Author Archives: Gaby Heagerty

national tree week


We are nearly at the end of the Tree Council’s National Tree Week 2022 – the UK’s largest annual tree celebration. This year we want to help de-mystify all the horticultural terms frequently used to describe trees when you go to a garden centre to buy a tree.


An ornamental tree is one that is grown for its looks rather than what it produces. Examples include:

  • Amelanchier – this tree has pretty blossom in spring, berries in summer (popular with birds) and fiery foliage in autumn.
  • Arbutus Unedo – Grown for its fruit (non-edible) that look like Strawberries
  • Betula utilis jacquemontii – Grown for its white stem colour
  • Acer palmatum – grown for their breathtaking autumn leaf colours.

The opposite of an ornamental tree is a fruit tree – grown predominantly for its edible crops for example apples, pears, plums but equally can give visual appeal (the blossom in spring, for example).


A native tree is one that lives, grows and reproduces naturally in a particular region. For the UK these are alders, Alder buckthorn, ash, beech, birch, blackthorn, crab apples, wild cherries, dogwood, elder. elms, hawthorns, hazel, hornbeam, limes, pines, rowan, whitebeams and most famously, oak trees. One benefit of planting native trees is that you will be benefiting wildlife. It’s obvious once it’s pointed out, but native British wildlife and native British trees have evolved to live together. Native trees provide homes, shelter and sustenance for native species of birds, small mammals, insects and other wildlife.

national tree week

Whilst non native trees grow perfectly happily in the UK they wouldn’t have done so naturally without humans introducing it to the area. In the Victorian period plant hunting was most prolific and companies like our very own Robert Veitch & Son were key to introducing many new species. Non-native varieties can be beneficial in terms of their height as some of our native trees can grow very big.

Root stock

The trees you buy from a garden centre will have been grown by a technique called grafting. This technique gives a saleable, strong and visually appealing tree within a year. Whilst a nursery can grow trees from seed it would take many years to reach a size that people would want to plant and additionally many trees don’t always grow true to form from seed.
Grafting is effectively the act of joining two plants together. The upper part of the graft becomes the top of the plant and the lower portion becomes the root system and lower part of the trunk, A rootstock is the name given to the bottom plant and it is chosen for its vigour and resilience.

Most trees will be grafted onto their own species for example there are numerous types of birch with different qualities of their bark and stem colour. When grafting a variety of birch they will use Betula pendula (common birch) as the rootstock.

national tree week

Fruit trees use rootstocks bred especially for the purpose and they are grown to control the overall ultimate height of the tree, They don’t have particularly interesting names, indeed the rootstocks used for apples sound more like motorways that plants – (M27, M106, M25)! As our gardens tend to be getting smaller, demand for more dwarfing fruit trees has increased. A dwarfing fruit tree will reach about 8ft in ultimate height and so will enable fruit to be picked without the need of a ladder. This is very useful but be aware that by restricting the growth you will naturally have a smaller crop than a tree that grows to 20ft!

Quick Recap

When you go to choose a tree decide:

  • Do you want a fruit tree or ornamental tree? If ornamental, do you want a native tree or non-native tree?
  • Think about what you want from a tree i.e. spring blossom, autumn colour or year round interest?
  • How tall do you want the tree to be when fully grown?

Once you have thought more about your needs you are ready to go and choose some with your eyes. Look for what you like and then ask one of our team to advise on suitability of your choices for the position you have in mind. Our team will be pleased to help you make a selection.

For further information on National Tree Week, visit the Tree Council’s website at:



Yesterday, our Managing Director, Tammy, had great fun voicing our Radio Exe Christmas advert.

Be sure to tune in to Radio Exe on the 8th December for your chance to win a £50 token to spend at our garden centre – just in time to purchase your Christmas tree or gifts for the family!

Don’t miss it!


Gabrielle Creative · St Bridget Nurseries – Christmas Greeting 2022



horticultural fleece


After a relatively mild start to Autumn it is easy to get caught out by the first frost of the season. When it is not practical to lift and move tender plants to shelter, wrapping them up is the best form of protection.

To wrap your plants there are several methods you can use:

Wrap plant pots with bubble wrap, this keeps the soil and most importantly the roots warm.
Cover your tender plants with horticultural fleece. You can buy fleece jackets to pop over plants (we sell them in the garden centre) or you can create wigwams with bamboo canes and then wrap fleece around it (we sell fleece by the running metre in our garden centre shop). Tree ferns can be protected by packing the trunk in fleece and protecting the crown with a packing of straw. Ensure the area around your tree ferns are well mulched to protect the roots from frost.
If you are not sure how tender your garden plants are then please call our plant team to ask or we recommend the RHS plant finder.


