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Hedges good enough to eat

For something a little bit different, try planting an edible hedge for a dual-purpose boundary with all the benefits of a hedge and a generous harvest to boot. Blackthorn is laden with fat purple-black sloes in autumn, while elder is fast-growing and you can use the flowers to make cordial. Other edible hedgerow plants include snowy mespilus for its sweet black berries, Myrobalan plums and dog roses for their hips.

Plant of the Week: Salix caprea pendula

Plant of the Week: Salix caprea pendula

The Kilmarnock willow is perhaps the best-loved of small garden trees, a graceful little thing no taller than a person with arching branches cascading in a waterfall of fresh green foliage all summer. Its best season, though, is early spring when the 'pussy willow' catkins erupt from bare branches like furry golden dormice, so soft you won't be able to resist stroking them as you pass.

In the open garden, give your Kilmarnock willow a damp, sunny spot to show it off at its best: they are so architectural they make very fine specimen trees for the centre of a lawn. They're also very happy in large containers, though make sure you keep it well watered as willows never like to dry out.

Keep the tree's lovely waterfall shape with a little light pruning in winter, taking out any shoots growing in the wrong direction and spoiling its shape, plus any which are showing signs of disease or which have died back. Every few years, shorten new growth by about a third to encourage the tree to produce lots of new shoots and keep its dense curtain of foliage looking good.