Happy New Year. Let’s hope in 2015 we get at least average gardening weather. Average weather enables us to predict quite accurately how our business will perform, that is if we run it properly and are surrounded by like-minded people. I am one of the luckiest Guys having my hobbies as my business. Retirement? Never. Could do without the cash flow issues! Anyway being a family business is a wonderful way to live your life. Sheena and I are very fortunate to have our daughter and one son Sophie and Freddie working in the business. They are becoming keen gardeners despite being weaned on gardening.

This month we will do all our buying for next Christmas 2015 while it is fresh in our memory. We have got great (massive) plans for Christmas 2015.

In the Farm shop this January we are promoting a lot of healthy (slimming) foods, great recipes and food products that are available through the Spring months. We were guinea pigs in the office for a Sarah smoothie, Beetroot, winter berries etc.? It was so good it’s now available in the Café and all the ingredients are in the Farm Shop.

I sound like a scratched record the way I go on about putting more organic matter in/on your soil! This is just a reminder that this is a great time of year to put a good mulch ,50mm plus of organic matter all over your shrub beds before the bulbs come up. They will grow through a pretty thick covering of bark mulch, peat, compost.
Alternatively spread the organic matter all over the veg patch and dig it in a spade depth. If the soil’s right most other things will be easier.

January can be a quiet time in the garden, most garden plants are taking a rest before the Spring. However, there are always exceptions and one of those is the wonderful Heather! This little beauty really comes into its own during this quiet period – its colourful small flowers can bring a riot of colour to an otherwise muted garden palette. Flowering through the snow, they look best on those crisp mornings as you look out your windows!

Heather (Erica) is versatile and robust – it looks fabulous planted in the ground but also looks great in pots and planters. This colourful little shrub generally reaches about 25cm in height and therefore is well suited for planting in the front of your border. The delicate, bell-shaped flowers of the heather plant come in many shades – reds, pinks, purples and whites, it can flower well into April guaranteeing you a winter full of colour!

An added bonus with this plant is that it is particularly magnetic to bees and flying insects as it provides winter nectar and is a great early pollen source for our ever diminishing bee population. Many heathers are food plants for over 30 butterfly and moth species.

Have a great weekend


Ashley Warren

Ashley Warren has lived and loved horticulture and agriculture all his life; he had his first greenhouse at the age of 10 and his first cow when he was 16. He started landscaping in 1984 mainly in Milton Keynes and then all over the country. He moved to Daventry Road Farmhouse in 1987 and has developed Bell Plantation Garden Centre in Towcester, Northants over the last 30 years.

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