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Gardening Advice and Hints By Alan

Gardening Advice and Hints By Alan

Alan Mercer - Manager / Partner at Hillmount on 1st Feb 2020

Now that I have two boys of my own I love taking them out into the garden to enjoy the fresh air and they help me water the plants while I teach them about the various colours and scents of the flowers just like my dad and grandad did with me. I know from personal experience the importance of teaching the next generation about gardening early as I found my love of gardening as a young child. That’s why at Hillmount we offer children between 5 and 11 the opportunity to attend our free Kids Gardening Club on the first Saturday of every month in all our garden centres from 10am until 11am. Last month we had over 80 children in attendance and it’s such a joy to see the accomplishment on their faces when they leave with something they’ve planted up that they can take home and care for. This Saturday we’ll be planting up old welly boots.

Did you know that over half of adults in the UK feed birds in their gardens and this is another opportunity to take your children and grandchildren out into the garden to teach them about nature and caring for these little garden visitors. The best bird food is sunflower hearts, packed with energy and essential oils. With the husks removed, sunflower hearts are loved by a variety of garden birds and if you use in bird feeders and bird tables they will attract colourful tits and finches to the garden. Window feeders are becoming really popular as you get to see the birds up close. When it starts to get cold outside it’s important to make sure you keep a supply of fresh water for the birds but I would advise you to never add salt to the wild bird drinking water as it is harmful. The best way is to simply clean the water drinker each day and add fresh tepid water.

Children love to eat what’s been grown in the garden as they can watch the progress of vegetables and fruit as it progresses from planting to being ready to eat. A prime example of a fruit to grow and enjoy is the apple. Scrumptious is an excellent early dessert apple which has quickly established itself as one of the most successful and reliable garden apple varieties of recent times. The flavour sets this apple apart from other early apple varieties, as the apples become genuinely sweet when planted in a sunny position. It's a great example of how growers are once again considering flavour as the most important characteristic in a good apple. Scrumptious is also self-pollinating and the apples can be picked over a period of a couple of weeks rather than all at once. If you are looking for a high quality early season apple which is productive and easy to grow, this is it! And the best time for planting it into a pot is between September and May.

Until next week - happy gardening!