Seasonal Hotties!

We have put together a new seasonal plants category. It is not seasonal in the sense 'now is the season for planting' but more of a shortlist of what plants and trees are currently grabbing our attention and you may want them in your garden or hedgerow too. The highlights in our neighbourhood are: the falling Sweet Chestnuts, start collecting for your fireside treats and Hazelnuts or Cobnuts but you need to be quick before the squirrels get there! Rose hips in the hedgerow and the start of the bright red berries on the Hawthorn.  The leaves are just beginning to turn on the Maples and the Larch is changing colour. Oh and don't forget to pick those Crab Apples!

Click to view our Seasonal Interest page

Conkers and Horse Chestnut Trees

Conker time is nearly upon us. After the recent storms the conkers have been falling from the horse chestnut trees around us but they're not quite as fully formed as we would like them to be. Our children are always hunting out the biggest ones for playing conkers. Once you find your chosen conker, a really glossy large one, you want to make a small hole through it to thread some string or an old shoe lace, approx 20-30cm in length and tie a knot. With a friend, take it in turns to wallop each other's conker until one conker is destroyed!  For real conker hints and tips, see The Dangerous Book for Boys!

Dangerous-book-for-boys

Speaking up for the nation's wild plants - Plantlife

Have you heard of Plantlife.org.uk? We've just been looking at their website and finding out about the work they put in to look after the nation's wild plants and fungi.

One of their current campaigns is for Road verges: The public are invited to vote on how well their council is looking after the verges with the wild flowers best interests at heart. You can also sign a petition to get wildflowers on your verges.

"Some of our rarest flowers, such as lizard orchid and spreading bellflower, can be found on road verges. There are just 85,000 hectares of flower-rich grassland left but about 238,000 hectares of road verge. Leaving cuttings to lie benefits plants like nettles, docks and coarse grasses."

Plantlife

Forestry Survey 2012 - Help shape the future of our forests

Defra, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs has launched a Forestry survey in the process of developing a Government Response to the Independent Panel on Forestry. They want your views and ideas on more woodland created in or near your community, what would encourage you to visit your local woodland more and if you buy British timber products.

The Independent Panel on Forestry’s report was published on 4 July 2012. It contained over 30 detailed recommendations covering a wide range of issues, including
•    The creation of new woodland;
•    The management of existing woodland;
•    Tree health and woodland resilience;
•    The contribution of trees, woods and forests to the triple bottom line of social, environmental and economic sustainability;
•    Promoting the wider use of wood;
•    The role of an ecosystems services approach in providing a true valuation of England’s woodland assets;
•    The future role of the Forestry Commission’s Forest Services ; and
•    The future ownership and management of the public forest estate

To take part in this online survey, click here

Woodworks!

Woodworks The 10th annual Woodworks! festival is happening this weekend, 1st-2nd September.  The two days are full of wood craft, trees, machines, real ale, arena displays and fantastic folk and roots music.

The Forest of Marston Vale's festival of trees, wood and wood products is held each year in the Marston Vale Millennium Country Park at Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire.

Woodworks! is a fun weekend packed with people doing amazing things, some with machines, others armed with nothing more than their hands and some wood. Have a go at willow weaving, pyrography, archery and much more. Find out how cart wheels are made, how a basket is woven, how a tree can become a beam or a spoon or a chair or a thatcher's spar.

All profits from Woodworks! and everything else that goes on at the Forest Centre are used to create the Forest of Marston Vale.

Click here for further info and tickets

The Forest Centre is set within the 225 hectare Millennium Country Park. With an adventure playground, sensory wildlife garden, 15km of surfaced paths, grass footpaths, horse trails and Wetlands Nature Reserve - it is a haven for wildlife and birds.

Guide to Clipping Hedges

Formal-Clipped-Hedge

How often and when should you clip your Formal Clipped Hedges:
Barberry, Berberis, once in summer
Beech, Fagus, once in late summer
Box, Buxus sampervirens, 2/3 times in the growing season
Hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna, twice in summer and autumn
Holly, Ilex aquifolium, in late summer
Honeysuckle, Lonicera, 2/3 times in the growing season
Hornbeam, Carpinus betulus, once in mid to late summer
Lavender, Lavandula, in spring and after flowering
Lawson Cypress, twice, in spring and early autumn
Leylandii: 2/3 times in the growing season
Privet, Ligustrum, 2/3 in the growing season
Yew, Taxus baccata, twice, in summer and autumn

How often and when should you prune your Flowering and Informal Hedges:
Berberis darwinnii, Immediately after flowering
Berberis thunbergii, after flowering, if required
Blackthorn, Prunus spinosa, in winter remove selected shoots
Cotoneaster lacteus, after fruiting
Hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna, in winter remove selected shoots
Hazel, Corylus avellana, after the catkins have flowered
Holly, Ilex aquifolium, in late summer

Trimming with shears: To keep the top of the hedge level and flat, keep the blades of the shears flat and parallel to the line of the hedge.

