19th November 2020

8 tips to bring the outdoors inside this Christmas

8 tips to bring the outdoors inside this Christmas

Top tips to bring the outdoors inside this Christmas

  1. Add a festive touch to your flower arrangements. Combine dried seed heads with fresh flowers, or use them on their own for long-lasting displays. Teasels, honesty, echinacea and ornamental grasses have beautiful seed heads, and red rose-hips and holly berries add a seasonal dash of bright colour. Coloured dogwood stems also make a spectacular addition to flower arrangements. 

  2. To preserve the gorgeous colours of autumn leaves, make up a solution of one part glycerin to two parts water. Cut sprays of leaves when the colours are at their best, tap the cut ends with a hammer to crush them, and stand them in containers filled with the glycerin/water solution for up to a month. Once the glycerin starts to appear on the leaf surfaces, remove the sprays, wipe the leaves and use them to decorate your home. They should last for several months.

  3. If you want fresh flowers in winter, now’s the time to plant a winter-flowering shrub. Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ flowers from late autumn to spring, bearing clusters of pink flowers with a fabulous fragrance. Cut a few flowering stems and place them in a vase to perfume the whole room.

  4. If you didn’t get around to planting prepared daffodils or hyacinths in pots indoors in September, buy ready-potted bulbs and put them on a sunny windowsill to give you beautifully scented flowers at Christmas. 

  5. Few plants say Christmas like poinsettias, with their spectacular crimson flowers. To keep your poinsettia looking good, protect it from draughts and put it somewhere warm and bright, out of direct sunlight. Don’t overwater it – wait until the surface of the compost is practically dry to the touch before watering.

  6. Save autumn leaves with interesting shapes, like maple or oak. Put them between two sheets of paper and press them under a few heavy books for a couple of weeks until dry. Then spray them silver or gold and scatter them over shelves or use them as table decorations.

  7. Make a change from the traditional Christmas tree this year. A Corkscrew hazel (Corylus contorta) in a pot is like a natural sculpture with its quirky, twisted branches, ideal for hanging baubles. Or why not drape a potted olive tree or standard bay in Christmas lights? 

  8. Get the kids involved in making Christmas pomanders. Tie ribbons around oranges to give them a festive look, then press cloves into the skins and hang the pomanders up to fill the house with fragrance as they dry.

Whether you’re looking for colourful winter plants or traditional Christmas decorations, you’ll find them at Willowbrook. Let us help you make your house spectacular this holiday season.

5th November 2020

15 garden tips for November

15 garden tips for November

Whether you’re harvesting the last of your summer vegetables, tidying up your borders or planting spring bulbs, there’s plenty to do in the garden in November. Make the most of those clear autumn days with our top 15 November garden jobs.

15 garden tips for November

  1. November is the best month to plant tulip bulbs in pots and borders. There’s still time to plant other spring bulbs like daffodils, crocuses, irises and fritillaries too.

  2. Sow broad beans in the ground or pots, and sow salad leaves on sunny windowsills for winter picking.

  3. Carrots, cabbage and celeriac can all be harvested now. Harvest parsnips after the first frosts, when they will have a sweeter flavour. 

  4. Net brassicas like cabbage against pigeons, and stake Brussels sprouts to keep them standing securely, ready for harvesting at Christmas.

  5. Lift dahlias after the first frosts have blackened the foliage. Leave them somewhere cool to dry, then store them in trays, covered with a layer of newspaper or dry compost to stop the tubers drying out.  You can do the same for cannas and tuberous begonias.

  6. Clear fallen leaves from lawns and beds. 

  7. Mulch beds with compost or well-rotted farmyard manure to improve the soil structure. Put down planks to work off, to avoid compacting the soil.

  8. Put pots on pot feet to stop them getting waterlogged. In cold areas, wrap pots with fleece or bubble wrap to insulate them against frost damage. 

  9. Prune roses by a third to prevent wind rock.

  10. Keep cutting back faded perennials, but leave some seed heads for the birds and to provide winter interest in the borders.  

  11. Cut old hellebore leaves off at ground level. This reduces the spread of hellebore leaf spot and also makes the winter flowers easier to see.  

  12. November’s a good time to prune apple and pear trees (but leave plum trees alone until midsummer). Prune blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants and gooseberries now too, removing deadwood and thinning out congested branches to achieve an open goblet shape. Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries, cutting all the old canes to ground level.

  13. Leave ivy over winter, as the flowers and berries are a valuable food source for both birds and bees. It also provides shelter for overwintering ladybirds and butterflies. Don’t worry about it getting out of control, as you can cut it back in spring.

