Hi,

Winter 13/14 was really mild, my bedding geraniums have stood outside in a pot all winter and they are now growing vigorously. The first quarter of the year thankfully has seen average weather, (we like average weather as it enables us running a business to predict the future). In the past three years we have had anything but average and it has been quite trying, so this year we are happy (Pharrell Williams – happy, great tune) however we need May to start to perform, very severe frost in the first few days hit new growth on hardy shrubs, Laurels etc. At the Garden Centre we used about 10 miles (felt like it) of frost protection fleece to cover most of the plants, very few losses I am pleased to say, thank you team.

In January this year I received a letter from Nicolas Morton a famous sculptor who has a workshop at the Dairy Farm at Litchborough www.nicolasmoreton.com . The letter was a round robin letter to local business’s asking for sponsorship for his trade stand at the Chelsea Flower Show. I replied immediately and said yes. So this Sunday we start to build the show stand. I hope Nicolas has great success showing his wonderful work in London. As a result of helping Nicolas we have 2 exquisite pieces of his on show/sale in the Garden Centre.

Chilli growing has recently become extremely fashionable, I think more so for men, who can grow the hottest and eat it, macho stuff. Chilli plants grow quite fast and large and produce copious amount of fruit. Chilli’s grow better indoors or in a glasshouse, growing outside if in a very warm sheltered spot can be equally successful. Best grown in a pot or planter with compost including John Innes. When they get growing they do become quite large so they will need a plant support cane and tying in regularly. Plenty of feed and water to achieve the best growth. If under glass or on the windowsill protect from the sun as the leaves on the plants can be quite tender. Enjoy. Its great fun entering them into your local produce show at the end of the season This year we have got 12 different varieties in stock, these are just a few Prairie fire, Joe’s super long, Bhurt Jolkia, Tabasco etc.

I hope you are enjoying the asparagus and your early vegetables planted last autumn, we are just harvesting some really sweet carrots planted last October, early bird gets the worm!

I will let you know how we are getting on at Chelsea next week.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

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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