Alleyn Park Garden Centre

November Newsletter 2019

What a wet start to Autumn! Hopefully the rain will ease up, 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.

Our regular customers know that November is all about PRE-ORDERING YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE! So, before telling you what else is in stock, let me remind those of you who already know, and educate those who don’t, just why Christmas at Alleyn Park is different ….

Our stock of Nordmann (non-dropping) trees will start arriving at the end of November. The trees are cut from sustainable stock and come from 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 delighted by the number of people who tell us that they’ve bought ‘the best Christmas tree ever’ from us. Along with quality, we offer exceptional extras:

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

You can, of course, come by and check that you’re happy with the tree we’ve reserved for you 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 are as follows:

3’ (90cm) £29.95

4’ (1.2m) £39.95

5’ (1.5m) £49.95

6’ (1.8m) £64.95

7’ (2.1m) £74.95

8’ (2.4m) £99.95

Taller trees: Price on request – please order in November

6’ traditional £34.95 Norway Spruce

Potted & pot grown From £15.95 - £44.95 White Spruce, Norway Spruce & Nordmann Fir

Metal stands £19.95 – 4” for trees up to 6’ £24.95 – 5” for taller trees

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

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

Of course, we are always first and foremost a garden centre, so it’s still mostly about the plants. 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 or orange stems, Pyracantha, Nandina andSkimmia laden with berries and cheery little Cyclamen. Our Hellebores begin to arrive in earnest this month in a range of gorgeous colours – pink, cream, red and almost black. Viburnum tinus and Camellia are all promising colour and form in the months to come, as well as stunning Acers, Prunus and Cotinus with their amazing leaf colour. There are a variety of mini standard hollies, great for containers.

Spring flowering bulbs

November is the ideal time to plant tulips and alliums, so come and buy some quickly before stocks run out. It’s still fine to plant other bulbs such as narcissi, crocus, anemones and more. It’s worth a little effort for the spring show. We have boxes of Amaryllis in stock too; plant one now to flower at Christmas or give one as a gift.

We continue to have plants, shrubs and trees at up to half price which, if planted now, will take off wonderfully next year.

Compost news

We have achieved our objective of being almost 100% peat free in the bagged composts we sell, which was our aim for the end of 2019, ahead of the government’s aim for peat to be phased out in all markets before 2030. Feedback on the Melcourt and Lakeland composts has been excellent from many customers.

Indoor plants

We continue to carry a lovely range of houseplants, even though the space becomes more limited at this time of year. Martyna sources wonderful and sometimes very unusual plants and pots, and we’re so delighted to have enticed a whole new demographic of customers to us who don’t have a garden, but love plants and find space for ‘just one more’ in their flat or house.

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 ‘Christmas’ are all in stock. Come and have a sniff!

We’ve got Nutscene twine and string in a fantastic range of colours to either give as a gift, or use yourself to tie up your presents. Try a few of the minis in different colours.

We have a new range of body care products, Bramley, made in the UK with the finest essential oils and 100% natural botanicals, cruelty free and suitable for vegans. The packaging is 100% recycled, recyclable or biodegradable. We all love them.

We also now stock a new range of durable cups and bowls by Zuperzozial from biodegradable bamboo and corn, reinforced with melamine resin. All are dishwasher proof. These are perfect for picnics and for children.

As always, we try to have a range of useful and beautiful items in stock that make wonderful gifts …. Niwaki tools (I haven’t met a man yet who doesn’t want something from this range of incredible Japanese tools!), fabulous new leather gauntlets which have been made by hand in the UK, gift sets for the indoor gardener, and so much more besides. It’s worth popping in for presents as well as plants and your Christmas tree 🙂

Christmas ‘Bling’

As always, we have some truly exceptional items to grace your tree and home this Christmas including a range of indoor and outdoor lights. We have again ordered in some of the delightful hand-made indoor string lights designed and made by local resident, Melanie Porter.

The irresistible woodland creatures, winter elves and imps are making a reappearance this year (check out the utterly delightful angels, new this year).

The massive rejection of all things plastic means that we have focused our spending on glass and recycled baubles where possible. They may be slightly dearer, but they add a sparkle that can’t be matched, and will be treasured for years to come. Many of our decorations come from nkuku, whose products are all fair-trade and ethical.

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 28th November onwards.

This year, as with many environmentally friendly florists, she will be phasing out the use of Oasis floral foam (single use plastic) in her arrangements.

There are many alternative ways to display flowers more sustainably, for example using chicken wire, moss, twigs, eco wraps, glass vases, jam jars, and other containers. We’ll have lots of examples on display over the Christmas season.

