The Bell Plantation Questionnaire

Your Name

Your Address

Your Phone Number

Your Email

Your Message

Q1) How do you know of the Bell Plantation Garden Centre:

Q2) Are you a keen gardener:

Q3) How often do you visit garden centres:

Q4) Is your garden:

Q5) What do you mostly buy from a garden centre:

Q6) Do you have any pets:

Q7) Do you grow any fruits and vegetables:

Q8) If yes, what do you mainly grow:

Q9) Do you use the restaurant facilities:

Q10) Do you have a gardener:

Q11) Do you have any children, and if so how many:

Q12) Do you play any garden sports:

Q13) Do you have any of the following:

Q14) Do you have any garden lighting:

Once you have completed the above questionnaire you will be able to download your £5 voucher (to download click on the word “here” in the text that is generated below the Send button after submitting the questionnaire) to spend on our vast range of garden plants. You will also be added to our newsletter, packed with the latest news & special offers from the Bell Plantation. You may unsubscribe from our newsletter at any time, simply follow the unsubscribe link which can be found at the bottom of every newsletter email.

Christmas Trees from Scotland. Farm shop bursting with food, fruit and wine.

 

Christmas Trees from Scotland. Farm shop bursting with food, fruit and wine.

Well, the festive period is well underway. I was a bit preoccupied last weekend (the busiest weekend in December) with my son Freddie and Alice’s wedding. Blue sky, sun and frost, perfect thank you.

I am pleased to say the traffic on the A5 south is now flowing a lot better since they reopened 2 lanes onto the roundabout from the north. We have had 4 weeks of lower than normal trade due to the roadwork’s. Touch wood the traffic flow all round seems to be much improved. However we only need a snarl up on the M1 and everything locally will be blocked again.

It has been announced this week that Poddington Garden Centre near Northampton has been purchased by Wyevale. A family Garden Centre business started in 1976. There are becoming fewer and fewer independent Garden Centres. It gives us a greater chance to cater for customers who are looking for something a little different. Which I hope we do?

Christmas at the Bell Plantation

“Christmas at the Bell Plantation”

Our Christmas trees from Scotland this year are beautiful. If you can keep some water in your tree stand this will help to keep the tree looking fresh. Try not to place your tree in the hottest room or near a heat source.

Poinsettias always remind me of my cycling trip to Vietnam, they grow abundantly by the side of many of the roads we cycled. They all had a full set of leaves and no clear stems. They like to be in the warm, not hot rooms, they like full light but not direct sun through the glass, they don’t like being in cold draughts or being overwatered, water with luke warm water sparingly.

We have got a huge range of house plants and planted containers for you to choose from.

The Farm shop is bursting with gorgeous tasting food, fruit and wine.

Sheena’s selection of decorations and gifts are also proving to be very popular this year.

 

If you have got time to get out in the Garden, winter pruning can be started on ornamental shrubs, trees and fruit trees. The recent wind may have prompted cutting back roses and wisteria already, better to cut it off that have it flapping around.

There is never a bad time to put organic matter onto the soil as a mulch or to dig in.

 

Look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Regards,

Ashley

Towcester roundabout roadworks update

traffic

Hi All,

We have been informed that the A5 Southbound junction onto the roundabout will be back up to 2 lanes by this weekend, so the congestion along the A5 should be considerably eased when coming to get your Christmas trees from that direction.

Let’s hope the traffic is much better when they finish.

Team Bell Plantation

Come and get your Christmas Trees

Come and get your Christmas Trees

christmas trees

We have just received a delivery of over 700 fresh Christmas Trees. They were cut in Scotland on Friday and arrived here mid-morning yesterday. They are looking fantastic, so don’t hesitate in popping down to get the best shapes early.

Click here to see some information of what we have.

Christmas Trees Coming Soon

Christmas Trees Coming Soon

blog

 

Christmas is closing in on us like it or not?

Our delivery of Christmas trees is due in this Tuesday, by the end of the week they should all be out on display. For those of you who like plenty to choose from, the early bird gets the worm. We will of course be willing to reserve one for you if you are unable to get to us in the next couple of weeks. As I have said before this is the sixth year we have had trees from this supplier, they are absolutely wonderful trees. We have increased our number of Fraser fir trees this year as they proved very popular last year, they are slightly more upright, thinner at the bottom than the Nordman and Noble which can be quite thick, great for a smaller room.

