Seasonal Gardening Tips


Regularly cutting our lawns may improve kerb appeal, but it has already proven to have serious consequences for bees and pollinators. Whilst we offer and promote Perfect for Pollinator plants to fill the gaps in your borders and to nourish the pollinating wildlife with nectar and pollen, stress-free no-mow lawns are crying out to be utilised. Have an open mind for the beauty and uniqueness they can bring, they don’t have to be unsightly and unkempt and we promise your neighbours won’t be wanting to complain. Although no-mow lawns may traditionally be for the cottage gardener due to their informal yet traditional beauty, we think the benefits that they can bring to an urban garden and surrounding environment is worth promoting.


It’s not all about the bees and the beasties, no-mow lawns provide denser ground cover, are drought resistant, and are generally pretty hardy. That means you’ll be saving water when national supplies are stretched, as well as saving you time which we’d all like more of!


Whilst you’ll be continuing to mow through Summer and Autumn, here are our suggestions to persuade you to ditch your lawn mower next year:


Red Clover
It is true what they say, clover is the sign of a healthy lawn. It acts as a natural fertiliser and takes nitrogen from the air, feeding it down into the soil. Mowing it between May and July may also promote secondary blooms which are a favourite of bees.


Creeping Thyme
This herb meant to be walked upon to release its gorgeous smell, sprinkling the ground with small, lavender coloured flowers. It requires quite a big project to fill an area with plug plants and you’ll also need to clear grass away from the ground that you would like to replace. However, this makes it a great project watching your thyme lawn expand every year.


Its springy foliage and perfect white and yellow flowers will create a fairy tale lawn that you’ll long to sink into. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take trampling well so is best for low traffic areas whilst also enjoying full sun. You’ll only be required to trim ragged roots and spent flowers to ensure fullness, with dwarf varieties requiring even less maintenance as they lack any flowering blooms.



For those of us who do the daily 9-5 grind, we’ll be spending most of our time in the garden in the evenings after work. There are some beautiful and delicate flowers that come to life in the evenings, releasing their fragrances as well as having their flowers enhanced by the glow of the moon.


You may find them referred to as ‘Moon Gardens’ once the sun has gone down, with well curated scented planting around a patio or seating area, as well as incorporating light and white flowers in your field of view. Night-scented stock, Dianthus and Evening Primrose release their scent once the sun has gone down in order to attract nocturnal pollinators such as moths.


Colours that work best in dusk and moon gardens are white, cream, grey and silvery blue. Fatsia Japonica (Spiders Web) not only glows under a bright moon, but its star shaped leaves mimic the sky above on clear nights. Variegated hostas, such as Francee and Patriot, will seem to have glowing edges and stripes for dramatic effect.


If you’re looking for more than just a few twinkling white flowers at night-time, white lobelia allows for a frothy show of ground cover. You can even use white gravel or pebbles amongst your planting or to fill a garden path (it will also make it easier to safely meander through your garden in the evenings).


Make things even more magical with ambient solar lighting. Fairy lights can be draped over a patio seating area or woven atop your fence but resist the temptation to string them around trees – you’ll be unlikely to get an effective charge from the sun if the solar panel is shaded by the tree’s canopy. The gentle trickle of a water feature can further heighten a sense of relaxation… the perfect antidote to a long day at work.



Roses crave lots of sun and do not like their roots waterlogged. Be aware that shaded varieties still require at least 2-4 hours of sun, unlike other varieties that require at least 6 hours of full sun. Continual nutrients through their growing season will ensure that you get the most blooms for your buck, so its worth investing in rose feed – we recommend Westland’s Naturally Rich Rose Food.


Don’t plant a rose in the same spot as one that you have removed. ‘Replant Disease’ or ‘Rose Sickness’ happens when new plants with young root systems enter a soil environment of pests and pathogens, built-up over the life of the mature plant. Eventually, this will kill your rose. If you must, ensure you replace all of the soil from another area of your garden, with the addition of well-rotted manure being beneficial.


Underplant your roses to disguise their bare stems, ensuring not to plant too close to prevent competition for water and nutrients. Good pairing plants require the same conditions as roses, like lavender. As with other areas of your garden, companion planting with marigolds and geraniums can keep pests at bay.  


Although horticulturalists suggest pruning your roses next to a bud at an angle, cutting your roses right back and to exactly the shape you want will not affect how many blooms will be produced. Just ensure that you are pruning in late winter, between mid-February and March.


