Author Archives: Chloe McLachlan

Why so popular?

Our home grown cyclamen are always our best selling plant in autumn and winter but what makes these tiny plants so popular?

Cyclamen are a tuberous plant and as such are perfect for naturalising under trees or banks in a shady border. What this means is over time (years) the plant will duplicate underground, producing more tubers and consequently they will cover a larger area with flowers and leaves. They flower for a very long period when really there isn’t many other flowers about. Best of all is that these plants are really hardy meaning that they can survive frosts.
To get the best from your cyclamen, plant them soon after you get home. Simply remove the plant from its pot and plant in a fertile well drained multi purpose compost with added John Innes. You always plant to the same depth as the soil was in the pot. We love planting cyclamen in planted containers for the autumn and winter and then when the plant dies back in spring, transfer the plants to your borders and under trees. They then give you a nice surprise next autumn when they reappear in their new position.
Cyclamen are available in white, red, shades of pink and purple.
Available from both our Exeter garden centres while stocks last. Please call 01392 873672 to check stock levels before making a special journey.

Spring flowering bulbs

Now’s the time to plant spring flowering bulbs

The majority of spring bulbs benefit from being planted early from September onwards. Even though tulips should not be planted until November it is best to buy them now so you guarantee getting the varieties you like. Planting tulips later in the autumn helps reduce the risk of the fungal disease commonly called tulip fire. 


So what are ‘spring bulbs’?

Well they aren’t light bulbs but they are a similar shape! Flower bulbs are a modified plant stem, which have the purpose of storing food and water for the plant through the cold or dry season. Think of it as an underground holding tank if you will. During the growing season the bulbs will send down roots and send up shoots. These then die back and the energy stored in the bulb until the following year. Bulbs are a great investment as they cost far less than plants and if cared for correctly, should give you years of pleasure and surprises as they pop up!

Planting spring bulbs is an easy way of achieving a colour coordinated spring display. They are also perfect for planting in tubs and containers or in borders. 


How to plant

On the back of each of our bulb packets you will find a handy diagram showing you how far apart and how deep to plant your bulbs. Most bulbs are easy to identify which way they go up. If you use the light bulb image in your head – the bulb goes down and the tip/screw end goes upwards – just like in a ceiling light! Generally you plant bulbs three times their own diameter in depth. It is advisable to use a bulb fibre compost when planting your bulbs. 


What varieties?

We have lots of varieties in stock, from old favourites to new and exciting hybrids. So come and see what takes your fancy and get planting this weekend!


Making a bulb lasagne

If you want to know how to make your own bulb lasagne, take a look at our blog post from November  Here


Get out in your garden, maintain what you have and enjoy the great outdoors

It is August, children are still on school holidays and so this month we focus on getting out in your garden, maintaining what you have and most importantly enjoying the great outdoors.





  • Although we have had a few showers your plants may need a bit of watering if it has been hot so keep an eye on fruit and vegetable plants in particular.
  • Whilst you have your watering can out don’t forget to top up your pond, water features and bird baths too.
  • If your summer flowering shrubs have finished flowering, now is the best time of year to give them a prune. Make sure your secateurs are nice and sharp and carefully clean the blades when you have finished using them.
  • If you have any camellias or rhododendrons, we suggest giving them extra watering as they will be setting their buds for next year.
  • Keep dead heading the flowers on your perennials and summer bedding plants to get the most from them.
  • Trim your lavender plants after they have finished flowering to prevent them getting tall, leggy and woody.
  • Get children involved in weeding and clearing away any diseased and dead parts of plants. Maybe they could earn some pocket money for each bucket they fill? We have a lovely range of children’s gardening gloves in stock to help with the job.
  • Give your crops a feed with a high-potash fertiliser (such as Tomorite) crops to feed will include sweetcorn, cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines and peppers.
  • Start harvesting your maincrop potatoes and store in hessian sacks that exclude light but allow air to flow through.
  • Replace any colour gaps where your summer bedding may have ended. New season autumn bedding plants are arriving weekly to include our gorgeous home grown cyclamen as well as violas, pansies and garden mums (Hardy Chrysanthemums).
  • If your onion and garlic foliage is yellowing and flopping over it is time to lift them and dry them.
  • Pick your beans regularly to prevent them becoming stringy and from going to seed.
  • Turn the compost in your composting bin.
  • Get children involved on a pest hunt. What beneficial and non-beneficial insects will you find? If you find any ‘nasties’, come and visit us as we have lots of control methods (mechanical, biological and chemical) in stock and can help advise. Particular nasties to watch out for include slugs, aphids, lily beetles and vine weevils.
  • From your sunlounger you may want to start thinking about what spring flowering bulbs you would like next year. We will soon be receiving our supplies and you need to get planting them in September to October for best results.



Get Creative with Ornamental Grasses this August


From dainty Blue Fescue Grass to majestic Miscanthus, ornamental grasses provide texture, character and form; unmatched by many other hardy perennials.

In large borders grasses can be planted in bold groups or striking drifts, but many varieties perform well in large patio pots, positioned where their individual shape and arching form can be fully appreciated. Popular grasses for pots include compact Blue Fescue Grass (Festuca glauca Blaufuchs) and Slender Sweet Flag ‘Ogon’ (Acorus gramineus Ogon), or taller varieties of Miscanthus such as Miscanthus sinensis Strictus).

From green to gold, purple to a host of patterned and variegated forms, ornamental grasses come in a wide range of colours, sizes and growing habits. As well as selecting grasses to suit your colour scheme always consider their other qualities. We like positioning grasses close to paths and seating areas so you can run your hands over their feathery foliage and flowers as you pass.

Taller grasses will add movement to otherwise static displays, catching a summer breeze to add interest and catch the eye. Growing to around two metres in height, the bold form of Golden Oats (Stipa gigantea) is a real showstopper! Or if space allows, try planting a statuesque clump of Pampas Grass, and enjoy their feathery plumes right into winter.

Ornamental grasses offer great value, and produce long-lasting displays in any garden. Large individuals have a real presence, taking pride of place in beds and borders, while colourful planting combinations can be created with flowering perennials like Rudbeckia and Ice Plants (sedums).

Acorus gramineus Ogon



  1. Be generous and plant grasses in drifts or bold groups rather than as lonely individuals.
  2. Some large potted grasses can be divided into two or three pieces at planting time, each with roots and shoots attached.
  3. Grasses grow well in patio pots, but make sure tall varieties are planted in large, heavy pots to prevent them blowing over in strong winds.
  4. Line terracotta pots with plastic from old compost bags to help conserve moisture.
  5. The tops of some perennial grasses, like miscanthus, die over winter. Promptly cut away all old growth to avoid damaging new shoots that start emerging in early spring.
  6. Many ornamental grasses can be raised from seed. Annual grasses like Bunny Tails (Lagurus ovatus), Greater Quaking Grass (Briza maxima), Purple Millet (Pennisetum ‘Purple Majesty’), and Squirrel Tail Grass (Hordeum jubatum) can be grown from spring sown seeds.

Different ornamental grasses in the garden.



Ornamental grasses fit into many different planting designs, but few better than the prairie planting style made popular by garden designer and plantsman Piet Oudolf. Here are just a few suggestions of great planting companions for ornamental grasses.


  • Achillea
  • Asters
  • Astrantia
  • Bergamot (Monarda didyma)
  • Rudbeckia
  • Centaurea
  • Echinacea
  • Gaura
  • Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’
  • Herb Fennel
  • Ice Plant (Sedum spectabile and other varieties)
  • Liatris spicata
  • Knautia macedonica
  • Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’
  • Turkish Sage (Phlomis russeliana)

    Schafgarbe; Achillea; millefolium, Heilpflanze

National Garden Gift Voucher Photography Competition

National Garden Gift Voucher Photography Competition


Running from 19 June until 13 October 2019, the HTA is holding a public photography competition as a fun way to keep gardens and gardening in people’s minds over summer and autumn.


The competition requires six garden themed photos to use on the National Garden Gift Voucher wallets and cards.You may have noticed some of last year’s winning images on the front of the gift voucher wallets and gift cards! You can view last years winners by clicking  here



Of course with any competition there are prizes to be won. They are as follows…

  • The grand prize winner will receive a framed print of their photo, National Garden Gift Vouchers to the value of £500 and 2 tickets to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2020.
  • Five winners will each receive a framed print of their photo and National Garden Gift Vouchers to the value of £100.
  • Highly commended entrants will each receive a £10 National Garden Gift Voucher.


All you need to do is take and submit your photos to the website

If you’re interested in taking part, all the information you need to enter and submit photos is on the National Garden Gift Voucher web site.



Anyone in the UK or Republic of Ireland can enter by uploading photos and registering contact details before the closing date on 13th October 2019.

July – In the kitchen garden

On the Vegetable patch

  1. Reduce water loss: do this by mulching and hoeing.
  2. Sow the final seeds: turnips, beetroot, carrots, spring carrots and radishes can all still be sown.
  3. Plant out: broccoli, cabbages and leeks can all be planted into firm soil now.
  4. Tomatoes: pinch out side shoots and feed with Tomorite once a week.
  5. Aubergines: remove growing tips after there are 5 fruits on the plant.
  6. Courgettes: remove the growing tip and pick young fruit regularly to allow more fruits to grow.
  7. Runner beans: harvest beans regularly to stop them from becoming stringy and to allow new beans to develop.
  8. Check plants often for diseases, blackfly & butterfly eggs and remove anything you find including dead foliage.

tomatoes on plant

Fruit plants:

  1. Watering: give the plants a good soaking in dry spells. Especially those with swelling fruit such as apples.
  2. Net! Net around fruit plants so that the birds don’t steal all of your harvest.
  3. Thin fruit trees; this will help to produce a larger yield.
  4. Feed any fruit plants in containers with a high potash feed such as Tomorite.
  5. Prune; apricot, peach, plum, cherry and blackcurrant plants can be pruned once you have taken your harvest.

Cherries hanging on a cherry tree branch.

New range of cold water, tropical and pond fish July 2019

Exciting news, we have a whole new range of Tropical and Pond Fish at our Clyst St Mary Aquatics Centre, available from 19th July 2019.





Calico Telecope Moors

Calico Ranchu



Cobalt Dwarf Gourami

Red Honey Gourami

Male King Betta

Male Plakat Betta

Male Super Delta Metallic Betta

Denisonii Barb

Bronze Corydoras

Peppered Corydoras

Bristlenose Catfish

Pim Pictus Catfish

Blood Red Parrot Cichlid

Marbled Angelflsh

Panda Red Head Angelfish

Red Tailed Black Shark

Rainbow Shark

Silver Shark

Coral Red Mickey Mouse Platy

Sunset Wagtail Platy

Asst Female Guppy

Red Snakeskin Male Guppy

Snow White Male Guppy

Albino Ice Blue Mbuna

Acei White Tail Mbuna

Lemon Tetra

Dwarf Brown Frog (“Hymenochirus sp.)

Black Axolotl 10cm

Assasin snail


Pond Fish

Goldfish 5-7cm

Shubunkin 5-7cm

Shubunkin 10-12cm

Green Grass Carp 10-12cm

Golden Orfe 7-10cm


All our livestock are quarantined for a minimum of 7 days prior to sale. If there are any fish of interest to you, please call (01392 876281) to check stock and avoid any disappointment before making a special trip. On occasion, livestock may be held in quarantine longer than 7 days if they do not meet our strict quality control criteria.

Read more about our aquatic department here.

Gardening jobs for July

Lawn care

  • Fertilize: feed your lawn a fertilizer to promote healthy growth.
  • Weed: weeds grow fast in the hot weather so weed or apply a weed killer.
  • In hot weather, try to keep the lawn watered when possible and reduce stress on the grass by mowing with a higher blade.

Flower garden

  • Cut back growth of the following;
    Perennial border plants, hanging basket plants and Penstemons. This will keep borders and baskets looking neat and tidy and will also encourage more growth!
  • Dead-head roses unless you want rose hips.
  • Train and tie climbing plants.
  • Support any tall growing herbaceous plants by propping them up with ready made stands or bamboo canes with twine!
Trailing petunias look great in a hanging basket.

Colorful petunias flowers in hanging flower pot at sunrise.


  • Make daily checks on plants in the greenhouse. Water in the morning or at dusk to reduce water loss.
  • Dampen the greenhouse floor to increase humidity on hot dry days.
  • Open vents to allow ventilation.
  • Clear up faded, dead and fallen leaves or flowers as these can spread    fungal  disease if left to build up.

green house in the home garden, planting cactus nursery.

General Garden Tasks

  • Water containers and baskets, try to use water from water butts when watering as much as possible. Buy one in store now.
  • Top up bird baths, especially in the hot weather!
  • Watch out for pests and disease: slugs, aphids, vine weevils, lily beetles and many other pests are around at the moment– keep a watchful eye out for these so that you can combat them as soon as possible!


New range of Tropical and Pond Fish July 2019

Exciting news, we have a whole new range of Tropical and Pond Fish at our Clyst St Mary Aquatics Centre, available from 5th July 2019.


Pearl Gourami

Odessa Barb

Albino Cory

Leopardus Cory

L008 Peckoltia

Firemouth Cichlid

Tiger Oscar

Euro Ram

Pinoy Blue Angelfish

Golden Severum

Red Tailed Black Shark

Clown Loach

Neon Tetra

Harlequin Rasbora

Blue Rainbow Fish

Female Guppy

Blue Neon Guppy Male

Red Top Platy

Blue Mickey Mouse Platy

Red Leopard Molly

Halfmoon Male Betta

Dumba Ear Male Betta

Crowntail Copper Male Betta

Dwarf Puffer

Dwarf Rasbora

Cardinal Tetra

Blue Lobster

Bamboo Shrimp

Zebra Snails

Julii Cory

Short tailed Black male betta

Bumblebee Platy



Yellow Comet Goldfish 10-12cm

Shubunkin 5-7cm

Koi Butterfly 7-10cm

Goldfish 5-7cm


All our livestock are quarantined for a minimum of 7 days prior to sale. If there are any fish of interest to you, please call (01392 876281) to check stock and avoid any disappointment before making a special trip. On occasion, livestock may be held in quarantine longer than 7 days if they do not meet our strict quality control criteria.

Read more about our aquatic department here.

Drought tolerant plants

With the recent beautiful sustained sunshine we’ve been having; lots of our customers are asking about drought tolerant plants.

There are numerous plants that can tolerate dry conditions and make excellent colourful garden features. These plants have developed ways of coping with drought conditions – including fleshy, hairy or waxy leaves, silvery or grey leaves and even reduced thin grass-like leaves or thorns.

We recommend looking at Ceanothus, Ceratostigma, Cistus, Cytisus, Euonymus, Hebe, Lavender, Rosemary, Red Hot Poker, Catmint and Sea Holly. Of course there are many others to consider so have a think about what you are looking for or ask one of our experts for advice if none of these are quite right for your needs. Our nursery staff are always very obliging, happy to help and share a wealth of knowledge should you need some advice.

Bear in mind that nearly all of them only become drought tolerant once they are well established. So, water them in well after planting – give a good soaking every week or so rather than little and often. This ensures that they become established as soon as possible.

Applying a thick mulch of bark, cocoa shell or gravel after planting will help insulate the roots from hot, sunny conditions and maintain soil moisture. Remember to lay down mulch only when the soil is already moist, as it will ensure a good level is locked in from the start.

For all your garden needs, visit one of our Exeter garden centres today.


Happy gardening everyone!