Cat, Guest Posts, TV, Water Features

2 tier

Over the last few weeks on EastEnders, Masood has been building our 2 tier classical stone fountain in his front garden for Zainab.

The fountain really looked great in the front garden of Albert Square, complementing the Victorian terrace behind. It’s a lovely piece and would really only take an hour or so to assemble, unlike his attempts to build it in several days.

soaps-eastenders-4581-5Unfortunately, the screenwriters used the fountain as a symbol of their relationship and, when the plot drove them apart, Masood attacked it with a hammer.

As you can imagine, we’re as heart-broken as he is. We’ve tried to contact Masood to help him out with some replacement pieces, but our letters to Albert Square keep getting returned as “unknown address”.

wedding-meCat works in the marketing team and is responsible for online marketing, social media and the newsletter.

She spends most of her time reading about a variety of interesting facts, such as oddly named Canadian towns, obscure holidays and unusual gardening.

She mostly writes about Primrose news and current events.

See all of Cat’s posts.

Flowers, Gardening, Gardening Year, How To, Paul Peacock - Mr Digwell

Mr Digwell’s Gardening Tips for February
snow
Snow!

Given the snow and rain we are all suffering from, one of the best things you can do in the garden in February is stay off the soil until it has dried off somewhat. I am always amazed at the amount of tidying up needed when the snow goes, it’s as though the garden has all kinds of secrets slowly revealed by the receding white. Once it all looked pristine and smart, and then nature sets in with her chaos and leaves the garden a scruffy mess.

So continuing with the odds and ends in the garden, like cleaning tools, and is a good move. My absolute favourite is smashing old ceramic pots to make drainage crocks, and this year I seem to have a multitude of weatherworn pots to bash with my hammer – but since I had to go to hospital to have a piece of pot removed from my eye, I always wrap them in an old sack before bashing commences. Continue Reading

Animals, Guest Posts

There are many advantages to encouraging wildlife to thrive in your garden. Not only is it fascinating to witness nature up close (especially if you have children), but encouraging certain types of creatures to take up residence in your garden will act as a natural deterrent for many common pests.

Hedgehog Eating food in the garden
For example:

Birds make a valuable addition to any garden as they will eat most insects, with certain kinds of birds mercifully enjoying snacking on slugs and snails. Pest-eating birds include: robins, magpies, wrens, song thrushes, blackbirds and fieldfares.

While insects are amongst the pests you want to eradicate, there are some insects that are actually useful to have in your garden.

Ladybirds, lacewings, parasitic species of wasps, hoverflies and beetles are among the good kinds of insects who like to eat other pests common to UK gardens.

Other creatures to encourage are hedgehogs, frogs, toads, bats and newts, all of which enjoy eating the pests you hate as part of their daily diet.

So if you want to attract (the right kind of) wildlife to your garden, try incorporating some of these useful features:

Garden pond – Ponds are loved by many creatures, such as frogs, dragonflies and newts, which all need water to breed; birds which use them to drink and bathe, and water boatmen, which live on the bottom of ponds and consume algae and plant debris.

Compost heap – A compost heap provides a place for hedgehogs to hibernate and for slowworms to breed; it will also supply valuable compost that will naturally fertilise your garden’s soil.

Long grass and nettles – Long grassy areas will attract insects, provide shelter for animals, and food for predators.

Thick hedge – A hedge gives nesting areas and cover for birds, while berries provide food during the winter.

Logs – Logs provide an excellent hiding place for all sorts of amphibians, frogs and ground beetles.

Food for Wildlife

Providing food doesn’t have to just mean hanging a bird feeder or throwing out some nuts for the squirrels. In the autumn and winter months, berries and seeds are in plentiful supply, providing food for birds and many other insects.

The garden plant Pyracantha provides berries as well as shelter for birds and support for insects; it can also be trained against a wall.

Pyracantha plant provides tasty berries for garden wildlife
Pyracantha

Summer provides you with many options for food. Plants that are rich in nectar can encourage predators such as wasps and hoverflies. Fennel, Dill and Aster plants provide food for many insects, as well as flowers such as Candytuft, Aubrieta and Wallflower, and shrubs such as Viburnum and Buddleia. You should try and include at least one nectar-rich plant for bumblebees.

Shelter

For a wildlife friendly garden, shelter is vital to protect the creatures from predators, give a place to nest, and somewhere to hibernate. Trees and plants such as Evergreen provide all-year round cover.

Rose, Pyracantha and Mahonia shrubs are an excellent choice for nesting and provide berries and hips to eat. Climbers provide much needed protection, camouflage and nesting spots for birds. Bats and hedgehogs can be lured into the garden with a compost heap or piles of leaves, though if you’ve got the cash to spend you can buy a special box shaped house where hedgehogs can hibernate and bats can sleep.

Image Credits: Sids 1 and Muffet

This is a guest post written by Amy Fowler for Garden Topsoil Direct; specialists in compost delivery across the UK. Find out more on their Facebook page or find out more about Amy on Twitter.

Gardening, Grow Your Own, Guest Posts

The benefits of eating fresh fruit and vegetables are something that we are all well aware of. Eating our “five a day” has become a great benchmark for us all to adhere to as we try to stay fit and healthy.

Boost Your Fruit Intake

Eating vegetables is the easy part, as we can simply eat our greens with a tasty steak or chicken breast – but remembering to eat enough fruit is something many of us neglect.
Patio Fruit Trees
Often this will not be intentional, but will simply be because we are too busy to nip to the greengrocers or the supermarket to pick up a bag of apples or oranges. One way we can help to boost our intake of fresh fruit is to invest in a patio fruit tree. These can be placed in even the smallest of gardens or patios and produce fruit that is much fresher and better value for money than supermarket fruit.

Midget Fruit Trees

These are often referred to as dwarf or midget fruit trees and can be obtained from a number of garden centres and online suppliers. They are usually grafted on to a dwarfing rootstock – This stops them from getting too large but does not compromise the size of the fruit whatsoever.

Positioning and Care

In order to give your patio fruit tree the best potential for growth possible, it is prudent to adopt a south facing aspect. This has been known to produce the most abundant crops and should have your plant bearing fantastic fruit in no time at all. Plums, nectarines and peaches all flower at the start of spring so it is also a good idea to protect them from any lingering frost in the early months by covering them with a protective fleece or even storing them under cover. That said, pollinating insects should also be able to roam freely so allow access to your patio fruit trees from the garden.

Maintenance

If growing your patio fruit trees in garden pots, it is a good idea to use a good quality fertiliser during the spring and summer months.  This will ensure that any nutrients used up are replaced and that your tree will maintain its foliage and fruit. Also keep an eye on the compost during hot weather and make sure this does not completely dry out, as this could be detrimental to the amount of fruit that your midget fruit tree will produce.

Written by Alan Hamilton on behalf of Mirror Reader offers – the Daily & Sunday Mirror’s reader offers shop. Alan is a keen gardener who finds it hard to stay indoors, even in the harshest of winter weather.