Author Archives: Chloe McLachlan

Summer Plant Propagation

Some customers have been asking if there are any plants they can propagate at this time of year…

Well now’s the perfect time to take semi-ripe cuttings from a wide range of shrubs such as Hebes, Rosemary, Lavender, Weigela, Ceanothus and Hydrangeas.

You will need to remove 4-5 inch long cuttings from this year’s growth and pop them in a plastic bag to prevent them drying out.

Next prepare the cuttings by trimming them just below a leaf. Carefully remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting and dip the end in hormone rooting powder or liquid. You can insert the cuttings up to the lower leaf in pots of a gritty, cuttings compost (St Bridget’s No 1 compost is ideal).

Cover the pots with a polythene bag or put them in a propagator before placing them somewhere warm and sheltered (but out of strong, direct sunlight).

The cuttings should be ready to pot-on in a few weeks time. Some plants that are difficult to root – such as Rosemary and Lavender – these are best propagated from heel cuttings. Carefully tear off a side-shoot about 4-5 inches long from the main stem ensuring there’s a small sliver of bark – or heel. You can then treat the cuttings in the same way as the semi-ripe ones.

You will find everything you need for the task in our Exeter garden centres so why not visit us today?

Nearly all our plants are propagated and grown by us – in Exeter, Devon. We guarantee all our plants to be healthy and true to name and type.

How to care for your garden beds & borders this July

We’ve been asked what maintenance beds and borders need at this time of year, here is our handy how to care guide.

Many plants that have produced their first flush of summer flowers, especially bedding plants and roses, will produce even more flowers if you regularly remove the faded flowers and seed heads/pods.

Many herbaceous perennials will also produce a second flush of flowers if the flowering stems are cut right back to ground level. Those with faded or damaged leaves can also be tidied up by removing this foliage.

After cutting back, we like to feed them with a high potash liquid fertiliser this helps encourage strong growth and further flushes of flowers.

All bedding plants and anything planted from last autumn onwards, will benefit from a good soaking once a week during hot and dry weather.

Finally, we recommend adding a thick mulch of bark, cocoa shell or gravel to moist soil as it will help to conserve soil moisture and keep weeds away.

In addition to this, laying down mulch provides a great way of insulating plant roots so they don’t become scorched in the sun.

 

Happy gardening everyone!

Prune early flowering deciduous shrubs now

For plants that flower in spring or early summer AND lose their leaves in winter (deciduous plants), now is the time to prune unless you only planted them this year.

Pruning immediately after flowering allows the maximum time for development of young growth to provide next year’s flowers before the end of this summer.

 

Pruning requirements depend on the type of shrub, but all early-flowering shrubs need routine removal of damaged, diseased or dead wood. To do this you simply…

 

    • Cut out any damaged or dead branches back to their point of origin or to ground level.
    • Where the plant is really bushy and has many stems, remove a few to ground level anyway to open it up and avoid congestion.
    • Remove any weak, spindly or twiggy shoots right to the point of origin or to ground level so the plant focuses its energy on strong new shoots.

 

You should then follow the general guidelines for your specific plant.

 

  1. Deciduous shrubs with flowers on strong young growth such as Forsythia or Weigela
    Cut back flowered growth to strong young shoots lower down. Each year cut out up to 20 percent of older stems near the base.
  2. Deciduous shrubs producing new flowering growth from or near ground level like Kerria
    Remove flowered shoots back to a vigorous sideshoot. Cut back one in three stems to ground level each year.
  3. Deciduous shrubs that respond to hard pruning after flowering like Prunis triloba Cut back all the stems to near the base.

 

After pruning give your plants a feed.

St Bridget Nurseries wins National Homes & Gardens Family Business of the Year!

On Thursday 6thJune London’s Mayfair Hotel hosted the annual Family Business of the Year awards and you’ll never guess who won?!

 

That’s right, we did…. and to top it off, we were also joint runners-up in the South and South West Regional Category. Amazing! 

During the course of the evening, celebrations took place in honour of the vital contributions that family businesses of all sizes have given to enrich the UK’s economy, demonstrating a diverse range of strength, innovation, investment, passion and pride; a truly special moment in which family run businesses from across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales were exemplified and recognized. 

St Bridget Nurseries were nominated for an award at the start of the year and then joined a list of fourteen shortlisted companies for the South & South West regions. Each shortlisted company was then invited to submit a detailed entry to be judged individually. These entries covered the way in which each family business is governed, key milestones, company values, involvement of the company in the larger community and how well the company is doing fiscally.

In April, news reached us that we were one of six finalists for the region and one of three in the national sector for Homes & Gardens.

Representing St Bridget Nurseries, Tammy Falloon (Managing Director and the fourth generation of the family business) was presented the award by Anthony Gallagher from the award sponsor Easigrass. 

Tammy said “I am truly honoured and delighted to win this Family Business of the Year Award. This award not only goes to our wonderful team of staff but the teams before them who helped my ancestors build their vision and dream so I can take it forward into its next century.”

St Bridget Nurseries has been a family business since it was founded in 1925. Now in its fourth generation the business still grows over 85% of the plants it sells in the company’s two Exeter based garden centres. When asked what makes the business so special; Tammy answered: “Everything, you will have to visit to see! It’s the people. We’ve been in business for over 90 years. We’ve survived two generations of ‘only children’ so luckily succession planning went well and now we are a rare but strong Mother & Daughter team. We wouldn’t have gotten where we are today without the support and loyalty of our wonderful team of staff. Many of which have been with us for 30 plus years!”

Anthony Gallagher, Managing Director of Easigrass who sponsored this award adds “This is a fabulous family firm that is well on the way to becoming a family business centenarian, combining strong family values with those of the business to create a winning formula. The family are passionate about what they do, take pride in their heritage and offer great customer service.  Now run by the fourth generation where everything they do is with a smile on their faces and strong ties to the local community”.

Paul Andrews, Founder and Managing Director of Family Business United explained: “St Bridget Nurseries are worthy winners and as a family firm after four generations they remain strong in innovation and ambition and continued investment in their business.”

Later Paul concluded, “It’s a privilege to organise these awards and to find out more about the fantastic people behind the family firms that are the backbone of the UK economy.  St Bridget Nurseries is one such firm – a great family business, a great family business ambassador having grown from just an acre of land in 1925 to over 40 acres today and worthy recipients of the Homes & Gardens Family Business of the Year Award 2019.”

We are absolutely delighted to have taken part in this entire process from nominee to hailed winners and we thank you our loyal and wonderful customers for all for your support without which we couldn’t have done it!

 

National Gardening Exercise Day

We discovered that in America there is a National Gardening Exercise Day!

We love anything with the word Gardening in it and we know that ‘Gardening is Good For’ You so we are spreading the word. Depending on how much ‘oomph’ you give it, gardening can give you a really good work out, building muscles, burning calories as well as giving you therapeutic benefits of working outdoors.  If you are going for a big session, remember to stretch your muscles first.

Gardening activities that are fantastic for working your muscles and for burning calories include hand weeding, digging, planting, pruning, hoeing, mowing (with a push mower) and raking.

As you are moving around your garden and bending up and down you will be doing a lot with your body, increasing your heart rate. You’ll also find that gardening can be a great stress buster too, take all your frustrations out on a few weeds and enjoy the sound of birdsong and relaxing fragrance from your plants.

  • To get the most out of your gardening workout we suggest you
  • 1. Warm up (stretch and then start slowly)
  • 2. Try to use your hands equally for example when raking of shoveling switch your hands on the handles and the side you are working on every 10 minutes.
  • 3. While you garden take deep steady breaths
  • 4. When you lift things bend your knees and tuck the load in close to your hips. Lift with your legs not your back.
  • 5. Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • 6. Enjoy yourself and do a few more stretches at the end.
  • 7. Sit and relax in your garden

So what are you waiting for? Plant some plants, pull those weeds and start gardening today.

#GardeningExerciseDay #GIGFY

Green ‘pea soup’ water in ponds

Lots of customers are having problems with their ponds because the water is turning green. Green ‘pea soup’ water in your pond is awful but alas, it can be treated.

Caused by algae growth more often than not, this problem is usually due to a lack of aquatic plants – or the wrong balance of plants. However there are other contributing factors to consider.

What to do about it

Start by making sure the pond is stocked with plenty of oxygenating plants – usually one bunch for every 2 square metres of water surface.

Other plants are also essential for healthy, clear water; for instance you could add plenty of marginal plants. These are best planted around the edges and will cover at least one-third of the water surface such as waterlilies.

Taking these steps will help keep the water cool and shaded from sunlight – preventing rapid algae growth.

Other points to consider are a build-up of rotting vegetation and other material in the water such as fish food from overfeeding. Both are key reasons that lead to unwanted algal growth.

To keep this at bay, remember to always remove leaves and other plant debris floating in the pond and don’t overfeed your fish.

Another way to improve the situation is by adding organic barley-straw or an algaecide to the water (always read the label first and check suitability if you have fish in the pond).

If all else fails, the best way of keeping the water clear is to install a pond pump and filter.

If you’re not sure what will work best for your pond then ask our expert staff for advice – we’re here to help. Our Aquatics Department is at our Sidmouth Road, Clyst St Mary, Exeter Garden Centre (01392 876281).

Summer Bedding

June is the month to plant out your bedding and other half-hardy/tender plants while the risk of frost has hopefully now passed.

Jargon Buster: Tender basically means they generally don’t tolerate cold weather and half hardy means they can tolerate it a bit more but a really cold snap could kill them

There are lots of summer bedding plants to choose from that are perfect for borders or pots and hanging baskets. Our plant labels tell you whether a plant is upright or trailing.

You will want to plant trailing ones near the edges of pots and baskets so that they cascade down the side of the pot/basket. Upright plants are better positioned in the back or middle of pots/baskets as they give height.

 

Plants we recommend you look out for include:

 

Trailing:

Petunias

Calibrachoas

Ivy Leaf Geraniums

Trailing Lobelia

Angelis Skylover

Trailing Fuchsias

 

Upright:

Geraniums

Nemesia

Diascia

Non Stop Begonias

Bush and Hardy Fuchsias

 

Planting a hanging basket or container?

If you are planting a hanging basket or container, make sure you use fresh, good quality potting compost – old compost may have gone off and can certainly cause problems and never use garden soil for your containers.

Before planting, add some controlled-release fertiliser and water-retention gel to the compost. The fertiliser will help feed the plants all summer and the gel will prevent the compost drying out prematurely ensuring strong, healthy growth and a colourful display.

We recommend planting your basket/container so that it looks pretty full from the start. Use taller plants for height, trailers around the edge and fill the middle with other plants. Remember, if you’re using mesh-sided hanging baskets to pop a few plants through the side as it helps to hide the basket and produces even more colour.

Frequent watering is essential – the aim should be to keep the compost evenly moist. If you forget to water regularly, or you go away for weekends or holidays, watering can become more of a problem. However, there are products that can help you such as a drip watering system or a timer. When put in place properly, these systems can also be very efficient as a way to conserve water.

Baskets that are high up can be difficult to water properly, so perhaps you may want to consider using a hi-lo bracket system? If so these are sold in our garden centres and helpful staff are able to give advise should you need it.

Always remember to feed your plants regularly for a summer display to be proud of.

To extend the flowering period of plants deadhead them (remove dead and dried up flower heads by gently snipping the flower stem off).

For more help on choosing the right plant for the right place, ask one of our plant team when you next visit.

 

Nearly all our plants are propagated and grown by us – in Exeter, Devon. We guarantee all our plants to be healthy and true to name and type.

Tropical fish of the month

They are hardy fish which makes these fish perfect for experts or beginners. However, if you are just starting out, take a look at the process at which to set up your tank and the time needed.

This fish will fit nicely into planted tanks as they will use the plants to hide when threatened, especially in the female’s case as males tend to harass females during breeding.

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.

WAS £2.00 NOW £1.00

It’s Hydrangea Season

It’s Hydrangea season!

This stunning Hydrangea macrophylla Renata is usually blue in colour but will change colour with the pH of the soil. The more alkaline the soil, the pinker the flowers. The more acidic the soil, the bluer the flowers.  To keep your hydrangeas blue, plant in a pot filled with ericaceous compost you can also add aluminium to the soil. Some people add aluminium can shavings to the soil but a hydrangea colourant is perhaps easier and available from our garden centres. To keep your hydrangea pink, use a fertiliser with high levels of phosphorus to prevent aluminium being absorbed. Fertilisers usually display content as NPK, P being the phosphorus so look for one in the ratio of 25/10/10

New range of Tropical Fish

Exciting news, we have a whole new range of Tropical Fish at our Clyst St Mary Aquatics Centre, available from 24th May 2019.

Aquarium fish

Cherry Shrimp

Yellow Fire Shrimp

Japonica Shrimp

Halfmoon Betta

Super Delta Dumbo Ear Betta

Male Super Delta Betta

Dwarf Yellow Puffer

Pearl Gourami

Cherry Barb

Bristlenose Catfish

Jack Dempsey Cichlid

Clown Loach

Coral Black Platy

Green Neon Swordtail

Silver marbled Molly

Gold Molly

Asst Female Guppy

Green Snakeskin Male Guppy

Blue Snakeskin Male Guppy

Bronze Cory

Panda Cory

Boesmani Rainbow Fish

Red Tailed Black Shark

Rainbow Shark

Albino Rainbow Shark

 

Pond Fish

Sarasa Comets 10-12cm

Shubunkins 10-12cm

Sarasa Comets 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.