Monday 23rd July 2018
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Summer planting has been making a strong comeback, Maureen Durant tells Caroline Bingham. Here the plant buyer for Downtown Garden Centre, Grantham, shares her step-by-step guide to green-fingered success.

Maureen has built up a wealth of knowledge during her two decades of working at Oldrids & Downtown and what she doesn’t know about plants is probably not worth knowing.

“I think people are definitely looking for instant effect and gardening has its fashions and trends just like everything else,” said Maureen. “House plants are very much in vogue and we have worked hard this year to ensure summer bedding and vegetable seedlings are on the shelves to keep up with demand.”

Maureen buys as much as 40% of her stock locally, mostly from around Boston with the remainder from other areas of the UK and Holland. “Locally grown plants are already acclimatised and we find customers have better results as a rule. A new section here will stock wild flowers in plant form, which people can use to populate their own ‘wild’ gardens. Insect attracting plants are also a firm favourite with customers this year.”

Maureen and the rest of the team at Downtown Garden Centre are always on hand to give advice and assistance whether you are a new or experienced gardener.

“We are here for the general public as well as local landscapers and developers who want to discuss much larger schemes with us. We are happy to help with all enquiries.

“I love working within the garden centre and demonstrating to people you do not need a large space to grow something. I recommend vertical planters for balconies; tubs and planters for instant colour and the therapeutic benefits and pleasure they give will last all season.”

Maureen began by placing some pieces of broken crock at the bottom of the electric blue ceramic glazed tub, then filling it half full with compost. Tamp well down to avoid the compost and planting sinking when watered. Add a good plant food at this stage such as fish, blood and bone. Fill the tub with more compost, still tamping down as you go.

Choose your plants to reflect your colour scheme. Maureen chose jewel reds, burgundy, yellows and soft whites plus variegated leafed plants to add more highlights of colour.

Arrange the plants while still in their pots to define their position. Taller plants in the centre, cascading plants to the side, upright and broader spreading plants between.

Once you are happy with your positioning, start to plant from the centre outwards. Tease out the roots of each plant, removing the thickest cluster at the very base of the pot to encourage strong new growth. Maureen began with the white Antirrhinum in the middle, then positioned the variegated leaf geranium and helichrysum at opposite sides of the tub. The trailing fuchsia and nepeta alternated with the upright geranium and the dazzling two-tone colourway of the petunia.

Position the tub with plenty of natural light, water well, then sit down and enjoy your tub all summer.

Win the perfect accessory for your patio courtesy of Oldrids & Downtown.

Take the chill off those summer evenings with a Toledo Grape Design Large Chimenea.

This substantial chimenea is the perfect focal point for entertaining or relaxing in your garden. Measuring 41.5cm diameter x 115cm high its retail value is £149.99.

Here is your chance to win this exceptional prize.

To enter all you have to do is answer the following question…

Terms & Conditions

• Closing date: Friday 20th July.
• Only one entry per person.
• Prize is as described and cannot be transferred or exchanged for cash.
• The competition is not open to employees of County Life Ltd.
• The winner will be drawn after the closing date by an independent judge from all entries received. The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
• The winner will be notified by email or telephone (using the details provided at entry) within 6 weeks of the closing date.
• If County Life Ltd cannot contact the winner (via the details provided at the date of entry) within a reasonable period of time (to be established at County Life Ltd’s sole discretion) County Life Ltd reserves the right to re-draw a winner and thereafter until a winner on these terms is found.
• Details on claiming the prize will be discussed when contacting the winner as above.
• By entering the competition you agree to having your name, details and photo published online or in the future.
• The promoter is County Life Ltd, 9 Checkpoint Court, Lincoln LN6 3PW. The winner’s name will be available six weeks after the closing date by sending an email to:

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