How does your garden grow?
25th March 2021
The daffs are out, the tulips are bursting through and the blossom will soon be reaching its glorious peak… Whether you have pots to fill, a patio to prettify or acres to tame, it’s time to get those gardening gloves on. Here’s a look at some of our favourite local lawncare experts, garden designers, landscapers and garden centres on hand to help you with your horticultural efforts, plus local gardens to inspire you
LOOK AFTER YOUR LAWN
Get your grass off to a great start this growing season with some targeted attention from the professionals, who will help with weed and moss control, scarification, fertilisation, aeration and turf pest control. Local firms include Lawnscience, Custom Lawn Care and Green Thumb.
And if your garden or lifestyle are not suited to real grass, you could consider artificial grass instead – there are some amazingly realistic options that are extremely practical and easy to maintain. Going faux can work well if you have dogs or children, as it doesn’t get muddy and can be played on year-round; LazyLawn even offer an eco-friendly option.
Lawnscience Stamford Contact Mark Batty on 01780 764448. Covers areas including Leics, Rutland, Lincs and Northants. www.lawnscience.co.uk/stamford
Custom Lawn Care Contact Andrew Carr on 01780 755842. He covers Lincs, Rutland and Northants. www.customlawncare.co.uk
Green Thumb, Peterborough 01733 755028,
TIPS FROM LAWNSCIENCE
• The mowing season usually starts in March, when you should try to remove no more than one quarter to one third of the grass length – little and often is best to begin with.
• In spring, mow a normal domestic lawn to a height of at least 1.5 inches (4cm).
• The blade of your lawn mower is key to a good cut, so it’s advisable to have it sharpened at least once a year.
• Avoid mowing when your grass is wet, as it will rip rather than cut your grass.
• And to get those beautiful stripes? This is achieved by the rear roller, which gently pushes the grass blades in one direction. It can take a little practice!
Read more tips at www.lawnscience.co.uk
INSPIRATION FOR YOUR GARDEN
National Garden Scheme
A slow peruse around someone else’s patch, whether a bijou cottage garden or the rolling lawns of a great estate, can offer brilliant inspiration for your own garden, so it’s great news that this scheme is now running to some degree (within government safety guidelines). For full details of where you can visit, go to ngs.org.uk – you can search by postcode.
Local openings (pre-bookings essential; admission fees for charity) in April include:
Burghley House, Stamford – Private South Gardens Offers wonderful views of the Lion Bridge and South Front of Burghley. Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 April, both 11am–3.30pm
Stoke Albany, Market Harborough LE16 8PT, 4-acre country house garden, Sunday 11 April, 2–5pm
Tresillian House, Melton Mowbray LE13 0BQ, ¾-acre garden, Sunday 25 April, 11am–4pm
The Old Hall, Market Overton, LE15 7PL, Sunday 25 April 2–6pm
Westbrooke House, Little Bowden LE16 8AX,Sunday 25 April, 10.30am–5pm
The Avenue, Barnsdale, Rutland, 01572 813200, barnsdalegardens.co.uk
Britain’s largest collection of individually designed gardens, with 38 in an 8-acre site. There’s also a large tearoom, with an attractive outdoor seating area (lots of secluded, nicely socially distanced tables – roll on that reopening), and a good plant nursery, where you can almost always buy a ‘Geoffrey Hamilton’ David Austin rose, named after the gardens’ creator, the former Gardeners’ World presenter (his son Nick now runs Barnsdale). In normal times, they run events, including monthly art sessions, and offer focused garden tours.
Easton Walled Gardens
Easton, Lincs NG33 5AP, www.visiteaston.co.uk
A gorgeous 400-year-old, restored 12-acre garden, famed for its snowdrops and sweet peas. There is a gift shop with plants and garden accoutrements (including a lovely range of sweet pea seeds in pretty gift tins), and, in normal times, the tearoom does lovely cakes. Open as part of the National Garden Scheme, on Friday 2 April, 11am–4pm; see website for normal opening times and booking requirements.
Other inspirational gardens close to our region include: Cambridge Botanic Garden; Houghton Hall’s Walled Garden, Norfolk; Nevill Holt Hall’s gardens (gorgeous walled Kitchen Garden and lawns dotted with sculpture); and Kelmarsh Hall’s gardens (beautiful dahlias in season).
GARDEN DESIGNERS, LANDSCAPERS & GARDENERS
Spending on a garden designer might seem like a substantial outlay, especially if you’re on a tight budget, but an experienced professional will know how to make your money work its hardest for you. A good garden designer will ensure that the right plants are chosen for specific sites across your garden, whether shady or sunny, and according to the soil type, plus they will know how to plan for a garden that will mature over the years. And if you don’t have the time or physical capability to keep on top of your garden yourself, there are talented gardeners in our region to support you and your outdoor space.
