & Burger this weekend

Father’s Day Beer & Burger this weekend

We’re having a bit of a do for fathers day this weekend. We’ll be using our brand new Napoleon BBQ to cook up some delicious home-reared, home-made burgers and we’re also welcoming Phipps brewery who’ll be letting you have a FREE taste of some of their delicious beers. We’ve also got some live music to entertain you while you relax in the courtyard. The weather is set to be pretty fair so pop down. Click below for more information.

Beer and Burger

An if you’re a keen gardener then come along to our Roses workshop on Saturday where our Plant expert Steve will be talking you through a bit about legendary roses growers David Austin Roses, as well as loads of hints and tips on how to look after your Roses. Click below for more information.

David Austin Roses

Otherwise, enjoy the weather and see you soon.

Freddie

We’re Hiring – We need an energetic Cook / Chef to join our team..

We’re Hiring – We need an energetic Cook / Chef to join our team..

cakes

Chef / Cook

We are looking for an experienced and energetic cook/chef to join our fantastic team at the Bell Plantation Café.
Located within the Bell Plantation Garden Centre at Towcester, the cafe is open Mon-Sat 9.00-17.00 and Sunday 10.00-16.00. Hours of work will be between 30-40 hours per week with weekend work required.

The right person is an active team player who loves producing fresh and delicious food in a very efficient manner. We want someone who can bring extra ideas, creativity, passion and energy to our already lively and busy kitchen.

The right person:

  • Has a can-do, proactive attitude towards work, but is calm under pressure.
  • Has a passion for food, previous kitchen experience and a food hygiene certificate.
  • Is a real people person – loves working with others.

You will be responsible for:

  • Menu Planning including creation/costing/execution to deliver the required margin in consultation with the Café Manager.
  • Calculate usage of all wet and dry produce and order responsibly
  • Preparing and creating hot and cold food for the Café following the menu plan to a high very high standard
  • Baking delicious cakes, scones, and cookies daily.
  • Working to the manager’s guidelines to produce consistent portion and quality of food.
  • Kitchen maintenance – cleaning of surfaces, cooking equipment and pot washing.
  • Keeping the required cleaning and training records to achieve a high EHO star rating
  • Being an active, positive member of the team, bringing ideas and passion to the job.

  • Please apply with a CV and covering letter to Sarah in the Cafe via Cafe@bellplantation.co.uk, drop in and see her or call 01327 354126.

    It’s been a while – enjoy the Bank Holiday Weekend

    It’s been a while – enjoy the Bank Holiday Weekend

    My apologies for not keeping in touch over the last couple of weeks, I have sent out my little ditty but no one received it due to technical problems with the system! Haven’t got a clue, it doesn’t involve soil! Anyway we have nearly missed May,so far been pretty cold, plant growth is certainly behind where it was this time last year.

    Chelsea
    Again this year Bell Plantation sponsored Nicolas Moreton’s www.nicolasmoreton.com stand at the Chelsea Flower Show. This involves me, several of the Bell Plantation and Groundcare Company team spending several days at Chelsea building Nicolas’s stand. The atmosphere at the show build up is amazing,camaraderie flows, the change of scenery is like watching speeded up film in real time. Horticulture is a wonderful industry to be involved in, unfortunately in recent history it hasn’t been cool! Maybe things are starting to change, I hope so. So many people are missing out on a great vocation.Great fun,very wet and hard work. I must say the stand looked great when it all came together. Nicolas is an amazing sculptor using natural stone, based near Towcester.
    Beef Shorthorn

    We finally have some Wappenham beef in the Plantation Farm Shop. This is the first of my Beef Shorthorn cattle to be sold in the shop, hopefully the first of many if you enjoy eating it. She was born and bred in Wappenham, ate grassed based food all her life and was never injected with anything, she was a real sweetie! Beef Shorthorns are a traditional English breed of cattle developed over several hundred years to produce the tastiest meat. The meat has traditional marbling (small deposits of fat) in the meat which adds flavour and aids cooking. As we don’t yet have a butcher in the Plantation Farm shop the meat was butchered and flash frozen before coming back to the shop. I look forward to your feedback on the meat?

