Latest Stories

  1. Creating a bird friendly garden

    Creating a bird friendly garden

    Want to create a bird friendly garden but not sure how? Check out our guide below.

    1) Grasses not only provide cover their seed heads provide food and material for birds’ nests.
    2) Providing birds with a feeder encourages them into your garden. Once they know there’s a food source there they will be back again for more.
    3) Why not add a bird bath or small pond to your garden to encourage birds. Birds love a good splash and can quench their thirst.
    4) Certain shrub varieties provide great cover, nectar, attract insects and some even provide birds with berries.
    5) Adding a bird house to your garden will provide birds with additional shelter and more options on when it comes to building their nest.
    6) Trees are great as they provide a natural location for birds to build a nest, some provide nectar, berries and trees often attract insects.
    7) Ground cover like Ivy provides cover for birds and also attracts insects.

    Posted 22nd Jan 4:02pm
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  2. My old village

    My old village

    Hi I’m Chris, I’m a garden designer & together with my team of merry helpers we build the gardens I design, maintain them & maintain & develop other gardens of varying maturity.

    I grew up in a small rural village in North Yorkshire, right on the edge of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales National Park. As a child I loved being out in the fresh air & as my teenage years progressed I would more than likely be found mooching about in the surrounding countryside.
    I loved poking my nose into this wild landscape (I still do!) & whether I was sat by riverbanks and canals fishing, exploring hedgerows or wandering the moors I was learning. I found myself immersed in the growing seasons & I started to remember when plants & flowers would appear each year. I often returned home with a ripe swag of juicy bilberries, after which a marathon pie & jam making session would follow. These early lessons in self-sufficiency and a taste of being amongst the wild things are what shaped my career.

    In the year 2000 I left the village, but my mum & dad still live there now, so I often go back. The village has changed over the years, sadly the two big old mills have closed & the sites redeveloped for housing. This has seen the population of the village grow in size, my old school now has double the number of pupils. I remember there being talk of it closing, not any more which is great & whilst the village never seems to be the sleepy little place I remember as a child, things seem to have changed for the better.

    The park at the heart of the village is the jewel in it’s crown! Huge credit to the local council & residents who maintain & support this very special space. It always seems to be alive with families out enjoying the fresh air, there is play equipment aplenty, but this is balanced incredibly well with areas of grass, annual beds that always look stunning, well maintained shrubberies, mature trees, wildflower areas & of course that perfectly maintained square of grass where the old farts (my dad included!) gather for a chin wag & a friendly game of bowls.

    When I visit the village with my family we often find ourselves down the park & everytime I go I find myself thinking how important a space it is. Yes, it’s great for the community but it also provides a home for nature, the trees, shrubs, plants & grass in the park provide habitat that even on the busiest of summer afternoons is alive with birds, bees, bugs & butterflies.

    A year or two ago I was contacted by one of the residents, he called to tell me about a proposed housing development on the edge of the village. The site was a green field that adjoined the village & had historically been grazed by sheep. The gentleman was concerned that such a development would see the erosion of the green space around the village. He was keen for me to back the campaign against the development, after all I grew up there & I’m a garden designer with a love for nature. I agreed to have a look at the situation & feedback to him.
    A visit to the field saw me walking through a somewhat baron space, yes there was grass, but no flowers, no trees & no bees, birds or butterflies! I could see the park from the field & as I looked over I began to wonder…would it be such a bad thing to build on the field.
    If a scheme of houses with good sized gardens were build & a central green space, planted with wildflowers was left within the development site surely it would be a better home for nature than a field of grass. The fact was nature seemed to have more of a home in the park, surrounded by houses, than it did in that open field on the edge of the village.
    I reported back to the gentleman, I suggested that perhaps a development wouldn’t be such a bad thing & that perhaps his campaingn should be aimed at ensuring that whilst the site is developed it in turn becomes a place with way more plants, flowers, shrubs & trees.
    The field was never built on, it turns out that the sewers in the village couldn’t cope with any more housing in that area, so it remains a green field.

    My mind often goes back to that time. Whenever I see a controversial planning application come up in the press, I wonder are we too precious over our green fields.
    I’d never suggest ripping up an ancient meadow or chopping down a copse of mature trees. However, it would be great to see an approach towards rural development that looks at the current state of nature in the proposed area. Would the development of areas that may be green but offer very little biodiversity be such a bad thing? Surely it would be better to create a place where man & nature can live in harmony.

    Posted 15th Jan 11:13am
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  3. Honey bees during winter

    Honey bees during winter

    We have had our first batch of honey and haven’t seen our bees for some months. But what are our bees getting up to during the winter months?
    During the winter months honey bees form a winter cluster that aims to last all winter. The worker bees main job for the winter is to keep the queen bee alive. In order to do this they form a cluster around the queen and then flutter their wings and shiver vigorously. The constant motion and use of energy is how the hive keeps warm. The colder the hive the closer the cluster gets together.
    The queen remains at the centre of the cluster throughout the winter months, the worker bees on the other hand rotate from the outside to the inside of the cluster meaning no individual worker bee gets too cold.
    The bees must have enough honey to keep their energy up, its very important that the beekeepers make sure there is enough honey to last all winter, if there isn’t they often supply a liquid sugar syrup or fondant icing for the bees.

    Posted 8th Jan 11:45am
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  4. January 2018 Gardening Reminders

    January 2018 Gardening Reminders

    1) Rake dead leaves out of ponds to prevent water stagnating.
    2) Plant winter aconites.
    3) Remove dead and dying foliage from hellebores.
    4) Plant fruit trees and cane fruits, mulch newly planted trees (do not build compost up around the trunks of trees).
    5) If the grass needs cutting due to mild weather, remove mowings as too cold for decomposition.
    6) Lift self-sown Cyclamen coum seedlings and replant where most effective for winter display.
    7) Cut out reverted stems from variegated evergreens. These will be green only, and appear stronger than variegated stems.
    8) Pick up all fallen foliage in the greenhouse to prevent disease establishment.
    9) Clean rainwater gutters from all garden related buildings to prevent over-flow.
    10) If very hard frosts are anticipated wrap tender plants such as Agapanthus with straw or bubble-wrap and tie securely.
    11) Continue to remove fallen leaves and twigs in the shrubbery and lightly fork soil over.
    12) Shorten the summer growths of Wisteria (already reduced in September) to 2 buds.
    13) Nets draped over the branches are the only reliable way to prevent birds from damaging the buds of flowering cherries.
    14) Check all trees and fruit trees to ensure that the root-stock of the tree is not growing in competition with the scion variety.
    15) Prune overgrown hedges hard in winter, during frost-free weather. Cut back yew and privet severely to within 15cm of the main stem. For hornbeam and beech cut right back to the main stem to prevent tufty growth. Prune one side one year and the other side the following year.
    16) In freezing conditions ensure that the ice on ponds is broken to allow the escape of toxic gases. Do NOT hammer the ice as it may stun the fish. Apply bottles containing hot water.
    17) If water remains on the lawn surface for some time after rain, check for blocked drains. If there is no system, make plans to put such work in hand.
    18) Take the frosty weather and dark nights to look up the answers to the questions you keep asking yourself whilst you are doing a whole rage of jobs during better gardening conditions!

    Posted 4th Jan 12:46pm
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Johnsons of Whixley Ltd

Gilsthwaite Ln,
Kirk Hammerton,
Whixley,
North Yorkshire,
YO26 8AQ,
United Kingdom

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