As GardenSIte's plant specialist I always keenly anticipate the HTA National Plant Show. This is my chance to visit nurseries, find out what's trending in the horticultural world and source new stock, all from under one roof.
Your New Year resolutions may well have included losing weight, getting fit and feeling less stressed. Robert Hall advocates gardening as the ideal way to achieve a healthy mind and body, and there are many people who agree with him.
There's a recent report from a group of Florida scientists who have discovered that gardening is linked to good mental health.
Their study followed 23 women who gardened twice a week for six weeks, sowing seed, planting bulbs and propagating plants. Subsequent brain scans and psychological observation indicated that they had very much reduced levels of stress, anxiety and anger.
It's said that exercise releases stress relieving endorphins. Christmas, the New Year and a return to work can no doubt be stressful, and gardening can be really helpful in fostering a feeling of well being, restoring your work / life balance.
Gardening has now become a recognised method of treating serious stress related disorders and depression. Sleep patterns and quality improve, self-esteem can also increase by following your horticultural efforts from seed through to maturity.
There is a further theory that gardening reduces the chances of dementia by up to 50%, as time spent outside keeps your brain ticking over, thinking, learning and being creative.
Last year the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges described how gardening lowered the chances of cancer, diabetes and even hip fractures. This follows a government report that found that lack of exercise contributes to a sixth of UK deaths and that over half of us don't exercise enough.
By exercising through gardening, you'll immediately feel better and get back into shape. Your respiratory and cardiovascular systems are given a thorough work out, and you'll burn over 300 calories per hour, more than a lot of gym work.
Long term this will lessen your chances of obesity and developing a whole range of ailments including heart disease, strokes, diabetes and high blood pressure. Time outdoors also improves you intake of vitamin D that can fend off osteoporosis and other problems.
Your appetite will also definitely increase and luckily gardening encourages a healthier diet as it makes sense that, if you are growing a good variety of vegetables, then you are going to eat these rather than junk food.
Clearly gardening has many benefits, increasing strength and endurance, improving both physical and mental dexterity, and having a calming effect on your lifestyle.
Only 30 minutes a day can have a major effect on your health and well being, so what's stopping you?
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.