    As the weather is a little cooler than normal this year it makes life a little less frenetic,although there is still a lot to do. As it is not too dry it is a good time to get some weed and feed on the lawn, or even just feed if you have no weeds. Mowing a lawn regularly and removing the grass depletes the nutrients in the ground. Every time you cart a box of grass off the lawn you are taking away some of the essential minerals needed for good plant growth. Poor ground favours weeds and moss, it is therefore essential to keep the soil fertile, this in turn will help suppress weed growth and moss.
    Keep feeding all your plants this will keep their leaves green.
    Herbaceous

    Our plant area is as full as it has ever been with wonderful plants (several featuring at Chelsea flower show) Steve and Judy have done a great job sourcing a fantastic range of plants.

    Last Saturday we had 100 Silkie hens delivered, what a site I have never seen so many Silkies in one place at a time, they looked amazing. Silkies are well known for their calm, friendly temperament. Among the most docile of poultry, Silkies are considered an ideal pet. Hens are also exceptionally broody, and make good mothers. Though they are fair layers themselves, laying about three eggs a week, they are commonly used to hatch eggs from other breeds and bird species. We also managed to hatch 3 of our own Chinese geese, the goslings are on show in our poultry shop.

    I hope the TV coverage of the flower show has inspired you, we would love to help you achieve you dream garden, if you need any help give us a shout.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

    Wappenham Beef and Chelsea Flower Show

    Wappenham Beef and Chelsea Flower Show

    Chelsea

    I am delighted to say that again this year we are sponsoring Nicolas Moreton’s Exhibition at Chelsea flowers show. This means the Bell plantation team have spent several days down in London building and landscaping the stand, yesterday we got absolutely soaked! We had to bash on as time stands still for no one and there are deadlines to meet! I wish Nicolas every success at the show. www.nicolasmoreton.com The atmosphere at the show build up is amazing,camaraderie flows, the change of scenery is like watching speeded up film in real time. Horticulture is a wonderful industry to be involved in, unfortunately in recent history it hasn’t been cool! Maybe things are starting to change, I hope so. So many people are missing out on a great vocation.

    Herbaceous

    With Chelsea flower show next week, herbaceous perennials will be in the spot light, this range of plants are the colour pallet of the garden, they grow quickly every year from the ground and provide a spectacular amount of colour, foliage variation, seed heads etc I am pleased to say Judy and Steve have put together our biggest ever selection of these plants, they look amazing, I will give them a pat on the back. A large proportion of the plants are grown by one of the largest exhibitors at Chelsea, Hillier Nurseries. This range of plants are really easy to grow, if you would like some help on what grows or goes well together ask Steve or Judy.

    Beef Shorthorn

    I am delighted to say that we now have home produced Wappenham Beef in our Farm shop from our . The particular animal in the shop was born and raised in Wappenham, it never had an injection in its life, a very healthy Beef Shorthorn, she was a sweetie. The Beef Shorthorn breed was formed back in 1783 in the North East of England. They were one of the most popular breeds in the UK until the 1970’s, 80’s when the very heavy muscled breeds, Charolais, Limousin etc came over from France. The French breeds were very lean but they didn’t have the fat marbling in the meat which adds flavour and aids cooking. People are now appreciating taste and quality a little more which has aided the popularity of the Beef Shorthorn.The rise in popularity has lifted the breed off the endangered list of the Rare Breed survival trust. My Beef Shorthorn cattle are really docile, they make great mothers, they have plenty of milk to feed the calf and they don’t eat too much. They make my life easy, so much so that I can go to work at the Garden centre every day, I deal with the cattle early am and late pm every day and at weekends. I hope you enjoy the quality and flavour.

    Jenny and Jill thank you very much for your custom, I hope you had a wonderful weekend planting. I know in time your garden will look amazing. Remember to water all your plants well once you have planted them and then keep them watered through the summer, once a week,maybe more if it is hot.

    Hopefully see you soon,

    Ashley

    Wappenham Beef from my Farm

    Wappenham Beef from my Farm

    Pretty sleepy this morning sat up until 3 am watching the TV, what a surprise?

    Our Garden centre is absolutely full of wonderful plants and people. Steve and Judy have sourced the best looking selection of UK grown plants for all purposes and types of garden. Over the last few days we have had some well overdue rain, the ground was getting a bit dry, enough now a bit more sun please.

    Now is a great time to plant Dahlia tubers, Gladioli corms and Lily bulbs These plants will provide a great splash of colour in mid to late summer. The flowers are great for cutting and bringing into the house. Dahlias can either be purchased in bags as a large root /tuber or as a growing plant. Planted in the garden as a tuber it will provide a much bigger plant and more flowers than a pot grown plant. Gladioli are usually found only in a bag as a corm, planted now they will grow vigorously to about 1 meter tall and produce a long flower 300mm -450mm long. Lily bulbs also grow quickly and produce a very heavily scented flower, beware of the pollen on a lily it tends to stain clothing.

