Thursday, 16 August 2018

The UK Heatwave - Coping with the heat

The UK Heatwave - Coping with the heat

There had been warnings over the past few weeks about the hosepipe ban on the 5th August of just those in the North West, however after checking the United Utilities website (https://www.unitedutilities.com/) This was confirmed to have been called off and in the aftermath we are still being told to keep our water usage low until the stored amounts of water are able to be replenished.

However, despite the recent “scare” I thought it would be a good topic to write on, "how to cope for a sudden drought", which is what happened early this July. Many gardeners feared their plants wouldn’t be getting enough water without a hosepipe but there are certain things you can do to ensure that your plants stay hydrated and happy.

In a hosepipe ban it is not banning you from watering your plants, it just means that you aren’t allowed to use the wasteful hosepipe! Filling up watering cans to take for your plants is perfectly fine.


Watering

Our number 1 top tip for watering plants in droughts would be the timing of when you water the plants. Established plants will usually require watering about twice a day to make sure they do not suffer from lack of water; meanwhile more established plants can be watered about once a day. The best time to water your plants would be either in the evening or early morning before the main sun and heat kicks in.

By watering your plant in the evening this means you are giving the plant a chance to absorb all the water in the soil while the temperature is still cool ready for tomorrow. If you start watering the plant in the middle of the day it can form bad habits for the plant where it will start to expect water during the hottest part of the day causing wilting if/when it doesn’t get watered.


If you are going away on a trip and think you may not be able to water the plants for a day, another trick is if they are a potted plant to sit them in a saucer of water and give them a good amount of water before leaving. 
This will allow the plants to absorb the water from the bowl without it saturating the roots of the plant and they can go much longer without a water before needing topping up.

Obviously, watering is the main concern in a heatwave and while making sure the plant is watered correctly, why not go that one step further and look into mulching. Using either Compost or a Layer of Bark can help to trap moisture in the soil, by taking the harsh sunlight during the day stopping the soil from having to face the sun and dry out meaning the plants absorb as much moisture as possible from the soil.

Another (albeit somewhat obvious) point to mention would be if you have any potted annual plants that you think may easily dry out in the sun, to move them into a shadier area of the garden or if this is not possible then you can always pick up some shade netting that will help give the plants a break from the sun.



For all up to date information about whether you are affected please always double check this at www.unitedutilities.co.uk or your local supplier.

Thank you very much for reading this blog, if you have any questions or are just looking for a bit of advice then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Zach Henshaw
01565 723831

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Groundcover plants


Groundcover plants

Below is a list of plants that we suggest using as “Groundcover”, and what we mean by groundcover are plants that are often used in areas beneath large trees or to cover up large areas of ground that would usually be inhabited by weeds and other undesirable plants!

The first section will be for areas that have access to lots of sun throughout the day, while the second section will be for the plants that prefer shaded sites such as areas covered by large trees etc.

All the plants listed will have links to where they can be found on our website.

Groundcover plants for the sun:

Geranium – a staple in most gardens, it looks best when planted as either a groundcover plant or shown off in hanging baskets as their trailing stems will droop over the sides of the basket. While these plants prefer full sun they can also be incorporated into partially shaded areas as well.

Geraniums are a simple plant to grow as is the case with most plants on this list, once planted just make sure the plant has enough water.


Campanula - As with most plants the Campanula has many different variations that will change the colouring of the flower and shape, but the one thing that will remain constant is that this plant is amazing for groundcover in sunny spots. If you are looking for a mixed border, then this plant mixes well with most other groundcover variants if you are wanting to get a good variety of flowers popping up in your garden.



Hebe – coming in a variety of colours the humble Hebe stakes its claim in many borders simply because of the many different varieties that are available depending on the colours that the plant leaves have as well as the many different flower colours that come from the plant.
If left alone the plant could reach a height of 120cm so it would be a good idea to keep this trimmed down if you wish to keep it as either a low growing hedge or just as groundcover.


Cotoneaster – Most varieties of Cotoneaster have dark green glossy leaves depending on the variety and can be grown into different shapes, one of the more popular ways to grow this plant is to trim it into a half standard tree and due to the foliage, it will act like a weeping willow tree and droop down creating an extremely interesting plant especially when it is producing berries!




Groundcover plants for shaded areas:

Heuchera – One of the most well-known plants for groundcover mostly because it has leaves that can show of the plant in many different colours with different varieties, for example just on our site at the time of writing we have two varieties, one called Lime Marmalade, and another called Georgia Plum, one as you can see below is a bright green colour and the other has beautiful rose-purple coloured leaves!




