There comes a point, usually about this time of year, that you begin to think that the rusty old table you've been making do with has spilt your coffee on the grass below for the last time, and that the "ouch" bit on the garden chair, which catches your skin if you don't sit down carefully, has nipped your thigh just once too often.
This weekend (starting today) Nottcutts Garden Centres are offering 20% discount on outdoor furniture, so now could be the time to do something about it. The discount also applies to indoor furniture, BBQs and plants, and there's 10% off everything else.
It's the sort of discount that is offered to their Sage Privilege Club members from time to time (membership costs £10/year, offering 10% discount throughout the year, and a certain amount of free refreshment in the café). This weekend they're extending the offer to friends and family - loosely translated here into anyone who's reading this blog.
I'll bet a fair number of gardeners can't resist rushing for the camera when they encounter something pretty in the garden. It's harder than you think, isn't it? The eye's very good at editing bits we don't want to see; take a photo and suddenly all those extra leaves, dead sticks and blown flowers become very noticeable. I can't be the only one who's spent half an hour picking extraneous material out of the sight lines, only for the sun to go in when I've finally arranged my prize-winning picture.
However, here's a chance to test your photography skills. Don't miss Vitax's Your Garden in Spring photography competition over at their new website Garden World. Send them any subject by 11th May - flowers, fruit, vegetables, you and yours out in the garden - for a chance to win a hamper of garden goodies.
Yesterday, we had the first part of a guest post from Dobbies, giving tips on choosing a tree. But it's not just about choosing a tree; do you know what sort you'd like?
There are many different varieties of Christmas tree, so it might help to know your Noble from your Nordman.
These are the most popular trees sold in the UK:
Norway Spruce A festive classic and long-time favourite. This tree has densely packed needles, providing an excellent shape. They require watering every few days, so ensure you use a tree stand that will hold water.
Fraser Fir Beautifully scented, narrow and retains needles well. The Fraser has been used by the Presidents of the United States more times in the White House than any other variety.
Noble Fir Holds needles better than any other and has well-rounded edges on its blue-green foliage. Very popular in America, where it originates and can usually be found at high altitude.
Nordman Fir Trees Dark green, slender and soft, this variety also holds onto its needles very well making it a very popular tree throughout Europe.
Lodgepole Pine With softer needles than most and also heavily fragranced, this pine is grown in the Highlands and its needles will last well through the Christmas period.
We hope with these tips you are now better equipped to pick the perfect pine for the seasonal celebrations. Have a Happy Christmas.
Ooh, the unexpected pleasures of a blogger! I’m quite excited because this is the first guest post to feature on Weeding the Web, and I'm very pleased to welcome Andrew from Dobbies. This post in is two halves. Today we have some useful tips, including how to spot a good tree from a bad one. Come back tomorrow for a quick rundown on the different types of Christmas tree.
How to choose the perfect real Christmas tree
Now we’re into December, even the biggest of Scrooges will be thinking about Christmas. Near the top of the list of Christmas to-dos, will no doubt be a tree.
Ever since St Boniface cut down a sacred Norse tree and put it in his home to prove a point some 400 years ago or so, people celebrating Christmas continue the tree tradition. However, this being the 21st century, the modern consumer is less likely to step outside and chop down a tree in defiance of Thor. Much more likely is that they will want a tree that looks good and hopefully won’t cover the house in spiky needles.
Tips to help pick the perfect Christmas tree:
1. Measure up - Before you leave the house, work out where the tree will be going. Measure the height and width of the space you have chosen and write them down. If you have a decoration that goes on top don’t forget to allow for that too.
2. Take a tape measure - whereever you end up getting your tree, take a tape measure with you so that tip #1 isn’t in vain.
3. Pick your moment - real trees will last 3-4 weeks when taken care of, sometimes a little less. So think about how long you want the tree on display and plan a date to get one.
4. Give a thought to your decorations - varieties of Christmas tree vary in colour and shape, from dark green to greenish-blue as well as having different densities of foliage. So choose a tree that will complement your decorations.
5. Select a fresh tree - healthy trees will have shiny green needles that stay on the branch when shaken. Look out for dishevelled bark and use your nose - you’ll know a fresh one when you smell it.
6. Give a thought to the environment - although most real Christmas trees are grown to be environmentally sustainable, there are further steps you can take. For example: make sure the grower has FSC accreditation, meaning they replant 2 or 3 trees for every one cut. Or, even better, get a potted Christmas tree that can be replanted in your garden.
In some parts of the country it is possible to rent a potted Christmas tree. This year some garden centres are also giving away free saplings with their Christmas trees. So you can plant them in your garden to replace the tree you use. The sapling will also provide you with your own homegrown tree in a few years’ time.