Q&A with Amanda Banfield
Amanda is the proprietor of Planting Partners, a garden services provider in Rutland, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire
How did you get into horticulture and when did you establish your gardening business?
I was fortunate to be able to turn my hobby into my career almost 20 years ago, combining on-the-job practical training with academic study. The study element never seems to end, as there are always new developments in plant science and pest and disease management, along with the new plant introductions and styles in garden design.
What services do you offer?
I offer a range of services, including full garden design, garden advice and coaching (from soil management and composting to design) for individuals or groups.
Are there particular highlights of the job for you?
Happy customers! Also, there is nothing more uplifting than sharing the joy of gardening, growing flowers, fruits and vegetables, especially from seed. It is great to see the wildlife enjoying all your efforts too.
Do you have a favourite plant?
It depends on the day, week, month of the year and which garden I am in at the time! It is much easier to say which I don’t like – apologies to rhododendron lovers, and I much prefer roses in other people’s gardens… the thorns stuck in my hands explain all! But any plant that provides at least two seasons of interest is always near the top of the list.
What are you looking forward to this year as we all come out of lockdown?
I have been fortunate during the pandemic to continue with my garden management work. While some advisory work has been done via video link, it was pretty tricky, and not quite the same as being in a client’s garden. Unfortunately, the individual coaching, workshops and talks to groups went by the wayside, so I would like to restart these again as soon as it is safe to do so.
Contact Amanda on 07831 329184 or visit www.plantingpartners.co.uk for more details
Ken Rawson Garden Designs
Easton-on-the-Hill, 01780 481624, www.kenrawsongardendesigns.co.uk
Ken Rawson set up his garden design business in 1986 and has been transforming outdoor spaces ever since. An initial consultation will determine which services you require, and then it’s down to work, drawing up a set of ideas and some garden plans; these illustrations will help guide your garden project from concept through to completion, allowing you to be fully up-to-speed with the works every step of the way. Services include on-site problem solving, ideas for screening, shade or sun, garden designs, planting suggestions, pruning and gardening advice.
Lark Field Gardening
07971 526557 or 01780 765000, www.larkfieldgardening.com
Based in Stamford, and covering most of Lincolnshire, Peterborough and Northamptonshire, Lark Field offer a friendly gardening service for domestic and commercial clients. Services include fencing, turfing, decking, patios, pergolas, tree work, hedge trimming, grass cutting and lawn maintenance, shed and summer house assembly, planting and general weeding. All garden waste is removed, and no job is too large or small!
Stamford, 01780 752119, www.marramgardens.co.uk
Marram Gardens is made up of a team of skilled, professional landscapers and gardeners offering an end-to-end service, beginning with land clearing and disposal of garden waste. Collaboratively, they will then work with you to design your new dream garden scheme. Together the team has worked on projects ranging from large music festivals to small back gardens. Services include landscape design, driveways, drainage, turfing, tree surgery, hedge cutting, patios and slabbing, fencing and water features.
Signal Box Plants & Gardens
Exciting plans for Signal Box Plants & Gardens. The company has established an enviable reputation, offering high-quality garden care in the Local Living area. Will Catlin started the business five years ago and Rebecca Quinn joined in 2019; both share a real enthusiasm for horticulture. Will told Local Living: ‘There is a sense of pleasure in developing gardens in collaboration with our customers. Time spent carrying out the important basic tasks allows us to get to know each garden, which empowers us to suggest and implement planting and design ideas. We are now looking for a person with a love of gardening to be involved in this process by joining the team.’
Will and Rebecca have embarked on a community garden project in Barnack, so if you would like to have details of volunteering possibilities or to discuss the job role, you can make contact via their website.
Yvette’s Design Solutions
Bingham, Notts NG13 8FU, 01949 876182/07810 293808, www.yvettesdesignsolutions.co.uk
Since 2010 Yvette Smith has brought her bespoke garden design, planting and project management services to projects large and small, from compact front gardens to glamping sites. A tutor at Nottingham Trent University and the British Academy of Garden Design, she gives talks and runs courses (including online ones) on garden design, and she has exhibited at many prestigious flowers shows.
‘Every job starts with a client consultation, when we think how the garden is used. I will prepare two or three different designs, which I will cost up, and, once a design has been chosen, I make 3D drawings… I’m led by the customer in terms of the style they want, although I steer more towards wildlife-friendly plants.’ Once the design is in situ, Yvette offers coaching to help clients maintain their space.
DID YOU KNOW?
