PENTLAND PLANTS BLOG

The latest news, events and tips from our team

Welcoming in the wild

Hazel lives in a new build half an hour from Edinburgh. The promise of a garden tempted her from the city, only she's never had a garden before and isn’t sure where to start. She does have a book called ‘Garden plants of Scotland’, a kitchen spoon and a pair of rubber gloves though. In the First Garden blog we’ll follow Hazel as she attempts to grow her first garden with the help of the team at Pentland Plants...

 

Welcoming in the wild

When I was a teenager my Mum had a pet hedgehog. She fed it on steak mince and let it out of its box under the stairs every night to run up and down the corridor. She insisted it move in because apparently it was too small to survive the winter. When I grumbled that it was a noisy wild animal that was keeping me awake at night she’d point to the storms raging outside. Now I’d really like my own pet hedgehog, but it has to live in the garden.

You don’t need to give a hedgehog a home for the winter but there is lots you can do to make your garden a haven for wildlife at any time of the year. Let the grass by the edge of your lawn grow long for insects, build a bug hotel out of sticks and pine cones, put out seed for birds or plant nectar rich flowers to feed the butterflies and bees.

Our back garden still resembles a football pitch more than a garden but making space for wildlife has brought a lot of fun to our house this summer. The whole family has been frog hunting in a pile of mossy rocks scavenged from a nearby field and there are more spiders living there than I like to think about, we’ve cheered when they’ve snared midges and run screaming when they’ve moved at all.

We recycled a wooden pallet into a bug hotel complete with integrated hedgehog suite at the back, as yet unoccupied, removable glass-jar ‘observation chambers’, stacks of sticks and piles of pine cones all topped with a plastic tray planted with scabious to attract the butterflies. An old bucket became a temporary tadpole nursery; we sunk it into the ground and made shade with rocks and grass. It quickly became home to other insects too.

 

There are tadpoles in there.

 

Frogs finding their feet

 

Our bug hotel is ready for visitors.

 

The biggest hit for wild visitors though has been the wildflower meadow. When the grass was first seeded I sprinkled native wildflower seed in a strip at the edge. A family of grey partridges wandered up through the fields every night for a week and ate the lot. None of it grew. So we cheated and unfurled a beautiful roll of meadow matt. Right now it is bursting with red clover and heavy with nectar, the local bees buzz about looking almost drunk.

 

A wild flower meadow brings colour, bees and butterflies to your garden.

 

Gold finches, tree sparrows and even a collared dove are regular visitors to our bird feeder. I bought a little clear box with a perching bar and tray from Pentland Plants that sticks onto the window, it’s amazing to sit right next to it and watch the birds swoop in for a snack. Pentland Plants sell birdfeeders and seed in all sorts of styles so pick one, fill it up and wait for the flock to arrive. Don’t forget to give your birdfeeder a scrub with hot soapy water every now and then to prevent fungus from growing or diseases spreading between the birds.

One brave pair of House Martins built a nest in our kids’ playhouse, watching them turn and glide effortlessly through the tiny hole in the door was incredible. They abandoned it a few days later, probably in favour of a spot where no-one pretends to be a pirate.

 

Mud and grass woven into a nest in the noisiest part of the garden

 

The choices you make when you build your garden can help make your home a haven for smaller creatures too. As more land is turned over to housing, creating spaces that welcome in the wild can provide a lifeline to species that are struggling to find enough food or shelter. A pile of sticks bound with string is still a bug hotel, a container of wild flowers will feed a bee and a patch of long grass will shelter more creepy crawlies than you can count. That said, our favourite visitor so far is one I have to admit is not likely to wander into most gardens but he is very popular here and has helped to tame the overgrown kale patch.

 

Our favourite wild visitor

I’ve found watching a frog emerge from a tangle of grass or a flock of goldfinches descend greedily upon a feeder to be the most rewarding part of building our garden. I’m still hoping to meet a hedgehog and I’ve just found out that Pentland Plants has hedgehog food in stock, I’m not telling my Mum. I will send her a link to this video from the Hedgehog Preservation Society though, it tells us why now it’s more important than ever to provide a home for the lovely slug slurpers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ozSXdYrd8k

To read more about Hazel's gardening blog, First Garden, click here: 
https://www.pentlandplantsgardencentre.co.uk/blog/joy-in-a-bucket.html

 

Continue reading

New plants just in

The annex at Pentland Plants is full of colour just now with a beautiful selection of plants for Autumn.

Our home grown pansies are here! Add a splash of colour to your garden this Autumn.

 

 

Our beautiful, home grown Cyclamen and Dianthus plants are perfect for planting now. Mini 10cm just £2.49.
Large 1L Cyclamen pots only £5.99

 

PLUS

11cm tub and basket plants only £2.99! Add evergreen foliage to your tubs and containers for added height and interest. Large selection to choose from!