  14. Clean your bird feeders and fill them up. Oil-rich, high energy foods like suet balls, peanuts and sunflower hearts will help birds get through the winter. Keep birdbaths topped up too. 

  15. Aerate your lawn by spiking it with a garden fork or a hollow tine aerator. Cut the lawn on a high setting to see it through winter. 

Whether you’re pruning trees, planting spring bulbs or planning next year’s vegetable garden, you’ll find everything you need in our centre, so come and visit us soon.

22nd October 2020

How to harvest and store apples

How to harvest and store apples

If you’re lucky enough to have your own apple trees, autumn is a busy time of year. Delicious crisp, juicy apples are just waiting to be picked and eaten now or made into tasty pies and desserts. Here’s how to make the most of your apple harvest.

When are apples ready to harvest?

If you know what variety your apple tree is, in other words, whether it’s a Granny Smith, a Golden Delicious or some other named type, you can look it up and find out roughly when it is supposed to be ripe. Remember though that local weather and microclimates will affect how fast fruit ripens in different areas. If you’re unsure, try to pick one or two apples. If they come away easily in your hand, then they’re ripe. And if windfalls are dropping from the trees, then it’s definitely time to start picking.

How to harvest apples

To pick an apple, cup it in the palm of your hand, lift and twist gently. The fruit should come away quickly – if not, leave it for a few more days. Even on a single tree, apples will ripen at different times. Apples exposed to more sunlight will ripen faster, so those at the top of the tree, and on the sun-facing side, will be ready first. Keep picking as the fruit ripens. Use a ladder to reach the higher fruits.

If you’re picking apples for storing, take great care not to bruise them, as one bruised apple can spoil a whole batch. If you’re planning on using them straight after picking, however, the odd bruise here or there won’t matter.

How to store apples

The best apples for storing are the mid- and late-season varieties like Braeburn, Bramley’s Seedling, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. Early-season varieties like Discovery and Ellison’s Orange don’t store well, so use these soon after picking. 

  • To store apples, wrap each apple in tissue paper or newspaper and place them in low-sided boxes or trays so that air can circulate. You can also store apples unwrapped, but if you do this, it’s vital to ensure that they don’t touch each other. 

  • Store your apples somewhere cool, dark and well ventilated. Apples give off ethylene gas, which encourages fruit to ripen and then spoil, so adequate ventilation is essential to stop this gas building up.

  • Check stored apples regularly and remove any spoiled fruit.

  • Store different varieties separately, so that you can use up the ones with shorter storage life first.

We have a great range of apple and other fruit trees in our centre, and autumn is the ideal time for tree planting. Visit us soon to choose the perfect fruit tree for your garden.

16th October 2020

Help your garden birds

Help your garden birds

Wondering how to help your garden birds during the colder months? As the weather changes and many trees become bare, gardens get tidied up, and berries start to disappear. It is more important than ever to make sure your outside space is home to wildlife. Birds will need to store fat to get through the winter, and there are many things you can do to help your feathered garden friends. Here are some tips for a bird-friendly garden. 

Make a birdhouse to help your garden birds 

Get creative and have some fun making a birdhouse. Reuse old teapots, books, or wood to build a place of shelter and for nesting in the seasons to come. If you haven’t got materials to recycle, why not try a DIY bird box kit or find one ready-made. Either way, your birds will thank you for it, and you will enjoy watching them check out their potential new home in the garden. Make sure it is placed away from where predators such as cats can get to it. 

Help your garden birds with supplementary bird food

While the key to a thriving garden is plenty of diversity, planting for year-round interest and thinking about natural food sources for birds is the most important thing to do, supplementary feeding is still essential, and it is advised to try and help out. If you are in an urban or rural setting, feeding the birds is much needed and will help to keep their energy levels up. There are many types of food available from seed to fat balls and various size and style feeders as well. Keep them away from predators and enjoy watching the birds come in for a feed. 

Provide natural shelter to help your garden birds 

One of the best ways to help birds through the winter, along with food, is to provide plenty of shelters.

  • Plant evergreen shrubs and native evergreen trees so they have plenty of warmth and protection as the weather gets colder.
  • Deciduous trees and shrubs are still important, so a mix if ideal.
  • Even leave an area in your garden untouched.
  • Allow the grass to grow, and leaves to pile up. 

Help your garden birds with diversity in the garden 

For all garden wildlife, it is imperative to create a garden full of life to create a biodiverse space. This means different plants for all year interest, homes for hedgehogs and birds, ponds for amphibians and water for drinking and bathing as well—the more diverse the garden, the more insects and the more wildlife. Creating a thriving space will also give you so much interest to enjoy in the garden. 