Turkey, have you ordered yours yet? We are taking orders for Pastures Farm turkeys at our Farm Shop, if you take a look at the website www.bellplantation.co.uk the prices and sizes are all there, if you would like to order one please call us on 01327 354126 and ask for Erris or Freddie or emailfarmshop@bellplantation.co.uk Pastures Farm poultry is absolutely delicious.

Bare root hedging is now in stock. We have got over 20 varieties of hedging stock plus a few bare root oak trees. If you need any help or advice ask for Steve. If you are planting a Thorn hedge you may need about 4 plants per linear meter, planted in a double staggered row. If planted at this density they will provide a good thick barrier for preventing things, animals going through. Plants are best planted in a prepared bed, weed free with some organic material incorporated into the soil. If not pre prepared organic material can be included when you put the root in the soil mixed with some of the soil which came out of the hole. Rootgrow is a wonderful addition with some slow release fertiliser. Protect the plant from being eaten with a rabbit guard, bunnies love to eat the tops off the plants. After planting put some more organic material around the plant as a mulch.

If you need help with a planting job my son Luke would be willing to give you a quotation.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

November Gardening advice from Ashley

November Gardening advice from Ashley

Christmas holly Blog
The weather forecast for the next 7 days is mild and wet. Still time to get ready for the freezing weather that is surely around the corner.

There is still time to plant bulbs for flowering next spring, November is idea for planting tulips. Our plant area is almost as full as during the summer. Steve our new plant area manager has got a huge selection of plants most suitable for gardens in Northamptonshire! Great colour plants with berries and festive Holly trees, with or without lights! We will be squashing up all the plants next week as our Christmas trees are due in on Tuesday 25th November. Our trees will be coming from the The Fasque tree Partnership, Fettercairn in Aberdeenshire. Great quality Nordman , Noble, Fraser, and Blue spruce. We have had trees from here for the last 7 or 8 years. They have always been absolutely fantastic quality and according to Fasque this is the best year ever!!

Garden Jobs for the next week or so

Rake up and compost all fallen leaves. Composted leaves make the best compost, pile them up in a big heap and cover them with a net or sheet, this will accelerate their decomposition. If you leave fallen leaves on the garden they block out the light and kill the grass underneath, making repair to the lawn necessary. If on a shrub bed they can be left as they make a good mulch.

Make sure your pots and containers are raised off the ground, pop them onto some pot feet. This allows the water to drain out of the pot more easily and it allows the base of the pot to dry out so that the frost does not damage it.

When the ground freezes, and the farmers are successful at frightening the pigeons off the rape fields, they will be looking for food elsewhere, this could mean trouble for your cabbage, Brussels sprouts and all other brassicas, ideally cover them up with some netting or use bird scarer’s to deter them from consuming your plants.

As it has been so mild to date, the summer bedding is still hanging on, it certainly can’t last much longer, best to plant some winter bedding as soon as possible.

We have got a great selection of single colour, pansies, viola, primula to choose from.

Cut back roses to prevent wind rock / socketing.

You can prevent winter moth damage to fruit trees by putting grease bands around the trunk of the tree.

Look forward to seeing you during the run up to Christmas, the shop looks really great, good work shop team.
Have a great weekend.

Ashley

Open Evening Thursday 30th – Christmas, tastings, supper!

newBlog banner2

Hi All,

Our Christmas open evening is just around the corner. Next Thursday 30th we’ll stay open from 5.30pm until 7.30pm and there is loads going on on-site.

In the Garden Centre

Our Garden Centre will be open until 7.30pm with our brand new Christmas decorations now in and looking amazing. Have a browse around with a complimentary glass of mulled wine and mince pies.

In the Farm Shop

Our Farm Shop will also be open for the evening with some of Northant’s finest food and drink suppliers giving you an exclusive free taste of their delicious produce including: pies, ales, ice cream and free range turkeys.

