Tiers (Tears?) 2 & 3 bring with them the potential for a bit of a Pollyanna moment; the ‘Glad Game’ at its height. How LOVELY - even more time for all those worthy jobs (and thank you, Julian, for explaining the frog business – Mark Twain clearly has a lot to answer for).
For those of us mere mortals whose lawns have yet to be scarified and aerated and whose fallen leaves are yet to be found happily decomposing in rows of perforated bin bags, take heart! There’s time! On a dry day before the frosts set in you can sally forth and catch up…what a fabulous thought.
With Christmas just minutes away, we’d love to help with your Christmas shopping. How about giving an Ashridge voucher so your friends and family can choose their own fruit or ornamental trees, roses, shrubs or climbers to be delivered in the new year?
Gift Vouchers
As far as presents go, there’s little to beat a living, eco-friendly thing of beauty that lasts for years. The embodiment of all the qualities we hold dear and important, what more could one ask in these strange times (especially while bare-root planting is still on the cards…)
Christmas trees – for those who ordered in September, your glorious, glossy Nordmann Fir will be delivered in the week commencing 7th December. Sadly we are otherwise sold out.
Heroes of the moment…looking good now
Beech hedging: those fluttery russet leaves add much-needed colour and texture to bare winter landscapes. (Useful quiz info: beech leaves are ‘marcescent’ - marcescence being the failure of leaves to drop in winter.)
Ivy: much maligned, ivy is not only beautiful, but has a multitude of virtues. It bears berries (a lifeline in harsh winters for many birds), provides year-round shelter for wildlife and is an invaluable source of late season nectar. It also doesn’t kill trees…
Erysimum linifolium Bowles Mauve
Erysimum linifolium Bowles Mauve: this famously brilliant wallflower is a great addition to any garden. Its rich, scented mauve flower power is legendary and long-lasting. Shortlisted for the Chelsea Plant of the Centenary for the decade 1973-1982 with good reason. Whilst this is sold out now, it will be available next year.
Sloes: those luscious, plump, purplish blackthorn fruits are ready to pick and just begging to be made into sloe gin or sloe whisky. They’re rich in nutrients and high in antioxidants – the perfect excuse.
Bare-root roses, silver birch, crabapples and honeysuckle. Handy Andy’s video is a must-watch for perfect honeysuckle planting technique and also explains how to avoid mildew…
And do remember that although it is the ideal time for bare-root planting, if your soil is sodden (love that alliteration), it’s worth heeling your plants in until the ground is less of a quagmire. Here’s how to do it
Winter Pruning an Overgrown Pyracantha

Late November and Decemebr is a time of deep dormancy for hedging and is best trimmed in winter, when new growth can be cut back hard to encourage bushiness and flowering , so if you want to drastically reduce the size of a pyracantha bush, now is a good moment before the hard frosts set in.

For some handy tips on the best way to tame your out of control pyracantha, take a look at the video of Head Nurseryman Andy pruning a Pyracantha.
A new monthly feature on interesting people who just love growing things...

Once described as ‘wild child turned plant whisperer’, Wiltshire based Lady Tania Compton is one of the UK’s foremost garden designers. An iconic figure in the world of horticulture, she found inspiration and mentorship working with Penelope Hobhouse in her Somerset garden. Click here to read the interview.
Every month our customer support team picks out a topic that has generated lots of questions from customers...
How to prune my fruit tree?

It's ideal time to prune fruit trees with pips not stones, i.e. apples, pears, figs etc but not cherries and plums.
Take a look at the videos of pruning your trees here. Once the leaves have all fallen, any frost free day between now and February is perfect!

Bring in outdoor pots and plants or raise them on pot feet and wrap in fleece. It’s hardly rocket science, but just to check you are pot-footing and fleecing correctly, do watch Andy’s latest blockbuster video


  • 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
On chilly winter days, after a bracing morning in the garden, what could be more comforting than a glass of warming mulled cider. The very thought is bliss.
  • 1½ litres dry cider
  • 7 tbsp apple brandy, apple liqueur, calvados or just brandy
  • 400ml apple juice
  • 75g dark brown sugar
  • Zest 1 orange, pared into strips
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks broken in half
  • 1 tbsp allspice berries or just some dried cranberries
  1. Pour the cider, calvados/spirit/ liqueur, apple juice and sugar into a large saucepan, and gently heat to mull. Don’t boil.
  2. Add the orange zest and spices, bring to a simmer, then turn down and keep on a low heat for 20-30 mins. Ladle into glasses or mugs to serve. Watch out, they will be hot!
Merry Christmas
Our blogs are written by garden designers and passionate gardeners (not mutually exclusive) making them well informed and opinionated... So if you want ideas that may be relevant to your garden have a look at this month's scribblings:

Stop and Smell the Roses
Crab Apple Trees: Year-Round Interest
Soft Fruit
Fruit Trees
Garden Trees
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