Here are our recommendations to help you choose the best rose to suit your garden:
• Patio roses grow to about 18” high and are happy in pots and small gardens.
• Hybrid Tea produces large single flowers on long stem, perfect for adding to vases or arrangements.
• Floribunda is a traditional bush that flowers in clusters.
• Shrub roses provide big, old fashioned, simple blooms that are synonymous with the English Country garden.
• Climbing and rambling – one to mention is Zephirine Drouhin that ceases to follow many of the typical rules. A climber that thrives well in shade, with fragrant blooms and no thorns, it is also very tolerant to poor soil conditions.
• Flower carpet roses for ground cover reach a maximum of 3ft high and 5ft wide.


Forget about neat rows and perfect plots, try ornamental vegetable gardening this year to add colour and interest to your garden. This can really make cooking for friends, family and kids a fun and sociable outdoor activity – ingredients picked fresh from the garden to the kitchen or barbecue!


Sometimes we’re so blinded by the necessity of vegetables – doting on them until we can reap our rewards in the kitchen – that we forget that there are lots of varieties that you can grow to add something different to your plate… or why not just plant them to look good amongst your bedding plants?


If you are starting from seed, stick to planting your seeds in rows so that there will be adequate spacing between your crops. Otherwise, you can plant in the greenhouse and split later once your saplings have grown or buy strips of ready to plant veg from our outdoor plant departments.


Companion planting is a method of arranging your flowers and crops so that they can benefit each other to maintain strong and healthy growth without the need for pesticides. Marigold have forever been seen in vegetable plots, but you can also try basil, garlic and nasturtiums for eco-friendly pest control – all of which are edible! * A mixture of strong smells and bright colours help to lure away and confuse unwanted beasties from your delicious plants, but they also benefit in tempting garden friendly bugs such as bees and ladybirds to help control mites and increase pollination.


Height and density are also qualities to consider. Think about how certain crops support each other by helping to protect from gusty winds and bright sunlight, or to create climbing support. Rainbow chard and purple kale can grow between more delicate crops and will flourish as you continue to cut them back through the season. Keep in mind that some colourful vegetables will need full light to encourage the best colour.


Unseasonal weather got us all in a flutter through February with customers rushing in to get started in their gardens. The sun and the temperature have put us all in the Spring mood, so getting your garden planted now is a must for seasonal blooms. Now that the ground has warmed up a little, we’ll look at the best things to get planted outside this month, but remember, a lot of plants and cuttings will need some time in the greenhouse or propagator to ensure they don’t suffer from any cold snaps we may have on the horizon.



Direct sow wildflower seed mixtures, sweet peas and plant bare root roses – not only do they all produce beautiful, delicate flowers that look and smell gorgeous in your home when cut, they are easy to look after and are perfect for pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Don’t worry about being neat in their positioning, relaxed country garden planting is right on trend this year.


With so much choice comes the problem of so little space for it all, so if you’re not sure where to start with planting your vegetable garden, pull out a calendar and start writing down when to harvest each crop. With a little forward planning you can have fresh vegetables right though until winter and with very little effort to make it happen. March seed sowing should include beetroot, carrots, broad beans and herbs. If you don’t have a vegetable patch per-se, Swiss chard also looks great amongst regular planting in the garden.


Don’t have much (or any) outdoor space but are still a gardening fan? Now is the time to re-pot your houseplants before their new growth begins. Do this for plants that have become pot-bound, or for others that have sat in the same soil for a few years that could do with fresh nutrients. If you are buying new indoor plants, let them settle in their new environment in your home for a few weeks before re-potting to reduce any stress put on them. Try planting some chilli seeds and place on a sunny windowsill for their edible fruit or just for their striking colour.


Thompson & Morgan seeds in store NOW


Our Star Buys this month are all about keeping the birds well fed, but now is the time to begin thinking about preparing to keep yourself fed through Summer. Although the ground will be too hard to do much with, it is still the best time to get planting in your greenhouse.


Plant cold starters such as peas, beans and sweet peas in an unheated greenhouse. Peas especially only provide 2 crops a year, so you’ll want to get these planted in the next few weeks. Lettuce and leafy salads can also be planted indoors for early season crops – some gardeners even have them growing all through the winter.


If vegetables don’t take your fancy and you are more of a flower person then begin curating your Spring pots with colour that will take you into Summer. Create layers of different varieties and remember that the deeper you plant, the higher your bulb will eventually grow. If you’ve got some bulbs starting to sprout whilst stored in empty pots over Winter, you’ve still got time to get them in some nutritious soil.  


All of our centres have a variety of contemporary Stewart’s limestone pots to suit your displays, including square at £15.99, troughs at £15.99 and tall (even more height for those deep bulbs!) at £22.99. Pick up already potted bulbs in our outdoor plant areas: 9cm pots, 5 for £10
1litre pots, 3 for £10.