    Beef Shorthorn

    I am delighted to say that we now have home produced Wappenham Beef in our Farm shop from our farm. The beef was frozen when butchered so will be sold frozen and taste delicious and fresh when you eat it. The particular animal in the shop was born and raised in Wappenham, it never had an injection in its life, a very healthy Beef Shorthorn, she was a sweetie. The Beef Shorthorn breed was formed back in 1783 in the North East of England. They were one of the most popular breeds in the UK until the 1970’s, 80’s when the very heavy muscled breeds, Charolais, Limousin etc came over from France. The French breeds were very lean but they didn’t have the fat marbling in the meat which adds flavour and aids cooking. People are now appreciating taste and quality a little more which has aided the popularity of the Beef Shorthorn.The rise in popularity has lifted the breed off the endangered list of the Rare Breed survival trust. My Beef Shorthorn cattle are really docile, they make great mothers, they have plenty of milk to feed the calf and they don’t eat too much. They make my life easy, so much so that I can go to work at the Garden centre every day, I deal with the cattle early am and late pm every day and at weekends. I hope you enjoy the quality and flavour.

    Jenny and Jill thank you very much for your custom, I hope you have a wonderful weekend last weekend planting all your specemin shrubs . I know in time your garden will look amazing. Remember to water all your plants well once you have planted them and then keep them watered through the summer, once a week,maybe more if it is hot.

    Have a great weekend

    Would be good to see you

    Ashley

    April Showers?

    April Showers?

    Warm windy sunny weather and no rain, we are watering everything like crazy in the plant area. All hands on the pump and 1 man down, get well soon Steve.
    This is a very exciting time for us filling the Garden Centre up with beautiful new plants and products for you to see.
    We took delivery of our 24 pallets of PH Professional range of compost, it feels and smells delightful compared to the normal main brand composts, it is a little more expensive but you will get much better results, better germination when planting seeds, better growth from seedlings, shrubs, tubs and planted containers. The reasons for better performance are a balanced pH value, the correct bulk density measured in grammes per litre of compost, correct trace element balance, it contains a wetting agent to help re-wetting and drainage. We currently use it a lot here at the Garden Centre for our containers and hanging baskets.

    Mr Fitzpatricks Cordial
    Erris (Farm Shop Manager) and I had a great day out at a food fair in Birmingham this week, Wow! We didn’t need lunch or a drink as we tried so many wonderful samples of tastey food and drink. To our delight there are numerous foods grown and made very close to us here at Towcester, watch this space as I am sure we will be stocking some of them very soon. One product we have actually got in this week following the show (not so local) is Mr Fitzpatricks Vintage Cordials from Preston, we loved it so much we brought it!!. A great history and a fantastic tasty drink, we have a range of 12 of their flavours. Have a look at their website www.mrfitzpatricks.com Who needs alcohol?

    Grafted Tomatoes
    Our vegetable plant stock is nearly up to capacity. The Grafted Vegetables came in this week. Grafted vegetable are a little more expensive than normal seed grown veg, it is claimed that you get 75% more fruit per plant, there are 6-8 trusses on a tomato plant, longer cropping period, grow well at lower temperatures. Some of the grafted plants have been grafted with 2 different types of tomato onto the same root! Suttons also delivered a massive range of Chilli plants, all the plants have a marked label showing the ‘Scoville rating’ (how hot a chilli is). They make a really attractive plant approx 30cm – 60 cm tall.

    Watch out for the frost, keep new plants protected from the frost. Water all your pots and containers as it is so dry at the moment. Feed all your shrub beds and borders with a dry feed. Weed and feed the lawn. Plant seeds in the veg garden, don’t plant all the seeds from the packet at the same time as you will have too much food to eat at the same time.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley Warren

    My April Walkabout

    My April Walkabout

    I gave an interview on BBC Radio Northampton at about 8.00am this morning (Thursday), I was asked by Bernie Keith, did I think it changes had been beneficial to the traffic flow around the roundabout, I said I hoped it would create a significant improvement but it was a bit too early to tell. I was then very late for work as the roundabout had experienced its first serious accident since being re developed. I hope those concerned were ok?

