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  1. Want to attract bee's to your garden? Here's six great blooms

    Want to attract bee's to your garden? Here's six great blooms

    Want to attract bee’s to your garden? Here’s six great blooms to do just that.

    1) Lavender is one of a bees favourites, largely because of their bright purple tones as bees see this colour more clearly. A two year study at Sussex University found them to be one of the most popular plant varieties to the insect, flowering from July – September, they are the perfect plant for bees with plenty of nectar through summer.

    2) Echinacea flowers are not only loved by bees, but butterflies too due to its large landing pad, bright colour and pollen, making it well worth the visit. Seed heads will also feed birds in the fall and winter.

    3) Foxgloves are known for their long tubular shape and are great for long-tongued bees, flowering from June – September.

    4) Scabiosa plants have a steady supply of nectar, making them a great choice for any garden hoping to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. It’s also perfect for a summer border.

    5) Agastache is a great plant that bees make their way around systematically on the many tiny flowers. It looks great in mixed herbaceous borders and is a bees’ favourite.

    6) Geranium have a long flowering period making them great for bees. The purple varieties tend to be favoured, again, for their colour, and will last from May – August,. Make sure to remove old flowers and leaves so they can rejuvenate.

    Posted 1st Sep 9:00am
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  2. What to do in the garden this September

    What to do in the garden this September

    What to do in the garden this September

    1) August has been another dry month here in North Yorkshire, we had a few showers and some prolonged rain on the 26th/27th, but not enough serious volumes to replenish the water table. Just that fresh feeling in the mornings now, but overnight temperatures are still staying above 10 degrees.

    2) Summer Branch Drop (SBD) has been apparent on several trees in the area, no-one appears to have identified the cause, but it does seem to occur after rain following a very dry spell.

    3) If you have heavy soil, dig over the garden borders as bedding plants need to be removed. This will make digging easier as the soil will not be at full water capacity as in later months.

    4) Now is the time to make yourself a good, big compost bin, just before you really need it! Ideally, use four stakes as corners, one metre apart in a square, and staple wire netting (one metre deep) around the square. This allows easy entry when you wish to empty it, or it can be made bigger or smaller at will. If you would like a permanent one, use pressure treated plywood or boards instead of netting.

    5) On a fine evening, have a walk around the garden and make a note of what has done really well, and also not so well, so that when time comes to replant the borders you will have a good idea of what will be successful! Why not have a visit to Harlow Carr Gardens or one of the other splendid gardens in the area, and make a note of which plants you are really motivated by?

    6) Towards the end of the month and into October is the best time to move evergreens as the soil is still warm and new roots will take hold before winter. Make sure the planting hole is big enough so the plant is at the same depth as before, firm soil back around the root-ball and water in well.

    7) Take hardwood cuttings from your favourite roses. Ideal cuttings are about pencil thickness and 30cm long, remove the top 8cm of young growth down to just above a bud. Cut the bottom of the stem at about 2-3mm below a bud and trim off all the leaves, with the exception of the top three sets of leaves.Make a slot with a spade in an area of good soil and push in the cuttings (base first!) so that about one third remains above ground. If the soil is heavy, run some sharp sand down the planting slot to improve drainage. The cuttings should be ready to plant out next autumn.

    8) Keep dead-heading the best flowering plants to encourage new flowers and stop them setting seed.

    9) Newly planted perennials will do well when planted over the next 6 weeks. Give the roots of new plants a good soaking before planting, firm in well to the original depth and place a good mulch around the plant to prevent moisture loss and winter damage to young roots.

    10) Continue to trim fast-growing hedges, and don’t forget the weeds in the hedge bottoms!

    11) Now is the time to sort out your bulb order to give you maximum choice. Bulb catalogues are really helpful and a pleasure to look at. Planting early has benefits for all bulbs, but leave tulips until late November in order to prevent disease infection.

    12) Complete the lifting of last seasons’ bulbs and dry them off naturally in light woven sacks for maximum ventilation.

    13) Crocosmias form large mounds of roots and corms after a few years, try separating them with a fork, pulling them apart, or removing the soil and untangling them with the help of a hosepipe jet.

    14) This month and next month the lawn can be mown less frequently, but will really benefit from echanical scarifying or the regular use of a spring tine rake to remove the old ‘thatch’. Aerating by means of a machine or a garden fork will work wonders, in conjunction with a specific lawn weed killer and an autumn lawn fertilize dressing.

    Posted 15th Sep 8:54am
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  3. Q&A with our beekeeper for National Honey Month

    Q&A with our beekeeper for National Honey Month

    Q&A with our beekeeper for National Honey Month

    To celebrate National Honey Month this September, we asked Keith Simmonds from Harrogate Beekeepers Association, who looks after our onsite apiary, some questions.

    1) How many years have you been a beekeeper and what do you like most about it?
    I started in 2006 on a beekeeping course run by Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers Association, so 13 seasons. Bees often surprise you by not behaving as you expect, so you are always learning.

    2) How much training did it take to become a beekeeper?
    The course was some 20 weeks long, consisting of 12 weeks’ theory and 8 weeks’ practical. It was a very comprehensive course, but shorter courses are available. You never stop learning, and belonging to a beekeeping association gives you plenty of contact with more experienced beekeepers to help you learn.

    3) What is the main responsibility for a beekeeper?
    The main job is to ensure that the bees are happy with sufficient space when they need it during the summer months, and most importantly, that they are healthy. Bees are under pressure from all sorts of environmental and habitat problems, keeping them healthy gives them the best chance of survival.

    4) Our apiary isn’t the only one you look after, how many bees do you estimate you look after in one year?
    I have three apiary sites with 22 colonies or hives. On average, at full summer strength, each will have 50,000 bees, so more than a million bees.

    5) How much honey do the bees you look after produce a year?
    This, like any other food product, depends on lots of outside influences, such as weather, crops and other forage available to the bees. I would think somewhere between 500 and 700 lbs of honey per annum. A lot of this is left with the bees as winter feed.

    6) Most people do not react well to the sight of swarming bees, were you afraid of the bees when you first started out as a beekeeper?
    No not really, I was fascinated by the bees. Most people on beekeeping courses are keen to get into their hive for the first time. A swarm of bees is more intent on finding a new home than spending time attacking you. Swarming bees are often very calm.

    7) How many times do you think you’ve been strung over the years?
    This must now be in the hundreds, I have reached the stage where I no longer react to stings, however let me make one thing clear, each sting still hurts.

    8) Is there a way of calming the bees?
    One of the best ways to keep bees calm is to be calm yourself, no sudden movement, noise or knocks. Beekeepers use a smoker to help manage the bees, these burn wood, paper or cardboard, well, anything organic in the smoker. The smoke will cause the bees to fill themselves with honey as they believe a fire could be nearby and they may need to leave. Well-fed bees are usually calmer.

    9) We all use the phrase “as busy as the bee”, but do bees sleep or rest at all?
    Bees don’t sleep or hibernate, in the summer they are busy collecting nectar and pollen to feed themselves and the new brood in the hive. The Queen will lay 2,000 eggs a day during summer, and sometimes more. So you see, the hive is busy all the time in the late spring and summer. In winter the bees are mostly confined to the hive due to bad weather where they form into a compact ball of bees to keep warm.

    Posted 15th Sep 8:44am
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  4. Hedging varieties for small gardens

    Hedging varieties for small gardens

    Hedging varieties for small gardens

    In small gardens, most people favour a wall or fence, however these are plants that can create privacy or a boundary without taking over too much room.

    1. Buxus sempervirens are a great low growing hedging plant that only require clipping once or twice a year. Perfect for edging a path or border these hedging plants will only grow 10-20cm per year. Buxus is often used in a formal garden and is great shaped.

    2. Taxus baccata are an evergreen low growing hedging plant that create a dense screen in a garden they can be clipped back to keep a low formal hedge and will grow in sun to partial shade.

    3. Ligustrum vulgare are great for nesting birds and have small white flowers in the spring. 20cm -40cm growth a year with an eventual height of 4m, keep them trimmed for a lower hedge.

    4. Cornus Alba are grown for the bright red stems during the winter months, these will get to a height approx. 4m. Cut some stems back at the end of March to help keep the bright colour.

    5. Fagus Sylvatica Purpurea a mix of copper and purple colours spring to autumn. Grows to 5m with a yearly growth of 40-60cm.

    6. Lavender Hidcote – why not choose a lavender plant for a scented small hedge, Perfect for the edge of a path or small hedge at the front of a garden, growing 10-20cm per year.

    Posted 12th Sep 5:35pm
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  5. Hedging varieties for shade

    Hedging varieties for shade

    Hedging varieties for shade

    Some plants can survive with only a few hours of sun a day, whether that be early morning or late evening. Shade can be caused by a number of reasons, but to help your plants grow, plant with rootgrow to help the plant establish a good root system.

    Here is a list of our favourite hedging options for planting in shaded areas:

    1. Ilex aquifolium is most commonly recognised for its spikey green leaves and red berries in winter, this versatile plant can grow in full shade to a height of 8m.

