Thursday, January 5, 2023

January Hints and Tips for the Garden

January is the start of an exciting new year in the garden. The weather may be cold, but if you look, you can see the first signs of spring outdoors, with bulbs poking up out of the ground and the days growing ever so slightly longer. Indoors there are seeds to sow, and January is also an ideal month to plant bare-root shrubs and trees. It’s time to get ready for a great year of gardening.


Read all of our January Hints and Tips now on our website at

Monday, December 12, 2022

Frost damage

It's very cold out at the moment with many parts of the country covered in snow or severe ice and although many plants we grow in our gardens are tough as old boots, frost, cold weather and cold winds can be fatal to some plants. Typical frost- and cold-sensitive plants include most summer bedding plants and annual herbs, such as basil.

Temperatures below zero will always affect tender and cold-sensitive plants – and sometimes even hardy ones during prolonged periods of cold, or if they are grown in containers. Frost and excessive wetness at the roots can be a fatal combination.


Symptoms

New leaves are most prone to damage, which can cause complete dieback on tender plants or just severe leaf browning or blackening. Excessive severe cold can also kill the roots of plants – especially when growing in very wet or waterlogged soil or compost.

Damage occurs when the water in plant cells begins to freeze and expand – damaging the cell and rupturing the cell wall. These plants become limp, blackened and often turn brown or slightly translucent.

During particularly long spells of very cold weather, even hardy plants and evergreens can become damaged when the soil becomes frozen and their roots are unable to take up water.

Treatment and control

If your plants are damaged by frost, there is still a chance that they will survive and become healthy again. However, trying to avoid frost damage in the first place is advisable.

If frost has damaged your plants, then:

  • Cut back frost-affected stems to undamaged buds or growth points – this will encourage new growth.
  • In the spring, once the risk of frost has passed, feed your plants to promote healthy growth.
  • Smaller plants can be dug up and moved into a greenhouse or on a windowsill – often this will encourage a full recovery if the damage has not been too severe.

Try to avoid frost damage by protecting your plants when severe cold weather is forecasted:

  • When buying pots and containers for your patio, ensure they are frost proof to avoid cracking. These will benefit from additional insulation from fleece or bubble wrap.
  • Avoid planting tender plants in frost pockets – these are the areas that are lowest in your garden where cold air will descend.
  • Mulch soils with bark, manure or straw to stop it freezing, causing root damage and preventing water uptake.
  • Protect the crowns (central growing point) of ferns and palms with fleece or straw. Tie the leaves together to stop snow and rain freezing in these delicate growth points.
  • Plant out tender plants when all risk of frost is over at the end of May or beginning of June depending on location.
  • Improve drainage of soil to prevent waterlogging.
  • Don’t feed plants in winter, as soft new growth is more susceptible to frost damage.
  • Harden up slightly tender plants by feeding with sulphate of potash in early autumn.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

December Gardening Hints & Tips


Looking for jobs to do in the garden in December? 

As well as protecting plants from frost with insulation around, you could also use bubble wrap, which is ideal if you have any left over from Christmas presents. 

Hint - ask for new garden tools or a lawn mower! 

Don't forget to clear debris - this is vital to prevent slugs and snails from setting up home in those lovely warm and damp conditions.

So, what other gardening jobs should we be doing in December?

Our new December Hints & Tips is now available - please visit

https://www.bluediamond.gg/december-hints-tips 

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Festive House Plant Care Guide




How to care for Poinsettia

No Christmas home is complete without a Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrina), with their colourful, brightly coloured bracts they add a festive feel to your home and make an ideal present.

• Cold conditions and draughts damage the foliage on these plants, so be careful where you position them in your home. For example, allowing the leaves to touch a cold window will cause leaf drop.

• To keep it blooming, the temperature should be a minimum of 13 °C -15°C and up to 18°C during the day.

• They like indirect sunlight, so near to a sunny window sill, free from draught, in a warm room is ideal.

• Water your poinsettia when the soil feels dry to touch or just pick up the pot, if it’s light, it will need watering.

• Do not let it sit in water in the saucer. Overwatering is the quickest way to kill your poinsettia.


How to care for Cyclamen

Indoor cyclamen flower profusely through the festive period. With showy blooms in shades of red, white and pink, they form an essential part of any Christmas display.

• Cyclamen are easy to grow with a little care and will flower for six to eight weeks.

• They are happy in cooler bright rooms.

• Keep away from direct sunlight.

• Water when the soil begins to feel dry and directly into the soil, avoiding direct contact with the leaves and stems.

• Deadhead regularly by tugging them away gently as this will prolong flowering.



How to care for Amaryllis

The word Amaryllis means ‘to sparkle’ and it certainly does that! Amaryllis are popular at Christmas due to the colourful blooms. It’s also a traditional gift for your loved ones and can even bloom on Christmas day.

• Amaryllis are best suited to indirect sunlight / part shade. Too much sunlight can burn the foliage, however not enough, may reduce the flowering period.