How long do you plan in advanced for Christmas? Do you pull out the same, slightly beaten artificial tree from the attic or does the excitement of a real, traditional Christmas tree really cement the feeling that the festive season is here? With the trend in recyclables and eradication of unnecessary plastics in full force a fresh tree is also the most environmentally friendly option. Even the Woodland Trust estimate that a non-recyclable PVC tree would take 20 years of use to fully cover the costs of the pollution created through their production, not to mention the transportation and discarding it when you’re ready for an upgrade!


If you haven’t purchased one before and are sitting on the fence, don’t be scared to jump in and get a real one this year – it’s easier than you think and there are now varieties that are safer for pets and children with little mess.


Locally grown (Kelso) Norway Spruce The UK’s traditional Christmas tree. It’s the smell of Christmas… but also the regular picking of needles out of the carpet. Ours are freshly cut from Kelso so you can guarantee they’ll stay fresher for longer. They’re quick to grow so are the cheaper option.


‘Premium’ Nordmann Fir – With its popularity now surpassing that of the Norway Spruce, it has less scent but is regarded as being a ‘no-drop’ tree and their needles are safer for children and pets. These are more expensive than the Spruce as they are slower growing.


Potted tree – Perfect for those with limited space, plus you can take them outside after Christmas and enjoy them for longer!


Once you’ve picked which tree is best for your home cut about an inch off the bottom to allow it to suck up plenty of water which will keep your needles green and intact for longer. Make sure it is sitting in water whilst it is up and have a tree stand the correct size. Traditional pictures often show the decorated tree standing next to an open fire, but we advise keeping your tree away from heat sources such as fires and radiators.

Tick one job off your Christmas list early and pre-book your tree NOW and we’ll deliver it straight to your door in December*. Fresh trees arrive the end of November. See our prices here.


*Delivery charges apply. Please phone or email for more details.


After the destruction caused by Storm Ali you may have been looking over your wind-battered garden with a little despair. Thankfully it’s the perfect time for pruning if you haven’t begun already and will prevent damage from further storms we will not doubt be experiencing later in the year.


Arm yourself with a pair of sharp secateurs, shears, a saw and tough gloves. If you’ve neglected your tools over the years get rid of any build-up of rust with a wire brush and an oiled rag. You’ll want your tools sharp enough to prevent damage whilst pruning so either take them to a professional or treat yourself to something new!


For trees, take out the damaged wood using a sharp pair of secateurs. Use a slightly angled cut just above a leaf nodule which will prevent die back from happening. Be vigilant of birds nests so as not to disturb them. Think about direction of growth – pruning to a leaf node at the right side will send new growth that way. Always clean your pruning tools after use to prevent bacteria and diseases spreading – warm water and washing-up liquid is perfectly adequate.


Deciduous shrubs will be losing their leaves so you’ll be able to see exactly where you need to prune. Try and keep your plant symmetrical and remove and overcrowding from the centre and you’ll see vigorous, healthy growth in the Spring.


Dunbar Outdoor Plant Sale


If your storm damage was a little more than a few broken branches, why not come in to Dunbar Garden Centre to receive 20% OFF ALL OUTDOOR PLANTS from Saturday 29th – Sunday 30th September!


Autumn is just around the corner so instead of watching your summer colour wilt, start preparing for next years Spring growth. Planting Spring flowering bulbs can be easy and rewarding if you get started early, so here are our tips to making sure you have a show stopping bloom in 2019:

Choose your pot – Make sure to add some broken pottery or stones to the bottom to support drainage. A good bulb fibre will encourage roots to establish and provide vigorous growth.


Choose your bulbs – Think about colour and timing of your flowers. Contrasting and complementary colours can create a dramatic effect, or plant a bulb that blooms in March (hyacinths, narcissus) with another in April (tulips, bluebells) to prolong the length of your display.


Plant your bulbs – Bulbs have a definite top and bottom, so if you’re unsure which is which, place your bulb on its side and it should right itself correctly. The general rule is to plant your bulb 2.5 times its own depth meaning large bulbs will be planted deeper than smaller bulbs. This can be useful in creating layers of bulbs that will flower to give you a full and luscious pot.


Add something for Winter – Additional plants can soften the pot and provide interest until Spring, think winter flowering violas or cyclamen. Once these flowers have died back your new bulbs will be able to easily reach the surface. If your pot is still looking a bit bare, rake out some moss from your lawn to cover up any soil and give you a pot to be proud of!


