With only a few months' training under her belt, GardenSite's own Flori Bosnigeanu took part in this year's Great Birmingham Run, raising over £500 for the city's Children's Hospital.
David Hall thinks that Camellias are without doubt among the prettiest flowering shrubs and, although not native to this country, they are perfectly at home in a cool climate, enjoying dry winters and warm, wet summers.
Ideally Camellias should be planted in semi-shade, preferably on a sheltered site. Avoid a position that catches the early morning sun i.e. facing east as a quick early thaw is liable to damage flowers and buds.
Prepare the soil with plenty of organic matter such as leaf mould plus some grit. This is a plant that loves acidic soil, between 5.5 and 6.5pH, if your soil is any more alkaline consider growing your camellia in a container with ericaceous compost.
To ensure a fine display the following spring, Camellias need plenty of water right up until October, especially when their buds are forming in late summer.
Retain the soil's acidity by using rain rather than tap water. A water butt connected to your guttering will come in very handy if there is a drought.
Although Camellias can survive cool temperatures, if we have a spell of particularly cold weather, protect the plant with fleece or bubble wrap.
A thick mulch of chipped bark or pine needles in the spring will conserve water and add acidity.
Feed container plants with an appropriate ericaceous product early in the season such as a Miracle Gro soluable feed.
Any pruning should be done after flowering in the spring.
Choose plants at least 12-15ins tall that are well shaped, disease free, and in bud. Many different forms of camellia are available in garden centres from the single form through to the formal double form, embracing paeony, anemone and semi-double forms.
Nobillissima is a superb double white with a hint of yellow, very effective against its dark green foliage. It is also one of the earliest camellias to flower making it stand out like a beacon against the grey late winter skies.
Of the more recent hybrids I would have to recommend is 'Debbie', as well as being vigorous and upright in growth, the paeony form flowers are 4ins wide, freely produced and a glowing rose pink. It will flower every year from early March and continue through April.
With Christmas rapidly approaching, our New Oscott Garden Centre has just taken delivery of that most seasonal of plants – the Poinsettia. These are David Hall's tips on to how to keep these beautiful plants at their colourful best.
Our garden centre has been part of the local community for over 60 years, so when one of our partners, David Coton, received a request to donate a Christmas tree to a nearby hospice, he had no hesitation in helping them out.
Many people believe that Christmas would not have the same festive feel without the scent of a 'real' Christmas tree. They're naturally fresh, giving off a lovely aroma, and here Martyn Loach gives advice on which ones to buy..
There's a huge selection of Premier Christmas Lights, and it's no wonder why they are market leaders judging by the variety and innovation that's on offer. This is Andy Taylor's guide to their range of top quality lights and decorations.