Alleyn Park Garden Centre

November Newsletter 2018

What an incredible summer and autumn we’ve had for the most part, but with the nights now drawing in our thoughts inevitably turn to winter. The darker evenings may be hard to bear, but there are compensations to be had, such as enjoying the fabulous autumn displays on trees and shrubs, lighting the fire, and planning for Christmas.

We’ve had a big sort out in the shop in the last week or so, and have created a SALE area, with many items at 50% or even 75% off. There are some gems to be had, including items that would make lovely gifts.

We also continue to have plants, shrubs and trees at up to half price which if planted now will be wonderful next year.

There are lots of lovely things vying for your attention at this time of year:

Autumn plants

There are many plants and shrubs that look good through winter. We’ve got some extraordinary Cornus (Dogwood) with vibrant red stems; Pyracantha, Callicarpa and Skimmia laden with berries; cheery little Cyclamen;Viburnum tinus, Viburnum davidii and Camellia are all promising colour and form in the months to come, as well as stunning Acers, Prunus, Liquidambar and Cotinus, with their amazing leaf colour.

Spring flowering bulbs

Now is the ideal time to plant tulips and alliums. As it’s been such a mild autumn, you can still get away with planting narcissi, crocus, bluebells and fritillaries.

Gifts and home

We have been stocking up on items in preparation for Christmas. True Grace candles in evocative scents such as ‘Fig’, ‘Cinnamon & Clove’, ‘Sandalwood’ and two types of ‘Christmas’ are all in stock. Come and have a sniff!

The funky Solmate Socks are available again. This delightfully quirky range of ‘lovingly mismatched’ socks are made from really good quality recycled cotton. Great to give as a gift, or to treat yourself.

We’ve got twine, string and raffia in a plethora of colours to either give as a gift, or use yourself to tie up your presents.

Christmas Trees

November at Alleyn Park Garden Centre means, PRE-ORDERING YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE!

Our stock of Nordman (non dropping) trees will start arriving at the end of the month. The trees are cut from sustainable stock, and come from both Scotland and Denmark. Those of you who have been buying our trees over the years know you just cannot beat our trees for quality. We are always delighted at the number of people who tell us that they’ve bought ‘the best Christmas tree ever’ from us. Along with quality, we offer some exceptional extras:

  • We whittle all our tree bases to fit into a stand, making the transition from garden centre to home as stress-free as possible.
  • We are again giving 10% off the price of all Christmas trees pre-ordered and paid for in November…
  • We will also deliver trees pre-ordered in November of height 6 foot and above free of charge in our local area.

We have made the decision to offer free delivery only for taller trees, 6’ and over. If your tree is shorter than that, it will comfortably fit into your car. If you don’t have a car, we can arrange a taxi for you. All trees are netted for easy transportation.

You can, of course, come by and check that you’re happy with the tree we’ve reserved prior to delivery (and change it if necessary, while stocks last). Alternatively, we can hold your tree ready for collection at your convenience, if you’d prefer.

Prices this year remain as last, and are as follows:

3’ (90cm) £29.95

4’ (1.2m) £39.95

5’ (1.5m) £44.95

6’ (1.8m) £59.95

7’ (2.1m) £74.95

8’ (2.4m) £99.95

Taller: price on request

Unfortunately, we can only supply trees over 8’ IF YOU PRE-ORDER IN NOVEMBER . If you want a taller tree, please call us to arrange it; the sooner the better.

We will also have a limited supply of 6’ Norway Spruce (traditional) trees priced at £34.95.

If you want a pot grown Christmas tree, we will have Picea pungens ‘Super Blue’ which has gorgeous silvery blue needles and can be put outside for the rest of the year, making a lovely feature plant.

Ask for further details if you wish to pre-order one of the above.

Whatever sort of tree you are looking for, don’t delay – book yours today!

As always, we will be selling 2 sizes of sturdy metal stands – 4” @ £19.95 and 5” (for taller trees and thicker trunks) @ £24.95 which you can order in advance to be delivered or collected with your tree.

