25th May 2018

25th May - Fiona - Shop Manager

Have you been inspired by the recent Chelsea Flower Show coverage on the BBC? Cottage Garden plants are used extensively throughout the show displays and one that appears frequently is the Lupin.  This statuesque Perennial is ideal in the middle of a border, giving height with its pyramidal spires that come in a variety of vibrant colours.  They like to be positioned in sun or partial shade in a well drained soil that isnt too rich.  They are actually a member of the Pea family therefore they lock Nitrogen in the soil through nodules in the roots and enrich the soil naturally.  Cut the flower spikes  as they fade to keep the plant vigorous.  Protect them from slugs and snails who like a nibble! Below is the Lupin Masterpiece in Store now, as featured on Chelsea this week!


Other favourites at the show have been Euphorbias and there is one for every place in the garden, shady woodland, sunny borders and low maintenance spaces. The zingy lime of the foliage sings out from any space and there are varieties with coloourful bracts in acid yellow, deep purple and electric vermilion.  An easy plant to grow with very few problems but do watch out for the milky sap which is a toxic skin irritant!

Euphorbia characias (Photo Credit -

In the Great Pavillion at Chelsea the Diamond Jubilee Award was won by a Cacti Nursery which can only further the popularity of this on trend houseplant.  Cactiand succulents are the ultimate low maintainance plant that love a sunny, warm spot with minimal watering in order to flourish and sometimes produce brightly coloured flowers. The winner is the UK's largest Cactus Nursery located in Lincolnshire, they have over 750 varieties of cactus to choose from!


5th April 2018

5th April 2018 - Juliet - Assistant General Manager & Web Sales

As a new addition to the team with very limited plant knowledge I am amazed at the varieties of plants, shrubs and trees available that those of us without the knowledge almost take for granted! I always did however admire the large Magnolia Tree in my Grandparent's garden as a child, the flowers were huge I thought for a tree and when they fell to the ground and started to wilt and go brown it seemed such a shame as they were so beautiful atop the tall tree. 

Now I work in the Garden Centre and am starting to learn about when to plant, how to grow and a real appreciation for the different plants on offer. This time of year seems especially exciting and taking a walk around the plant area outside, seeing the big, fat buds of the Magnolia trees ready to burst in to beautiful blooms makes me want to plant my very own! I was surprised to learn that they can be planted in a container which would suit me as I'm living in rented accommodation, so leaving it behind is not an option and as long as the container is large enough and the plant is looked after, they can continue to grow and flower in a container for many years - good news!               


 A 'stellata' variety would be a good choice due to its smaller growing habit however many varieties can be grown, its a good idea to plant now with an ericaceous compost and using a continuous release plant food for ericaceous plants, such as the 1kg by Miracle-Gro. The soil must not become water logged but also needs regular watering, a drainage hole in the bottom of the container is essential and a stone or terracotta pot is ideal due to its heavy nature which prevents the pot from tipping when the tree begins to grow and become top heavy. Magnolia do not like to dry out, their roots are shallow when not in a container, a layer of mulch (composted natural matter) annually will help to keep the soil moist (although avoid mulching too close to the stem) and if you are planning a Summer holiday make sure a neighbour or Automatic Watering System is on hand to keep the soil damp. Pot stands are also a good idea to provide free drainage to the pot when watered and keep crawling pests at bay, gravel or shingle on the top of the compost is also a good idea to deter pests and weeds. The roots need to be insulated from any frost so you can take the plant into a greenhouse or garage in the colder parts of Winter, use a Pot Trolley if necessary, and when the time comes to bring your Magnolia back out they enjoy a sunny spot in the garden but must be sheltered from strong winds as these can damage the branches and leaves. I think one of our Laura Ashley Planters would look great with my new Magnolia, their traditional, classic styling will make the perfect addition to my decking area and their square shape allows for the Magnolia to be easily removed in years to come and be re-planted with something else, a bulbous shaped pot would need to be cracked for the plant to be re-potted.

The Magnolia is a large genus of approximately 210 flowering plant species names after the French botanist Pierre Magnol. Its an ancient plant, appearing before bees did therefore the flowers are thought to have evolved to encourage pollination by beetles, this is why the tepals (not sepals and petals) are robust to ensure they dont become damaged by pollinating beetles. The parent family Magnoliaceae is thought to date back 95 million years, fossilised specimens of Magnolia acuminata have been found dating back 20 million years, more recently the plants originate in East and South East Asia, North America, Central America, the West Indies and South America. Here in the UK the Cornish planted Magnolia are often famed for their size and beauty, the climate of warmer and damper air along with fewer frost allow for dramatic displays, our MD will soon be visiting Caerhays Estate and is hoping to send us some pictures of their beautiful specimens. 


For an up to date list of the varieties in stock here at West Somerset Garden Centre please Contact Us, our trees are supplied by Frank P Matthews for quality and assurance. Varieties like this beautiful 'genie'  below are a rich deep red, other varieties range from this to pure white and even yellow.


Customer Images of newly planted Magnolia 'susan'


Customer Image of Magnolia 'iolanthe' trying to bloom through the recent Snow!


27th March 2018

27th March 2018 - Fiona - Shop Manager

Spring has not so much sprung as slowly unfurled this year. However it is time to get going in the garden!


Greenhouse Tomato plants can be planted up now in deep pots, growbags or in the ground.  The cordon varieties will require support so make sure canes are in place from the start. If freezing temperatures are forecast then cover the plants with fleece or switch on the Greenhouse heater (available to buy In Store). Watering, throughout the growing season, needs to be consistent otherwise the tomatoes may develop 'Blossom End Rot'.

Once seed potatoes are 'chitted', dig a 12 cm deep trench in a sunny spot of the garden or purchase a potato planter.  Place the potatoes approx. 30cm apart and cover with soil.  As green shoots start to emerge from the ground later on, earth up around them by moving the soil to ensure that the swelling tubers stay covered at all times otherwise the potatoes will be green and inedible!

The new season vegetable plants have arrived in the Garden Centre, the range is extensive including brassicas, leeks, salad crops, onions and root vegetables. When spacing out, imagine the plant fully grown and put them that far apart.  Keep an eye on night temperatures, if frost is predicted then cover tender young plants with a cloche or some protection fleece.

Bean plants are best started in pots and put in the garden later in May. They love a good rich soil so dig plenty of compost in to the planting holes.  Runner beans will require support so either make a wide wigwam or long tent shape from 8ft Bamboo Canes or Hazel sticks.  Try to site the beans out of the wind if you dont want to see your beautiful crop flat on the ground just as they are ready for harvesting!

Fresh herbs are delicious in your Summer dishes e.g. Summer Savoury with beans or Tarragon in a Vinegar Dressing. Many of them dry well to use through the Winter or they can be kept chopped and then frozen. A herb garden or planter next to the kitchen door is perfect for convenience and provides a beautiful scent on a Summer evening.

If you are planning a Wildlife garden then include lavender, marjoram, oregano, thyme and rosemary in your planting to encourage bees and butterflies in.

Happy Gardening!