Plant of the Month – Cyclamen coum

Plant of the Month –  Cyclamen coum

Always a joy to see at this time of the year is the dainty little Cyclamen coum that produces masses of colourful flowers through February and March. This hardy tuberous perennial grows wild in the Black sea area, Bulgaria, Turkey and Caucasus where it makes a spreading ground cover just 5-8cm (2-3in) tall. It’s totally hardy down to -20°C and is perfect for growing in the garden under trees and shrubs or naturalised in lawn areas where it makes a wonderful show of flowers to brighten up the latter part of winter.

It’s also perfect for growing in containers on a patio.  Flower colour ranges from white, through pale pink to carmine-red and when you grow several different plants they will hybridise and produce even more colours.

Foliage and flowers can start as early as January and will carry on into March. After flowering, the foliage gradually dies down and the underground tuber remains dormant over summer. New plants can be raised from seed, or at this time of the year you’ll find plants in garden centres in flower.

To grow well, they prefer a humus rich, well-drained soil and if left undisturbed in the garden, they will seed and gradually form a group of plants that you can enjoy for many years.   

Martin Fish is a gardening columnist, broadcaster, speaker, RHS judge and all-round horticulture expert. He writes for publications including Garden Answers, Kitchen Garden and Which? Gardening.

We have worked with Martin closely over a number of years and each month he will be choosing a favourite Plant of the Month for us, with tips and advice for planting and growing in the garden.

You can find more about Martin at www.martinfish.com or find him on Twitter!

 

Plant of the Month – Dogwoods

Plant of the Month by Martin Fish

Dogwoods (Cornus)

A great way to add colour to the garden through the winter months is to grow dogwood (cornus). These hardy shrubs are grown for their coloured stems that look great from November when the leaves drop, right the way through until spring. For best effect they should be planted in groups. There are several different types of dogwood with colourful stems that make excellent garden shrubs, including Cornus ‘Sibirica’ with its bright red stems, C. ‘Kesselringii’ which has a fark purple-black stems, C. ‘Flaviramea’ which is a lime green-yellow and C. ‘Midwinter Fire’ with yellow-orange-red stems. Easy to grow, dogwoods prefer a fertile soil that retains moisture. In fact, they are the ideal for growing in a damp part of the garden. For good colour each winter, the long stems should be hard pruned to almost ground level each spring, around mid-March. It looks drastic, but by cutting all the growth back, it encourages strong new shoots to grow over summer, which will be brightly coloured from November onwards.

Martin Fish is a gardening columnist, broadcaster, speaker, RHS judge and all-round horticulture expert. He writes for publications including Garden Answers, Kitchen Garden and Which? Gardening.

We have worked with Martin closely over a number of years and each month he will be choosing a favourite Plant of the Month for us, with tips and advice for planting and growing in the garden.

You can find more about Martin at www.martinfish.com or find him on Twitter!

Houseplant Survival Guide

Houseplant Survival Guide

Are your indoor plants looking sad? Here are some of our top tips to ensure they thrive all year around!

 

DOs

  • Keep the instructions
  • Under-watering if better than over-watering
  • Check your houseplants regularly for pests
  • Feed with suitable feed
  • Give them plenty of natural light

DON’Ts

  • Avoid draughty spots
  • Never put a houseplant on a windowsill
  • Avoid placing houseplants close to radiators or open fires

We hope these tips help!

Paskett PR

 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

We would like to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! What a fantastic year we have had!

Here’s to a successful year of gardening!

Graham & the team

Plant of the Month by Martin Fish: Cotoneaster ‘John Waterer’

Plant of the Month by Martin Fish

COTONEASTER ‘JOHN WATERER’

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If you are looking for a large shrub or small evergreen tree that looks good all year round, then look no further than Cotoneaster x watereri ‘John Waterer’. It’s fully hardy, fairly fast to establish and only grows to around 5m when grown as a tree, making it ideal for gardens or all sizes. Being evergreen, it very handy in a position where you want cover through the year. As a shrub it makes bushy growth, but I prefer to see it grown as a tree with a clear trunk and its arching branches that form a good-shaped head. The dark green, glossy foliage is a feature on its own and remains on the tree throughout the year. Although an evergreen, it can lose some foliage in a very cold winter, but fresh new leaves grow back in spring. In late spring large clusters of white flowers are produced, which the bees and other pollinating insects are attracted to. The plump berries that follow ripen to a rich red in autumn and remain on the tree through winter and for me this is when the tree is at its best. On a bright winter’s day, the berries shine like jewels, but equally, they brighten up the garden and add colour and interest on a dull day.   

