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Gardening

Get them growing…Inspire the next generation of gardeners

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The benefits of being in nature have many positives and spending time in the garden is a great way to encourage less screen time, in a calm, plug-free space.  

As National Children’s Gardening Week returns this May (29th May – 6th June) it’s the perfect time to nurture children and grandchildren’s interest in the great outdoors. 

Not your average garden centre, Dobbies is on a mission to inspire everyone of all ages to have a grow – no matter the size of your garden. Not only that, but they are encouraging families to use sustainable products and practices.

Sharing expert advice and ideas for National Children’s Gardening Week, Dobbies Horticultural Director Marcus Eyles said:  “With the return of warmer weather, it’s a busy time in the garden, with young plants maturing, seasonal flowers in bloom, and plenty of wildlife to watch out for. There are many easy to grow plants to get little ones interested. Sunflower growing competitions always cause lots of excitement to see whose plant can grow the tallest!  

Marcus continued: “Passing down both knowledge and a passion for gardening to future generations is so important, as there are many valuable life skills that can be learned in the process. From practicing patience, to learning about the science of growing and sustainability – the garden naturally combines learning with playtime.” 

red green and yellow chili peppers and green chili peppers

Ideas to get them growing… 

Grow your own – Edible plants to grow now 

There are plenty of easy fruit and vegetables to grow, plus many that don’t require much space at all, with containers, window boxes and wall planters all making great mini vegetable gardens and some varieties, such as tumbling cherry tomatoes, growing happily in hanging baskets. 

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GYO is an ideal way to introduce your children to the enjoyment of growing their own food, broadening their understanding of where the food we eat comes from and also how easy it can be to grow many everyday items on your doorstep.  

  • Lettuce Little Gem (Strip £2.99) 
  • Tomato Moneymaker (9cm £1.49) 
  • Cucumber Snack Mini (Strip £2.99)
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Nurture nature, plants that will support garden wildlife 

  • Dahlia (1L £3.99) 
  • Bidens Bee Dance (1L £4.99) 
  • Lavandula Hidcote (2L 9.99)

Jungle – create your own Jurassic Jungle 

Children will love to grow their very own garden jungle, the perfect backdrop for little explorers to play in! 

Outdoors:  

  • Phoenix canariensis (£9.99) 
  • Phormium ‘Brown Sugar’ (3L – £18.99) 
  • Fargesia assorted (2L – £19.99) 

Indoors:

  • Monstera – Cheese plant 
  • Dypsis – Parlour palm 
  • Microsorum – Crocodile fern 
  • Cacti & succulents – easy to grow favourites 
  • Delsperma – Pickle plant 
  • Aloe vera 
  • Mimosa pudica – commonly known as a sensitive plant, it shrivels up when you touch it then relaxes again after a few mins – children will be in wonder of it!


Why not give them their own patch in the garden? 

Family gardening is on the rise. This involves splitting up your patch, so children can have a dedicated area to care for; a raised bed can be an ideal solution for this. Get them involved from the beginning by adding personalised signs and finding out what they would like to grow. From sunflowers to carrots, there are plenty of easy-to-grow plants and vegetables. 

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Wildlife spotting 

A brilliant way to get children outside and to learn about the natural world around them – plus a great chance to talk to them about sustainability and the important of environmentally-friendly products. One of the simplest activities is to spend time watching for visiting birds and keeping a tally of how many you see together. Throughout the year they will start to notice different species of garden birds and you can help to encourage them by setting up a bird feeder or installing a bird house. Making bird food is a fun and messy play activity for the weekend! 

Tool kit for little helpers in the garden…

For more information visit dobbies.com
Go to dobbies.com/podcasts to listen to the ‘Gardening with kids’ podcast. 


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Gardening

Dobbies announces ‘Helping Your Community Grow’ shortlist

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Garden centre, Dobbies is helping one Swansea Bay community project brighten up their green space with its Helping Your Community Grow initiative.

This spring, Dobbies’ Swansea store is supporting a sustainable project through its popular initiative. In recent months, community projects in Swansea were invited to nominate themselves for support and now a shortlist has been selected by local team members. People in Swansea and the surrounding area now have the chance to vote for their favourite project.

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The winning project will then receive advice, products and support from their local Dobbies’ team. Sustainable products, such as peat-free compost and recycled pots, will be use wherever possible.

Silver Lining Care is a therapeutic children’s residential home, offering a wide range of restorative activities and day-to-day support. The residential home is hoping to use Dobbies’ support to transform its back garden into a vegetable patch, plant up some flowers and shrubs, and improve the overall look and feel of the garden.

Primrose Hill Community Garden has brought locals together to transform and enjoy a small patch of forgotten space, which has become a big attraction to local wildlife. Sustainability is at the heart of this community garden, where the team have been collecting rainwater for the plants and using natural products as fertiliser. The group is looking for Dobbies’ support in supplying tools and storage equipment for everyone to use. 

Cwmafan Community Orchard operates a sustainable space where residents of all ages or abilities can come together and get involved in helping this green space bloom. If successful, Dobbies’ help would provide sustainable products such as peat-free compost, in addition to essential trees, tree stakes and guards to help this project flourish. 

Dobbies’ CEO, Graeme Jenkins, said: “Helping Your Community Grow is a really popular initiative in Swansea and we’ve seen a great response from community groups and projects looking to make a difference to their local area. It’s been positive to see so many projects place importance on sustainability and environmentally-friendly products.

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“Now the community voting gets underway and we’re looking forward to seeing which projects receive our support.”

In addition to the Swansea winner, the project which receives the most votes across the UK will win the national Helping Your Community Grow title, gaining additional support from Dobbies to deliver their project.

There will be further opportunities for community groups looking to brighten up their local areas. Community groups are invited to contact their local store for details of the community initiatives available on a case-by-case basis.

Voting will remain open until 16 May. For more information on how to register your vote, visit Helping Your Community Grow | Dobbies Garden Centres.

(Lead image: Andrew Cawley)

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Gardening

Begonias set to be Swansea’s most popular bloom this spring

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With spring well and truly here and the gardening season in full swing, research from garden centre retailer, Dobbies, has found that a massive 92% of Swansea locals are looking forward to doing more gardening this spring.

The research, from Independent Media News, looked into this year’s gardening trends, attitudes towards gardening, garden centres themselves and some of the misconceptions about the UK’s favourite pastime.

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Dobbies’ Swansea store has had a great start to the season and looking at customer trends from last year and this year to-date, General Manager, Matthew Coombes, predicts Begonias will be the most popular plant for Swansea gardeners this spring.

Begonia are a great way to bring some colour to your inside or outside space. Often used as houseplants or in a shaded summer bed in the garden, these easy-care plants need little maintenance and can thrive in a partially shaded or filtered sunlight spot.

Begonias will bloom in the garden continuously from summer right the way through until frost, and then you’re best taking them inside the house as they are not perennial plants.

Research from Dobbies shows that almost 1/3 of Swansea residents are investing in plants they can use both indoor and outdoors, and Begonia is the perfect plant to do that. There are many ways you can display your Begonias, and we often see customers add these to their hanging baskets, window boxes or borders for a pack of colour.

Dobbies’ Horticultural Director, Marcus Eyles, encourages Swansea residents to Spring it on this year by sharing his top tips on Begonias and why they are so popular in Wales: “Begonias are a great addition to any garden or house, no matter the size or shape of your borders or room.

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“We recommend planting Begonias in the garden during May when the frost is long gone to maximise their flowering potential and suggest mulching well with peat-free compost to encourage strong growth.

“These hardy blooms thrive in a shaded spot and can go a while without watering so don’t worry if you miss a feed.”

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Carmarthenshire

New book by celebrated photographer celebrates calendar year at Aberglasney Gardens

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Celebrated photographer Nigel McCall’s has launched his first ever book ‘Aberglasney Gardens, a Calendar Year‘ which features his beautiful photographs of the Gardens through the seasons. 

The 168-page hardback book, printed and bound by Gomer Press, includes almost 250 colourful photographs of the Gardens throughout the seasons, with plant identification captions by Aberglasney’s Head Gardener, Joseph Atkin. 

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The book’s foreword has been written by Chris Beardshaw. Many will know Chris from his long broadcasting career, which began in 1997 and includes BBC2 television hit series such as Gardeners’ World, Hidden Gardens and the hugely popular The Flying Gardener, amongst many others.

Chris is heard by millions as a panelist on BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time where he regularly faces a live audience of gardening enthusiasts. Chris can currently be seen as a regular presenter of BBC2’s Beechgrove Garden where he joins the team in the garden, takes part in plants trails and visits inspirational gardens. 

Peter Burgess, Chairman of Aberglasney’s Board of Trustees was keen to have a book published which brought all of Nigel’s images together for those who prefer looking at photographs as a hard copy rather than on social media. 

Peter said, “Unless you visit every single part of the 10 acres of Aberglasney, every single day of the year, you will not see all of the wonders the Gardens produce. There are many hundreds of beautiful photographs that Nigel has taken over the years which are stored electronically to document all the different plant types we have. 

“Having to close the Gardens to the public due to various lockdowns over the past couple of years made us realise that we should collate all of these beautiful photographs into a book for everyone to enjoy.”    

Nigel McCall has spent eight years documenting Aberglasney’s changing seasons through the lens of a camera which can be seen on the Gardens’ website and social media. He has taken almost 2,000 images of the Gardens and has won many awards for his photos over the years. 

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Nigel said, “The photographs in the book are a selection of my personal favourites. This book has enabled me to share the true wonder and atmosphere of Aberglasney, as I see it, throughout the calendar year. From the snowdrops in the quiet depths of winter, to the carpet of bluebells in May and then beautiful shades of autumn in November. My job is to photograph the excellent work of the gardeners and present it in a way which inspires people to visit. I hope everyone will enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed taking the photographs that are included.” 

The book ‘Aberglasney Gardens’ a calendar year’ is available to purchase from the shop at the entrance to Aberglasney, priced £19.95. 

(All images: Aberglasney Gardens)

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