News

17th May 2021

Welcome back

Welcome back

Following the change in the Covid-19 restrictions on May 17th we are again able to welcome customers to eat inside the cafe although we still have our paved or lawned area where all the tables are a safe distance apart. We have launched our Summer menu with lots of NEW tasty dishes. When ordering please wear a face covering, keep a safe social distance and scan the NHS track and trace QR code when entering. Please check our social media for the latest updates.

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12th May 2021

15 Garden Tips for May

15 Garden Tips for May
  1. If you have summer bulbs like dahlias and cannas growing in pots in your greenhouse, start hardening them off by putting them outside during the day and bringing them back inside at night time. 

  2. In mild areas, plant up pots and hanging baskets with colourful summer bedding.

  3. Start sowing seeds outdoors for summer colour, including sunflowers, nasturtiums, poppies and cornflowers.

  4. Once spring-flowering shrubs like forsythia and Japanese quince have finished, prune them to keep them to a neat shape. Prune spring-flowering Clematis Montana if necessary to keep it to size. Tie in climbers like honeysuckle and clematis into supports as they grow.

  5. Sow courgettes, runner beans and French beans in modules or individual pots undercover. They’ll be ready to plant out in a few weeks.

  6. Keep earthing up potatoes for heavier harvests, stop light getting to the tubers, and turn them green and poisonous. There’s still time to plant seed potatoes this month too. 

  7. Sow basil seeds now in pots in a greenhouse or on a warm, sunny windowsill, ready for planting outdoors next month.

  8. For a regular supply of leaves for delicious summer salads, sow lettuce, and other salad leaves every couple of weeks.

  9. You can plant tomato plants in greenhouse beds or grow bags now, but wait until the night-time temperature is reliably above 12°C (54°F) to plant tomatoes outdoors. Remember to harden off outdoor-grown tomatoes before planting them.

  10. Slugs and snails are active now, so go on a slug and snail hunt in the evenings, armed with a torch and a bucket to collect them. Or protect your plants with slug traps or environmentally-friendly slug pellets

  11. Water container plants regularly during dry periods and feed flowering plants like geraniums and petunias fortnightly with a high potash feed (tomato feed is ideal). 

  12. Once tulip, daffodil and bluebell foliage has died back, cut it down to ground level. Now’s a good time to lift and divide spring bulbs to encourage them to spread.

  13. Install a rainwater butt to save water and water in the mornings or evenings to reduce water loss through evaporation. 

  14. Trim hedges, but check for nests first - remember that it’s illegal to disturb nesting birds. 

  15. As the lawn starts to grow, mow regularly to keep it looking neat, and trim border edges with edging shears.

Our centre is crammed with everything you need for your garden, from gorgeous plants and seeds to stylish and comfortable garden furniture. Visit us and get your garden set for a great summer!

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21st April 2021

Watching garden birds in spring

Watching garden birds in spring

Birds are at their most active in spring, making nests and raising their young, so it’s the perfect time to do a bit of bird-watching. Here are a few of the birds you’re likely to see in your garden, plus some tips on what to feed them to make sure they keep coming back. 

Blackbirds

Male blackbirds are easy to identify – they’re black, with a bright yellow beak. Female blackbirds are less noticeable, with brown plumage. Blackbirds eat insects, worms, berries and fruit. They are mainly ground-feeding birds to come to food placed on bird tables or the ground. Try putting out dried mealworms and uncooked oats to attract them.

Blue tits and great tits

Blue tits are small and colourful, with blue, yellow, white and green markings. Great tits are slightly bigger, with yellow and green plumage. Both eat insects, caterpillars, seeds and nuts, and are welcome visitors in gardens, where they eat quantities of aphids in spring. 

Blue tits and great tits will visit hanging bird feeders filled with seeds and nuts, tending to snatch a few seeds and take them elsewhere to eat. 

Robins

With their bright red breasts and confident manner, robins are a familiar sight in our gardens. They are very territorial, chasing other birds away from their space. Robins eat worms, seeds, insects and fruit, and they love sunflower seeds and mealworms. They are primarily ground-feeders, so although they may occasionally visit a hanging bird feeder, they will prefer feeding tables. 