Martin Fish

Martin Fish is a gardening columnist, broadcaster, speaker, RHS judge and all-round horticulture expert. He writes for publications including Garden Answers, Kitchen Garden and Which? Gardening.

We have worked with Martin closely over a number of years and each month he will be choosing a favourite Plant of the Month for us, with tips and advice for planting and growing in the garden.

You can find more about Martin at www.martinfish.com or find him on Twitter!

 

 

Snow problem; vegetable patch preparation!

Snow problem; vegetable patch preparation!

The first snow forecast of winter resulted in an early gardening start as I had to remove the small gauge netting from the roof of my vegetable cage to prevent the frame collapsing under the weight of the white stuff.

Dawn on a very frosty morning in Staffordshire found me unclipping the netting from the sides and then rolling it back.  It is a very large cage and it took two of us almost an hour to remove the netting.   I keep it in the greenhouse over winter and the winter sprouts and other greens are protected from the pigeons and pheasant by a two-inch square net roof.

I was glad to see a heavy frost as my leek crop is being damaged by the unseasonal warm weather and they are still growing and splitting.  I hope the cold will help them recover.

Graham Paskett

IT’S NATIONAL TREE WEEK SO…

IT’S NATIONAL TREE WEEK SO…

One of my aims this week is to complete the planting of my almost complete collection of native British trees in my Staffordshire garden.

There are 32 native British trees of which I have 14 already growing in my garden.  In 2017 I bought from Hillier 12 of the missing 18 and decided to pot them on to grow to a larger size and plant out now.   The first three, the Goat Willow (Salix caprea). The Crack Willow (Salix fragilis) and the Bay Willow (Salix pentandra) have already been planted in a very damp area of the garden.

So, to mark National Tree Week, the other nine will be going in before Saturday.  They are:

  • Bird Cherry (Prunus padus)
  • Rowan Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia)
  • Downy Birch (Betula pubescens)
  • Aspen (Populus tremula)
  • Wild or Gean Sherry (Prunus avium)
  • White Willow (Salix alba)
  • Field Maple (Acer campestre)
  • Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)
  • Hazel (Corylus avellane)

We have got enough space for them but the ground is still pretty dry and I don’t want to have to spend December watering them.  So I shall be doing my own version of the rain dance!

The six missing trees are the Small Leaved Lime, Wych Elm, Sessile Oak, Ash, Black Poplar and the Midland Hawthorne.  If anyone know where I can obtain any of these – do please let me know via email grahampaskett.paskett.co.uk . It is terribly important to grow native British trees because they are an important genetic link to our history and the natural hosts to all wildlife and insects.

The challenge I am facing is trying to find labels that will identify these trees – including the ones already growing.  I really would like something with the Union Flag on it but, as yet, have failed to identify something that will last the life-time of the tree and be attractive.  It will also be interesting to find out whether the willows already planted actually help to dry out the land in which they now live.

Graham Paskett

October Plant of the Month by Martin Fish: Leycesteria formosa ‘Golden Lanterns’

Plant of the Month by Martin Fish

Leycesteria formosa ‘Golden Lanterns’

Leycesteria formosa 'Golden Lanterns'

One of my favourite shrubs through October and November is Leycesteria formosa ‘Golden Lanterns’ which also goes under the common names of flowering nutmeg, golden pheasant bush or Himalayan honeysuckle.

The golden leaved form of this shrub is much more attractive than the green form and it provides colour and interest in the garden for much of the year. A deciduous shrub from China and the Himalayas, the new golden foliage in spring is tipped with deep red and provides a bright, cheery shrub all through the summer months.

In late summer pendant deep-red bracts and white flowers hang from the ends of the new growth and as we go into autumn red-purple berries develop. The berries hang on the plant all through the winter months and very often the attractive foliage remains on the plant until Christmas making this a really useful plant to brighten up dull days.

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For the best results, it should be planted in a sunny position in fertile well-drained soil. ‘Golden Lanterns’ will grow to around 5ft (1.5m), making it perfect for most gardens, but if it gets a little too large, it responds well to being pruned in spring. In fact, the shrub in my garden gets a good prune back each spring as I find the new growth has the best foliage colour and produces more berries.

