19th July 2018

Watering your plants in the warm weather......

Watering your plants in the warm weather......

Well the warm weather continues and some of your garden plants maybe showing some signs of stress especially if newly planted or in pots.

Here is some sound advice from the RHS about watering the garden:

When to water 

Ideally water plants early in the morning, to avoid evaporation loss during the day. On warm summer days, evening watering is also likely to be effective, the dry soil soaking it in readily and low humidity at night reducing risk of disease. 

To determine the need for watering, inspect the soil at a spade's depth. If the soil feels damp, there is unlikely to be any need to water, but if it is dry, then watering is probably required for some plants.

Be aware that clay soils can feel damp even when all available water has been used and that sand soils can feel dry even if some water is available. The only way around this is to develop experience in matching the observed state of an individual garden’s soil to the growth rate of the plants. Wilting is usually preceded by changes in leaf position and darkening of leaf colour.

For plants in pots, the compost looking paler or feeling dry to the touch and the pot becoming lighter in weight (and consequently more prone to blowing over) are all signs that the compost is beginning to dry and is in need of water.

How to water

It is better to water the garden before drought really sets in, to keep the soil moisture levels even and avoid soil moisture deficits building up.

Once drought has set in, it is futile to try and remedy this by light watering over a wide area. Light watering may encourage surface rather than deep roots, leaving plants more susceptible to drought. Instead, make a single thorough watering of the plants that are suffering. Try to water in the cool of the evening or the very early morning, so that less water is lost immediately to evaporation.

Watering should never be carried out where drainage is poor, as adding water will do more harm than good. Roots are very susceptible to airless conditions, particularly when the soil is warm in summer.

How much water to apply

Light sandy soils need watering more frequently than heavy soils, but less water can be applied at each watering. Heavier, clay-based soils can be watered less frequently, but need heavier applications of water because they hold more water within their structure. 

A clay soil in which plants are wilting might need 81 litres per sq metre (17.5 gallons per 10 sq ft), and a sandy soil in which plants are wilting might need 60 litres per sq metre (12.2 gallons per 10 sq ft).

In practice, gardeners are unlikely to regularly let the soil get so dry that plants are wilting, so less water is required. Water can also be saved by applying it to the base of the plant rather than over a wide area. As a general guide, up to 24 litres per sq metre (5.2 gallons per 10 sq ft) every seven to 10 days will be sufficient to maintain plant growth.

Methods of watering

Sprinklers: These have only limited use in gardens, mainly to water the lawn where this is essential, and to raise the moisture level of unplanted areas.

Hoses and watering cans: Most garden watering should be aimed specifically at the stem bases beneath the foliage canopy, leaving the surrounding soil dry. This helps to limit weed problems and ensures all the water goes where it is needed.

Seep hoses: These hoses or pipes with holes in them deliver water accurately to established plants and plants in rows. They can be hidden beneath soil or mulch, which also avoids evaporation losses. They work best on heavy soil where the water spreads further sideways as it sinks than on lighter soils.

Automated irrigation systems: To save time and labour, watering cans and hoses can be replaced by drip or trickle irrigation systems. Only the root zone or top 60cm (2ft) of soil should be wetted - water that penetrates deeper will be inaccessible to most plant roots. West Somerset Garden Centre can advise on installation of these systems.

Tips for economical watering

Know your plant's watering requirement:

  • Established trees and shrubs do not generally need watering, as they have such wide-ranging roots that they are drought-proof. But their growth may be improved by watering when they are under drought-stress
  • Trees and shrubs planted less than five years ago have increased water requirements and may suffer drought-stress without watering
  • Newly sown or newly planted areas are very vulnerable to water-stress, and watering these should be high priority
  • Herbaceous perennials often need watering to boost their performance in hot, dry spells. Plant choice is crucial if you want to achieve a drought-proof border.
  • Edible produce yields and quality are greatly improved by watering at times when drought stress would affect the part of the plant that is gathered. Leafy crops such as lettuce and spinach should never be short of water. Onions require little or no watering. Most other crops need watering at sowing and transplanting time, and then again as the fruits, roots or tubers are developing. It is also a good idea to give a single, thorough watering about two weeks before harvest
  • Lawns require great quantities of water for thorough irrigation, and this is a questionable use of a scarce resource for any other than high quality lawns or sports turf. Instead of watering in dry periods, mow less closely and less frequently. Brown patches usually recover when the autumn rains return
  • Mulching with a layer of organic matter or gravel at least 5cm (2in) thick, or using opaque mulching sheets, reduces moisture loss from the upper layers of the soil. This may amount to as much as the equivalent of 2cm (0.75in) of rain
  • Removing weeds is vital, as weeds use up valuable soil moisture reserves
  • Planting new plants between autumn and spring gives them the best chance of growing roots before dry weather begins.

Richard Lovell Assistant General Manager & Web Sales

8th July 2018

The Newbie!! Richard Lovell Assistant General Manager

The Newbie!! Richard Lovell Assistant General Manager

Well I thought I had better introduce myself.......

I am the new guy. Yes, you can all sympathise with me. Nothing is more exciting, frightening, daunting and down right nerve wracking than starting a new job. Well it is for little ole me anyway. All those things to learn and all the major mistakes you are probably going to make. Just awful. But here I am. The new Assistant General Manager for the West Somerset Garden Centre and absolutely delighted to be here. There are a few years experience under my belt in the industry (nearly 30 in fact) having worked across the Bristol area, predominantly in Garden Centres and in various roles from Nursery (Plants) Manager, Retail Ops Manager, Horti Manager, Dept manager  etc etc. Working for one of the biggest garden centres in the South West right down to probably the smallest. I`ve been a busy boy and have seen many `new`plants, trends, styles and unfortunately centres come and go. Starting at Cadbury Garden Centre when I was 20 after spending a few years training to be a tailor I knew my real interest lay in Horticulture. My old boss at that time, of whom I have the most respect, took the chance on this freaky looking lad and gave me the job as Houseplant Dept General Assistant....... and I never looked back and have never stopped loving huge tropical looking leafy things and orchids.

So yes, its all new and quite terrifying but I am slowly learning the ropes working with these fantastic people for this brilliant garden centre nestled in the heart of Minehead..... and loving it.

I have been given the task of taking on the internet side of the business and all the social media platforms due to our previous glamorous Assistant Manageress (Juliet) is leaving us to go and live in the big city. Nobody is genuinley more sad to see her go than I. But I wish her all the best for the future and in her new job in which she will be amazing...... after being the `Newbie` for a while.

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!