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Blog posts of '2013' 'February'

Town & Country throws down the gauntlet for Garden Re-Leaf

Town & Country has risen to the Garden Re-Leaf challenge to raise vital funds for the Greenfingers charity and is calling on retailers and consumers to play their part in helping them make as much money as possible for this worthwhile cause.

For every pair of their unique Weedmaster Damask and Floral gloves sold instore during the months of March, April and May, Town &Country will donate 25 pence to the Greenfingers charity.

Barry Page, chief executive comments, “We are delighted to continue our efforts to support the Greenfingers charity. We will be doing all we can to promote sales of our Weedmaster Patterned gloves during this period, to maximise the amount of money we can raise through this special Garden Re-Leaf promotion.”  

These gloves are the UK’s first all-over patterned, nitrile-dipped gloves. Town & Country has developed the technology to produce a clear dip which means that for the first time patterns and designs can be applied to all areas of the gloves. There are two designs - Weedmaster Damask and Weedmaster Floral - each available in a choice of three colours and in small and medium ladies sizes.

RRP is £5.99 with a special offer price of £4.99.

New Year, New Garden

As much as I long for sunny days, winter is a great time to make structural changes in your garden and get some key jobs done. I’ve been repairing the rabbit fencing, putting in the foundations for a new shed and generally getting myself sorted in time for spring. I’ve also put up my new clock. There’s a good range available at Town and Country.

Practical advantages of winter work include the fact that you can transplant even large shrubs this time of year without damage. Any changes won’t mean newly planted flowers drying out before they’ve had chance to establish.

Pen out any design ideas you have for your garden. Large borders with generous soft landscaping cost less than lots of hard landscape. You may wish to introduce new materials or new plants into your garden. Or perhaps you want to go all out this year with a water feature, hot tub or swimming pool!

Many people consider their garden to be a place to relax and socialise, so a comfortable, low-maintenance environment is popular. A patio or timber deck is ideal. You can keep costs down by choosing decking over paving. A more affordable option still is to lay an aggregate material such as gravel or chipped wood for a patio. This is a much easier option for the DIY-er.

Once you’ve chosen a location, ideally somewhere sunny and not too overlooked by neighbours, clear the sites completely of weeds and debris. Remove as many of the weeds as possible, then lay a layer of good-quality geotextile membrane, overlapping any edges by 500mm. You’ll need a raised edge to retain the aggregate, but simple timber boards supported by stakes should do the trick. Lastly, spread your chosen material evenly with a rake to a depth of 50mm. After a couple of weeks it will have compacted so top it up as necessary.

-- Rob Amey

Autumn bulbs

At this time of year we are all looking forward to the imminent arrival of spring and all the flowers that will burst forth to lighten our days. But how many of you are looking forward to Autumn and how we can improve the garden display before next winter?

There are a number of bulbs which you can buy now and plant when the frosts have passed which you might enjoy and will certainly add colour at the other end of the year. Beside the fact that there are now enough species of snowdrops to provide flower all year round (except for some reason the month of May), there are some less well known but equally beautiful additions to the borders.

1. Autumn Crocus or Colychinum.
A stunning plant, that is actually not a crocus. Plant underneath a tree or similar area to prevent it from suffering from too much rain.

2. Dahlia.
An excellent cut flower and so many to choose from (although it makes the water smell very quickly), this is a must have addition to any border.

3. Crocosmia.
The new name for 'Monbretia', one of my personal favourites and again a beautiful plant for the flower arranger.

4. Nerines.
These pink flowers are so recognisable, yet are much maligned. A personal favourite. Treat yourself.

And if you really want to push to boat out and think of NEXT year, try sourcing some winter flowering aconites 'in the green' and cyclamen. Marvellous for that very early spring colour. Oh, and if you want the 'all-year-round' snowdrops, be prepared by taking calm breaths and be ready to empty your deep pockets of any loose change. One rare bulb recently sold for £750!

-- Guy Deakins

Don’t forget the birds this winter


If you want to help birds over the winter months, then a few careful considerations on planting will do just the trick. To encourage birds into the garden, plant a mixed hedgerow of native species plus some standard edible trees, bushes and berry-bearing vines. This can include rowan, holly, whitebeam, spindle, dog rose, guilder rose, elder, hawthorn, honeysuckle and ivy. Cotoneaster, pyracantha and berberis are especially good forage for a wide range of birds. Pyracantha makes a lovely show of red berries which are only palatable after hard frosts.

Winter is a good time to plant trees, shrubs and hedgerow plants. Nest boxes put up in time for spring may be used by birds as a warm refuge in colder weather.   I also put feeders out full of high energy seed mixes and peanuts. Fat balls made from lard and seeds provide a valuable energy supply too. Keep your bird baths ice free too, so that birds can still take a drink. Activity in your garden will soon pick up and wildlife will become more visible as winter’s grip gets looser and the shoots of spring start to show through.

-- Rob Amey