‘No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds - November!’ - Thomas Hood 1844

Plus ça change. Nearly 2 centuries on we certainly had none of that, apart, no doubt, from leaves on the line! What we did have in epic quantities was rain. To describe November as a soggy, squelchy, sodden month would be a shocking understatement. To paraphrase Alan Bennett, it was just one **** biblical deluge after another.

But hey ho, we’re a cheery bunch at Ashridge so we’re thrilled that our somerset-grown, freshly cut fabulous non-drop Nordmann fir Christmas trees are now available (and they’re delivered FREE to your door). The festive season is nigh on here and these balmy temperatures are dropping - great for killing off pests and disease and encouraging plants to go into dormancy in preparation for the growing season.
New plants of the month
We’ve added some beauties to our already pretty magnificent (though we say it ourselves) range of roses. If, like for most of us mere mortals, your Christmas list is a thing of infinite potential rather than concrete fact, we think they’d all make great Christmas presents. We particularly love Prosperity for its fragrant creamy white blooms and the fact that it stands semi-shade and can cope with frost pockets.
Sweet Honey - Floribunda Rose was unveiled at the 2019 Hampton Court Flower Show in July as Rose of the Year 2020. It's an elegant Floribunda (or cluster-flowered) rose, bred by Kordes Roses in Germany.
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Elina Hybrid Tea Rose
Elina Hybrid Tea Rose
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Prosperity Shrub Rose
Prosperity Shrub Rose
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Eustacia Vye® Shrub Rose
Eustacia Vye® Shrub Rose
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My Valentine Tea Rose
My Valentine Tea Rose
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If you’re a crabapple fan (or even if you’re not for that matter), have a look at these two amazing varieties:
Crab apple, Malus Butterball
Crab apple, Malus Butterball
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Crab apple, Malus Gorgeous
Crab apple, Malus Gorgeous
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Butterball’s clouds of white blossom are beloved of bees and other pollinators whilst its October crabs are a feast for birds. It produces up to 10 times the amount of pollen of an ordinary apple tree and the fruit may just be rather good as crab apple liqueur (just add vodka and sugar!).
Julian's Top Tip

It’s the perfect time to plant bare-rooted trees, shrubs and hedging whilst they’re dormant and the soil’s warm enough to allow roots to establish before next spring’s frenzied activity. If your soil is still a quagmirish (new word) nightmare, it’s best to heel them in as a temporary measure before planting them in the ground. Have a look at our latest BAFTA-winning film to see how.
And as long as there’s no frost, you can still plant tulip bulbs in the first week of December.

Do order your Christmas tree ASAP! Our Nordmann firs are super-premium grade (the best quality available), freshly cut, non-drop, long-lasting, glossy, gorgeous and delivered FREE to your door!
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And back to the Christmas present list – how about fruit trees, roses, climbers, bay trees or even an Ashridge Nurseries voucher for the gardeners in your life? None of us want stuff and clutter
Gift Vouchers
Fruit Trees
Bay Trees
Jobs for the Garden
Frozen Rose
  • Prune roses, apple and pear trees, ornamental trees, fruit bushes, wisteria, grapevines and figs.
  • Continue to tidy the garden but leave some wilderness for wildlife.
  • Clear out the greenhouse thoroughly, wash pots and trays, clean and oil your tools and throw away anything that is beyond hope or reasonable repair.
  • Raise pots and containers on feet or bricks and insulate with fleece or similar on frosty nights.
  • If there’s heavy snowfall brush plants upwards to free them of snow. If they are iced, leave them to defrost on their own or their limbs and branches may break.
  • Keep off the lawn in frozen or frosty weather – it can be easily damaged.
For more December jobs, please follow the link.
Of course we bang the drum for planting trees – it’s in our DNA and trees are our passion and our pride. Just a little reminder as to why they’re so fabulous...they help tackle climate change, give us oxygen, store carbon, conserve water, preserve the soil, support wildlife and – it’s been proven – they improve our well-being. They’re beautiful and we love them. Check out our latest blog "National Tree Week: Trees for Small Gardens"
Home-made ones really are unbeatable - ready-made mincemeat is fine, but your own will be infinitely superior! Although it all looks a palava, it’s actually pretty simple and a wonderful way of spending time with your family and preparing for a season of fun and festivity.
  • 6oz/175g raisins
  • 4oz/ 110g sultanas
  • 10oz/ 275g currants
  • 4oz/110g candied, mixed peel, finely chopped
  • 6oz/175g shredded suet (beef or vegetarian)
  • ½lb/250g soft, dark brown sugar
  • ½tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2tsp mixed spice
  • Grated zest and juice 1 lemon
  • Grated zest and juice 1 orange
  • 1 Bramley or cooking apple, cored and finely chopped, no need to peel
  • 4 tbsp brandy (optional)
Mix the ingredients in a bowl, stir well, cover and leave overnight.

The next day put the bowl covered with foil in a preheated oven (225◦F/ 120◦C/gas mark ¼) for 2 hours. This melts the suet, which acts as a preservative, so stir well at this point. Allow to cool and pack into sterilised jars or use immediately.

If you’ve gone to all the effort of making your own mincemeat, you might as well make your own pastry, especially with this easy cheat’s method!
  • 100g lard
  • 80g butter
  • 370g plain flour
  • A little milk and a pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz to look like breadcrumbs. Slowly add 3 tablespoons of milk. Blitz again until a dough begins to form. Tip into a bowl, bring together, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to rest.

On a lightly floured surface roll the pastry ’til no more that 5mm thick. Use cutters to cut the pastry (obviously you’ll need smaller one for the lids) to line and top a muffin tin.  

Fill the pies with mincemeat (not too full or they overflow), brush milk around the sides of the pastry and put a lid on top. Prick with a couple of holes to allow the steam to escape. At this stage you can refrigerate or freeze them, or cook straight away in a preheated oven at 400◦F/200◦C/gas mark 6 for 20-25 minutes. YUM.
Merry Christmas
National Tree Week
National Tree Week: Trees for Small Gardens

To coincide with National Tree Week and the Woodland Trust's plans to plant a 100,000 trees, here's our guide on trees for small gardens. If you saw Channel 5's 'Plant a Tree to Save the World', last night, then you know how important it is to plant trees. Read more
Bee friendly
Bee friendly…

I was momentarily taken aback to hear a bee fizz past my right ear the other day, while out in the garden clearing up a few leaves. It was pretty cold, the kind of day you wish gardening gloves came with fleece lining as standard. Read more
We deliver more than 2,500 varieties of plants direct to your door – Christmas trees, hedging, garden and fruit trees, bulbs, climbers, roses, soft fruit and accessories.

Have a look online and leave the rest to us – we look forward to hearing from you, and in the meantime enjoy your garden and (hopefully!) some lovely weather.  

Christmas Trees
Soft Fruit
Garden Bulbs
Garden Trees
Hedging Plants
Fruit Trees
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Phone: 01963 359444
(Phones open Mon-Fri 9.00am to 5.00pm)
Grove Cross Barn, Castle Cary, Somerset, BA7 7NJ
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