Goldfinches

Goldfinches are tiny birds with bright red faces and yellow markings on their brown wings. Their beaks are perfectly designed for extracting the seeds from plants like teasels, thistles and dandelions, so leave a few dandelions growing in the corner of your garden to attract them. Hanging up a nyjer seed feeder will also help bring goldfinches into your garden, as they love the tiny black oil-rich seeds.

Song thrushes

Song thrushes are slightly larger than blackbirds and are largely brown with a black-speckled underbelly. Gardeners love thrushes because they eat snails, bashing them against a rock to break the shells. They also eat worms and fruit. To feed thrushes, soak raisins in hot water to plump them up and put them out on feeding tables, along with berries. 

Tips on feeding garden birds

Make your garden more bird-friendly with these simple tips:

  • Plant berry-bearing shrubs and ivy to provide birds with food and shelter

  • Keep feeders topped up to avoid birds making wasted trips, especially in winter.

  • Put out water for birds to drink and to wash in.

  • Clean feeders regularly, scrubbing them out in hot soapy water to avoid bacteria build-up that can spread diseases.

You’ll find everything you need for your garden birds in our centres, including feeders, bird food and bird-friendly plants. Come and visit us today!

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16th April 2021

Cafe and Tea Room now open!

Cafe and Tea Room now open!

Following the change in the Covid-19 restrictions on April 12th we are now again open. We are able to sell food to be able to be eaten outside of the cafe either on our paved or lawned order. Our menu has changed for this period until the next change in the rules which may happen during late May. We are still serving tasty food, tea, coffee, cold drinks and cakes / slices. When ordering please wear a face covering, keep a safe social distance and scan the NHS track and trace QR code when entering. Please check our social media for the latest updates.

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31st March 2021

15 gardening tips for April

15 gardening tips for April

April’s here and spring really is in the air. Spring bulbs are flowering, leaves are appearing on trees, and the air is full of birdsong. Things are starting to happen in the garden too, and there’s plenty for gardeners to do to get ready for the year ahead. Here are our top 15 gardening tips for April.

Top 15 Gardening Tips for April

  1. Weed beds and mulch with compost or well-rotted farmyard manure to improve the soil structure. This helps your plants cope better with both wet and dry summer weather.

  2. Feed your roses and tie climbing and rambling roses back to supports. 

  3. Once spring-flowering shrubs like Viburnum x bodnantense, forsythia and Chaenomeles (Japanese quince) have finished flowering, prune them to keep them looking tidy.

  4. Hard prune dogwoods like Cornus sibirica and Cornus alba so that they will produce lots of brightly coloured new stems for next winter.  

  5. Deadhead any faded daffodils and tulips, but leave the foliage to die back naturally before cutting it off

  6. Water houseplants more frequently as they start to put on growth.

  7. Watch out for pests like aphids and slugs and tackle them early before they damage your plants.

  8. As the weather warms up, keep on top of weeds by regular hoeing, and dig up perennial weeds like dandelions and docks with a hand fork.

  9. Plant herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses to fill gaps in the border. Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials, using the sharp edge of your spade’s blade to cut through woody roots.

  10. Now that there’s less risk of sudden frosts prune penstemons, cutting stems back to new growth lower down.  Pinch out the growing tips of fuchsias and sweet pea seedlings to produce bushy plants with plenty of flowers.

  11. Add wildflowers to your borders by sowing hardy annuals like cornflowers, love-in-the-mist and Californian poppies, or create a mini-meadow in your garden with a wildflower seed mix.

  12. Sow broad beans, carrots, beetroot and parsnips outside now. You can also sow Brussels sprouts and other brassicas into seedbeds outdoors. Indoors, sow runner and French beans, squash, cucumber and courgettes in small pots. 

  13. If you have tomato seedlings growing in the greenhouse, pot them on into larger pots as they grow. If you haven’t sown any tomatoes yet, there’s still time to do it this month.

  14. Plant early potatoes in the vegetable garden or in grow bags or large containers on the patio.

  15. Get your lawn ready for summer by giving it a spring feed and aerate it by spiking it with a garden fork or hollow tine aerator. 

Get ready for a great year of gardening! Visit Willowbrook Nursery and Garden Centre and stock up on seeds, plants, tools and all your gardening needs. Our friendly staff will be happy to help you.