Supper in the Café

Our Café will be open serving a delicious 2-course Mexican themed supper for only £15 for adults and £7 for children. Contact us and book your table. We’ll be serving tortilla wedges to start, a choice of 2 chilli’s for main and 3 choices of pudding if you want it.

Contact us button

A Most Marvellous place to shop and Hot Tubs at Home will also be open for you to browse around.

Planting bare root hedging

Planting bare root hedging

In 1984 when I started planting trees in Milton Keynes and on the Hesketh Estate we would have been well into Autumn by now. The lifting of bare root trees and shrubs would have been well under way at the beginning of October. Here we are in the middle of October with the plants still not dormant, holding their leaves. I hope we will have our bare root hedging in by the beginning of November.

Bare root trees

Buying bare root plants is a really cost effective way of planting large lengths of hedge and large areas of woodland. Only certain plants can stand the upheaval of being moved around without any soil around their roots. Fortunately a lot of the commonly grown hedge and tree species can stand this. So take advantage of it. It is ok to plant bare root trees and shrubs between the beginning of November and probably the end of February, you could get into March it just depends on how early the growing season starts. Calling the trees and shrubs bare root only means that they are not grown in a pot and come with no plastic pot or soil around them when purchased. It is essential that the roots do not dry out while in transit or waiting to be planted. When they arrive at the Garden Centre they will be plunged into some gorgeous compost which will prevent them from drying out.

Planting is easy, hopefully the area they are being planted in is weed free, has already been cultivated and has had compost incorporated into it! Heaven for plant roots. Dig a small hole as deep as the plant root system, pop the plant in so all the root will be buried when filled in. Really firm the soil with your heel after planting. Microrhyzal fungi ‘Rootgrow ‘ is a fantastic addition underneath the plant before you back fill the hole, compost as well if you haven’t already put some in the soil. You could also cut the plant in half after planting.

This will encourage the establishment of root growth, it will also reduce the amount of water the plant will need in its first year, therefore more likely to survive. If you need any help or advice give me a call. Luke at ‘The Ground Care Company’ would be happy to quote if you need any help with large scale hedging luke@thegroundcarecompany.co.uk

We have got plenty more food in the Farm Shop plus some great Gin from Harrington, Northants! Freshly baked cakes and scones from the Café every day. Still can beat the streaky bacon!

There are still tickets available for Supper in the Café on Thursday 30th October 2014, Adults £15 Children £7 check the website for details.

The plant area looks amazing with Autumn colour there are plenty of plants to look at.

Have a great weekend.

Ashley

Christmas open evening, some gardening tips and local beer

Christmas open evening, some gardening tips and local beer

newBlog banner2
I thought last weekend with the forecast of cooler weather, it wouldn’t be too bad us starting to put out our Christmas 2014 offering in the shop! We have started this week while people are sat outside drinking tea in the Courtyard, seems a bit odd. Anyway I think we are later putting our products out than other Garden Centres, difficult balance between commerciality and upsetting our valued customers.

I am pleased to say that the road works on the A5 A43 junction are being managed in an admiral fashion, we have fortunately had no disruption to our trading on site. It is quite exciting to know that people will now be able to walk up to see us from Towcester rather than risking their lives crossing the A43 due to the installation of pedestrian traffic lights.

local beer
We have got some great new products in the farm shop this week. I have got an alcohol licence so we have stocked up with loads Beer from local Breweries, Merrimen, Litchborough, Phipps, Northampton, (Phipps is back!), Hoggleys, Northampton, Saxbys Cider, Wellingborough, Wines from Verre de Vin, Towcester, Gin from Harrington, all Northamptonshire Companies. Plus our bacon, I can’t get over how great the streaky bacon is, it tastes just like the rashers we used to get from The Bacon shop, Cambridge Road, Aylesbury in the 1960’s, 70’s, that’s an indication of my age.

It’s now ok to cut back herbaceous flowering plants that are starting to die back, this will immediately start to transform the Garden into winter mode. While doing this you could consider putting in some spring flowering bulbs to give you some early colour in February, March before the growth of the herbaceous plant, a double use of space.
Once all the herbaceous has been cut back later on in the season pour on the mulch/organic matter.