Visit our pet department for everything you need to help your garden birds this year.

8th October 2020

15 garden tips for October

15 garden tips for October

It might feel a bit brisk outside this month, but October’s often the best time for beautiful crisp autumn weather. When it’s fine, seize the chance to get out and enjoy some stunning autumn colour in your garden. And while you’re out there, here are our top October garden jobs to keep things looking good through winter and get ready for next year.

Garden tips for October

  1. Cut back herbaceous perennials as they die down, and divide overgrown clumps of perennials such as crocosmia, daylilies and hardy geraniums. Use the sharp edge of a spade to divide woody roots, or insert two garden forks back to back to lever apart fibrous root clumps.

  2. Move tender plants like pelargoniums and citrus trees into a greenhouse or conservatory before the first frosts. Keep citrus trees away from draughts and radiators.

  3. In cold areas, lift dahlia tubers after the first frost. Let them dry, then store them in a box, covered with dry compost. In milder areas, you may get away with simply mulching heavily.

  4. Plant onion, shallot and garlic sets now for a bumper crop next year.

  5. Sow hardy pea varieties like ‘Avola’ or ‘Meteor’ outside now for early crops next year. Cover the ground with netting or spread prickly holly leaves to protect the seeds from hungry mice. 

  6. If you’re growing Brussels sprouts for your Christmas dinner, stake the plants and firm the earth well around the roots to protect them against autumn winds. 

  7. Harvest the last of your peas and beans, then cut the plants down to ground level, leaving the roots to release their stored nitrogen back into the ground. Harvest squash and pumpkins before the first frosts.

  8. Pick any unripe tomatoes and peppers and ripen them indoors by placing them in paper bags together with a banana or an apple – these fruits release ethylene which encourages ripening. Check on them regularly and remove any rotting fruits.

  9. Prune climbing roses, and reduce the height of shrub roses by half to protect them against wind rock.

  10. Scarify, aerate and top-dress lawns, then give them a low-nitrogen autumn feed. Repair damaged lawns by laying turf or sowing seed. 

  11. Raise pots on pot feet to improve drainage and reduce the risk of frost damage to both pots and plants.

  12. Now’s a good time to move existing deciduous shrubs and trees, and to plant new ones. It’s also the ideal time to plant hedges.

  13. Plant spring bulbs in pots and borders.

  14. Replant pots and hanging baskets with winter heathers, ivy, violas and cyclamens for winter colour. Plant wallflowers now too, for spring blooms.

  15. Plant hyacinth bulbs in pots indoors now to give you flowers at Christmas. Look for bulbs marked ‘Prepared for indoor growing’, which will have been given cold treatments to encourage them to flower early.

We’re here to help with all your gardening projects, so visit us soon to see what’s in stock this autumn.

29th September 2020

1L Shrub Offer

1L Shrub Offer

This Autumn we are offering 3 x 1L Shrubs for £12. With over 60 varieties to choose from you can create a whole new garden or maybe just a small border. We have picked a range that varies in foliage colour, height and flower colour, which means that you can plan your garden to have year-round colour. If planted now they will establish well before the Winter arrives and give years of pleasure. Normal 1L shrub price is £4.49.

7th September 2020

15 garden tips for September

15 garden tips for September

As the days start getting shorter and the leaves blaze red and gold, enjoy the last of the good weather as you wind down the garden for winter. There’s lots to be harvested and plenty of planning to do for next spring. Here are our top 15 gardening tips for September.

Top 15 garden tips for September

  1. Harvest French and runner beans frequently to keep them producing more. Once the plants have finished, cut them down at ground level, so that the roots can release their stored nitrogen back into the soil.

  2. Pinch out the tips of outdoor-grown cordon tomatoes once they have 4 trusses of fruit, to focus the plants’ energies on ripening the fruit.

  3. In the orchard, pick blackberries and autumn raspberries. Cut back the fruited canes of summer raspberries down to ground level and tie in this year’s strong new canes to supports for next year’s crop. Harvest plums, pears and apples.

  4. Harvest the last of the maincrop potatoes. Cut off the foliage three weeks before you harvest, to reduce the risk of blight spores infecting your spuds. Leave the potatoes to dry for a few hours before storing in paper bags or hessian sacks.

