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Gardening Advice

Starting with fruit - Deborah Ballard

Starting with fruit - Deborah Ballard 0

Starting to grow fruit sounds daunting, but fruit-growing is less demanding than growing vegetables or annual flowers, and most soft fruit is really easy. If you have the space for a couple of trees, fruit trees have two seasons of real beauty – in blossom and when the fruit is ripening – and make lovely specimen trees – you can plant spring bulbs underneath. Because fruit-trees are grown on rootstocks that control the size of the tree, there are ones for even the smallest garden, or even for a patio. Strawberries can be grown in the smallest bed or in pots. And nothing tastes as good as fruit from your own garden!

I’m going to give an outline of what you have to think about when starting to plant fruit, and from there, you can check out the various cultivars (named varieties) on the Future Forests website to find the cultivars that are right for you and your garden; you will also find there more information about rootstocks, onto which most tree-fruit is grafted. (When you plant your fruit-tree, be sure to leave the graft-union – the swollen-looking bit on the trunk where the cultivar is grafted onto the rootstock – a couple of inches above soil level).

When it comes to tree-fruit, beginners often worry about pruning, but it’s easier than you might think, especially at the important stage, when the tree is young. If it really spooks you, ask an experienced gardener to come and show you how.

To start with, think about your micro-climate and soil. Fruit generally prefers a deep, fertile, slightly acid to neutral soil, but most fruit will tolerate an alkaline or poor soil if plenty of organic matter – well-rotted manure or compost – is added to the soil. Also important is a reasonably sheltered site, and plenty of sun, although some fruit – gooseberries and sour cherries, for example – will tolerate some shade. Frost pockets should be avoided if possible, as a late frost can destroy the blossom.

  • Alan Taylor
Planting bulbs 'in the green'

Planting bulbs 'in the green' 0

Some bulbs, tubers and rhizomes are better planted ‘in the green’ – in spring, when they are still in active growth – rather than as dry bulbs in autumn. These include winter aconites (which are particularly hard to establish from tubers), snowdrops, bluebells and lily-of-the valley. Future Forests stock these ready to send out in February and March. Plant them as soon as you receive them, preparing the soil beforehand if necessary so they can sprint away happily.
  • Alan Taylor
Planting and growing Mixed Hedges - Mattie Keane

Planting and growing Mixed Hedges - Mattie Keane 1

Mixed hedging has long been a speciality at Future Forests. Before choosing a type of hedge, you must first look at why you want the hedge and what you need it to do, after that you need to look at practical considerations like site and soil. Once you can figure those factors out, the bewildering choice of hedges should be very much narrowed down. 

We find that there are two main reasons people choose a mixed hedge over a single variety hedge: 

  1. They want  more seasonal interest in their hedge
  2. They want to encourage biodiversity in the garden

We offer several mixed hedges, but our most popular mix’s are our wildlife fruiting hedge, our permaculture hedge and our neat natural hedge...

  • Future Forests
Choosing and planting bare-root roses

Choosing and planting bare-root roses 0

Everyone loves a rose, and November to March is a good time to plant bare-root roses, so that they romp away when the warm weather comes. The trick for choosing them and growing them at their best is to pick the right position for the right rose for your garden.

There are so many roses that it’s no wonder people get confused. What’s the
difference between a rambler and a climber, or a modern shrub rose and an old
rose? What is an ‘English rose’? Is there a rose that be grown by the sea, or on a
steep bank, or as ground-cover? Are any roses suitable for hedging? What
conditions do roses like? What about pruning? And how do you plant bare root
roses? I’ll try to answer these questions in the rest of this blog...
  • Alan Taylor
Christmas decorations from the garden  - By Deborah Ballard

Christmas decorations from the garden - By Deborah Ballard 0

Bringing in greenery from the garden makes Christmas, and is far better for the planet than buying artificial decorations. Holly and ivy are traditional, but evergreen branches of eucalyptus, pine, pittosporum, elaeagnus and olearia also look lovely.  

 Variegated leaves will bring brightness into your arrangements – try Pittosporum tenuifolia ‘Silver Queen’, or one of the variegated hollies – choose silver- or gold-variegated types to match your other decorations, like Ilex aquifolium Argentea Marginata or Ilex x altaclarensis ‘Golden King’ (female, despite the name). The silvery leaves of Eleagnus x ebbingei are also good.

  • Alan Taylor



The bareroot season usually starts at the end of October and finishes around early April, of course like everything in the horticultural world, this is all a little bit weather dependent. My love of Autumn is usually added to by a restlessness for the bareroot season to start, it is by far our busiest time and soon the slow days of September and October are a distant memory as we are up to our eyes in all things bareroot. currants, raspberries, strawberries and hybrid berries  are usually the first to arrive and there is something about the scent of the soil on the roots that lets you know it's time to start moving plants. Trees, top fruit, shrubs and hedging all follow very quickly and we usually have a lot of customers eager to plant as soon as they can.


There are a lot of advantages to planting bareroot, not least the price which is usually considerably cheaper than the potted option. It is a lot easier to handle in bulk and so it is much more suited to delivery for mail order.

  • Alan Taylor