I am not sure how many people in this area have experienced box blight. Monty Don was on about it in one of his Gardening programmes earlier this year. I heard this week that Bayer have a new systemic fungicide out that will help reduce risk/cure the problem, we don’t have any in stock at the moment. Good management of Box can also help reduce the incidence of the fungal blight. Pruning should be carried out when there are a few days of fine weather forecast, if cut, trimmed when the weather is wet encourages spores to infect the freshly cut wood. Don’t let other plants grow to near the box, this may create a damp micro climate where fungal spores can survive. So if your neighbour has a problem it may be a good idea to use prevention measures, spray your box with a fungicide ( probably Bayer fruit and veg fungicide until the new one appears on the shelves) several times a year starting in the spring when the new growth appears. A great alternative to Box (Buxus sempervirens / suffruiticosa) is Ilex crenata which is a small leaved holly, we have a Topiary cloud tree in the courtyard which is Ilex crenata.

We have a Christmas open evening on Thursday 30th October in the Garden Centre until 7.30 and the Cafe will be open for Supper. The Farm shop will also be open for tastings and browsing. It will be great fun click here to view the details, it would be great to see you.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

A busy September

A Busy September

September, what an amazing month for many reasons. Driest since records began, we opened the farm shop, Steve our new plant area manager joined us and the end of our financial year. I am pleased to say we have not issued a share warning! I would just like to thank our wonderful team of people here and our customers for creating a really enjoyable business. We remain in double digit growth for the fourth successive year. Our plans for 2014 – 2015 are huge, we have had an offer of funding to build 10,000sq ft. of glass for more plants and Café area. We also hope to produce a large amount of the products that we sell in the Plantation Farm shop.

The weather being very dry puts a lot of plants if not watered under a lot of stress. That stress coupled with cooler nights and shortening daylight encourages plants to go into autumn mode. Leaves start going yellow and falling off the plants. It is important to keep watering and feeding plants right up to when the cooler weather, which I think could be this weekend!
Steve Hilling joined us at the beginning of the month from Wyevale, he was the plant area manager at their Bicester store, Steve was with that company for 18 years. We are looking forward to fully utilising Steve’s passion for plants in our small, dynamic little business. Unleash the Plantsman!

Cake

The biggest success so far in our 3 weeks of running the Farm Shop is the home made cakes ( made by our A team daily in the Café) and the Bacon products. The rashers do not fill the pan up with water as they cook or create a white salty scum around the bacon. They secrete a small amount of fat that helps the meat cook, once the meat is cooked, either to just cooked or crispy there is just enough fat to wipe up with a piece of bread which can be left to fry! Plus the small is enough to get anyone out of bed.

Keep dead heading your plants and cutting them back if they have fallen over. We are now at the time of year when you should be planting bulbs for flowering early in the Spring next year. We have got a large selection to choose from. With Steve at the helm of the Plant area we have got a massive amount of wonderful flowering and colourful plants for you to choose from. Planting winter bedding now while it is warm will pay dividends later in terms of more flowers.

I am pleased to say we now stock and are selling wine and local beer from the Plantation Farm Shop, Louise Croft from Verres de Vin will be doing a wine tasting session from 11am – 1pm on Saturday 4th October 14 in the Plantation Farm shop.

Have a great weekend.
Catch up soon
Ashley

Vouchers for a visit to the new Farm Shop

Farm Shop meat blog

Vouchers in the new Farm Shop

After a couple of weeks of hard graft our new Farm Shop is now open. We’ve stripped it back to the walls and tried to make it feel really earthy – wooden cladding, bricks and wood for shelving.

The most challenging part as always has been the stock – trying to keep the stock consistent for our regular customers has been hard to do and there’s still a lot of work but we think we’ve got some great goodies that you’ll want to try. We’ve found a local meat supplier from Rugby who make the most delicious pork pies – as close to a Saxby pie as you can get – traditional with a bit of spice. They also do delicious sausages, proper bacon that doesn’t shrink to nothing when you cook it and some old classics like faggots and black pudding.

Our fresh meat supplier grows his beef in Long Buckby and does a cracking steak, but we also have fresh whole chickens and chicken breasts. For any of you that remember Brown’s grocers from Towcester back in the day we are getting all our Fruit & Veg from them.