We’ve extended the excellent range of faux flowers we sell, to include some lovely autumnal pieces – orange berried Hypericum, red skimmia, berried stems, and eucalyptus. Try mixing faux in with real to fill out your display.

Last, but by no means least, remember to stock up with firewood so you’re always able to light that open fire or wood-burner on a chilly afternoon or evening. As always, we have a supply of wonderfully aromatic and slow burning Olive Wood, along with sustainably sourced hardwood, and kindling. Our non-toxic eco firelighters don’t leave any nasty niffs when lit, and ensure a good start for your fire.

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

With warm wishes

Karen, Robby and the Team

PS Please remember our opening hours in November are 10 am to 4pm every day

Garden jobs

The shortening days in the next couple of months make it harder to get out into the garden but there are some worthwhile jobs to do, as well as some lovely colours and autumn smells to enjoy.

General garden maintenance

  • Keep up with clearing leaves from paths and terraces where they create a slip hazard and can block drains. Rake up regularly from lawns where fallen leaves block light and increase humidity, both of which can damage the grass. Don’t waste the leaves – put them into hessian sacks and leave them in a forgotten corner of the garden to become glorious leaf mould.
  • 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 look tatty and past their best, so cut these down to 8-10cm above the crown.
  • Make sure tree stakes are secure to protect young and recently planted trees from strong winds. Check that the ties aren’t too tight - the trunk girth may have increased over the growing season.
  • If you have trees with interesting winter bark such as Silver birch or Prunus serrula, wipe the trunks with water to make them brighter and shinier.
  • Tie in climbers, and cut back long whippy growth.
  • This is a good time to move plants around if they’re in the wrong place. 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.
  • 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 farmyard manure or peat free wool compost will also feed the soil and help to 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 pots, seed trays and containers to eliminate pests and diseases that could infect your plants next year.
  • Clean and sharpen cutting tools such as shears and secateurs.
  • Spend a couple of hours checking that pergolas, trellis, fencing and arches are in good order and well secured before winter sets in. Recent windy 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

  • 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 and/or wrap hessian, cardboard or bubble wrap around the pot.
  • Have some horticultural fleece ready to protect vulnerable plants against frost.

Container gardening

  • Raise pots and containers on to pot feet or bricks to help drainage and prevent the contents from becoming waterlogged.
  • Clear out remaining summer bedding in containers and replace with something fresh for the winter months. Pansies, violas and cyclamen will give lovely colour in window boxes and containers. Plant 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.
  • Try an evergreen shrub in a container - Nandina, Viburnum tinus, Pieris, Camellia and beautifully scented Sarcococca all make great container plants. You can give them the growing conditions they need – for example, Pieris and Camellia need acidic growing conditions so you would use ericaceous compost.
  • If you want some height in containers, for example on either side of the front door, a standard bay tree, olive, holly or Camellia might fit the bill.
  • What about some pots of bulbs to flower next spring? You could plant a pot of one variety - choose some gorgeous tulips and plant them quite densely. Dwarf iris are stunning in pots - top them with a layer of grit to stop rain splashing compost onto the flowers. Or try a bulb lasagne with a layer of tulips deep down, then add some narcissi or hyacinths, and 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, 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.


  • Herbaceous perennials, shrubs and trees - there is still the opportunity to plant most things. The ground is still warm and as long as it’s not waterlogged, roots will establish if planted well.
  • Plant something with autumn berries such as Pyracantha or Skimmia pabella in the knowledge that there will be lovely spring blossom too.
  • November is the traditional month to plant tulips but you can still plant most bulbs successfully. Many bulbs are happy in a half shady spot and will last longer in flower. Alliums, tulips, narcissi, muscari - it’s difficult to choose but they will all brighten up the garden next year.
  • 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 centre of bushes open and uncongested to allow air to circulate and sunshine to reach the stems.
  • Mulch rhubarb around the crown.
  • Remove unripe figs (anything bigger than a pea), 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.


  • If your lawn needs a little boost, apply a conditioner like Lawn Gold Winter which helps to prevent moss on your lawn, strengthens the roots and greens your lawn during the winter months.
  • Now beds and borders are less abundant, try edging your lawn. Lawn edging creates a neat and tidy appearance and makes maintenance easier.
  • 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

  • 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 to encourage new occupants. Birds look for warm winter roost spots and 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.


Spend some time reflecting on what’s been good in the garden this year - have there been gaps at different times? Make a note and start planning with books and magazines.