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Mulching with manure

Posted on February 18, 2017 by David Fairley | 0 comments

In some of the gardens we maintain that have very clay based top soil we struggle to keep the garden imaculate. We know this and don't like it and takes away the lovely joy and satisfaction you shoud get looking after flower beds. Also a customer can be disapointmented, so a differnet direction is needed, the problem is the top soil in the flower beds. We need to make managing the flower beds more efficent, speeding up the the time it takes to weed them, to create the additional time that we normally have at our other large gardens we maintain. With the result of keeping the essential maintenance imaculate and then gives us the time for some extra planting, mowing, stimming, and keeping the gravel drive neat too.


The is a good reason at our other contracts the soil is good, and easy to work. When soil is very 'clay based', so it becomes hard and dry like rock, and ehen it is wet it is so heavy to work. This means that we have to dig the weeds out of the  flower beds with forks or spades every time a weed needs to be extracted, and this takes a lot of time, also it is not enjoyable for us. When you have a lot of flower bedsto manage, a situation of every time we have weeded every flower bed, the bed we began three weeks ago then needs doing again, a never ending process. This then leaves very little time for the pruning, hedges and spraying, and no chance to improve the gardens. In most of our gardens the soil is loam based, this just means over time the clay is worked down into a lighter top soil that is easy to dig even when compacted, we then only dig it over properly once a year in Winter to de-compact the soil. The key bit here is we then use hoes to weed the flower beds, this is a very efficent and quick process to keep the flower bed clear of weeds.It may take 5 times longer to dig weeds out than using a hoe, and in your garden you can not use a hoe at all.


All is not lost! The only way to improve your soil is work lots of your own compost and farm manure into the clay soil, this makes the soil gradually softer, lighter, into loamy soil. This however takes years of doing it to have a significant effect, and you may need a quicker solution. This is still farm manure, but not compost as it is too light. This is to stop the digging which takes up so much time from April to December, this will free significant time away from the flower beds. To do this we need to mulch thickly the flower beds with 'well rotted' manure, similar to mulching with wood chip, which you often see in new housing estates / supermarkets (we can use wood chip but this is expensive compared to manure, and still needs regular topping up, like with the manure). Wood chip normally is not very pretty as it ages. The manure also feeds the plants! This manure will then get dug into the soil in the Winter time. Then we need to re-mulch the flower beds once a year in Winter.


The manure needs to be well rotted, with any straw well rotted into the dung. This means it is pleasent to look at when it is just sitting on top of the beds, important as it will be next to your lawns/patios. All mulches do not stop the weeds, but make it more difficult for the weed to germinate, so less weeds. The weeds that do germinate in the mulch, are then much easier to get out than the comparison of digging a weed out of the rock hard clay. Once the mulch is down we will still have to do weeding, but using much less time than we have been on weeding in the growing season.


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Improving your Herbaceous borders

Posted on November 09, 2016 by David Fairley | 0 comments

The biggest and most valuable job for improving the garden in the Autumn is dividing herbaceous plants to improve the choice, placement and size of the blocks of these plants in the borders. These herbaceous plants spread side ways getting bigger, which is great as they fill the borders. But if a block of a particular plant grows into the lawn/hedge/next block of plants in the border we need to reduce the size of the block. The size of the blocks of plants need to be proportionate to the next block of herbaceous plants (and shrubs next to them too), this means each  genus or species of plant has a similar visual impact to the next. So some of the blocks of plants are to small (partly as some plants spread / grow slower than others) so we lift them out and divide them into smaller chunks creating

more plants, they are then replanted (with rich compost) to increase the size of the block. This process often gives us excess plants, here we can then create another block of the same plant in the garden where needed, only if it is a good plant to repeat. If the is already enough of one species or genus of plant we will swap plants with other customer's gardens where we are carrying out this same process. 

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Dividing Plants To Improve The Garden

Posted on October 31, 2016 by David Fairley | 0 comments

Now is the time of year when you should be dividing your herbaceous plants if necessary. The Dividing of plants is however not something that needs to be done every year, but is very rewarding if you put the effort in. Lifting herbaceous out of the ground is to be done for two varying reasons, either to bulk up the flower bed or more commonly to reduce an amount that has out grown its space in a garden border. 


Reducing a clump of Herbaceous plant is widely accepted as the most common reasoning behind dividing plants. This occurs usually when a herbaceous plant out grows it's space in a border, growing into another plants given space resulting in the border beginning to becoming messy and wild in appearance, rather than uniform. An example of this being Alchemilla mollis also known as lady's mantel, which although produces a fantastic yellow flower for most of the year self seeds a lot and spreads at an fast rate. So for this example with Alchemilla mollis, when it or similar Herbaceous plants out grows its space, you will need to dig out the plant with a fork working outwards from the crown of the herbaceous plant.



Then make sure that you gently shake off any excess soil so you can see the root clearly. This is then where some plants vary. some plants can easily be pulled apart gently by hand whereas others will need the effort of two forks to separate some plants. Once you have separated the herbaceous into even size clumps, you need to replant the desired amount to re fill the space. Excess clumps from the original plant use can then be put elsewhere in the garden or given away to friends.


Increasing your size of Herbaceous plant by bulking up a clump is very different on the other hand. Instead of being used to thin a clump of herbaceous which has out grown its space and into another plants space, the idea of bulking a clump happens when you have a herbaceous perennial in a flower bed which hasn't been able to fill the space it has been planted in. Or you may have a well filled clump that you want increase the size of because it will make the overall design better, contasting better against other large clumps of herbaceous or shrubs behind the herbaceous area.



When you have newly planted out a border or even a section within an established border, it takes time for the plants to mature and fill their spaces given. Some Herbaceous grow quickly and spread well, here you can be pleased that your design is fulfilling the idea. Other plants that are not so helpful in this respect, many Geums as an example! The original Geum plants must be lifted out of the ground, lets say you have planted three to begin with. These three will have increased in size, and you can divide each one into three again to make nine smaller plants. I suggest that you should not make the newly divided plants too small, as they need to take again well, and plants divided too small may struggle to do this. Once you have your nine plants to go back in, dig the soil well and add compost in preparation of planting. Place the nine clumps or root balls of herbaceous plant evenly in the required space, and plant them in the bed, firming the soil thoroughly to ensure they can not come out. Lastly water thoroughly, being Autumn, it should be cool to mils and wet, so you should be able to leave the newly divided plants to get going themselves! If there is an unusually dry Autumn, then water regularly enough to keep the soil moist.


Opportunity to remove fibrous perennial weeds such as Couch Grass or Ground Elder. While you are pulling apart your plant for division, this is the best opportunity to remove fibrous roots that otherwise will not be tempted out of you plant when its in the ground.


Some examples of Herbaceous that need dividing regularly to keep them under control





Geranium (not all)




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Thinking about a delivery cost

Posted on July 27, 2015 by David Fairley | 0 comments

Delivery charges at first seem very off-putting, but I want to explain to you why our delivery charge actually gives you great value for money! Now don't laugh, with modern websites such as Amazon offering low or free delivery charges, we do now like expect to that this should be a standard part of our lives.

We offer a delivery and packaging charge of £8.99, now this is the same for buying one plant from us or up to twelve plants. This is the result of being given a standardized size of cardboard box that we can send and fit as many plants in, safely, to you! This size is determined by our courier company.

So we try and persuade our customers to buy several plants, up to twelve two litre pot sized plants to access the best possible value from our delivery service. The additional benefits of plants being delivered to you, begins if you do not have a car, then if you do have a car your first part of the day is spent making a stop at the petrol station. Where we would suggest, that the cost of the fuel for driving to your nearest garden centre is similar or more than our cost for our delivery service.

If you have a fun, busy, or just a packed out life with family and friends then making enough time to go to the garden centre is just not very realistic! Even if you have a spare afternoon do you want to take two or three hours out of your weekend to pick up plants? So for arguments sake, you have headed down to your garden centre, and picked out some plants. You probably will have noticed half the county or city have joined you, as it's Saturday, we suggest this not the most relaxing experience and certainly not a relaxing atmosphere to choose from the hundreds of varieties of plants on offer.

After rugby tackling a few random strangers to get to the odd interesting species of plant on offer, your nerves now are at the end of what they can handle! Frankly you have probably ran out of the garden centre back to the car screaming, after deciding your far to fed up to pick between the different plants. Or you have grabbed whatever plants you think will suffice at the time just to get out of there, dreaming of more calm surroundings and trying to avoid the headache that is building after trying to work out the best choice of shrub to fit in next to the Buddleja that has been in the corner of the garden for years.

Now we must get to the practical side of buying plants. After purchasing your new horticultural dreams, your now carrying them back to your car. Trying dramatically not to snap stems, drop pots and finnaly then the realisation that your lovely clean car is going to get a good coating of compost in the boot. At this point we wonder, or suggest and have come to the conclusion ourselves, that the thought of having someone else get the plants to your house would be a lovely thing to happen. 

So we know we can and will not win everyone over on this, but while your neighbour spends the whole of their Saturday afternoon going through this process you could be drinking Gin & Tonic and entertaining over the BBQ while your plants are delivered to your front door!

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