Cutting with electrical hedgetrimmers: Use a wide, sweeping movement whilst keeping the blade parallel to the hedge.

Choosing plants for a hedge:
When selecting your plants, consider their eventual height and spread. Think about the climatic zone you are in for hardiness and if your local environment is suitable. It is worth having a good look around your local area to see which species are growing well. Consider the fully grown plants' density. If it is to be a formal hedge, you need a good dense plant like Yew or Box. For an informal hedge, you should select flowering plants and consider a selection of species to create a mixed hedge.

Click here for our Hedging Plants

Decorating from the garden

Planning a party? Thinking about decorations and table centres? Wondering what the budget should be for flowers? Have a look outside! Gardens have a lot to offer for year round original decorating ideas.

Depending upon the season, there are many free sources of valuable stems for arrangements in the home. You should have enough for inspiration throughout the year. Whenever we have friends or family arriving, the boots go on and we start picking!

Trees coming into bud, the maple flowering, winter berries, christmas holly, summer flowers, fruit stems in autumn, fir cones, painted crab apples, dried poppy heads. You can not get a fresher or more original arrangement than from the fields or garden outside.

Autumn: Long branches of golden leaves can fill a pretty urn to make a fine autumnal display. Scatter a selection of golden leaves down the centre of a long table with a good tablecloth as a backdrop.

Winter: Sprigs of holly with red berries, mistletoe, an arranged pile of fir cones. Hawthorn branches with berries crisscrossed on the table. Eucalyptus and fir placed across the mantlepiece.

Spring: The trees are coming into bud, the maple is flowering, all of these make great displays of vibrant colour and interest.

Summer: There's no end to ideas in the summer! Flowers grown for cutting, table centers of fruit piled high, jugs filled with cow parsley....

Collect old pots, jugs and jam jars to fill throughout the year. It doesn't matter if they are slightly cracked, chipped or crazed, the display will hide these little defects, although some may say they are characterful and charming!

Garden-Flower-Display

image: Brides Magazine

Help Pollinating Insects

It has been in the news lots recently and for good reason. Butterflies, moths, bees and hoverflies are among the British insects that have been on the decline for the past 50 years. There are many reasons for this but there is no escaping that the abundance of wild flowers and native trees and plants have been reducing in numbers across the countryside.

To help encourage gardeners to plant species that are rich in pollen and nectar for our pollinating insects, the RHS has published a list of RHS Perfect for Pollinators trees, plants and flowers.

Trees By Post has many of these native species for sale so to help you, we've placed the RHS Perfect for Pollinators symbol next to their photos and stated for which season these plants help our British pollinators in the descriptive text.

RHS Perfect-for-Pollinators

Look out for the RHS Perfect for Pollinators symbol on Trees By Post when buying tasty plants for our British insects!

Let's protect Britain's trees, woods & forests from damaging pests and disease

The Forestry Commission have published guidance on a range of simple 'biosecurity' measures to help protect trees, forests and woodland in Britain from damaging pests and disease. A poster has been created to help the public understand what they can do to help when visiting woodland in the UK.

The guidance includes:

- clean your boots and shoes
- wash down the tyres of bikes and vehicles after off-roading
- keep to obvious paths
- keep an eye out for information notices
- avoid taking plants and cuttings from the countryside
- resist planting out your garden plants in the countryside
- avoid dumping garden waste in the countryside
- familiarise yourself with common pests and diseases

Dr John Morgan, Head of the Commission's Plant Health Service, said, "The UK's trees, woods and forests face unprecedented levels of threat from non-native pests and diseases, many of which have entered the country on internationally traded products.
"These pests and diseases are usually kept in check by indigenous predators and environmental conditions in their natural ecological niches in other parts of the world. However, partly because we are an island nation, these natural checks and controls are often not present in the UK, allowing the pests and diseases to be much more destructive when they arrive here.
"The warming climate is also increasing the risk that some of these organisms may find it easier to become permanently established here.
"Our first line of defence is to try to prevent them from entering the UK in the first place, but we need to be prepared for the fact that some will get in. When that happens we must do everything we can to eradicate them or, if that proves impracticable, to contain and control them as best we can.
"This guidance should prove an invaluable aid to many people who have to visit woods and forests in the course of their duties or recreation, by giving them useful advice on steps they can take to avoid accidentally spreading these damaging organisms on their clothes, footwear, vehicles and by other means."

Countryside Biosecurity Poster 2012

You can find a copy of the poster, available for download, here: Forestry Commission guidance poster

Kiki: The Truffle Hunter

One of our best selling gifts is the Truffle Trees, available as either an Oak or Hazel. Both of which have the UK Summer Truffle spores in their roots. In the right conditions, truffles can start appearing after 4 years.

We've been watching how Kiki finds her truffles...