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19th March 2021

Prepare your Spring garden

Prepare your Spring garden

Wondering how to prepare your spring garden? As your bulbs pop up through the soil, you will know that spring is definitely in the air. The birds will be singing and beginning to search for nesting spaces, and there will be more days with blue skies and warmer sunshine than we’ve seen over the winter months. Spring is truly food for the soul as we each feel like we are coming out of hibernation and getting ready for the months ahead. Here is how to prepare your spring garden. 

Prepare your Spring garden and check your soil 

As you start to notice your bulbs popping up through the soil, you know it’s time when the garden is ready to burst into bloom.

  • Your soil may need some fresh nutrients to ensure it is replenished, ready for planting and growing in the seasons ahead.
  • If you didn’t give it fresh mulch in autumn, now might be the time to get a good application of well-rotted organic matter on your garden or allotment.
  • Don’t cover or mulch too close to young shoots. 

Clear away Winter debris to prepare your spring garden

After the wet and windy months gone by, your garden may need a tidy up. Clear away any fallen branches, leaves and other debris, plus remove any dead, diseased or old plant foliage. Not only will that get you off to a good start in spring, but also it will give your bulbs the space they need, and you’ll be able to see them blooming much better. 

Prepare your Spring garden with lists

Before you get too far into the spring, when seedlings are sprouting, plants need planting out. All the busy garden work starts. Make sure you write your plans on lists, label your plants, including your bulbs, because that way, when they finish flowering, and the foliage dies back, you will know which bulbs were growing where and you can plant around them without accidentally digging them up. 

Summer colour needed to prepare your Spring garden

These flower bulbs can all be planted in spring to make sure your garden is full of colour in the summer:

  • Dahlias,
  • Lilies,
  • Nerines,
  • Freesias.

There is no need for any bulb flowering gaps if you keep on top of the planting. Bulbs can be planted in pots and containers or beds and borders and bring so much to the garden with joy, colour and fragrance. Happy spring! 

Spring gardening tools, summer flowering bulbs and much more can be found at Willowbrook Nursery and Garden Centre. 

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11th March 2021

Helping hedgehogs

Helping hedgehogs

Sometimes helping hedgehogs is necessary if they need it, especially when they come out of hibernation during springtime. Hedgehogs are an essential part of the garden, plus they are just wonderful to spot amongst the plants. Did you know that hedgehogs eat some garden pests? This can really help you to keep your garden thriving and pest-free. Occasionally, hedgehogs need an extra special hand if they are injured or young and unable to feed. There is plenty you can do to give a hand to the happy hedgehogs in your garden. 

Helping hedgehogs with homes 

There are a few ways to make homes for your neighbourhood hedgehogs, from pre-built ones that you can purchase in many shapes and sizes to getting your tools out and making your own DIY hedgehog box. Hedgehogs like to rest in quiet areas that are also dry. If you create a log or leaf pile and leave a gap under your shed, you may well find a hedgehog enjoying it. If you don’t have any natural areas, buying or making a hedgehog box is really helpful. 

Creating ‘highways’ for helping hedgehogs 

Hedgehogs can roam for up to a whole mile each night! That’s quite some distance for a little creature as they rustle through the undergrowth looking for food and safety. If you make a ‘highway’ you are allowing them to roam freely and find the places that they need. Leave a gap at the bottom of your fence or a small hole, especially so they can climb in and out. If you like in a neighbourhood with lots of close gardens and fences, you could even run an initiative to get everyone to do the same, and you could all be enjoying watching your local hedgehogs travelling along your highway. 

Helping hedgehogs with food and water 

Leaving shallow dishes of water out near to places where they will hide, such as log piles, holes and hedgehog homes, is an easy way to ensure they have some freshwater for their evening travels. Hedgehog food can be bought as well, which will be the ideal mix of nutrients to keep them thriving, or you could put some cat or dog food out as well. They will be very thankful. 

Hedgehog numbers are in decline, so it is a perfect thing to help them as best we can to stop them from declining further. You may notice little footprints or droppings, so you know a hedgehog has been in your garden. If you find one that is injured or struggling somehow, there are dedicated wildlife organisations that can take them in and rehabilitate them before releasing them back into the local environment. 