These plants can come in all sorts of colours from bright reds to green/yellow and all sorts of colours in between so they are one to look for while planning for a shaded garden if you want to add a splash of colour to your border!

Bergenia – Otherwise known as pigsqueak or elephants ear are very nice and leafy plants that are clump forming. Usually with Bergenia’s the flowers stand up looking almost like candles. They are not a fussy plant, growing in most types of soil so long as it has plenty of nutrients and water.
Its alternative names are given to it because when the leaves of the plant are rubbed together they squeak and the name elephants ear was given to it due to the size of the leaves.
These plants do not grow very tall making them the perfect plant for the front of your border to show off its flowers and cover that section with its large leaves



Vinca – Ideal for groundcover as the Vinca only reaches around a maximum of 10cm in height and spread out from itself covering the ground surrounding it with bright green leaves and many pretty coloured flowers, this can be planted in a mixed border for maximum effect as it will cover the soil if you are going for larger woody stemmed plants that won’t cover the soil enough to supress weeds!


Ivy (Hedera) – Commonly known to be a climbing plant the Ivy also works amazingly well in a mixed border; the plant will soon grow over the ground stopping any weeds from coming up as well as adding a splash of green to your garden! Coming in many different shades and being variegated this plant is sure to be one of the best-looking plants to add into your border!


I hope these suggestions and a little look into each of these plants will prove helpful in your search for the perfect border plant, if you have any questions or would like a suggestion for your area then please do send myself an email and I will be more than happy to help!
Thank you
Zach Henshaw - zach@grasslands.co.uk

Thursday, 10 May 2018

The Great British Garden

In this blog we will explore what plants are used to create a picturesque “British Garden” We will be covering the main plants you think of such as Yew and Box (Buxus) Hedging to name two of the most “British” hedges.


Let’s start by looking at probably the most Iconic British hedging type, Box or “Buxus”, I am sure that even if you do not know the name of the plants you will recognise how they look. The varieties we stock “Sempervirens” have small dark green leaves that not only make for a perfect hedge, but also these plants are perfect for shaping into different Topiary.


More than likely the topiary plant you have seen will have been crafted from this plant (and a lot of patience!) since this plant is a very slow growing plant to get to its Ultimate height of near 5 Metres tall.
Due to the nature of these plants they are becoming tougher and tougher for Buxus plants to be grown successfully thanks to diseases such as Box Blight.
However, if you have the time and patience to look after this plant as it gets started then you will be rewarded by an extremely neat hedge that not only does a great job of screening but also looks fantastic as well!

Now the next plant we will look at is another Hedge, this one is called a Yew (Taxus Baccata) and can be planted as both a free-standing tree and as a hedge and will look stunning in both settings, no doubt you will have once again heard of this classic tree.


The Photo above is newly planted yew that will soon grow into a magnificent hedge.

This plant is an extremely hardy plant and is very easy to grow into a hedge, if you are wanting a flexible plant that will fit in anywhere and will look very formal, again like the Buxus plants this is commonly clipped into any shape or height.

There is a burst of growth in both Spring and Summer however you will not see much growth outside of these seasons, although in Winter you will be treated to the sight of the classic squidgy red berries that form and are an essential food for birds throughout Winter!

In summary for a great formal hedge that has been used in Britain for many years, this is the hedge for you!



Another common hedge found in many gardens the Holly hedge can be a prickly customer but the dark green leaves and bright red berries that form will create a dense and great looking hedge that is definitely one to consider for any garden. The Holly is more resistant to "clay" soils compared to our other plants on this list making it an extremely versatile plant no matter your garden soil type.


Depending on the specific variety you get then you may see some Hollies with softer leaves however if you look on our website Grasslands.co.uk then the "Traditional" Holly you are after are the Ilex Aquifolium Alaska as it is the best form for fruiting on the plant and for prickly leaves.


Moving away from hedging and looking more towards the flowering plants that would fit into a British garden, Wisteria is a great climbing plant and looks great as a free-standing tree.


Wisterias are an extremely hardy and vigorous growing plants with twining stems, they flower with lots of brightly coloured flowers, depending on the variety picked, the colour can differ but will no matter what will add a splash of colour into your garden!


Lavender (Lavandula) are traditional perennials that are perfect for potting or planting in a border to create a short Dwarf Hedge. They have thin silver-grey or green leaves with masses of lovely violet and blue flowers that famously attract butterflies and bees.


They are extremely common in British Gardens for a reason, because of how versatile they are and their smell. When planted on mass the plants will turn your garden into a heaven of fragrance!
The largest Lavenders can reach up to 100cm tall! But of course most gardens would prefer to keep this plant at a smaller height.

Thank you for taking the time to read through my blog on a few recommendations of plants, if  you have any questions regarding this blog please do get in contact with myself. My email address is zach@grasslands.co.uk and for more plants to add to your garden please visit our website at Grasslands.co.uk

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Prunus Lusitanica or Portuguese Laurel Plant – Plant Study


The Portuguese Laurel(Prunus Lusitanica)  is an extremely hardy evergreen plant that will Thrive no matter what condition soil this is planted in, this plant may sound familiar to yourselves as it is quite obviously shares its name with the extremely popular Cherry Laurel plants (Prunus Laurocerasus).

While these two plants sound similar they certainly do not look alike, with smaller and darker green leaves that can give the plant a great “formal” look.
Commonly used in hedges it will look very attractive and create a great screen all year round. This plant is also very popularly used as a standalone tree like the one below.



The Portuguese Laurels are a slow growing variety of Laurel meaning that for anyone wanting a Portuguese Laurel hedge may need quite a lot of patience, 15cm per year of growth if they are in good conditions means you would be waiting a long time for your new hedge.

Despite its slow growth, “all good things come to those who wait” and you will truly get an amazing hedge! As the final heights of the plant can well exceed a height of 12 metres and widths of 8 metres wide!

Being so hardy the plant really doesn’t have many types of diseases, there would only be a couple of the big ones that affect most leafed plants such as a ‘Powdery Mildew’ or ‘Vine Weevils’, they are both common problems. To control powdery mildew, making sure the soil has been mulched and watered will reduce as much stress on the plant as possible and can help it naturally fight the infection. You can also make sure to destroy any fallen infected leaves to cut down on the number of infectious spores near to the plant. For any infected shoots, the best thing to do is to prune them out as soon as possible and destroy the cutting.

For Vine Weevils there isn’t any natural cure for the plant such as cutting off infected leaves, there are many insecticides all aimed towards Vine Weevils. Please follow all instructions on the label of the insecticides for best results.

Looking on our website at our different Portuguese laurels will surely prove useful as we do try to put on measurements of the different dimensions and sizes of the plants that we offer along with the specifications for planting. Please follow the link below to see all of our Portuguese Laurels:


Thank you very much for reading and if you have any questions regarding the plants on our website or any general questions regarding Portuguese Laurel Hedging including diagnosing your laurels if you suspect anything is going awry, I will be glad to answer them!

Best Wishes

Zachary Henshaw – zach@grasslands.co.uk


Wednesday, 14 February 2018



We get asked this question a lot “What plants should I use on this new build house I am creating?” More than likely you have a few Ilex shrubs or maybe a Birch/Maple tree outside or even a full Laurel hedge! Can you imagine how bare your house front would look without the foliage populating your garden?
This Blog is going to be aimed towards helping those of you who aren’t sure on what plant to get that lush green look, without it soon turning into a jungle to manage!
Right off the bat, if you are looking for hedging, nothing looks quite the same as a new Cherry Laurel Hedge, soon growing into a full established hedge once the plant has reached the desired height a light bit of trimming and your new hedge should look fantastic and is great for screening off new gardens.
If you are interested we do have an existing blog all about some of the common diseases for Cherry Laurels and how to care for the plants here.
Nothing looks quite as good as topiary plants, you see them in famous places such as the Palace of Versailles (pictured the palace gardens below)
Versailles

With proper care, as you can see, the topiary plants make the garden so stunning. For this new build, you will not be looking for the same amount of topiary plants (unless you are building the next palace of Versailles, but you might want to consider the same shapes of topiary.

Buxus Hedging is so versatile and in a cone, cube, ball or spiral shape it really can make your garden stand out, it doesn’t have to be Buxus that is used as you can use plants like Ilex or Yew! Lollipop Trees are a popular form of Topiary as well, Lollipop is an informal term used widely to describe the shape of the tree (you can see why from the photo above!)
Now you have a suggestion for a hedge and some great specimen plants to bring attention to the garden, you may just want some basic shrubbery groundcover.
Suggestions for common shrub groundcover:
Lonicera –a useful bushy, evergreen shrub. A great alternative to box hedging, it has densely packed small oval leaves and creamy white flowers in Summer and it does grow faster than box as well. It is excellent as it can be planted anywhere and has a high tolerance of clipping as it is fast growing.
Lonicera

Cornus- Or dogwood are deciduous shrubs with bright showy stems. They bear lance-shaped mid green leaves which have beautiful autumn colouring and small, star shaped flowers. Flowers are followed by loose cluster of strawberry like berries.
Cornus

Lavender – A classic plant that I am sure you already had in mind but were just a bit unsure on whether it fits in? But with its silver-grey leaves with masses of lovely flowers that are so attractive to butterflies and bees it will fit right in with whatever plant you have
Lavender

Euonymus – Grown for their attractive colourful foliage and autumnal colours. The leaves are simple and vary in both shape and colour between different species. Be sure to take a peek through our selection to find the colour you are wanting!


Skimmia - Perfect for planting in a border. Bearing small star-shaped flowers in spring, some of which smell fantastic. These are followed, on female plants by round fleshy, red to black fruits.
 Skimmia rubella Close up
These are just a few of the plants we have that would fit into a shrubbery, if you see anything else on our site that you find and would like to know a bit more about then please do get in touch with myself and I will be glad to answer any of your questions.
Best Wishes
Zach – zach@grasslands.co.uk

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

How to achieve the Japanese garden of your dreams!

What plants we suggest to give that “Japanese garden feel"

Okay, so you have been looking online at these great photos of gardens but not seeing the names of the plants being used and it's leaving you a bit stuck?
Well the aim of this blog is to point out and give you a little bit more info on a few of the more popular plants that will give you more of a traditional Japanese Garden. So, as you would expect we will be covering Bamboo, bonsai trees and a few others that may or may not take you by surprise...


Bonsai Trees.
To kick things off let’s start with one of the biggest items you would be looking at for your new garden. It would have to be a bonsai tree, but not just any old bonsai tree, not the typical dwarf indoor bonsai trees (while they are nice) this must be a sculpted piece of artwork that will take the breath away from onlookers and is refined to the point that it is the most impressive and center-most part of your garden.



Now of course there are many different routes you could go down for this look, where you could buy it outright (which let’s face it will put quite a dent in your pocket). Or you could start off with a small Ilex Crenata or Buxus and trim it into shape yourself as the plant grows. Note that this method will require a lot of time and patience!


Now we move onto Bamboo, this is probably what most people think of and want for a traditional Japanese garden. Sadly it has earned itself a bit of a bad name as the "invasive plant"but in fact there are so many varieties of non-invasive clump-forming bamboos, you will be spoilt for choice!

 In terms of impact the bamboo hedge can really tie a garden together, used commonly either as hedging or as a shrub to be grown as a specimen (perhaps potted)  it works extremely well. We believe that this looks better however as a hedge as it will screen away unpleasant sights such as old fence panelling or perhaps give privacy from a nosy neighbour while also creating a lushious amount of green!



However your garden looks, Bamboo is almost a must for getting an oriental feel. Here are a few different bamboo types that should cover all your bamboo needs!

Yang is recognised by her bright yellow wood and bushy light green foliage. It represents the sunrise and the day.

Fargesia murielae or'Yin' symbolized by his dark green black wood the setting sun and the night. Great for hedging and standalone feature. New none spreading form reaching up to 3m. To maintain balance and harmony you ought to find room for Yang.

Phyllostachys Aurea - golden groove bamboo - Clump forming stiffly upright bamboo with grooved canes, bright mid-green at first, becoming brown yellow when mature. Narrow pointed yellowish to golden green leaves. Usually thought of as an invasive bamboo, when planed correctly and tended can be a great looking non-invasive clump-forming bamboo.

Phyllostachys Nigra stunning black canes that start early life as a very dark green before maturing, set against dark green, lance shaped foliage, height can reach 5m


This is probably the most iconic “Japanese” plant we have on this list. Okay that may be a little too much praise. Nonetheless it’s the tree everyone knows and should be an integral part of your new garden, not to mention in any small part it is considered the national flower of Japan!
These plants are very richly symbolic and hold great meaning with many cultural aspects from parts of Buddhist faith and culture. While I do not have time to go into the impact Flowering Cherry trees had in Japanese culture, I can safely say they are a must for your garden whether you are making a themed garden or even if you are just interested in a great looking tree!



Acer Palmatum also known commonly as Japanese Maples, just from the name you can tell they should be a plant to include in your garden checklist! These brightly coloured plants are deciduous meaning come winter they will look a little bare, but that is a small price to pay for the enormous amount of colour you can get from them the rest of the year.
There are commonly two variations of this plant being either a non-dissected or a dissected plant, now it can seem a little confusing but the only difference between the plants are the shapes of the leaves. Some people say that the dissectum varieties can hold their colours for longer or appear more vibrant, but the final decision it should mostly come down to personal preference over the shape of leaf.



Evergreen ground cover
Now you probably have a good idea of some of our larger plants that we say to include in your garden, but we move on now to the Groundcover section. This is usually an area that you can pick whatever you wish to a degree, I would only say they should be evergreen shrubs so that they cover the ground throughout the whole year. I have a couple of suggestions that usually fit in well to get you started thinking of the plants:

Japanese Azaleas – as a small evergreen shrub this plant fits in extremely well no matter the garden and with you not needing to do anything for them they can fill up space nicely and will produce tubular flowers of different colours depending on the variant you go for.




Pieris Japonica – Another common staple in a lot of gardens and shrubberies this evergreen plant can come in a variety of different colours from a silver to a bright green, again the specific variety does depend on what colour scheme you want, but we do have a few varieties on our site that you may wish to look through: 



There are of course more plants I could go into but we have covered the main few plants to give your garden the feeling it has come straight from Japan itself! All you need now to finish this off is a Koi pond, traditional themed archways and a section for your “Rock Garden” or a “Zen Garden”.

We hope this helps you find the garden of your dreams, if you have any questions about the plants mentioned in this blog then please do get in touch with me at zach@grasslands.co.uk.
Thank you
Best Wishes.


Monday, 15 January 2018

Prunus Laurocerasus or Cherry Laurel Plant – Plant Study


The most commonly planted evergreen hedging there is. The cherry laurel (Prunus Laurocerasus) are the classic, big glossy leaved evergreen, seen everywhere.

One of the biggest selling points for the Cherry Laurel is that they grow extremely fast, with about 2/3 foot of new growth each season, making this a plant to not take lightly for a quick instant hedge! If planting a hedge, you will soon find it nicely dense and tall.

This plant is one of our hardier plants, the only thing that you need to keep an eye on is that they do not enjoy is sitting in waterlogged soil. If they are sitting in waterlogged soil you won’t see much of a difference in them except they may look a little bit sad and drooped.

The Laurel as mentioned above is hardy meaning that for Trimming/Pruning, you could do this multiple times a year, with 2/3 foot of new growth each year it is almost necessary. March is a good time of the year to look at pruning if the plant is getting too large as being springtime it gives the plant a good chance to grow back, while trimming can be left until a bit later in the year around June-September time. While trimming your plant into shape try not to cut through the leaves as this can leave the plant looking fairly unsightly!

Now, like all plants there are a few diseases that can affect them despite being such a tough cookie! Powdery Mildew, Leaf spot fungi and Bacterial Shothole, these are just the more common diseases, usually these diseases leave the plant looking like it’s been shot by a shotgun with lots of little holes in each of the leaves and irregular edges.

For treatment of these diseases there are special chemicals you can spray that can defend your plant to stop infections like this happening, however once the plant has been affected there is little that can be done to "cure" it. Laurels are naturally hardy plants, meaning a little bit of pruning to remove the dead/unsightly leaves can be good and neaten your hedge, however avoid any heavy pruning as this will just place a strain on the plant and hinder its own natural ability to fight the disease.

If wet soil is a problem, then perhaps consider potentially a different plant (perhaps a Portuguese Laurel or Leylandii) or you could raise the planting bed a little to keep the roots above the water level.
In early Spring you catch the first few glimpses of the flower buds that are soon going to flower on this plant, the bud appears early spring and open in Summer to reveal a creamy white petalled flower. Combined with the fruit that is produced from the plant as a berry, coming in as bright red then changing to a black in early Autumn when more mature, this fruit looks extremely like the very common Cherry fruit.

However, do not be fooled into thinking that if “the fruit of this plant looks like a Cherry, so it must be safe to eat?” This plant is toxic to humans, so even though the fruit looks nice, do not eat it! The fruit along with the leaves and every other part of the plant will cause severe discomfort if ingested. (not something to be enjoyed in a salad!)

The plant as I have already mentioned grows at 2/3 foot per season and has an ultimate height of around 8 meters tall or in the best conditions up to 15 meters! Now that is a monster hedge and will certainly keep out unwanted eyes! But that is in the absolute perfect conditions that most average gardens may not be able to achieve. Given enough time in most soils and gardens your plant will still reach large heights, more than enough to be a great screen!

If you are reading this far then you will already mostly know what you are looking to do with your Laurel hedging be it setting up a new hedge or using it as a specimen plant, however if you are going to use this as a hedge then you should know the sizes/amounts you will need.

On our website beside every single one of our plants is a handy description of that plant along with a guide on roughly how many plants you will be needing for your area, it’s extremely easy for the non-gardening individual to put together a plan on making the garden green!


Thank you very much for reading and if you have any questions regarding the plants on our website or any general questions regarding Laurel Hedging including diagnosing your laurels if you suspect anything is going awry, I will be glad to answer them!

Best Wishes


Zachary Henshaw – zach@grasslands.co.uk