• It’s a tropical plant and loves a warm temperature of approx. 20C. Once the leaves and bud have emerged, you can move it somewhere cooler.

• When initially planting the bulb, water it thoroughly. After this water less often until the growth starts to appear. Keep the soil moist but not water logged.


Tips to Make a Christmas Tree Last Longer


Choose an appropriate location for your Christmas tree


An important part of how to make a Christmas tree last longer is to choose a good location in your house. Place the tree away from heating vents or cold drafts. Constant heat or fluctuating temperatures can speed the drying out of a tree. Also avoid placing the tree in direct, strong sunlight. The sunlight can also make the tree fade faster.

Watering your Christmas tree


It is essential to how to keep a Christmas tree alive that once you cut the trunk of the Christmas tree, the cut has to stay moist. Make sure to fill the stand immediately after you cut the trunk. But, if you forget, most trees will be ok if you fill the stand within 24 hours. But your Christmas tree will stay fresh longer if you fill it as soon as possible. If you want to make a Christmas tree last longer, just use plain water. Studies have shown that plain water will work as well to keep a Christmas tree alive as anything added to the water. Check the Christmas tree stand twice a day as long as the tree is up. It is important that the stand stays filled. A Christmas tree stand normally holds a rather small amount of water and a Christmas tree can quickly use up the water in the stand.

Recutting the stem on the Christmas tree


When caring for a live Christmas tree, remember a Christmas tree is essentially a giant cut flower. Unless you cut your own Christmas tree, the vascular system that draws water up into the Christmas tree will have clogged. Cutting off just a ¼ inch of the bottom of the trunk will remove the clogs and open up the vascular system again. You can cut more off if you need to for height reasons. Many people wonder if there is a special way to cut the trunk to help with keeping your Christmas tree fresh. A simple straight cut is all that is needed. Drilling holes or cutting at angles will not improve how well the Christmas tree takes up water.

Read more, watch the video and find out about our tree guarantee https://www.bluediamond.gg/realtrees 

Guide to Decorating your Christmas Tree

The mulled wine is on the hob and Bing Crosby is on the speakers, which can only mean one thing - it’s time to decorate the Christmas tree. One of the highlights of the festive season, it’s something all the family can get involved in, from picking up the tree to adding the final bauble. Here are some of our tips for making your tree look full, twinkly and full of Christmas magic.


Step 1

To begin, decide on the lights you want to use on your tree. If your theme is traditional, white lights will give you a classic and inviting look, whilst coloured lights work really well with more contemporary and modern themes. Begin draping your lights in a spiral, working from the very top of the tree to the bottom. Make sure you push the lights into the foliage to hide wires and create depth. Depending on how big the tree is, you may need two or three packs of 100 lights. Plenty of twinkling fairy lights is one of the secrets to a spectacular Christmas tree.

As a general rule, you should use 100 lights for every foot of your tree. For example, if you have a 6ft tree then you should aim to decorate with 600 lights, 700 for a 7ft, and so on and so forth. You can always add more if you're looking to create a dazzling effect.


Step 2 

Next, add ribbons, garlands, string beads or tinsel at this point. Mix and match different sizes and textures to add interest and help the tree look full. Thick organza ribbons look great towards the bottom of the tree, whilst you can drape more delicate beads around the top branches. Here is where your festive theme starts to creep in - using accenting tinsel to your baubles is a simple way to add interest and depth to your Christmas decor.


Step 3 

Now you can add your ornaments and baubles to the tree. It’s worth investing in a few packs of generic, ‘filler’ baubles to help fill out the tree and create a luxurious, full look. Baubles are a great way to add drama or bold statements, but if you prefer a simpler look, then glass or plain solid colour baubles are a lovely choice too.

You can then add your favourite ornaments in prominent places on the tree to stand out.  Place the baubles systematically around the tree, either side to side or top to bottom - this helps you space them more evenly.

Step 4

Finish off your tree with clip on decorations, such as birds, foliage or reindeer, and of course your tree topper of choice. Remember: the best way to decorate a Christmas tree is to do so to your tastes and interests, rather than what you think a Christmas tree should look like. Now, your tree should look beautifully decorated, full of sparkling lights and magical baubles. Grab yourself a nice mulled wine, sit back, and enjoy your handy work!

Christmas Energy Saving LED Lights

Keep Your Christmas Lighting Costs Low with Energy Efficient Christmas Lights

Every year when Christmas lights start to pop up in the neighbour’s garden or on the high street, it’s always an exciting sign that the festive period is upon us. Whether you choose understated fairy lights or go all out with a light-up Santa for the lawn, the sparkle of Christmas lighting always creates quite a buzz.

However, this year in particular with the cost of living crisis, many households across the UK will need to make lifestyle changes and cutbacks in an attempt to lower their energy bills. With many ‘non-essentials’ having to take a back-seat, you might be wondering, can I afford to have Christmas lights this year?

But, fear not! With our wide range of  affordable, energy efficient Christmas lights, you can still enjoy the magic of the festive season, while keeping costs low.

Take a look at some of our examples below: