Much Ado About Mulch

Summer is well and truly over (if we can call it a summer this year?!) and the leaves are starting to fall as autumn brings the wind, rain and even frost.

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Fallen leaves can pose a hazard in the garden; they can be a haven for pests and disease, as well as becoming dangerously slippery once it rains.

Rather than leaving them to rot on the ground, you can collect them and turn them into leaf mould, a type of mulch that is a nutritious, inexpensive material which will provide many health benefits your plants, soil, containers and borders, including:

  • Improving soil texture, helping drainage
  • Helping to retain moisture
  • Protecting roots from extreme temperatures
  • Suppressing weeds and keeping containers and borders looking attractive and tidy

The process of making leaf mould is very simple. Start by raking up all the leaves from your garden into a large pile, or, for an easier method, use a leaf blower – your back will thank you for it!

Next, either place the leaves in a compost bin, a container made from chicken wire or bin liners. To help improve the leaf mould, you can also add the grass clippings from your last mow this year, which will add more nutrient to the mixture.

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You can leave the mixture to slowly break down, and it can be used next spring or anytime over the next two years. To help it break down quickly, use a shredder to cut the leaves into small pieces. It is important to keep the mixture damp, so add water every now and then. You can also turn the mixture over once every few weeks; this will aerate it and cause it to break down further.

When you’re ready to use it, the leaf mould mix should be placed over the top of cultivated soil. It does not need to be mixed in with the existing soil – having it sit on top will help to protect plant roots from the cold, like a blanket, and stop weeds from creeping out to the surface!

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Plant Now and Reap the Rewards in Spring!

Garden growth and colour is starting to slow down and change at this time of year. Leaves will begin to turn and fall, and shorter days and dark nights will soon be here.

A little planning now will mean that flowers start to reappear again next year, as early as January, meaning there’ll be plenty of colour come spring time.

The easiest way to achieve this is to plant spring and summer flowering bulbs in September, October and November.

We’ve created a list of some ideal bulbs that will ensure lots of colour:

  • Snowdrops –

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Plant in late September and they will emerge from the frozen ground in January and last until late February. They are a welcome reminder that spring is on its way and are ideal from borders and containers. They don’t mind a shady area, so can also be planted under trees or shrubs. You can leave them and they will spread naturally.

 

  • Daffodils –

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Plant by the end of September or early October. These typically flower in February and last until May. There are many different varieties of daffodils, all in delicate shades of yellow, orange and cream.

 

  • Crocus –

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Also available in many different colours, and great to group together along a border or in a planter. If planted in autumn these will start to appear by February.

 

  • Lilies –

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Most summer-flowering lilies are hardy plants that are best planted in pots and enjoy full sun, flowering in May through to July. Available in lots of striking colours, our favourite is ‘Stargazer’.

 

  • Alliums –

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Delightful flowers that are a member of the onion family – but not edible – some varieties resemble pom-poms in a range of colours! These are hardy plants that aren’t sensitive to frosts. Plant them in September or October and they will flower from May!

 

  • Tulips –

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Available in almost every colour imaginable, these are a favourite flower for many and look beautiful in a cluster. Plant in November and they will start to flower in April.

 

  • Agapanthus –

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A beautiful erect plant with large round flower heads that last for several weeks. Colour vary but usually are blue and white. They are ideal for pots and borders and should be planted from October.

 

Read the planting instructions carefully for each of the above, as the depth and required growing conditions are very important to ensure a healthy plant and colourful display.

 

 

 

Do you know your hover from your cylinder? A brief guide to lawn mowers

Electric, rotary, hover, cylinder… small garden, large garden… how do you know which is the best lawn mower for your needs? We have put together this brief guide about the different types of mower, which we think will help to make your decision easier.

If you have any questions, get in touch via Twitter or Facebook.

Rotary Mowers

This type of mower is generally robust and versatile, able to cut grass on rough, sloping and flat terrain. It has blades which rotate horizontally at a height of your choosing. Petrol and electric models are available, and are ideal for the weekly or fortnightly trim of an average sized garden. They can also cope under some strain, for example on a lawn that has areas of thick, overgrown grass.