    2. Aucuba japonica has thick glossy leaves, providing colour and structure all year and the plants will grow in most soils. Small flowers are produced in summer but the berries from autumn to spring are more noticeable. Eventual height of around 3m.

    3. Elaeagnus x ebbingei is one of the best hedging plants to use nearer the house as these plants produce white, highly scented flowers and have an attractive silver underside to the leaves. Growing 30-45cm a year its mature height can be around 4m tall.

    4. Corylus avellana is a great base plant if trying to grow a native hedge. Distinctive pale-yellow catkins can be found on the bare stems in late winter, before large soft leaves appear. One of the faster growing hedge plants, eventual height can reach up to 8m.

    5. Pyracantha make a great hedge in shade and look great against a north facing wall or fence adding vibrant colour to your garden.

    6. Taxus baccata is a dark, dense, native evergreen hedge with bright red fruit attractive to birds, and is happy in dry shade or sun.

    Posted 12th Sep 5:30pm
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  6. Conifer varieties for every garden

    Conifer varieties for every garden

    Conifer varieties for every garden

    When conifers are mentioned, most people think of the large overgrown hedges which can become the source of arguments between neighbours. However, this conifer week, we will be looking at how they can be used in all gardens as they give great colour and structure all year round.

    Low growing/ Spreading
    Prostrate or spreading conifers are ideal on a steep bank, or in areas where the soil is too poor to plant shrubs, but some green is required. These conifers also help keep weeds at bay meaning less maintenance time is required.
    • Picea pungens Waldbrunn – blue/grey with silver tinged spring growth 50cm x 100cm
    • Juniperus Blue Carpet – bright blue/ grey 50cm x 200cm
    • Juniperus Old Gold – yellow to deep bronze 100cm x 200cm

    Miniature conifers
    Yes, they really can stay small. In this case they can be used on alpine rockeries as most only grow to 40cm in 10 years. Another option is to grow them in containers alongside annuals to give an extra layer of interest.
    • Juniperus Blue Star – bright blue/grey bun shaped habit 50cm x 100cm
    • Podocarpus Kilworth Cream – bushy pale green edged with cream, pink tips in spring 50cm x 50cm
    • Picea J W Daisy’s White – conical shape, cream tips fading to green 1m x 1m

    Narrow conifers
    Narrow, Pencil, Column, call them what you like, but these conifers are great at adding height whilst not taking over your garden. These are a must if you are looking to create a Mediterranean-feel to your space.• Cupressus pyramidalis – retains dense thin shape well. 15m but can be trimmed to height easily.
    • Juniperus Blue Arrow – vivid steel blue foliage retained year-round. Compact habit with eventual height of 2.5m
    • Taxus baccata fastigiate – deep green needles. Becomes broader with age. 8m x 4m

    Interesting foliage
    Boring green flat leaves will be a thing of the past with these more unusual conifers. Great for adding texture year round to formal and informal gardens.
    • Ginkgo biloba – fan shaped leaves which turn yellow in autumn. Grows well in containers. Buy as a standard to add extra interest.
    • Thuja Whipcord – pendulous, cord-like branches. Slow growing mound. 1.5m x 1.5m
    • Pinus mugo – spiral clusters of needles. Candle like new growth in spring which can be pinched put. Reddish brown cones. 1.5m x 1.5m

    Posted 12th Sep 5:29pm
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  7. Hedging varieties for an exposed site

    Hedging varieties for an exposed site

    As well as challenging exposure to wind and rain, hedges can protect more delicate plants from coastal sea spray and snow drifts. Native hedging plants are great for use in this instance as they can establish the best of their situation.

    Try –
    Acer campestre is a field Maple hedge that can work as either a single species or mixed together with other native species. The foliage turns a lovely buttery yellow colour in the autumn. Suitable in most soils and locations, apart from full shade, this will grow to 5m.

    Sambucus Nigra has a distinctive large, flat flower head that is produced in June, followed by elderberries which can be eaten. Even though it is a deciduous shrub, leaves can drop as late as November and grow back in a good winter in sheltered locations around January. It’s a fast-growing plant, reaching an ultimate height of 4m.
    Viburnum opulus is a plant with something for every season but best in the autumn with bright red berries, which the birds love and fiery red foliage. Its best in full sun as this plant will grow to around 5m.

    Carpinus betulus has a similar look to Fagus, this semi evergreen produces green catkins spring to autumn, which then turn fruit which a number of wildlife will feast on. This plant is also very happy to grow in poor soils. Makes a great screen of up to 5m.