Since 2017, Gardeners’ World presenter Adam Frost has run workshops on garden design and planting from his home and garden in Barnack, near Stamford. During lockdown, he held excellent online sessions (a couple more are scheduled for late March), but in-person ones for one or two days are the norm. Find out more at adamfrost.co.uk
Create a home office in your garden
Undoubtedly Covid-19 has changed the way we live and work. Over 40% of adults now work from home, and this percentage is set to increase, as employers recognise the benefits – such as time efficiency, reduced office costs and the positives for an individual’s mental health.
If you are able to create an office or studio in your garden, this has the huge advantage of taking work out of the home, hopefully making those inevitable household interruptions a little less regular. William Lloyd not only design and build stunning, practical structures of any shape, size or specification, but their bespoke designs complement the environment and position. Structures can be fully insulated and heated to make year-round working much more comfortable and efficient. In most cases planning permission is not required, but where necessary this service can be undertaken on your behalf.
William Lloyd also offer a landscaping design service, including full planting schemes, supplying established trees through to creating ponds of any size or even decking and patios.
LOCAL GARDEN CENTRES
Whether you’re in it for the plants, the homewares, the deli counter or even the toy department, there’s something for pretty much everyone at the garden centres listed here. Most remained open during lockdown and they have managed social distancing etc incredibly well; it’ll be fantastic once their cafes and restaurants are allowed to reopen as normal in due course.
Gates Garden Centre
Somerby Road, Cold Overton LE15 7QB, 01664 454309, www.gatesgardencentre.co.uk
Established in 1948, Gates impresses with its incredible scale, comprising a garden centre, farm shop, gift shop, home and interiors section, large outdoor furniture range, specialist barbecue area, pet care section and landscaping department. The team have been hard at work developing their core gardening offer for this season, expanding the range of plants grown in-house under the ‘Grown at Gates’ brand, and creating ‘The Potting Shed’, a brilliant new offering from one of the glasshouses, where the team can plant up containers and pots to customers’ specifications or budgets and style. Pop in and ask for advice – they’ll be delighted to help (especially useful for new gardeners to know… don’t be shy).
The already sizeable Outdoor Furniture and Outdoor Living areas have also been expanded – perfect for when we are allowed to meet in small groups outside; Gates now stock Kamado Joe Barbecues alongside being a specialist Weber World Store.
The large toy department deserves a mention – there’s an excellent Lego range, alongside toy vehicles, craft kits, fun gifts, stationery, books and soft toys. The über-fancy sanitaryware in the toilets always impresses the kids too.
The cafe is currently offering takeaway, and we look forward to the large, popular restaurant reopening, when permitted.
Adjacent to the main entrance is the Farm Shop, stocked with meat (notably lamb from Gates’ own farm), cheeses, fresh fruit and veg, frozen products, upmarket biscuits and sauces, and a carefully curated drinks area with a local focus. It’s very hard to leave empty-handed!
Rutland Garden Village
Ashwell Road, Nr Oakham, Rutland LE15 7NQ, 01572 723583, www.rutlandgardenvillage.co.uk
In May 2019, the garden centre just up the Ashwell Road from Oakham was taken over by husband-and-wife team Katey and Robin Lester, who have been hard at work improving and expanding it ever since – keeping busy through lockdown with numerous exciting developments. This year promises further improvement and growth, at the complex (rebranded as Rutland Garden Village), including expanding the Garden Centre into the space currently occupied by Rutland Classics and increasing the range of plants, shrubs and trees. Local company The Hidden Collective is opening a designer florist shop, offering fresh flowers and bouquets, and the excellent lifestyle boutique, Barefoot Sunday, will be back open again soon, too. There’ll also be new inspirational gardens, including a Potager and a Rose Garden. Plus, the expert team will be growing their own lavender, peonies, irises, pansies, primroses, and violas. Perfect!
Did you know?
• Rutland Garden Centre has a free Members Club, offering 10% off plants when you sign up, six different offers every month, plus one-off offers and promotions.
• The Garden Village Store now stocks Annie Sloan Chalk Paints and beautiful, eco-friendly, hand-woven textiles from Weaver Green.
• There’s now a Trade Account scheme offering significant discounts to those working in the gardening, horticulture and landscaping trades.
Rutland Water Garden Nursery
Lyndon Road, Manton, Rutland LE15 8RN, 01572 498720, www.rutlandnursery.co.uk
This family-run centre on the south side of Rutland Water has a large selection of plants, plus lots of garden pots and an enticing range of garden-themed homewares, including Katie Cardew designs. Wellies Café is offering takeaway while it awaits full reopening.