RM40C

Cylinder Mowers

These mowers have blades at the front of the models, which rotate in a circular motion against a fixed bottom blade. Great for very fine cutting on a level surface; they will get your lawn looking perfect down to the last millimetre! They are available as petrol, electric and hand-pushed models.

HM38C

Hover Mowers

These are a type of rotary mower with a horizontally spinning blade, but with an added air cushion which makes the mower hover above the grass. This floating mechanism makes the lawn mower incredibly lightweight and manoeuvrable, and would be ideal for use on unusually-shaped or curved lawns.

Cordless Mowers

Cordless lawn mowers are exactly that: cable free and therefore, less fussy. They can be either petrol or battery-powered. The popularity of battery-powered gardening equipment has increased dramatically over recent years, because of their convenience and surprising power. Unlike petrol mowers, battery-powered tools generally require less maintenance and up-keep than petrol, especially when preparing for winter.

Many cordless mowers can also be self-propelled, alleviating much of the effort required to push, so you are able to mow larger areas without fatigue.

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Rear Roller Mowers

These electric or petrol-driven mowers come with an added feature – a rear roller that flattens the grass, forcing it to lay in the same direction, enabling you to create those highly sought-after lawn stripes!

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Here at Cobra, we have a huge range of all of the lawn mowers mentioned above, so why not take a look?

Gardening Jobs for July

July means that summer is in full swing (despite the odd downpour!), and the garden is buzzing with growth, colour and wildlife. What jobs can you be getting on with this month to keep your outside space looking at its most vibrant?


Lawncare

At this time of the year, the lawn will need mowing regularly. Ideally, make sure the grass is dry when you cut – mowing damp grass can be detrimental to the lawn and can prevent your lawnmower from running smoothly. If the weather is particularly hot, set your mower to cut slightly higher than usual – this means you won’t be cutting your lawn quite so short, which will stop it from drying out too quickly in the sunshine.

It is also a good idea to use a quick-acting summer feed on your lawn now, if you haven’t already given it a spring feed. At this time of year, a fertiliser that is high in Nitrogen will promote green, healthy growth and will also help to thicken the grass.

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Borders and Beds

Throughout July you should be regularly deadheading your bedding plants to keep them flowering throughout the summer.

Most flowering garden plants in containers, borders and hanging baskets will benefit from deadheading and don’t worry about damaging the plant. Simply removing a flower that is fading, or has died, will stop the plant from transferring energy trying to repair it, instead, it can use that energy to produce new growth.

You can deadhead many plants such as pansies, petunias, polyanthus and rhododendron using your finger and thumb. For more substantial stalks, such as those on dahlias and marigolds, use secateurs or scissors to ensure a clean cut.

Some flowering plants like fuchsias will cleverly deadhead themselves! But even if you deadhead a plant by mistake or incorrectly, don’t worry, you are unlikely to cause permanent damage and they will soon recover.

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Water, water everywhere…

Make sure you regularly water your garden throughout the growing season, particularly containers and hanging baskets, as these will dry out first in hot conditions.

The best time to water your garden is in the evening, when the sun is no longer at its hottest. It might seem like a good idea to water your garden first thing in the morning, but once the sun reaches its peak at midday, any droplets of water left on leaves and grass will burn off, scorching the plants and lawn. If you have to water during the hottest times of the day, try to water directly on to the soil, avoiding plant stems and leaves.

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Remember to relax!

July is one of our favourite gardening months because many of the necessary tasks involve the maintenance and upkeep of the work you already carried out earlier in the spring.

As a result, it’s important that you remember to take a step back and appreciate your hard work. July and August will see the fruits of your earlier planning and efforts, so a well-deserved break with a glass of something cool and refreshing is in order!

 

Celebrate National Children’s Gardening Week

It is National Children’s Gardening Week this week, 29th May – 4th June, and we want you to celebrate by getting your kids involved in gardening this summer.

Gardening is a great activity for children and adults alike – it is good exercise and an excellent way for children to learn about plants, animals and insects, as well as getting them to stop staring at a screen (for a few minutes at least!).

Here are some ideas you can use to get your child gardening. These activities are suitable for kids of all ages and are lots of fun!

