As part of a project designed to sow ideas, grow inspiration and cultivate futures, 300 London schools are growing their own picnic this summer and their reward could be a £500 voucher from GardenSite.
As we enter late autumn and into winter there's not too much colour left in the garden but there is one plant (the Pyracantha) that is a particular favourite of David Hall, whose red, yellow or orange berries stand out from the monochrome garden landscape.
The Pyracantha is an evergreen, versatile and a wonderful shrub to have in your garden at this time of the year.
Firethorn, as it's also called, has many roles to play, but is most popularly planted against walls. It will succeed even if facing north, given a little reasonable quality soil. Pyracantha are also ideal for informal hedging, or screens, as they are well armed with fierce thorns which create an impenetrable barrier. They also make superb specimens when standing alone.
'Orange Glow' is the star turn, a strong and fairly upright plant which has branches absolutely smothered with orange red fruits from the autumn until deep into the winter. Not only does it berry successfully, but it also has masses of very attractive hawthorn like creamy white summer blossoms.
'Soleil d'Or' is the yellow berried form. Maybe not quite so strong in growth as 'Orange Glow', but its million tiny yellow orbs each shine like the sun, lighting up the greyest days.
'Mohave' has orange red berries that are a magnet for foraging birds. Members of the Thrush family like the Redwing and the larger Fieldfare, with its slate grey back, will become regular visitors at the feast.
Planting can be done at any time of year, unless the ground is frozen or waterlogged, but autumn is best. Fertile, well drained soil is best, although they are tolerant of heavvier soils as long as they are not waterlogged, and in full sun or semi shade.
If planting against a wall, leave a gap of about 18ins, and preferably tie the stem to wires atached to the wall. There should be about 5ft between plants or about 2ft if you are planting a hedge. Feed with a balanced general fertilizer each winter and lay a thick mulch of organic matter.
When pruning avoid last year's growth which will carry the next crop of berries. A hedge should be pruned three times a year starting in the spring.
Pyracantha scab is the main problem, it's a fungal disease resulting in loss of blossom and leaves, and disfigured fruit. It's important that you collect fallen leaves, cut out affected fruit and stems, then burn. Alternatively choose a resistant variety such as 'Shawnee' or 'Teton'.
New products are the lifeblood of many industries and it’s no different in the gardening sector and most of us above a certain age will know the Rubbermaid brand well, particularly if you have ever been in the cleaning industry.
GLEE is the garden retail industry's annual show at the NEC in Birmingham. David Coton took the opportunity to visit this year's event to catch up on the news, visit current/potential suppliers and evaluate new products we would like to offer on GardenSite in the coming year.
I had never heard of Evika Greenhouses but when I walked into our annual Garden & Leisure Exhibition 2019 (GLEE) it was the only product I really saw. A brand new greenhouse brand is always going to get my attention but the sense that this was not only new, but different, kept my focus.
Although the growing season is slowly coming to an end, David Coton can suggest quite a few jobs that need to be done over the next few weeks, helping you make the most of what's left of summer and preparing for the arrival of autumn.