 

Continue reading

Pentland Plants Charity Fashion Event 2017

Tickets are now on sale for this year's charity fashion event! (£5 each) **Call 0131 440 0895 to book.**

When: Thursday 14th September 2017, 5.30pm - 8.30pm

Where: Pentland Plants Garden Centre

 

Join us for a brilliant evening of shopping and fun and help us raise money for a really good cause.

Be the first to see our gorgeous new AW17 collections from White Stuff, Brakeburn, Lily&Me, Joe Brown, Lazy Jack, Powder, Regatta and many more.

 

£5 per ticket – here’s what’s included: 

- A fantastic 20% OFF ALL clothing and accessories (including handbags) on the night!* 

- Prosecco & nibbles on arrival

- Guest speaker Ruth Penman from Colour Me Beautiful will be sharing advice on colour analysis & styling 

- Wine tasting by Majestic Wines

- Gin sampling by The Rogue Society Gin Company

- Charity raffle (some FABULOUS prizes to be won!!) 

- Discover products from Younique Make-up and Doterra essential oils

- A special home grown gift from Pentland Plants 

 

ALL PROFITS FROM TICKET SALES AND MONEY RAISED FROM THE RAFFLE WILL BE DONATED TO ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BLIND PEOPLE (RNIB) and their Talking Books service. http://www.rnib.org.uk/scotland

 

Also on the night… our chefs will be extending the opening hours of the café and will be serving a special evening menu*. See our website for full details: https://www.pentlandplantsgardencentre.co.uk/…/fashion-even…

(Don’t forget to book a table when purchasing your tickets.)

 

**Tickets for the event are on sale now and can be purchased at the garden centre, or call 0131 440 0895 to book**

we're all really excited about the event and hope you'll join us for what will be a fantastic evening! 

 

What's on when during the evening: 

 

* 20% discount only available on the night. *Booking required for café meals.

Continue reading

RNIB Fashion Event: BYOB Evening Menu

Tickets are now on sale for our 2017 charity fashion event, which will be taking place on Thursday 14th September 2017! 

***0131 440 0895 to book!***

As part of the evening's celebrations, we'll be extending the opening hours of the cafe, and our chef David and his team will be serving a special, freshly prepared evening menu. Plus, it's BYOB on the evening, so you and your friends can enjoy a couple of glasses over dinner too! 

Here's a sneak peak at the delicious food that will be available on the night:

Evening menu

Mains
Supreme of salmon with a prawn & dill cream sauce, served with baby boiled potatoes and roasted vegetables.

Breast of chicken wrapped in bacon & filled with haggis, served with a whisky cream sauce, potatoes and roasted vegetables

Wild mushroom stroganoff with pilau rice and roasted vegetables

 

Desserts
Cream filled profiteroles with a butterscotch sauce

Raspberry cranachan cheesecake with a berry coulis

Scottish cheese selection served with oatcakes and a home made apple chutney

 

 2 courses only £10.95. Booking required.
Please call 0131 440 0895 to book a table / purchase a ticket for the event

Full details of the event can be found here: https://www.pentlandplantsgardencentre.co.uk/blog/pentland-plants-charity-fashion-event-2017.html

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

Weed & Pest Control

First Garden - our new gardening blog
Hazel lives in a new build half an hour from Edinburgh. The promise of a garden tempted her from the city, only she's never had a garden before and isn’t sure where to start. She does have a book called ‘Garden plants of Scotland’, a kitchen spoon and a pair of rubber gloves though. In the First Garden blog we’ll follow Hazel as she attempts to grow her first garden with the help of the team at Pentland Plants...

 

Slugs, ugh.

You’ve planted your veg, potted your containers, remembered to water them and are beginning to admire the results when the slugs slither in.

The horror of discovering a wee beastie has munched your hostas or devoured the kale you were planning to eat for dinner can push even the kindest gardener to google slug killer.

Slugs, snails, caterpillars and larvae are as inevitable in your garden as rain. You just need to figure out what to do about them. There are so many options. Some a bit full-on chemical, others more in balance with your surroundings.

This summer I’ve tried impaling slugs on circles of crushed egg shells, sacrificing smaller veg plants to a ‘eat me instead’ distraction technique, a bowl filled with beer, picking out slugs by hand and then the long-term game, letting loose baby frogs for a feast. We nurtured frog spawn in a bucket on a diet of fish food and now they are scooping up slugs. 

 

The slug squad ready to eat. 

 

Slug trap and egg shells added after the munching began – don’t forget to make the lip of the trap level with the soil. 