  5. Net leafy brassicas like kale to protect them from birds.

  6. It’s not too late to sow and plant vegetables. Sow spinach and spring cabbage for next year, and have horticultural fleece ready to cover the ground from October to protect the seedlings from frost. Plant onion and garlic sets now for early harvests next year. Choose onions suitable for autumn sowings, like ‘Troy’ or ‘Radar’.

  7. Pot up strawberry runners to make new plants, or cut them off to conserve the plants’ energy.

  8. Sow hardy annual seeds, including nigella, poppies, cornflower and scabious, for next year’s summer display.

  9. If you’ve been growing biennials like wallflowers (Erysimum) from seed, plant them out now so that they can settle in before winter.

  10. Plant up containers with violas, heucheras and heather for autumn and winter interest, and pop in a layer of daffodil bulbs first for spring flowers.

  11. Now’s a good time to plant new perennials and shrubs, while the soil is still warm. It’s also a good time to move existing shrubs and trees.

  12. Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials like crocosmia.

  13. Keep deadheading dahlias, roses and penstemons, and cut back geraniums and other perennials as they fade.

  14. Raise the blades on your lawnmower, and mow less often. Scarify and aerate lawns, and give them an autumn lawn feed which is high in potassium. Patch gaps in lawns with seed or turf.

  15. Plant spring bulbs, including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, bluebells and fritillaries. Wait until November to plant tulips, as the colder weather reduces the risk of disease.

We’re here to help you with your garden all year round, so come and visit our centre to find seeds, bulbs and everything else you need.

31st July 2020

Eat Out to Help out

Eat Out to Help out

From Monday 3rd August 2020 we will be taking part in the government scheme to encourage people back to the delights of eating out - all at a safe social distance.

Use the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme at Willowbrook Cafe and Tea Room:

  • to get a 50% discount on food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in (up to a maximum of £10 discount per diner)
  • every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday between 3 and 31 August 2020
  • as many times as you like

You do not need a voucher to use this scheme and you can use it at the same time as other offers and discounts. There is no minimum spend.

You cannot claim discount on alcoholic drinks or service charges, but we do not serve alcohol or add a service charge.

The discount will be automatically available to you at Willowbrook Cafe and Tea Room.

All diners in a group of any size can use the discount.

It can be used on a simple cup of coffee or a whole meal!

See you soon.

18th May 2020

Willowbrook Nursery and Garden Centre now open!

Willowbrook Nursery and Garden Centre now open!

We are now open again for all your gardening and pet requirements. We are implementing the government’s revised recommendations to help all our staff and customers remain safe while shopping during this stage of the Coronovirus COVID-19 pandamic.

While we are adapting to re-opening again after eight weeks there may be some gaps on our shelves while we get new stock in. If you are after something specific then please call to avoid an unnecessary journey as we have lots of plants that will be with by this weekend and beyond.

Although the aquatics and pet departments are open the café and tea room is still closed for the time being. This is in-line with the government’s current recommendations so we will NOT be serving any food or drink even as take-away on-site. Hopefully from early July this may change but we will be monitoring the government’s future recommendations and act accordingly.

 We will be delivering again to our local areas - Taunton, Wellington and the villages in between from Tuesday 26th May. We will not delivering during the first week of opening.

 If you have any questions, then please give us a call during our regular opening hours on 01823 461324.


Stay Alert - Control the Virus - Save Lives

12th May 2020

Re-opening since temporary closure due to COVID-19

Re-opening since temporary closure due to COVID-19



Willowbrook Nursery and Garden Centre will be opening again on MONDAY 18th MAY 2020.

We will NOT be opening on Wednesday 13th May 2020 so please DO NOT travel or try to enter our car park as we are remaining closed until 9am on MONDAY 18th MAY 2020 when our gates will be open for customers.

Before we open, we are implementing the government’s recommendations to enable all our staff and future customers to remain safe while we are at this stage of the Coronovirus COVID-19 pandamic. We will be posting pictures with some of our changes so that you will hopefully know what to expect before you arrive.

The Aquatics, Pets, Garden shop and plant area will be open, but the Cafe and Tea-Room will remain closed. This is also in-line with the government’s recommendations so we will NOT be serving any food or drink even as take-away as we are not allowed. Hopefully from early July this may change but we will be monitoring how the Coronovirus COVID-19 Pandamic changes and the government’s future recommendations and act accordingly.

From Tuesday 26th May, we will be able to deliver products to our local areas - Taunton, Wellington and the villages in between. We will not be able to deliver from the first week of opening.

We will be answering the telephones again from Monday on 01823 461324 and if you have any questions please give us a call.

Stay Alert - Control the Virus - Save Lives

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