    They say a picture can paint a thousand words, that probably true but it doesn’t get across how wonderful our Garden Centre looks right now, so I ran round the Garden Centre (probably not quick enough for some) with my i phone, link attached.

    I don’t do pride, however I would like to say that our great team of people have got this Garden Centre looking as good as it has ever done. Now the sun is finally starting to warm us and the soil up the plants are responding with good growth and flower. We have missed out on a long spring as March was so dull. Plants are all now moving into top gear all at once. It is a great time to feed all plants by throwing some fertiliser onto the ground around the plants. Growmore is a well balanced feed with an application rate of 50-100 grms per meter square. It will move into the soil slowly with rain or watering, it will remain in the soil for several months after application. Feeding plants well will encourage growth, encourage flowering, reduce stress and therefore reduce disease.

    As it is the middle of April it is important to get some vegetables in the ground either seeds or plants. We have got seeds, small plants or big plants plus great advice. If you are trying to encourage the younger generation Radish germinate and grow very easily, I am not so sure they will enjoy eating them though! Beetroot are also easy to grow from seed outside in the soil, they are also a great super food, and they make your wee go red!. Sometimes it can be as economic to buy some small veg plants rather than a packet of seeds. Small plants will establish better than sowing seeds in a less well prepared seed bed. Buying plants also buys you time, you will be able to harvest the plants sooner than if you planted seeds.

    heuchera

    Heuchera are a small semi evergreen plant that have a massive variation in foliage and flower colour. They are pretty tough and grow well in most soils. The foliage colours, textures and leaf patterns are amazing, they vary from lime green,oranges to dark green and light to dark purple. The flowers stand up well above the plant on this whispy stems white, red to purple. They are great at filling out a shrub be or herbaceous border.

    For all you more experienced Gardeners I have got 24 pallets of Professional PH Compost from Doncaster arriving tomorrow!!

    Have fun in your Garden, would be great to see you.

    Ashley

    My talk with Paulerspury Horticultural Society

    My talk with Paulerspury Horticultural Society

    I had a really great evening yesterday, I was invited to talk to the Paulerspury Horticultural Society about Bell Plantation, how I have developed it over the last 25 years, our plans for the future and our values, plus a bit about growing vegetables, it was good to see so many familiar faces. What on earth could I teach master growers about growing vegetables? We all had a good chat about the Bell Plantation and a small chat about growing veg. I asked what we could do as a business to help Growers and village Hortic Societies. The conversation moved onto the closure of Youngs Nursery at Blisworth. The majority of my Audience loved the professional compost PH from Doncaster that Youngs used to stock, as a result of this we have got a 24 Pallet load arriving here on the 17th April. I also learned of a few other want’s and needs that we will put into action in the future to accommodate the more experienced gardener. Thank you all for the feedback and information it was a pleasure. If you are involved with a Horticultural Society please drop me a line so that I can keep you posted with our new Gardener products.

    Camelia2

    Magnolias are looking fabulous, at the moment.They are grown for their showy,solitary,fragrant,flowers. They are fully hardy to frost tender depending on variety. They grow well in moist, well-drained, humus rich acid to neutral soil in sun or partial shade, they do not like a windy site, I have one Magnolia grandiflora either side of my front door in a windy position and they are not that happy, struggling to get established, I probably move them at the end of this year.

    Sheena walks Minnie our Jack Russell around the fields every day, last Thursday you could see Minnie walking in the rape field, by Saturday you couldn’t see her as the rape had grow several inches in just a few days.

    The strong sun this week has warmed the soil and encouraged all the plants to start growing. A few days after the first cut of the lawn is the ideal time to get a weed and feed onto the grass. Remember not to cut the lawn too short on the first cut. It makes really hard work for the mower and the human operator! Lower the mower over the first 3 to 4 cuts to the optimum level.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

    April Flowering Plants and Easter

    April Flowering Plants and Easter

    Not much sun last week suppressed the potential growth in the garden, the lack on sun meant the air was cooler and no solar gain to the soil delaying the full onset of Spring.

    Some of the first colour in gardens is provided by flowering cherries, Prunus ‘Kojo- no-mai’ and Prunus incisa ‘Paean’, these are both shrub like plants that eventually grow to height of about 1.5 meters, they are currently covered with pale pink flowers. A larger shrub / tree providing a mass of deep pink flowers is the Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii Nigra’ (bit of a mouth full) a really great tree/shrub with dark purple foliage, great for early striking colour. I planted a multi stemmed one in my garden last year it was about 3 meters tall, it is delivering the goods covered in flowers. They are a really tough plant that grow well in most soils. They are well suited to the soil type here in sunny South Northants!

    prunus kojo

    The wind has been a bit of a problem last week, check to see that any newly planted trees or shrubs have been moving around in the soil, if they have fill in the socket formed in the ground with some soil and heel them in firmly, adjust and tighten the tie.