We can help you with food and items needed to provide homes for your hedgehogs in our pet shop. 

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5th March 2021

15 garden tips for March

15 garden tips for March

With daffodils in flowers and leaf buds swelling on branches, spring is definitely in the air again. Get your garden into shape for the year with our top gardening tips for March.

Top gardening tips for March

  1. Now’s the time to plant your chitted first early potatoes. (You can also plant unchitted potatoes, but chitting them will give you a better harvest.) Plant onion sets, too, covering them with netting to stop birds pulling them up.  

  2. Once the daffodils have finished flowering, deadhead them. Leave the foliage to die back naturally so that the plants can store enough food in their bulbs to produce next year’s blooms.

  3. Dig up large clumps of snowdrop clumps while their leaves are still green and divide them into smaller clumps for replanting. This will encourage them to spread.

  4. Choose a day when the grass is dry, and cut your lawn on a high setting.

  5. In parts of the country with milder climates, you can start sowing seeds outdoors towards the end of March. Hardy annuals like Californian poppies, Nigella, cornflower and nasturtium can all be direct sown outdoors now, as can carrots, parsnips, radishes and broad beans. If the ground is still frozen, sow them indoors in pots instead.

  6. Sow tomato seeds and chillies indoors in pots, and put them in a greenhouse or warm sunny windowsill to germinate and grow.

  7. Plant summer-flowering bulbs like gladioli, agapanthus and lilies in pots indoors, ready for planting out once the frosts are over.

  8. If you haven’t pruned your bush roses yet, do it now, cutting away all dead, damaged and crossing branches, removing spindly growth and cutting the remaining stems down by a third to a half.

  9. Prune mophead hydrangeas, cutting back last year’s flowering stems to the first strong buds below the dried flowerheads.  Prune fuchsia, too, cutting back last year’s flowering stems to one or two buds from the older woody growth. 

  10. Lift and divide big clumps of perennials like daylilies, agapanthus and hostas. Lever fibrous clump apart using two garden forks inserted back-to-back in a clump. Use a sharp knife or the cutting edge of a spade to divide woody roots. Dividing overgrown perennials will rejuvenate them and gives you extra plants.

  11. Feed roses with general-purpose fertilizer and blueberries, camellias and rhododendrons with ericaceous fertilizer.

  12. Clear weeds from borders and dig compost or well-rotted stable manure into your vegetable beds to get ready for spring planting.

  13. Put in plant supports now, while your plants are still small, and it’s easier to work around them. As the plants grow, they can be trained into the supports.

  14. Get ready for summer by installing a water butt connected to a downpipe to collect the rainwater from your roof.

  15. Top-dress shrubs in pots by removing the top 5cm (2in) of old compost and replacing it with fresh.

Visit Willowbrook Nursery for tools, seeds and all your gardening needs, and get your garden looking great this spring!

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18th February 2021

Top 10 scented plants

Top 10 scented plants

Find out our top 10 scented plants and enjoy the spread of natural scent in your garden. We have a wonderful range of plants with a nice fragrance. Fill your garden with scented plants and your garden will not only look fantastic but also smell fantastic! 

1. Honeysuckle

The sweet fragrance of Honeysuckle brings a heady scent to the garden. Not just beautiful with flowers varying from white to cream and salmon pink but also a wonderful climber, ideal for pergolas and archways. It’s especially good where you might be able to sit near or walk by to fully appreciate it, along with the many beneficial insects that it will attract. >>>

2. Lemon Balm (Available later)

One of the most fragrant of herbs and great in a cooling glass of water to refresh you on a hot day in the garden. Lemon Balm is very easy to grow and ideally in pots or contained well, as it is similar to Mint with respect to taking over. Lemon Balm can be used to calm and ease anxiety as well. 

3. Nicotiana (Available as seeds)

A wonderful annual for beds and borders and highly fragrant in the evening time. Protect seedlings and young growth from slugs and snails, otherwise, they are really easy to grow. A variety of colours from lime green to white, pink and red. You will even find some moths are attracted and will put on quite a display at night. 