Normal delivery charges and conditions will apply if you buy your tree in December

Christmas ‘Bling’

I’m delighted that you seem to like the home and tree decorations that we continue to hunt high and low for. As always, we have some truly exceptional items to grace your tree and home with this Christmas, including glass baubles in a range of colours and brilliant indoor and outdoor lights, including ‘Starburst’, which was received with great enthusiasm last year when they were launched.

Wreaths, Seasonal Flowers and Table Arrangements

Our wonderful florist, Tamsin, is back at the end of the month to set up the florist area, and will be ready to take orders for your wreath, table decoration and flower arrangement requirements from 23rd November onwards.

Last, but not least, put this date in your diaries:

Love West Dulwich Christmas Fair

The annual street fair on Croxted, Park Hall and Rosendale Roads is happening on:

Saturday 24th November, from 11am until about 4pm.

Come and join in the community fun! There will be in-store promotions in many of the local shops, you can visit Santa’s Grotto on Rosendale Road, and join in the carol singing on Park Hall and Croxted Roads.

Hope to see you soon, and don’t forget that every penny you spend earns 5% on your reward card.

With warm wishes


PS: Don't forget that in November we are only open from 10:00am to 4:00pm every day.

Garden jobs

As the days get shorter, there’s less time and inclination to be in the garden but there are still some worthwhile jobs to be done. The beautiful autumn colours and smells are a good reason to venture out too.

Plant and garden maintenance

  • Keep up with clearing leaves from paths and terraces to avoid slipping, and from lawns to allow light onto the grass.
  • Leave ornamental grasses in place over the winter to support birds and overwintering beneficial insects. Grasses can provide structure and look lovely on a frosty morning but some deciduous grasses others look tatty and past their best, so cut these down to 8-10cm above the crown.
  • This is a good time to move plants around if you've made mistakes. Dig them up with as much root as possible, move them to the new spot, firm and water them in well. With herbaceous perennials, cut the top growth down so that the roots can get established without wasting energy on leaves.
  • Make sure tree stakes are secure to protect young and recently planted trees from strong winds.
  • Tie in climbers, and cut back long whippy growth.
  • Mulch beds and borders with a thick layer of compost, bark or other mulching material to insulate plants and roots from cold temperatures. Using an organic mulch such as well rotted farmyard manure or one of the peat free wool composts will feed the soil and help break down London clay soil.
  • It’s time to clean and store away all tools, pots, bags of compost, hoses and irrigation equipment which you won't be using during the winter months.
  • Wash, dry and store any used pots, seed trays and containers to eliminate pests and diseases that may infect your plants next year.
  • Spend a couple of hours checking that pergolas, trellis, fencing and arches are in good order and well secured before winter sets in. The windy autumn weather may have weakened structures, and a bit of time now could save a lot of problems later.
  • Put away or cover any garden furniture which you won’t be using through the winter.

Preparing for cooler temperatures

  • Have some horticultural fleece ready to protect vulnerable plants against frost.
  • Remember that the roots of plants in containers are more susceptible to frost than plants in the ground and therefore need protection. Move them to a more sheltered spot, or wrap bubble wrap or hessian around the pot.

Container gardening

  • Raise pots and containers on to pot feet or bricks to help drainage and prevent the contents from becoming waterlogged.
  • Get rid of summer bedding in containers if you haven’t already. They won't perform for much longer and it's really pleasing to see a freshly planted potful to go through the next few months.
  • Pansies, violas, primula and cyclamen will provide fresh colour in window boxes and containers. Plant them much more densely than summer bedding because these plants won't spread very much through the colder months. Colourful bedding can be combined with small evergreen shrubs, ivy, grasses, ferns and more.
  • If you'd like an evergreen shrub for a container you could try a Nandina, or a box-like Ilex crenata, or beautifully scented Sarcococca.
  • Camellia, which flower in early spring, can be grown successfully in a container, giving them the acidic growing conditions they require by planting in ericaceous compost.
  • For more height, a standard bay tree or an olive might fit the bill.
  • Think about some potfuls of bulbs to flower next spring, either a pot of one variety or a bulb lasagne with a layer of tulips deep down, then some narcissi or hyacinths, and then some Muscari or dwarf iris nearer the top. With staggered flowering times the pot will be in flower over several months.
  • Pot up indoor Narcissi such as Bridal Crown and Paperwhites, prepared Hyacinths and Amaryllis to be flowering ready for Christmas. You can also grow Hyacinths in a special glass which gives a view of the roots.