Horticultural expert Martin Fish

Martin Fish is a gardening columnist, broadcaster, speaker, RHS judge and all-round horticulture expert. He writes for publications including Garden Answers, Kitchen Garden and Which? Gardening.

We have worked with Martin closely over a number of years and each month he will be choosing a favourite Plant of the Month for us, with tips and advice for planting and growing in the garden.

You can find more about Martin at www.martinfish.com or find him on Twitter!

Striking the Right Balance Between Work and Life

National Work Life Week takes place in October – an initiative created by Working Families that gives employers the chance to showcase how they provide work life balance for their staff.

How can we as individuals take responsibility for our own work life balance? Here are some tips that you can implement into your day-to-day routine…

1. Don’t be afraid to speak up if work demands and expectations are becoming too much. If you are overloaded with tasks, it is okay to let your boss and colleagues know so that they can pitch in and help. Staying silent will leave you feeling isolated and worried, and could cause problems for your employer further down the line.

2. Prioritise urgent deadlines and try allocating a set amount of time to tasks, focus on these tasks and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by emails or phone calls. Completing them in a structured way will give you a deserved sense of achievement when ticked off your list.

3. Take a proper lunch break. A recent survey by Eggland’s Best found that fewer than half of British workers leave their desk at lunch time, and the average lunch break is 30 minutes or less. It is important to step away from your desk, and the office if you can, to pause and refresh ready for the afternoon.

4. Exercise is a great way to destress, as well as giving you an endorphin kick. Make time for hobbies, too, as focussing on something that you are passionate about is stimulating to the brain and helps to ward of feelings of anxiety.

5. Put down devices before you climb into bed. Many office workers will spend hours every day using screens, then watch TV at home, then browse their phone or tablet before finally closing their eyes to sleep. Try putting down your device at least 15 minutes before you go to bed – scrolling through social feeds right up until you switch off the light will keep your brain active, making it more difficult to drift off to sleep. (Apple’s iOS 12 update includes a feature that tells you how much time you have spent on your apps!)

6. Leave work at work. It isn’t always possible, but try and leave work at the office when you are finished for the day. Of course, during particularly busy periods, it’s necessary to check your emails whilst your out of the office, but not at the expense of your health. If you do have to work from home, try and do it in a dedicated area of the home and keep it there, away from areas where you relax and rest.

You can also read our 10 tips for a productive workday here.

Social Media is Very Good for Business

The recent wave of international bad publicity for the various social media platforms should not deter the business community from taking advantage of this exciting and constantly evolving tool. Well managed and responsibly created social media content is a positive communication in its own right and also forges strong links to other public relations and communications channels.

At Paskett Public Relations we provide both stand-alone social media support for clients as well as campaigns that are fully integrated into broader PR and marketing activity. Consumers and journalists alike view social media as an essential port of call when investigating brands, products and current affairs. Absence from this platform could result in lower sales than otherwise possible – the same is true for media coverage – if your company does not have a presence on social media then you are unable to fully share positive stories about your brand.

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Managing social media campaigns is time consuming.  Someone must be monitoring activity on a daily basis. This is where our specialist support pays dividends. In many cases supporting the social media output is simply an additional task for an already over-burdened marketing executive.

It can present challenges for businesses, but the opportunities provided by an effective social media strategy, spanning all the appropriate platforms, is key to enhancing brand reputation and value.  It is one of the marketing activities that has a direct influence on sales.

Here are our top five tips to boost the performance of social media activity:

  1. Identify the target audiences you wish to reach. The various platforms are used by specific groups of people of differing ages and interests;
  2. Make your content engaging and relevant to the audience. Put yourself in their shoes; would you be interested in that message?
  3. Take time to talk to people. Share and respond to comments, engage in conversations relevant to your product/business;
  4. Original content is vital; quality photography, videos, blogs and campaigns all contribute to your audience’s experience of your brand, whether they are a potential or existing customer and help boost your position in search results too;
  5. Remember, social media is not a vehicle for over-zealous sales pitches and should be about quality content and conversation.

For further information about Paskett PR, or to discuss how social media can help your business, please contact georginamackintosh@paskett.co.uk or call the office on 01332 258 335.