 

After the slugs a march of snails, weevils, caterpillars, weeds and grubs follows. I have three young multi-stem silver birch in the garden that cost a small fortune. When I discovered reams of caterpillars tearing up their leaves I thought of the butterflies they’d soon become and left them be. Then I met my neighbour scooping them off his tree to put on the bird table. It turns out I need to work on my insect ID skills. They were lacewing fly larvae, not caterpillars, and they’ll eat the whole entire tree if you let them.

What have I learnt here? Get advice and stop dreaming about butterflies. If you have bugs in the garden and aren’t sure what to do about them Pentland Plants is a good source of advice. I spoke in-house expert Susie and her top tip was simply ask. Bug problems plague every gardener and there are lots of effective solutions, the staff at Pentland Plants can help you figure out how to tackle yours.

Everyone has different requirements, depending on the size of plot, whether your garden has beds or containers, fruit and veg or perennial and bedding plants. The type of beasties causing the problem, the natural habitat of the space and the other wildlife that lives there are all factors to consider in finding your bug solution.

If you aren’t sure where to start, take a picture of the bug and the damage it’s done then show it to a member of the team.

My Mum used to pay my youngest sister 2p for every slug she put in a plant pot and tipped out in a field. She always had the most pocket money and used to try to sub-contract the job to us older sisters for 1p a slug. She was loaded until we hosted a French exchange student who actually cried with laughter and called her the Dame des Limaces, Queen of the Slugs. There may have been slugs thrown. I told my five-year-old the story and he talked me up to 10p a slug before deciding he didn’t actually want to touch them. 

 

Boy v slug. The slug won. 

 

In a way you have to admire how athletic they are to reach the highest leaves. There’s a primal determination in their ability to get everywhere but that doesn’t mean they have to stay in your garden.

Bugs and how to beat them

Slugs

Wool pellets: organic and with no nasties they feed the plants at the same time.

Slug traps: add juice or a splash of beer and wait for the slugs to plop over the edge.

Copper tape: Slugs steer clear as it gives them a mild electric shock.

Chemical option: Susie recommends Bayer Slug & Snail Killer. 

Snails

Snails live under foliage so check leaves in the daytime to find out where they’re hiding. Or potter around the garden in the evening, with a cup of tea or glass of wine, pick them off and relocate. Do run your fingers under the lips of pots as they like to snuggle in and hide, just watch out for spiders.

Chemical Option: Bayer comes out top again.

Caterpillars

When you see the holes in leaves the damage is already done, the caterpillar has had his fill and moved onto another plant so the trick here is to check neighbouring plants and under leaves. The most effective method is to just pick them off but Carolyn says Bayer’s Bug Free Spray or Bug Clear work well too.

Vine weevil

Loves ornamental plants or fruit plants grown in containers. Between July and October vine weevil larvae live in the soil and gorge on plant roots then the bug emerges to the surface and finishes the plant off by eating the leaves.

Bug Clear Ultra is a chemical option that should do the trick though you can’t use it on anything you plan to eat.

Weeds

Ripping them out by hand always works but there are chemical options too. Susie suggests popping in to chat to a member of staff to find the best option for your plot.

Greenfly and blackfly

Susie mentioned Rose Clear as a good go-to product. It kills pests and also tackles issues like black spot, powdery mildew and rust. She says you should always test it on a small area of the plant first. Liquid Seaweed is another option to help beat bugs and has the added bonus of nurturing plants too.

Susie’s chemical do’s and don’ts

If you decide to use a spray, wait until the weather is dry and calm. Wind spreads the spray and bright sunshine can make product scorch leaves.

Spray when the plants have leaves so it can absorb the product down to its roots. Be aware it can take two to three weeks to see a result.

Always read the label, wear gloves and use it exactly as directed to keep yourself, children, dogs and other wildlife safe.

If you use a product on fruit and veg you plan to eat check the label to be sure it’s safe.

The Royal Horticultural Society is a reliable source of advice too.

And finally…

Bugs and beasties are all part of the balance in a healthy garden. If you don’t kill them chances are a bigger bug or one with more legs will eat them instead. Though there’s one final garden bug I’ve yet to tackle. It did this to the mint – stripped all the leaves out the middle. He did then use them to make me a mojito so I’ve forgiven him. 

 

Mint plant rocking a skinny in the middle look

Continue reading

Subscribe for updates

Add yourself to our mailing list for regular news and updates

Please note that our mailing list is operated in line with our Privacy Policy.

Where to find us

Pentland Plants Garden Centre
Pentland Mains
Loanhead
Midlothian
EH20 9QG

0131 440 0895
shop@pentlandplants.co.uk 

Get in touch

Opening hours

Monday - 9am to 5pm
Tuesday - 9am to 5pm
Wednesday - 9am to 5pm
Thursday - 9am to 5pm
Friday - 9am to 5pm

Saturday - 9am - 5pm
Sunday - 10am - 5pm

Christmas Opening Hours:
Closed: Christmas day, Boxing day and New Year's Day

Get social