The ground is still wet and the nights are getting warmer-perfect growing weather.Just look at the weeds! Get busy planting now so things can get rooted in while the conditions are favourable.
Enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend and don't forget we are open all over the weekend from 9-5 as usual. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
It is lovely to buy plants in full bloom â€“ they have the â€˜wowâ€™ factor. By the look of the frantic e-mails we are getting, some of you are seriously under-estimating the amount of water they need. Plants in flower at least double their water requirements and if they are wilting even slightly on a frosty night they will take a lot of damage. We check the water every day on the nursery. Make sure the root ball is properly wet before you plant it; if it is dry it is almost impossible to get it wet again. Treat newly planted items as if they were still in pots until they are properly rooted out. A liquid feed will help.
We are busy making up customersâ€™ own baskets and there are plenty of â€˜off the shelfâ€™ ones ready to go. We usually say the end of May/beginning of June is a good time to hang them up. They should be properly grown in by then and we often seem to get a nasty cold wind towards the end of May which can set them back.
The secret is watering. Rain will just glance off the leaves and even on a dull day a slight breeze can be very drying. The best way is to feel the weight and water accordingly. If they do really dry out, the only solution is to take them down and stand them in a bucket of water for a couple of hours. We put plenty of long term fertilizer in, but it is a good idea to supplement it with liquid feed towards the end of the season. Check out the information on our hanging baskets on our website including your regular basket feeding programme!
Vegetables at Downside Nurseries
The vegetable bench is fully stocked now â€“ the first of the kale is ready and there are still peas and sugar peas. The last sowings of these will be the end of May.
It is warm enough now for sweetcorn, courgettes and marrows to go out. All the beans are ready and enjoying the warmer nights.
â€˜Which? Gardeningâ€™ has a useful article this month on crops to follow early potatoes â€“ Swiss chard, lettuce, Pak Choi and Kale. Sprouts and Purple Sprouting Broccoli should really go in earlier, but as many of you like to plant later we will keep them in stock. Lettuce will be available right through until the autumn.
If you fancy something different, we have a few Sea Kale (Crambe Maritima). These look like the ornamental crambe cordifolia but a lot smaller. You force the crowns like rhubarb in the spring. They would look very well in a potager.
The image below is of a courgette. Check out our vegetable and salad stock available at the beginning of the season here
Cucumbers can be very bitter if they are pollinated. In the old days, gardeners had to be vigilant and remove the male flowers as soon as they appeared. Nowadays, we have Fâ‚, varieties that only have female flowers, so you do not have to worry. These are much more vigorous than the old fashioned ones so you can take â€˜stem fruitâ€™, that is fruit growing directly on the main stem. It is important to manage your plant and make sure it is only carrying a few cucumbers at a time otherwise it will be exhausted and take weeks to recover. Commercial growers expect about 120 cucumbers per plant over the growing season.
The ridge (outdoor) cucumbers we sell are also Fâ‚ hybrids but confusingly they do produce male flowers as well. These seem to be sterile so ignore them â€“ the fruit will be fine.
Marrows, courgettes, melons, pumpkins and squashes all need pollinating. Infuriatingly the first flowers always seem to be male. The bees seem to take a time to find the plants so the first few fruits can wither through lack of pollination. You can always help things along with a paint brush if you have the patience.
We have added a Gem squash (Rolet Fâ‚) and a round courgette (Eight Ball Fâ‚) to the list this year in response to customer requests. Round courgettes are ideal for stuffing apparently and the Gem squash is good for roasting or microwaving.
When did you last feed your hedge?
Most people seem to have got the message that if you want a nice green healthy lawn you must feed it from time to time. The same also applies to hedges.They languish for decades without a decent feed â€“ getting thinner and thinner until they finally succumb to disease.
A healthy well-fed hedge is likely to be more resistant to all the various lurgies that can afflict them: box blight, shothole, honey fingers. The same applies to topiary. The rule is as for shrubs or anything else: if you prune or clip, you must feed. Here's the link to the topiary listings on our website
Help please with Google
Although Google's algorithms are changing constantly, it is really important to keep testimonials flowing on our Google home page to help our web rankings. If you felt you could write a couple of sentences about your visit to Downside and that you've been pleased with the plants etc. we would be most grateful.
If you search for "plant nursery Wiltshire" or similar you'll find Downside's details
Click onto the Downside Nurseries actual name and it will take you to the view below
Click on 'write a review' and click first of all on how many stars you will give us
And then write a review
Thank you so much.
Photographs of your Downside Nursery plants
We have a good library of plants but if you have some stunning examples of Downside plants in your garden and would be happy to share with us to use on our blogs/website when appropriate,please email here and attach your photographs. Ideally we need images where the plant/shrub has 'grown on' ....
You'll see we've put in a sentence confirming you give us permission to use your photograph. Thank you so much for any help you can give.
Here's a few we have received so far:
Heuchera Coral Bells in one of our Errington Reay containers
Clematis Montana Gradiflora (two views)
Raymond Evison clematis 'Rebecca'
Hybrid Tea Rose 'Special Anniversary'
We are receiving a few requests to send plants and trees via mail order which unfortunately we canâ€™t undertake. Weâ€™re simply not equipped and donâ€™t have the staff. The only exception for 2016 would be for trained fruit trees and ornamental trees . If you order and pay for your chosen items by 30th June, Lorraine will be able to order and get these delivered directly to you from the grower during September, subject to availability. Email Lorraine if you are interested.
News and update snippets â€“ straight from the pen!
If youâ€™d like to receive snippets of news as and when published, then do please sign up for our blog â€“ see left hand margin of our website. Youâ€™ll then be among the first to know of new exciting things
We hope you have enjoyed this update and look forward to seeing you soon.
Best wishes from
Lorraine and Richard Young and the Team at Downside Nurseries
PS If any of your friends want to visit us, please tell them that there's an excellent map on our websitewhich will be helpful. We also have some new Downside cards, so please pick up one or two on your next visit. And have you visited Downside yet on the virtual tour? Check it out here.... Thanks so much.