    Fertiliser, now is a great time to go around all your plants with a huge bucket of Growmore or Chicken Poo, these granular fertilisers are best put on the ground now so that by the time the plant needs the nutrients the rain should have washed them into the soil. All plants will benefit from a good early feed, you will get better flowering, fruiting, colour, less disease, faster growth, spread the poo nutrients!
    If in any doubt about anything in your garden we have a wonderful well experienced team of friendly people here at the Bell Plantation, there is no such thing as a silly question.

    I must tell you,(however I am not supposed to market in this blog) we have a wonderful range of Chocolate in the farm shop that has been made in the form of hand tools spanners, paint brushes, nuts and bolts etc. The nut actually is threaded and comes off the bolt!! its very good chocolate too.

    I have just put our first Goose eggs of the season into the incubator,I didnt fancy scrambled egg this morning! 37.7 degrees centigrade a bit of humid air for 29 days and we should have some Geese, the wonder of life. Obviously they would be better hatched under a Goose Mrs Goose did not feel like sitting on her eggs at the moment.

    turf

    We’ve got a pallet of turf in stock if anyone wants a DIY weekend on the lawn. It’s £4.49 a roll or 10 for £40. It is the best quality turf so don’t hesitate.

    Have a wonderful Easter, we too will be having the day off on Sunday only (Sunday trading laws), it is one of the 4 days a year we are shut!!
    It is a great weekend for family life and of course Gardening.

    Happy days

    Ashley

    Ashley’s Blog

    Ashley’s Blog

    I am pleased to say that the works on the roundabout seem to be nearing completion. It seems to take for ever to get the last finishing touches together. Already the traffic flows have changed, it now really needs the new traffic lights working to prioritise the flow. I sound like a bit of an expert on traffic flow!! Sheena and I purchased some of the site here at Bell Plantation before the first A5 / A43 roundabout was built back in 1987, when it was just A5 north and south. We purchased the house that Klas Day Nursery now occupy. Since then the whole of the A43 from the M1 to Oxford has been re built, bypassing Towcester and Brackley. As a business trading through the re development of the roundabout has been difficult, I hope once it is complete you will all return to our wonderful family run, friendly business.

    We are still recruiting, we need a Chef for the Cafe, full time. We need a front of house person in the Cafe, 10-30 hours a week.We need a Farm shop assistant 20-30 hours a week, so if you know anyone who is interested please drop me an email.

    strawberries

    We have had so many deliveries of plants in this week, Judy was on her own in the plant area yesterday as Steve had his day off , 5 lorries arrived with plants, Judy was still smiling at the end of the day. We have got a small selection of fruit and vegetables to start off the season, tomatoes included. It is still too cold to put some of these plants outside, however if they are protected from the frost and in some cases given a small amount of heat they will grow on to provide an early crop of vegetables. Traditionally gardeners sowed their first seeds in the vegetable garden under a plastic cloche. Garden Cloches keep in the heat from the sun, the soil warms up more as it is protected from the cooling wind. During the night when there is no sun the warm soil prevents the air in the cloche freezing, this is not enough protection for tender plants ie tomatoes and cucumbers, they will need some heat protection until mid April. Cloches are great for early beetroot, lettuce, cabbage, carrots etc. It is amazing how positioning plants against a sunny wall can make a difference, brick or stone walls absorb a huge amount of heat from the sun, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers etc planted against a wall in a container or in the ground in a grow canopy will be protected from the frost by the residual heat from the wall and the tomato canopy, all this extra heat will allow earlier cropping.

    Time to prune roses, I have spoken to the team at David Austin in the past re pruning their roses, they said they prune most of there roses with a hedge cutter!! Shrub roses may be? When you only have one or two it is important they fit your garden and they are growing in the direction and shape you want them. Early in the season you can prune back harder than later in the season. If you prune back hard later in the season it will delay flowering.

    Just a quick note!! We have our own Pork sausages available in the Farm Shop in a couple of weeks we will have our home produced beef. A complete, locally grown Sunday lunch in one shop!

    Our team look forward to seeing you.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley