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February 2015 Newsletter
After the long January comes the short February and although the days are dreary, there are signs that spring is on its way. There’s light at the end of the tunnel and even in the darkest day there’s plenty of inspiration about. Snowdrops and hellebores are in flower and crocuses are popping up too and soon even daffodils will appear. Winter flowering shrubs are going strong at the moment too producing both flowers and berries and with this in mind we should look at the positives to help with the last push towards spring.
This is the time of year when many plants are happy to rest and take it a bit easy. They’re going through their dormant phase, biding their time until spring and waiting for warmer temperatures to encourage them back into life, so take advantage of this and plant them.
Bare root perennials are dormant plants supplied with bare roots; planted now they will establish more quickly and flower earlier than pot grown perennials and they’ll get bigger and better to return every year. For a real wow in the garden, plant deep, purple-red Angelica gigas, it can reach a heady 1metre (5ft tall). As well as being excellent border plants many perennials also make wonderful cut flowers such as Cirsium which looks great in the garden and just as striking in a vase. If you have a shady spot Astrantia or epimedium will grow almost anywhere.
Whether you’ve been inspired by the latest series of the Great British Garden Revival to create a new exciting flower border, want to add perennial plants to a cutting garden or just need some fabulous herbaceous plants to fill gaps in the garden, buying perennials when they’re dormant is a really cost effective way of filling a garden with flowers. Find all of our bare root perennial range online and revive your borders or cutting garden this summer.
If you’re planning to add begonias to your pots and baskets, now is the time to order them. Whether they’re bedding begonias, trailing begonias or huge begonias with fragrant, ruffled blooms; all begonia flowers are long lasting and weather proof, they’ll take everything a typical British summer can throw at them. All our Begonias are ready to order now and will be delivered in spring.
Begonias are incredibly popular bedding plants and are ideal for containers and hanging baskets. However many we have in stock they always go fast so order now and we’ll deliver at the right time for planting, that way you can be sure of your plants and won’t be disappointed.
Our begonias are available either as young plug plants or as dry tubers.
Medium Plugs (48 cells per tray)
These begonia plants will be approximately 5-7cm/2-3in from base to tip with a well developed root system. They arrive in spring all ready for immediate potting up into 7cm/3in pots to grow on before planting out into their final position.
Begonias grow from tubers that look like flattened bulbs and if you have some stored from last year they’ll be ready to start into growth, either indoors or in the warmth of a shaded greenhouse, from this month.
If you are ordering new tubers don’t wait too long, do it now; they are so popular and go so quickly! Once begonia tubers start to sprout cover them with a fine covering of soil-with the concave side facing upwards. Keep somewhere warm and water just enough to keep the compost moist but not wet. Once the plants have made around 10cms (4in) of growth they are ready to be transplanted into baskets and containers. Put begonias outside once all risk of frost has passed.
We’ve crammed our new catalogue with seed pages and lots of great seed collections including a dedicated greenhouse seed collection There is something for everyone whether you’re growing perennials to fill the border, plants for baskets and containers, bedding plants or vegetables. We even have a special collection of vegetables that are perfect for growing in a container or raised bed. And because Unwins are famous for Sweet peas we’ve also got a sweet pea seed collection containing some of the best varieties.
Many of these money saving seed collections come complete with a FREE propagator because we want to encourage everyone to enjoy the thrill of growing from seed. It’s easy, incredibly satisfying and anyone can do it! Even children and inexperienced gardeners will get good results. Don’t sow too much of one thing is the golden rule with flowers and little and often is the rule for vegetables and salad crops!
You can sow seed of annuals, wildflowers, perennials and vegetables with or without a greenhouse when you use a propagator. Our no mess, no fuss propagator will sit on a warm windowsill in the house or in an unheated greenhouse. Its ease of use and clever design impressed, so if you’ve never tried growing from seed before, make 2015 the year you do.
Just as smaller plants are dormant in February so too are trees and shrubs including bare root roses. Bare root trees and shrubs may look like a bundle of twigs when they arrive but these plants and trees are eager to grow, and once soil warms up in spring they’ll soon erupt into life.
Almost every garden has space for a tree; even a modest suburban plot can accommodate a fruit tree especially if it’s grown as a cordon. Or choose a patio fruit tree that will stay small and productive even in a container.
If you want to encourage wildlife into the garden birch trees and hawthorn are two of the best trees and if winter blossom is top of your wish list there are trees such as dainty autumn flowering cherry and winter-flowering shrubs such as hamamelis (witch hazel) and Viburnum bodnantense that have perfumed blooms.
This month is the perfect time to plant bare root roses too. Healthy, disease resistant and highly scented, Our award winning roses are just such good garden plants and whether you want a climber, a floribunda or a glamorous hybrid tea rose there’s at least one rose that’s perfect for your garden!
If newly ordered bare root plants trees and shrubs arrive in a cold snap don’t despair. Simply cover their roots with enough soil or compost to keep them from freezing. Packed into old hessian sacks or a large container of compost they’ll keep snug until weather improves and soil is warmer. If you have larger trees or shrubs to keep snug, heel them in to loose soil in the compost heap, or wrap their root ball and keep in a shed or garage. Hopefully planting will only be delayed for a day or two. Any longer than that and it’s wise to check that roots are still moist, plant roots can ‘drown ‘as well as dry out, so keep them just moist but not waterlogged.
If you have a cornus (commonly called dogwood) in the garden you’ll know what brilliant year-round plants they are. In summer cornus have attractive leaves and summer berries and throughout autumn and winter their stems really glow in low winter sunlight; brilliant red, golden orange and deep burgundy are just a few of the colours available.
Young stems are the most brightly coloured, so prune cornus this month to encourage lots of new stems to shoot from the plants’ base.
Cut old stems close to the base leaving just a few inches of growth, it may look brutal but they will quickly sprout new, brilliantly coloured growth.
This kind of hard pruning is called coppicing, the same technique used for willow and hazel to produce new stems. And like willow and hazel, cornus stems are great for weaving, it’s fun to use the coloured stems to make natural plant supports or wigwams for climbing plants. You can also use some freshly cut stems as hardwood cuttings.
Plant of the Month – Hellebores
February is a wonderful time of year in the garden. Although there might not be lots of life out there, there are certain plants that come into flower and enhance our garden. Hellebores are one of these plants. These perennial plants produce elegant flowers early on in the year and mark the start of things to come. As well as their beautiful flowers, they produce striking leaves.
How to Grow
Hellebores are best planted in rich, moist but welled-draining soil, positioned in light shade. If you live in an open area it’s advisable to protect your hellebores from strong, cold winds. They prefer neutral to slightly alkaline but will acidic soils if there is no other option. Before planting it’s a good idea to add lots of organic matter which will help with drainage and also moisture retention. A good spot to plant them is under deciduous trees that will allow light through during the winter but protect them from extreme heat during the summer.
Plants to try
Hellebore ‘Blue Metallic Lady’has incredible blue/black petals with striking white stigma and stamen in the centre.
Helleborus ‘Double White Picotee’has creamy white petals with deep plum-pink edge which creates delightful bi-coloured, double flowers and the thick waxy leaves are erratically spotted.
Helleborus ‘Pink Lady’ has soft pink petals with pretty purple flecks in the centre. The leaves are an attractive palmate shape, thick and deep green.
Helleborus ‘White Lady’ produces large, cup-shaped, nodding white flowers with red spots and yellow anthers and make great planting partners for spring bedding and bulbs.
Helleborus ‘Red Lady’ has upright stems that carry showy, cup-shaped dark red flowers with yellow anthers. Why not grow them with purple Anemones?
Damping off is a disease of seedlings, causing them to collapse. It can occur all year round but is more prevalent when light levels and temperatures are low, mainly effecting seeds which have been sown early under glass but also, less commonly, in situ outdoors. Damping off is caused by many types of fungi, namely Phytophthora or Fusarium as well as many other types of too. It can hit and kill off your seedlings fairly quickly. Luckily there are a few things that you can do to help reduce the risk. (Read More)
If you use home grown compost your seedlings are at more risk of contracting damping off because the fungi can infect you compost heap. Use shop bought seed and cutting compostwhich has been sterilised or sterilise you own compost by using steam which will kill off the pathogens.
Clean all your pots which you are going to sow into with a disinfectant or alternatively buy fresh pots and trays. If your seedlings developed damping off last year, it’s advisable not to use the same pots.
When it comes to sowing your seeds, do it thinly. Overcrowded seedlings are more likely to develop the disease because airflow is restricted so where possibly and viable sow in individual cells or just a few seeds per pot.
Where possible use mains water. Water collected from water butts is great for the rest of your garden but when it comes to delicate and tender seedlings, any pathogens that could possibly be in your water butt will transfer over to your growing media.
There’s plenty of seeds that can be sown now, especially if you have a heated greenhouse or propagator. Many flowers that can be sown now such as sweet peas, cosmos, andsnapdragonsmake wonderful cut flowers. Roses and other bare root or dormant perennials can continue to be planted this month as long as the ground isn’t frozen or water logged. The cart below gives you a taste of some of the plants that you can start of now.
Bedding displays look really impressive when done right but often people can be intimidated, thinking that they’ll never be able to produce something like their neighbours or like what they’ve seen on TV. Creating a vivid and impactful display doesn’t have to be hard though! This month we’ll show you how to reproduce this wonderful bedding show. (Read More)
When it comes to bedding plants, forward planning is everything. Especially when it comes to the best flowering display for your summer garden. Bedding plants are easy to grow and care for and come in various heights and shapes and can be grown in borders, containers and hanging baskets.
This bedding display contains classic, traditional varieties that will get your neighbours talking. Simply choose which ones tickle your fancy, prepare you borders, pots or hanging baskets, then pack in your plants, either on their own or mixed with others.
It’s a good idea to add a slow release fertiliser to your potting mix and ensure your containers don’t dry out. Dead head regularly to promote continuous flowering and sit back and enjoy your show.
- Geranium ‘summer rain’
- Bacopa Sky Mixed
- Dahlia Happy Mystic Dreamer
- Geranium Classic Red Pepper
- Zinnia ‘Zahara Fire’
- Dahlia Diablo Mixed
- Petunia Lime & Black Mixed
- Gailardia ‘Arizona Apricot’
- Geranium Horizon Divas Ripple Mixed’
- Verbena ‘Quartz Mixed’
- Nemesia ‘Poetry’
- Rudbeckia ‘Tiger Eye’
- Geranium ‘Blanche Roche’
- Petunia Frenzy ‘Rosy Day’
- Begonia ‘Glowing Embers’
- Digitalis ‘White Fire’
- Dianthus ‘White Fire’
- Marigold ‘Durango’
- Diascia Orange
Trusted Merchant Award
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The accreditation is awarded based on the feedback received directly from you, our customers. So you’ve made us all really happy, thank you! Of course we will strive to keep up the high standards of customer care and product quality which you disserve.