We’ve had a lot of tasting to do this week and our picks of the dry food are Bay Tree’s delicious pasta – the spaghetti is delicious and great with a Spag Bol. The frozen croissants are amazing (heated up of course) and the fish cakes are great. There is loads more stuff but we’ll let you know how it tastes as we try it.

It’s best you pop in for yourself and have a look, click here for a £1 off voucher when you spend £10 or more. Print it off and bring it in to the shop to get your money off.

Voucher

As always, any feedback is really appreciated, please let us know what you think.

Have a good weekend.

Ashley

Christmas Trees from Scotland. Farm shop bursting with food, fruit and wine.

 

Christmas Trees from Scotland. Farm shop bursting with food, fruit and wine.

Well, the festive period is well underway. I was a bit preoccupied last weekend (the busiest weekend in December) with my son Freddie and Alice’s wedding. Blue sky, sun and frost, perfect thank you.

I am pleased to say the traffic on the A5 south is now flowing a lot better since they reopened 2 lanes onto the roundabout from the north. We have had 4 weeks of lower than normal trade due to the roadwork’s. Touch wood the traffic flow all round seems to be much improved. However we only need a snarl up on the M1 and everything locally will be blocked again.

It has been announced this week that Poddington Garden Centre near Northampton has been purchased by Wyevale. A family Garden Centre business started in 1976. There are becoming fewer and fewer independent Garden Centres. It gives us a greater chance to cater for customers who are looking for something a little different. Which I hope we do?

Christmas at the Bell Plantation

“Christmas at the Bell Plantation”

Our Christmas trees from Scotland this year are beautiful. If you can keep some water in your tree stand this will help to keep the tree looking fresh. Try not to place your tree in the hottest room or near a heat source.

Poinsettias always remind me of my cycling trip to Vietnam, they grow abundantly by the side of many of the roads we cycled. They all had a full set of leaves and no clear stems. They like to be in the warm, not hot rooms, they like full light but not direct sun through the glass, they don’t like being in cold draughts or being overwatered, water with luke warm water sparingly.

We have got a huge range of house plants and planted containers for you to choose from.

The Farm shop is bursting with gorgeous tasting food, fruit and wine.

Sheena’s selection of decorations and gifts are also proving to be very popular this year.

 

If you have got time to get out in the Garden, winter pruning can be started on ornamental shrubs, trees and fruit trees. The recent wind may have prompted cutting back roses and wisteria already, better to cut it off that have it flapping around.

There is never a bad time to put organic matter onto the soil as a mulch or to dig in.

 

Look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Regards,

Ashley

Towcester roundabout roadworks update

traffic

Hi All,

We have been informed that the A5 Southbound junction onto the roundabout will be back up to 2 lanes by this weekend, so the congestion along the A5 should be considerably eased when coming to get your Christmas trees from that direction.

Let’s hope the traffic is much better when they finish.

Team Bell Plantation

Come and get your Christmas Trees

Come and get your Christmas Trees

christmas trees

We have just received a delivery of over 700 fresh Christmas Trees. They were cut in Scotland on Friday and arrived here mid-morning yesterday. They are looking fantastic, so don’t hesitate in popping down to get the best shapes early.

Click here to see some information of what we have.

Christmas Trees Coming Soon

Christmas Trees Coming Soon

blog

 

Christmas is closing in on us like it or not?

Our delivery of Christmas trees is due in this Tuesday, by the end of the week they should all be out on display. For those of you who like plenty to choose from, the early bird gets the worm. We will of course be willing to reserve one for you if you are unable to get to us in the next couple of weeks. As I have said before this is the sixth year we have had trees from this supplier, they are absolutely wonderful trees. We have increased our number of Fraser fir trees this year as they proved very popular last year, they are slightly more upright, thinner at the bottom than the Nordman and Noble which can be quite thick, great for a smaller room.

Turkey, have you ordered yours yet? We are taking orders for Pastures Farm turkeys at our Farm Shop, if you take a look at the website www.bellplantation.co.uk the prices and sizes are all there, if you would like to order one please call us on 01327 354126 and ask for Erris or Freddie or emailfarmshop@bellplantation.co.uk Pastures Farm poultry is absolutely delicious.

Bare root hedging is now in stock. We have got over 20 varieties of hedging stock plus a few bare root oak trees. If you need any help or advice ask for Steve. If you are planting a Thorn hedge you may need about 4 plants per linear meter, planted in a double staggered row. If planted at this density they will provide a good thick barrier for preventing things, animals going through. Plants are best planted in a prepared bed, weed free with some organic material incorporated into the soil. If not pre prepared organic material can be included when you put the root in the soil mixed with some of the soil which came out of the hole. Rootgrow is a wonderful addition with some slow release fertiliser. Protect the plant from being eaten with a rabbit guard, bunnies love to eat the tops off the plants. After planting put some more organic material around the plant as a mulch.

If you need help with a planting job my son Luke would be willing to give you a quotation.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

November Gardening advice from Ashley

November Gardening advice from Ashley

Christmas holly Blog
The weather forecast for the next 7 days is mild and wet. Still time to get ready for the freezing weather that is surely around the corner.

There is still time to plant bulbs for flowering next spring, November is idea for planting tulips. Our plant area is almost as full as during the summer. Steve our new plant area manager has got a huge selection of plants most suitable for gardens in Northamptonshire! Great colour plants with berries and festive Holly trees, with or without lights! We will be squashing up all the plants next week as our Christmas trees are due in on Tuesday 25th November. Our trees will be coming from the The Fasque tree Partnership, Fettercairn in Aberdeenshire. Great quality Nordman , Noble, Fraser, and Blue spruce. We have had trees from here for the last 7 or 8 years. They have always been absolutely fantastic quality and according to Fasque this is the best year ever!!

Garden Jobs for the next week or so

Rake up and compost all fallen leaves. Composted leaves make the best compost, pile them up in a big heap and cover them with a net or sheet, this will accelerate their decomposition. If you leave fallen leaves on the garden they block out the light and kill the grass underneath, making repair to the lawn necessary. If on a shrub bed they can be left as they make a good mulch.

Make sure your pots and containers are raised off the ground, pop them onto some pot feet. This allows the water to drain out of the pot more easily and it allows the base of the pot to dry out so that the frost does not damage it.

When the ground freezes, and the farmers are successful at frightening the pigeons off the rape fields, they will be looking for food elsewhere, this could mean trouble for your cabbage, Brussels sprouts and all other brassicas, ideally cover them up with some netting or use bird scarer’s to deter them from consuming your plants.

As it has been so mild to date, the summer bedding is still hanging on, it certainly can’t last much longer, best to plant some winter bedding as soon as possible.

We have got a great selection of single colour, pansies, viola, primula to choose from.

Cut back roses to prevent wind rock / socketing.

You can prevent winter moth damage to fruit trees by putting grease bands around the trunk of the tree.

Look forward to seeing you during the run up to Christmas, the shop looks really great, good work shop team.
Have a great weekend.

Ashley

Open Evening Thursday 30th – Christmas, tastings, supper!

newBlog banner2

Hi All,

Our Christmas open evening is just around the corner. Next Thursday 30th we’ll stay open from 5.30pm until 7.30pm and there is loads going on on-site.

In the Garden Centre

Our Garden Centre will be open until 7.30pm with our brand new Christmas decorations now in and looking amazing. Have a browse around with a complimentary glass of mulled wine and mince pies.

In the Farm Shop

Our Farm Shop will also be open for the evening with some of Northant’s finest food and drink suppliers giving you an exclusive free taste of their delicious produce including: pies, ales, ice cream and free range turkeys.

Supper in the Café

Our Café will be open serving a delicious 2-course Mexican themed supper for only £15 for adults and £7 for children. Contact us and book your table. We’ll be serving tortilla wedges to start, a choice of 2 chilli’s for main and 3 choices of pudding if you want it.

Contact us button

A Most Marvellous place to shop and Hot Tubs at Home will also be open for you to browse around.

Planting bare root hedging

Planting bare root hedging

In 1984 when I started planting trees in Milton Keynes and on the Hesketh Estate we would have been well into Autumn by now. The lifting of bare root trees and shrubs would have been well under way at the beginning of October. Here we are in the middle of October with the plants still not dormant, holding their leaves. I hope we will have our bare root hedging in by the beginning of November.

Bare root trees

Buying bare root plants is a really cost effective way of planting large lengths of hedge and large areas of woodland. Only certain plants can stand the upheaval of being moved around without any soil around their roots. Fortunately a lot of the commonly grown hedge and tree species can stand this. So take advantage of it. It is ok to plant bare root trees and shrubs between the beginning of November and probably the end of February, you could get into March it just depends on how early the growing season starts. Calling the trees and shrubs bare root only means that they are not grown in a pot and come with no plastic pot or soil around them when purchased. It is essential that the roots do not dry out while in transit or waiting to be planted. When they arrive at the Garden Centre they will be plunged into some gorgeous compost which will prevent them from drying out.

Planting is easy, hopefully the area they are being planted in is weed free, has already been cultivated and has had compost incorporated into it! Heaven for plant roots. Dig a small hole as deep as the plant root system, pop the plant in so all the root will be buried when filled in. Really firm the soil with your heel after planting. Microrhyzal fungi ‘Rootgrow ‘ is a fantastic addition underneath the plant before you back fill the hole, compost as well if you haven’t already put some in the soil. You could also cut the plant in half after planting.

This will encourage the establishment of root growth, it will also reduce the amount of water the plant will need in its first year, therefore more likely to survive. If you need any help or advice give me a call. Luke at ‘The Ground Care Company’ would be happy to quote if you need any help with large scale hedging luke@thegroundcarecompany.co.uk

We have got plenty more food in the Farm Shop plus some great Gin from Harrington, Northants! Freshly baked cakes and scones from the Café every day. Still can beat the streaky bacon!

There are still tickets available for Supper in the Café on Thursday 30th October 2014, Adults £15 Children £7 check the website for details.

The plant area looks amazing with Autumn colour there are plenty of plants to look at.

Have a great weekend.

Ashley

Christmas open evening, some gardening tips and local beer

Christmas open evening, some gardening tips and local beer

newBlog banner2
I thought last weekend with the forecast of cooler weather, it wouldn’t be too bad us starting to put out our Christmas 2014 offering in the shop! We have started this week while people are sat outside drinking tea in the Courtyard, seems a bit odd. Anyway I think we are later putting our products out than other Garden Centres, difficult balance between commerciality and upsetting our valued customers.

I am pleased to say that the road works on the A5 A43 junction are being managed in an admiral fashion, we have fortunately had no disruption to our trading on site. It is quite exciting to know that people will now be able to walk up to see us from Towcester rather than risking their lives crossing the A43 due to the installation of pedestrian traffic lights.

local beer
We have got some great new products in the farm shop this week. I have got an alcohol licence so we have stocked up with loads Beer from local Breweries, Merrimen, Litchborough, Phipps, Northampton, (Phipps is back!), Hoggleys, Northampton, Saxbys Cider, Wellingborough, Wines from Verre de Vin, Towcester, Gin from Harrington, all Northamptonshire Companies. Plus our bacon, I can’t get over how great the streaky bacon is, it tastes just like the rashers we used to get from The Bacon shop, Cambridge Road, Aylesbury in the 1960’s, 70’s, that’s an indication of my age.

It’s now ok to cut back herbaceous flowering plants that are starting to die back, this will immediately start to transform the Garden into winter mode. While doing this you could consider putting in some spring flowering bulbs to give you some early colour in February, March before the growth of the herbaceous plant, a double use of space.
Once all the herbaceous has been cut back later on in the season pour on the mulch/organic matter.

I am not sure how many people in this area have experienced box blight. Monty Don was on about it in one of his Gardening programmes earlier this year. I heard this week that Bayer have a new systemic fungicide out that will help reduce risk/cure the problem, we don’t have any in stock at the moment. Good management of Box can also help reduce the incidence of the fungal blight. Pruning should be carried out when there are a few days of fine weather forecast, if cut, trimmed when the weather is wet encourages spores to infect the freshly cut wood. Don’t let other plants grow to near the box, this may create a damp micro climate where fungal spores can survive. So if your neighbour has a problem it may be a good idea to use prevention measures, spray your box with a fungicide ( probably Bayer fruit and veg fungicide until the new one appears on the shelves) several times a year starting in the spring when the new growth appears. A great alternative to Box (Buxus sempervirens / suffruiticosa) is Ilex crenata which is a small leaved holly, we have a Topiary cloud tree in the courtyard which is Ilex crenata.