Thistleton Herb Nursery
Main Street, Thistleton, Rutland LE15 7RE, 01572 767658, www.herbnursery.co.uk
Stock up on parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme – and more besides for the herb and cottage garden – from the charming Thistleton Herb Nursery. Established on this same site in 1976, the nursery grows 95% of its offering on site. Closed this lockdown, it hopes to reopen on 12 April –check the website for updates on this.
Welland Vale Garden Inspirations
Glaston Road, Uppingham LE15 9EU, 01572 822729, www.wellandvalegardeninspirations.co.uk
We like Welland Vale for its strong selection of roses and ornamental trees. In normal times, it’s good for families, with the large Orchard Cafe (some outdoor seating) doing excellent ice creams and Wiggly Worms soft play (currently closed) for its youngest customers.
The Barn Garden Centre
Barnwell Road, Oundle PE8 5PB, 01832 273310, www.thebarngardencentre.co.uk
The independent, family-run Barn is a compact, well-stocked garden centre, with a very friendly team. In addition to their planting expertise (see box below for some recommended plants for April), they have a large range of pots and planters, a great selection of outside furniture sets, plus parasols, outdoor rugs and cushions, and those all-important fire pits and chimineas for any late-spring cool temperatures.
There’s a pets range of toys and treats (mostly for dogs), plus a lovely selection of gifts with brands including Country Candle, Gisela Graham, Julie Dodsworth and Cotswold Lavender.
The Barn offers free local delivery for items too large to fit into your car. It is also home to The Boxwood Café, which opens soon.
KEY PLANTS FOR APRIL
The experts at The Barn Garden Centre give the lowdown on what to look out for in this busy spring month:
• Lupins, delphiniums, hollyhocks – these staples of cottage gardens are beginning to flower
• Magnolia trees bloom in early April for those fleeting few weeks
• Fruit trees burst into blousy blossom
• Aquilegias (the delightfully dubbed ‘Granny’s bonnet’) will be in bloom
• Wisteria will be in flower
• Tulips will be at their best in April
• Alliums will be in bud – you may see some flowering in April, if the weather is warm enough
• Tender veg plants start coming into the Garden Centre in March, continuing into April along with tomatoes and strawberry plants; lots of soft herbs arrive too
• Dahlia tubers can be planted outside once the threat of frost has passed
The Barn by Cherry Lane
Gunthorpe Road, Peterborough PE4 7AD, 01733 320134, www.cherry-lane.co.uk
Part of the Cherry Lane group since 2017, where the focus is on offering great-quality products at customer-friendly prices, the Peterborough Barn meets all your gardening needs, with a large range of plants, many nurtured in Cherry Lane’s own nurseries (the friendly team are on hand to offer horticultural advice), and garden-care products. If you’re getting your outdoor space ready for socialising, there’s outdoor furniture and lighting as well. The aptly named Scallywags caters for pet owners (doggy is welcome!), and there’s an aquatics area too. Home and gift products, plus groceries, clothing, and toys to keep the younger customers happy, complete the picture. In normal times, The Watering Can Café Bistro offers respite to weary shoppers; it aims to reopen for takeaway on 12 April.
Bosworth’s Garden Centre
Elton Walled Garden, Elton PE8 6SH, 01832 343104, www.bosworthsgc.co.uk
This upmarket garden centre adjacent to Elton Hall offers an impressive, beautifully laid-out range of super-healthy plants, a large selection of ornamental pots, plus larger items such as garden furniture sets and some very enticing fountains. It has a fantastic range of seeds, a friendly, knowledgeable team on hand to advise, plus the very popular Mulberry Café with an attractive outdoor seating area (we look forward to that reopening).
Little Bytham NG33 4RA, 01780 410345, www.rasells.co.uk
Rasell’s is a family business with an excellent selection of nursery-grown plants and trees, plus seeds, bulbs, plant feed, gloves and tools, etc. There’s also a quaint tea room (currently closed).
Stamford Garden Centre
Casterton Road, Stamford PE9 4BB, 01780 765656, www.stamfordgardencentre.co.uk
In addition to the nice selection of plants at the rear, there’s a stylish interiors range (including Farrow & Ball paint) and an outdoor living section (great for British-made fire pits). Also on-site is Simpson butchers, Hambleton Bakery bread and a popular cafe (currently serving takeaway, but with outdoor seating at the front for when it’s permitted to sit out). You can get your car cleaned on-site too.
The Langton Greenhouse and Garden Centre
Melton Road, East Langton LE16 7TG, 01858 545819, www.langtongreenhouse.co.uk
This place is so big, you almost need to bring your walking boots! In addition to the planting area, there are homewares, clothing, books and delicatessen products, plus there’s the Greenhouse Café, which we look forward to reopening.