  1. Plant seeds!

It sounds obvious – but it’s the easiest and best way to get kids interested in gardening. They love planting a seed and watching it sprout. It gives them the opportunity to care for and nurture the plant, and if you get them growing vegetables, children are more likely to eat something that they have helped to grow!

Some of the seeds that are easier to grow than others, and are big and easy to handle, are: peas, sunflowers and broad beans.

sowing seeds

  1. Build a bug hotel

This one is great for children to be creative and get a bit messy, but it’s also a good excuse for you to tidy up the garden, too.

First, gather any old bricks, wood, rocks, slates, logs, stones, tubes, plant pots and anything else you can find.

Start building – the design and how you approach this is up to you, just make sure it is going to stand on a reasonably flat, firm base, so that it doesn’t topple over. I would recommend creating a stable platform using bricks, then pile up the other bits and bobs you find. The aim is to create a tower of objects that have plenty of holes, nooks and crannies, perfect for hundreds of insects to call home.

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  1. Plant a butterfly garden

This one isn’t the easiest or quickest, but planting flowers that attract both caterpillars and butterflies will delight your children.

You can choose which flowers you grow based on which butterflies you would like to attract. For example, milkweed attracts the beautiful Monarch butterfly. Many meadow flowers and dandelions, daisies and everlastings also attract a range of different types of butterfly including Orange Sulphur and Eastern Black Swallowtail.

Plant your butterfly garden in an area of your garden that gets plenty of sun, but isn’t too exposed to the wind.

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Whatever you decide to do, just remember to keep chemical-based products, as well as gardening tools and equipment, locked away and safely out of children’s reach.

Let us know how you’re getting your children interested in gardening this summer!

Some of the best gardening and flower shows you must visit this year

There are dozens – no, HUNDREDS – of different garden and flower shows and exhibitions each year in the UK. The most famous of these shows are undoubtedly the RHS’s, with RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which is taking place this month, being the most famous and highly-anticipated of them all.

But there are plenty of other shows to choose from across the country, each offering something different to explore.

This month, Plant Lovers’ Day (27th May) at Creake Abbey, Norfolk is now in its tenth year and brings together specialist plant nurseries to show off their stunning collections of plants, flowers, herbs and shrubs. Set in a beautiful location it makes a great day out for all the family, and all profits from the day goes to charity.

The Blenheim Flower Show (23rd – 25th June) is a popular exhibit that takes place in the grounds of the breath-taking Blenheim Palace – one of the largest palaces in the UK. Featuring everything garden-related from food and drink, show gardens and even Alan Titchmarsh!

blenheim palace

If you’re looking for something a little different, then the new Garden & Harvest Festival (16th – 17th September) at Forde Abbey in Somerset may be just the ticket. It’s in September, and will feature autumnal gardening ideas, demonstrations and harvest-related entertainment. A great alternative to the spring and summer flower shows!

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Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can only go to a garden or flower show if you’re a gardening expert. In fact, these shows may be even better for the beginner gardener because it can be a great introduction to the world of horticulture. With thousands of plants and products to discover, it’s a great way to get started!

http://www.cobragarden.co.uk/

Will you be celebrating National Gardening Week? …You should be!

National Gardening Week, launched by the RHS to encourage people to dig in (literally) and do some gardening, is 10th – 16th April.

The benefits of gardening are more than just planting some bulbs and hoping that they grow the following spring – it is also a great way to stay healthy and happy.

After a long day in the garden, we at Cobra like nothing more than taking a step back and seeing the fruits of our labour. It is a chance to be creative, experiment and get some exercise.

Gardening is a wonderful opportunity to get children involved too, helping them learn about plants, wildlife and the process of nurturing a plant from just a seed.

If you’re looking for some ‘me’ time, it can also be a therapeutic activity to undertake on your own. Research suggests that spending just five minutes in the garden and simply looking at nature can help to reduce blood pressure and increase feelings of happiness!

There are so many things you can do to get involved with National Gardening Week, whether it’s cleaning your driveway, planting herbs or mowing the lawn (We have lawnmowers!).1347885647_f6c27b1341_m

For more information on National Gardening Week, visit http://nationalgardeningweek.org.uk/

http://www.cobragarden.co.uk/