The Anglo-Saxons called it Weod Monath (Weed Month) due to the rapid plant growth that takes place in August. While other’s find the act of weeding relaxing and rewarding, there is a great many who dislike it as much as housework!


Bare soil is unusual in nature and weeds will fill any spaces the can find. Try increasing your groundcover with low growing and dense plants such as shrubs, ferns or hostas. You’ll be encouraging wildlife into your garden too by providing them with new habitats.


Weeds can be an indicator of soil health, which in turn can help you to improve your garden. Thistle, ragweed and clover can indicate poor soil conditions so try adding plenty of mulch around your plants. Not only will this introduce more nutrients to the soil, a 2-3 inch covering will prevent any weeds from appearing. Mulch has the added benefit of stopping your plants from drying out too quickly which will no doubt have been a problem for all gardeners this summer. Try Westland’s Landscape Bark produced from responsible conifer plantations and certified by the FSC®:


Getting the hose or sprinkler out to do you watering may be quick but is counter-productive when keeping weeds at bay, so take a little time to water what you want to grow. It can be helpful to make a ditch around your plants so the water doesn’t run away and is directed to the plant roots.


The trick is to hoe when dry, or pull out when wet. Don’t be tempted to hoe after the rain has been as the roots with just make their way back into the soil.


Some weeds are actually quite lovely when flowering in your garden so you may just find they’re best left undisturbed.



With the high temperatures we’ve been experiencing over the past month around the country, sitting in the garden under a little shade with an ice-cold drink feels just as good as a holiday abroad! Enjoy as much time in your garden as you can, keeping housekeeping duties to a steady minimum to keep your plants happy and your garden looking its best.


Once the flowers on your plants have spent, ensure you nip off the heads to encourage more buds to bloom. Sweet peas will continue to produce abundantly until October allowing you to have fresh flowers indoors and get stuck in to using your herbs to help them increase in size. As well as deadheading your roses, make sure you’re getting rid of any suckers (usually found on grafter plants, these grow from rootstock and their leaves can look paler in colour to the rest, literally sucking the nutrients from your plant yet producing no flowers). Make sure you dig down into the ground to remove the sucker from the base as trimming is will only allow it to regrow again. This is also your second chance to get pruning your wisteria by removing the new, green shoots, typically past the second or third bud from the base.


Don’t wait for your vegetables to get too big before harvesting to ensure they are at their most flavoursome. These include: French beans; radishes; carrots; mangetout; potatoes and courgettes (unless you’re trying to grow marrows!).


It’s peak butterfly season (keep an eye on our Facebook page this month to see how we’re celebrating The Big Butterfly Count this year) so you should be seeing plenty around your garden. If not, its not too late to fill a few pots or gaps with some buddleias or valerian. If you’re looking for more inspiration, our ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ plants are all labelled around our outdoor plant departments. Butterflies enjoy sweet food, so overripe bananas and slices of orange will prove a real treat – place them high above the ground so as not to attract unwanted pests such as ants. As well as keeping your plants well-watered, keep an eye on the water levels of your pond and bird bath for your other garden inhabitants.  

big butterfly count 2018


Its British Tomato Week and we’ve gathered a few basic tips to get you hooked on tomato growing. Although they need regular attention they are one of the most rewarding plants, providing you with fruit all through summer.

British Tomato Week

The more roots your tomato plants have, the stronger they will be. A great tip is cutting your grow bag in half vertically and standing it on its ends. This way you’ll have deeper soil for your tomato plants to grow, but still get all the benefits of optimal soil conditions and preventing the water from draining too fast. If you don’t have room for grow bags, try them in hanging baskets as most tomato plants like to naturally hang and trail.


Tomatoes love potassium, but don’t start feeding them until your first flowers have appeared. Our current favourite is Westland’s Big Tom. This new feed promises you’ll get the juiciest tomatoes, with a formula full of extra strength nutrients and enriched with seaweed.


Deciding how often to water your plants can be a hard task to master. They’ll need to be moist, but you don’t want to flood the roots. Get them watered first thing in the morning and possibly in the evening if it has been a hot day. Don’t worry if they begin to droop when the sun is at it’s peak, they’ll usually perk up by sun-down – if they don’t they’re asking for water.


Make sure you’re leaving vents and doors open to allow pollination. Think about planting ‘Perfect for Pollinator’ plants elsewhere in your garden to really increase your butterfly and bee count. If you’re struggling you can help pollination buy lightly shaking your plants to mimic the movement of pollinating insects.