4. Lilac Bush 

The stunning Lilac gives out an incredible late spring fragrance with pretty flowers, perfect for using in baking or sprinkled on flowers. Often used for hedging, they just need pruning after flowering and watering when first planting. >>>

5. Daphne

The sight and smell of Daphne is a staple late winter/early spring plant for the garden. The clusters of pinkish flowers can be smelt quite far away so they are great for entrances, driveways and anywhere you walk by to breathe in the beauty. >>>

6. Eucalyptus (Available later)

Not just for bouquets of flowers! Eucalyptus looks great in the garden, especially in pots. Trim the stems and hang up in your home. Not only smells great but even helps medicinally as well. 

7. Gardenia

The pretty white flowers of Gardenia are unmistakable not just for their beauty but for their gorgeous fragrance. They grow well in containers when planted in ericaceous compost and if you stand your container by the front door, it will be an entrance full of perfume. >>>

8. Sweet Box

A welcome sign in late winter, as the flowers dangle from long stems with glossy foliage. But it is the fragrance that will really hit you. The wonderful sweet fragrance that is a sign of the garden coming alive again for the seasons ahead, is most welcome. >>>

9. Rose

The classic fragrant garden plant! With the many many varieties available there is a rose for everyone. From the intoxicating 'Chartreuse De Parme’ to the now becoming well-known fragrance of 'Chandos Beauty'  >>>

10. Stocks (Available as seeds)

The cottage garden favourite, Stocks are incredibly fragrant with pretty flowers and full of colour. Equally, they look perfect in a bunch of flowers as they do in pots. 

Get sowing your seeds, nurturing plug plants and fill your garden with fragrance from our range of seeds and plants in store. Happy Gardening.

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4th February 2021

Top 15 gardening tips for February

Top 15 gardening tips for February

In February, you can really sense that spring is just around the corner, with snowdrops and daffodils starting to appear and buds swelling on the trees. Please make the most of dry days with our top 15 gardening jobs for February.

Top 15 gardening tips for February

  1. Prune winter-flowering shrubs like Mahonia and Viburnum x bodnantense as soon as they’ve finished flowering, to keep their shape neat.

  2. Prune bush roses now while they are still dormant. Remove spindly growth and any dead or crossing branches, then cut the remaining stems down by half, cutting just above strong, outward-facing buds.  Use a sloping cut so that rainwater drains away from the growing buds.

  3. It’s time for your wisteria’s first pruning of the year. Prune last year’s long whippy stems to within 3-4 buds of the main stems.

  4. Prune fuchsia and buddleja, cutting fuchsias back to one or two buds from the old wood, and buddleja stems back to about 30cm (1ft) above ground level.

  5. Once deciduous grasses like Deschampsia and Calamagrostis start to look bedraggled, cut the dead foliage back. (Leave Miscanthus and Pennisetums until later in spring.) To keep evergreen grasses like Carex and Festuca looking good, comb through with your hands (wearing gloves) to remove dead foliage.

  6. Cut back epimediums to remove old dead leaves, so that the new flowers are easier to see when they appear.

  7. Cut back Cornus sanguinea (Dogwood) to 15cm (6in) above ground. This will promote the growth of new, brightly coloured stems for next winter.

  8. Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries now before the new growth starts. Cut all canes down to ground level.

  9. February is a good time to plant new shrubs and trees, as long as the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged. Water new trees in well and stake after planting.

  10. Once snowdrops have finished flowering, dig up big clumps, divide and replant to encourage them to spread.

  11. From mid-February onwards, start chitting first early seed potatoes.  Place the potatoes in a bright, frost-free spot indoors, with the buds pointing upwards. They should start to sprout shoots and be ready to plant in 4-6 weeks, once the shoots are about 2cm (1in) long.

  12. Get your seeds organized by sowing month, so that it’s easier to remember to sow them on time.

  13. Start sowing seeds indoors. In late February, sow summer favourites like tomatoes and cucumbers in small pots place them on a sunny windowsill or in a greenhouse to germinate.

  14. Clear weeds out of vegetable beds and dig in compost.

  15. On a dry day, spring-clean glasshouses and cold frames, washing them down with warm soapy water to get rid of lurking pests and diseases.

Get your gardening year off to a great start. Whether it’s tools, plants or seeds you’re looking for, you’ll find everything you need in our centre, so visit us today!

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