Garden Centre

We Guarantee You…

  • Friendly help and advice that suits you.
  • A wide range of great quality plants at great value.
  • Everything you need to make your garden look amazing.

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About the Garden Centre

Here at the Bell Plantation Garden Centre we love the great outdoors and we think there is no better place to spend time with you family and friends than in your garden. That’s why we have a simple purpose; to help, support and supply you with everything you need to make your garden look amazing, in a relaxed and enjoyable shopping environment.

Based on next to the A5 and A43 in Towcester, Northamptonshire our family run Garden Centre has selling plants, garden supplies and giving advice to keen gardeners for over 20 years.

We stock a wide range of plants, trees, shrubs, herbaceous, roses and anything else you want to put in your garden in a 200 square metre plant area and shop. We also have a popular gift shop with cards, books, presents and clothing as well as a gardening shop selling tools, chemicals and fertilizers, bird care, seeds and Christmas decorations in December.

At the Bell Plantation Garden Centre you’ll also find our popular Plantation Café, the Poultry Centre and 12 other businesses operating from our site.

  • South Northant’s Family Garden Centre
  • Everything to make your garden look amazing
  • Giving garden advice for over 20 years
  • We Stock a wide range of plants and products
  • 200 sq metre plant area and shop
  • Popular Cafe and 12 other businesses on site

Plant of the Month

Plant of the Month

As we’re sure you are aware gardening is a seasonal game. Different plants and trees flourish and flower at different times of the year, keeping your garden really interesting to look at. Getting the mix of plants right is really important to keep your garden looking beautiful throughout the spring and summer and if you’re really keen through the winter as well. Our plants of the month will give you an instant hit of colour now to help make your garden look amazing.

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Monthly Hints and Tips

There are loads of little jobs you can be doing in your garden all year round to keep it looking great and maximise your output. With the changing seasons these jobs vary hugely. In the winter its about increasing the nutrients in your soil ready for planting in spring and throughout summer months its often about keeping on top of those pesky weeds and pests. These are our top tips for this time of year to help you make the most of your garden to keep it looking amazing.

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Seasonal Hints and Tips

Bell Plantation Events

Events

Here at the Bell Plantation we love the great outdoors and we want you to do the same. That’s why we host a range of events and courses at our 35 acre Garden Centre to help and inspire you to learn about gardening, poultry, food and anything else related to outdoor life.

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Seasonal Plants

In addition to our plant of the month there are loads of other great plants that will help you make the most out of your garden. Our seasonal plants will give you some great ideas on what to be planting at this time of year.

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Seasonal Plants

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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