Once your fruit is ready for picking, don’t be tempted to store in the refrigerator as you won’t be able to experience their optimum flavour! Cold will stop their ripening process, so your best leaving your tomatoes out in a covered bowl to increase their juicy sweetness. Just keep an eye on any ripening too fast or they will spoil the others around them.



It can be quite daunting hunting through the many different types of lawn care and seed in the garden centre, but if you’re just looking to improve that neglected green patch in your garden, here are some easy tips to get going. Either get stuck in with a whole new lawn, or try some of our products that will fill bare patches and make your grass more durable.


When applying lawn seed for a new lawn the soil needs to be cleaned from any debris and weeds. Dig over the soil to make sure any lumps are broken up and firmed before levelling it with a rake. Mix up the seeds in the box and sprinkle at the rate of 30g per square meter. Finally, lightly rake in to the surface


After sowing. firm it by walking on it – for best results use roller. Use a fine hosed watering can or sprinkler for watering and make sure to provide adequate moisture, daily. If it’s a really hot day (we can only hope in the coming months!) water after the sun has gone down to prevent your grass being singed and turning brown.


Mow for first time when it reaches 5-8cm. After 8 weeks use 3 Day Green to perfect your lawn.


Before using Aftercut ‘3 Day Green’ to your lawn, ensure your soil is moist and your grass is dry. For best application use 35g per square meter (if you’re having any trouble with deciding how much product you need to buy, many of the boxes also give measurements in car parking spaces). This simple application will leave your lawn greener, healthier and harder wearing as it will supress weeds and moss.


-Ilmars, Assistant Manager, Dunbar Garden Centre


Plant trees, shrubs and fruit trees now so that their roots will be ready to grow when the ground begins to warm up, and provide them with a slow release fertiliser. Although hardy through most of the winter, top fruit and soft fruit blossoms will need protecting from late frost. Cover them during the night with horticultural fleece, using canes to keep the material from touching the blossoms and make sure to remove during the day, so as not to hinder pollinators. Take care of your fruit plants now and you’ll reap the benefits of jam making ingredients through the summer – prices start at £1.99 for strawberries, though to £7 for a bush.


Now that they have finished flowering, shrubs such as Camellia and Forsythia can be lifted and moved provided the soil is not frozen or waterlogged. Divide clump forming perennials, such as Hostas and Primulas and remove any dead foliage, ready for new growth. Winter flowering heathers can also be cut back to a compact shape – however, if your heather is looking woody and leggy, replacing it would be a better option as they will struggle to look their best again (they generally have a lifespan of about 10 years).


Tie in new stems on climbers and climbing roses horizontally – this will allow for more like to reach the plant so multiple new flowering shoots to grow. Check for old and woody canes that produced little last year and cut them off.


Don’t forget housekeeping such as cleaning your greenhouses and growing frames ready for the growing season. If you’re limited in the garden, the Gardman Perma-tunnel with PVC cover is compact with no extra space required.


– Stew, Planteria & Nursery, Plantsplus Garden Centre


Seeds always make me excited. Looking at the array of colourful packets, all with hidden promise, I find it hard not to get too carried away. The great thing about growing your own is that you can choose what you want to try, instead of relying on the supermarket varieties. It gives you a chance to get adventurous both with vegetables and flowers. You are in charge.


When growing seeds the golden rule is to read the packet. This will give you the information you need such as germination time, distance apart and when you can grow outdoors, but remember we are in Scotland! Seeds require four things to germinate, temperature, water, oxygen and some require light. Generally, seeds need at least 12 degrees to germinate. All seeds have their optimum temperature range and it’s useful to know. To generate more heat, there are things we can do such as using a propagator or seed tray inside on a windowsill or greenhouse. A cloche can help outside, but it is the soil temperature that you need to check. Just remember that seeds require air circulation to help prevent dampening off and once germinated turn the seed tray or pot daily to prevent the seedlings growing lopsided.


A fine seed and cutting compost is best to use and always label your pot or tray before you sow. Water from underneath with a tray. This helps prevent washing your seeds to one area and when germinated reduces dampening off. Never leave your seed trays in water. Let them drain to stop them becoming waterlogged.

Easy vegetables to grow are peas and beans and for flowers, sunflowers and poppies. You can grow in pots. Be aware of the depth of soil they will provide or choose a variety to suit. Royal Chantenay 3 is a type of carrot with a smaller root size, ideal for a child to pull out easily, wash and eat. My favourite pots this year belong to the Elho Green Basics range, created using recycled plastic. Nice and deep, raised or for the ground, they have a cloche style top to get you going early.


Sow now, there is no excuse!


– Jayne, Planteria Manager, Dunbar Garden Centre