  • Acers, birches, walnuts and laburnum are better pruned now, after leaf fall, than after mid-winter, when the sap is rising and they may ‘bleed’.
  • Thin canes on established bamboos to give the remaining canes more room to move and allow them to develop more quickly and strongly. Keep the removed canes to use as plant supports.


  • With the good October temperatures we’ve had, the ground is still great for planting. The benefits of autumn planting are the warm soil, and cool nights which leads to good root growth and fewer losses.
  • Herbaceous perennials, shrubs and trees - why not plant a deciduous tree or shrub with beautiful autumn colour, such as Liquidamber, Cornus florida or a stunning Acer, and look forward to the display next year. Or one with fabulous berries or fruit such as Sorbus (commonly known as rowan or mountain-ash), or a berry laden Skimmia pabella or prickly Pyracantha. Anything which has berries or fruit at this time of year will have had blossom in the spring: the right choice will give you several seasons of interest.
  • As Karen has said, November is the traditional month to plant tulips, but you can still plant most bulbs successfully. When planting in borders plant some spring bulbs at the same time. Many bulbs such as Bluebells, Muscari, and Narcissi cope particularly well in shadier areas. Were you envious of Alliums in other people’s gardens earlier this year? Put some Allium Purple Sensation, Sphaerocephalon or Caeruleum in a sunny spot to flower from May onwards.
  • Sow sweet peas ready for next year in deep root trainer cells. Many people report much better results from autumn sown plants, kept in a cold frame over winter.

Fruit and Vegetables

  • Prune redcurrant, blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes if not already done. Aim to keep the centres of bushes open and uncongested so that air can circulate and sunshine can reach the stems.
  • Mulch rhubarb around the crown.
  • Remove unripe figs, apart from tiny ones which will hopefully develop next year. The larger ones won't ripen now. Wear gloves to protect your hands from the sap.
  • Apply glue bands to fruit trees to prevent the wingless female winter moth from climbing up and laying eggs in the branches.
  • Check that trained fruit trees such as espaliers are well secured to their supports.
  • Lift parsnips as you need them, but leave them in the ground to get frosted as this helps the flavour.
  • Sow broad beans and peas for an early crop next year.


  • Now beds and borders are less abundant, try edging your lawn. Lawn edging creates a neat and tidy appearance and makes maintenance easier.
  • Before the weather becomes too wet or cold there’s still a little time to lay turf or sow grass seed, perhaps only in small gardens or areas.
  • It’s not too late to aerate your lawn to improve drainage.
  • Keep the blades set high on the lawn mower for winter cuts.
  • If weather is wet or frosty, avoid walking on grass as the turf can become compacted and fail to thrive.

Pests and diseases

  • This month is your last chance to spray perennial weeds with systemic weed killers before growth slows down.
  • Keep the battle up against squirrels - make their lives as difficult as possible in order to protect your newly planted bulbs. Try covering pots with chicken wire, sprinkle chilli powder around… there’s no simple answer, but it’s worth a try.
  • Slugs and snails are still around, so continue to deter them from overwintering in your garden. Clear away rubbish and don't leave places for pests to hide.
  • Rake soil to expose snail eggs to be eaten by birds.


  • Clean out bird boxes as soon as possible: old nesting material can harbour parasites. Birds look for warm winter roost spots, and indeed, for somewhere to raise a family next year. If they are familiar with a box by spring, they are more likely to move in.
  • old nesting material can harbour parasites. Birds look for warm winter roost spots, and indeed, for somewhere to raise a family next year. If they are familiar with a box by spring, they are more likely to move in.
  • Keep bird feeders full and provide a water supply. Install a birdbath if you can and keep the water fresh.
  • Resist the temptation to cut back ivy and other plants which are flowering at this time of year. They are a valuable source of pollen for bees.
  • When tidying and cleaning in the garden, leave somewhere for wildlife such as hedgehogs and toads to hibernate. If you're planning a bonfire, check your pile for any wildlife before you light it.


As things begin to slow down outside thoughts can turn to planning next year in the garden. Think about what worked well this year and browse books and magazines for inspiration for next year.