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.
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.
First of all, a few facts that you may not know about the poinsettia. In its natural environment it can grow up to 10 feet tall and was introduced in the 19th century from Mexico by Joel Poinsett from whom the plant takes its name.
What many people refer to as flowers are in fact bracts or coloured leaves, the true flowers in the centre are tiny and insignificant.
Poinsettias don't only come in red, Although this is the most traditional colour, many different variations are available, these include white, pink and marbled varieties.
Although everyone knows what a poinsettia looks like and they arrive in the garden centre looking fabulous, it is a plant that sometimes does not receive the care and attention it requires.
They can be very demanding and do not react well to any kind of stress or duress and you should only ever purchase your plants from a nursery or florist that keeps the plants in warm conditions.
Plants bought from a supermarket or from pavement sellers will have been chilled and will almost certainly fail to flourish.
The true flowers in the centre of the plant should ideally be in bud or just opening to ensure a long display of colour. When you get your poinsettia home, place it in a warm and bright location and, most importantly, not exposed to any kind of a draught.
Be very careful with watering. Wait until the compost is moderately dry and then water thoroughly with tepid water.
With a little care a poinsettia should reward you with many weeks of attractive festive foliage and can even be kept for another year.
All you have to do is allow the plant to slowly dry out in the spring and prune back hard. Re-pot and place in a light location but out of direct sunlight where the temperature is about 16 - 17ºC.
Feed weekly, keep warm, and in November alternate between 12 hours of natural light and darkness. The bracts should then colour again but will probably never be as good as in the first year.
You might not be familiar with the UK Men's Sheds Association but this is a fast growing organisation that, as David Coton discovered, encourages camaraderie and a sense of achievement among its members.
The Wildlife Aid Foundation recently purchased several animal ornaments from GardenSite and David Coton, one of our partners, thought that this charity carried out such terrific work that we made a charitable donation to assist with the cost.
With high winds increasingly affecting most parts of Britain, many people are likely to be contacting their insurance companies at some time regarding damage caused to sheds, greenhouses, fences and other garden property. Robert Hall explains how GardenSite.co.uk can help with an independent insurance quote and claim.
Here in Birmingham, the weather has been as changeable as ever, very warm just before Easter followed by a cold spell only last week. During May the threat of further frost will largely pass and, with spring well under way, Robert Hall is in no doubt that this is going to be a busy month in the garden.