    Posted 25th Sep 5:24pm
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  8. Hedging varieties for full sun

    Hedging varieties for full sun

    Hedging varieties for full sun

    For hedges in full sun you also need to consider if the plant will be drought tolerant. This means the plants can handle being in direct sunlight for longer periods of time.

    Here are some of our top favourites:

    Prunus spinosa, more commonly known as Blackthorn, is a dense and prickly plant that has one of the earliest blossoms as pure white flowers against black stems appear in March. Its autumn fruits (sloes) can be made into tasty food and drink, as long as you beat the birds to them.

    Cragaegus monogyna is possibly the most recognised native hedging plant, it gets its common name of ‘May Blossom’ from the beautiful show of white scented flowers during May. Birds will then feast on the glossy red berries in autumn. This hedge is suitable for most gardens as can easily be kept between 1–5m.

    Osmanthus Burkwoodii is similar to Elaeagnus, this hedge has sweetly scented white flowers in spring, and is becoming a good substitute for Box Hedging due to it being easily cut in to a variety of shapes. Growing to 3m, this acts as a good screen for mid-way through a long garden.

    Photinia Red Robin is one the best alternative hedges, this is quickly becoming popular in gardens due to the fiery red show of the new leaves growing up to 4m. Trim in spring and summer to help make a denser hedge and continue the colourful show.

    Posted 25th Sep 5:23pm
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  9. Plants good enough for Alan Titchmarsh

    Plants good enough for Alan Titchmarsh

    Plants good enough for Alan Titchmarsh

    We recently donated over £500 worth of plants to ITV’s Love Your Garden.

    Plants included Lavenders, Geraniums, Alchemilla, grasses and many more varieties.

    The team transformed Jim Cowlings’ garden in the Yorkshire Dales into a personal retreat for him and his family. Jim was diagnosed with prostate cancer at 57, and went through lots of trail therapy, he now campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of regular check-ups.

    This is the third round of donations we have made to Alan and his team at ITV’s Love Your Garden this year with a following two to DIY SOS.

    Posted 5th Sep 10:58am
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  10. Johnsons helps keep village’s mining heritage alive with plant supply

    Johnsons helps keep village’s mining heritage alive with plant supply

    Johnsons helps keep village’s mining heritage alive with plant supply

    We have supplied more than £5,000 worth of plants to help renovate a local community garden.

    1,000 plants, including shrubs, grasses and trees, were planted by a team of volunteers in Pegswood, Northumberland, on the grounds at the junction of Front Street and Longhirst Road.

    The garden, which has been designed in collaboration with award-winning garden designer Sean Murray of Garden Narratives, and contractors PH Partnership, reflects the mining and brickworks heritage of the village.

    The design includes 24 oak sleepers, reflecting the 24 fathoms depth of the first coal shaft that was sunk in the village, and the themed flowers will include iris coal seams and canary bird roses.

    A retaining wall uses rubble from a number of old buildings in the village and there will be as many Pegswood bricks within the garden as possible.

    Funding for the project was secured from numerous sources by Pegswood Parish Council.

    Johnsons of Whixley’s Ellie Richardson said: “Johnsons has a proud history of supporting community projects in our community and beyond, and we’re proud to have been able to support the construction of a new community garden.

    “We value the history and heritage of our own village, so it’s pleasing to be able to help another village pay homage to theirs.”

    Pegswood Parish Council chairman, Paul Williams, said: “This is a project that we’ve been talking about for some time now.

    “This community garden is intended to inform people of our history, while providing a great focal point for residents today and into the future.”

    Johnsons of Whixley is a family-run horticultural nursery with roots tracing back almost 100 years. The business is today recognized as one of Europe’s largest commercial suppliers.

    Posted 25th Sep 10:41am
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  11. New till system for Johnsons of Whixley cash & carry unit

    New till system for Johnsons of Whixley cash & carry unit

    New till system for Johnsons of Whixley cash & carry unit

    As part of our ongoing investment programme we have recently concluded a project to update our Plant Centre EPOS (Electronic point of sale) Software. Our new iVend software offers improved functionality, an improved interface and greater compatibility with our main SAP Business One system.

    New cash & Carry Manager Luke Richardson, previously Johnsons’ southern area sales rep, has worked for the business for 12 years and has experience of working with some of the company’s largest customers.

    He said: “Our £12k investment is significant and means that we can have a system that ensures greater stability, better reporting and – above all – a smoother and more efficient customer shopping experience.

    “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in my previous role and I’m proud for what we achieved in a very successful period. The opportunity to manage the cash and carry division wasn’t one I could refuse, and I look forward to the challenge. Rob has built a strong foundation and I’d like to build upon that success.”

    Posted 12th Sep 3:46pm
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