We have a Christmas open evening on Thursday 30th October in the Garden Centre until 7.30 and the Cafe will be open for Supper. The Farm shop will also be open for tastings and browsing. It will be great fun click here to view the details, it would be great to see you.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

A busy September

A Busy September

September, what an amazing month for many reasons. Driest since records began, we opened the farm shop, Steve our new plant area manager joined us and the end of our financial year. I am pleased to say we have not issued a share warning! I would just like to thank our wonderful team of people here and our customers for creating a really enjoyable business. We remain in double digit growth for the fourth successive year. Our plans for 2014 – 2015 are huge, we have had an offer of funding to build 10,000sq ft. of glass for more plants and Café area. We also hope to produce a large amount of the products that we sell in the Plantation Farm shop.

The weather being very dry puts a lot of plants if not watered under a lot of stress. That stress coupled with cooler nights and shortening daylight encourages plants to go into autumn mode. Leaves start going yellow and falling off the plants. It is important to keep watering and feeding plants right up to when the cooler weather, which I think could be this weekend!
Steve Hilling joined us at the beginning of the month from Wyevale, he was the plant area manager at their Bicester store, Steve was with that company for 18 years. We are looking forward to fully utilising Steve’s passion for plants in our small, dynamic little business. Unleash the Plantsman!

Cake

The biggest success so far in our 3 weeks of running the Farm Shop is the home made cakes ( made by our A team daily in the Café) and the Bacon products. The rashers do not fill the pan up with water as they cook or create a white salty scum around the bacon. They secrete a small amount of fat that helps the meat cook, once the meat is cooked, either to just cooked or crispy there is just enough fat to wipe up with a piece of bread which can be left to fry! Plus the small is enough to get anyone out of bed.

Keep dead heading your plants and cutting them back if they have fallen over. We are now at the time of year when you should be planting bulbs for flowering early in the Spring next year. We have got a large selection to choose from. With Steve at the helm of the Plant area we have got a massive amount of wonderful flowering and colourful plants for you to choose from. Planting winter bedding now while it is warm will pay dividends later in terms of more flowers.

I am pleased to say we now stock and are selling wine and local beer from the Plantation Farm Shop, Louise Croft from Verres de Vin will be doing a wine tasting session from 11am – 1pm on Saturday 4th October 14 in the Plantation Farm shop.

Have a great weekend.
Catch up soon
Ashley

Vouchers for a visit to the new Farm Shop

Farm Shop meat blog

Vouchers in the new Farm Shop

After a couple of weeks of hard graft our new Farm Shop is now open. We’ve stripped it back to the walls and tried to make it feel really earthy – wooden cladding, bricks and wood for shelving.

The most challenging part as always has been the stock – trying to keep the stock consistent for our regular customers has been hard to do and there’s still a lot of work but we think we’ve got some great goodies that you’ll want to try. We’ve found a local meat supplier from Rugby who make the most delicious pork pies – as close to a Saxby pie as you can get – traditional with a bit of spice. They also do delicious sausages, proper bacon that doesn’t shrink to nothing when you cook it and some old classics like faggots and black pudding.

Our fresh meat supplier grows his beef in Long Buckby and does a cracking steak, but we also have fresh whole chickens and chicken breasts. For any of you that remember Brown’s grocers from Towcester back in the day we are getting all our Fruit & Veg from them.

We’ve had a lot of tasting to do this week and our picks of the dry food are Bay Tree’s delicious pasta – the spaghetti is delicious and great with a Spag Bol. The frozen croissants are amazing (heated up of course) and the fish cakes are great. There is loads more stuff but we’ll let you know how it tastes as we try it.

It’s best you pop in for yourself and have a look, click here for a £1 off voucher when you spend £10 or more. Print it off and bring it in to the shop to get your money off.

Voucher

As always, any feedback is really appreciated, please let us know what you think.

Have a good weekend.

Ashley