£5 off christmas tree


To help our customers celebrate this year, we are offering £5 off the purchase of any real or artificial Christmas tree from 28th November to 24th December 2022.

We have a wonderful selection of top-grade Christmas trees to choose from. If you love the smell of a real Christmas tree we have a number of varieties available, including the Nordman Fir, Fraser Fir, Norway Spruce and the pot-grown Blue Spruce. Or, if you don’t want the mess of falling needles, we also have a fine selection of artificial trees.

£5 off christmas tree

Offer terms and conditions

From November 28th to 24th December simply present this coupon on your mobile or tablet when you make your purchase to enjoy £5 off any one of our Christmas trees priced £20 or more.

Only one voucher can be used per transaction/household.

The maximum discount is £5.00 on presentation of this coupon. No cash alternative, no change can be given.



The countdown to Christmas has begun!

Be sure to visit our Christmas Shop, where you will discover an array of decorations and festive accessories that will brighten your home, helping truly deliver the magic of Christmas.

We have everything you need to get ready for the festive season:

  • Baubles and bows
  • Fairies and stars
  • Candles and crackers
  • Garlands and tinsel
  • Gift wrap, gift bags, ribbons and tags
  • Christmas cards
  • Tableware (napkins, table cloths, runners and plates)
  • Christmas books
  • Christmas jigsaws
  • Christmas houseplants
  • Artificial trees
  • Door wreaths

Plus we have gifts for all the family, including four-legged friends!


autumn pond care


Now is a great time to ensure your pond stays in tip top condition whether it is an ornamental fish pond or wildlife pond.

If you have a fish pond, now is the time to clean any filters or pumps. It is also important to remove any rotting leaves from the water as they can give off noxious chemicals as they decay. Remove any leaves and unwanted debris that have fallen into your pond using a fine net.

It’s also a good time to review the plants around your pond and cut back any overhanging branches. Consider thinning or cutting plants back to allow your pond to get plenty of winter sunlight .

Don’t forget to start feeding your fish wheatgerm fish food pellets once the temperature gets below 10 degrees. If your fish stop feeding, resume once the temperature rises again.

Finally cut off and remove fading leaves and flowers from your accessible aquatic plants to prevent them from decomposing – this will also encourage regrowth next year.


We Are Dog Friendly

We are a dog friendly garden centre. We welcome dogs of all sizes and all breeds as long as they bring their well-behaved owner on a lead!

We recognise that for many of our customers, their faithful friend is a member of the family! Which is why customers are welcome to bring their dogs into the garden centre. So that everyone can enjoy their visit to us, we ask that you keep your dog on a lead and under control at all times, do not leave dogs unattended and please be respectful of others who may not feel the same way about dogs as you do.

Dogs are also welcome in our cafe. Good dogs may also be offered a treat when they go to our shop tills.

The only thing that we ask is that any accident must be picked up and disposed of correctly by owners.


Join Our Team!

We are looking for people to join our team! We currently have vacancies for a FT Cook, FT Shop Manager and PT Sales Assistant. For more information about each role, please click on the relevant links below.


Full-time. Daytime shifts only – no evening work.

We aim to provide great tasting, locally sourced, food and drinks to our lovely customers. Our team is small but fun and we want another star to help develop and enhance our catering provision. Our menu includes cooked breakfasts; sandwiches, burgers, chips, homemade soup and about 5 cooked specials for lunch each day. We also bake our own scones fresh each morning.

Working under the direction of the cafe manager, you will ensure that food orders are prepared timely, correctly, as budgeted and most importantly tasting delicious. Most days you will be the assistant cook, helping with food prep and serving but on certain days when the cafe manager and other cook are on leave, you will take on the lead cook role.


  • Discounted or free food
  • Employee discount
  • On-site parking


5 days a week. Shifts are daily within the hours of 8.00am to 5.00pm (9am-4.30pm on Sundays). Most days you will work a 8 hour shift. You will be expected to work one alternating weekend day a week.

For more information about the role and to apply, click here

Shop Team Manager

We are looking for someone to join our garden centre shop team on a full time permanent basis.

The ideal candidate will have a friendly character, being able to take direction and able to lead a team by example. Previous experience within the horticultural trade is a definite advantage but not essential. Applicants should have a passion and good understanding of a range of garden products and have a willingness to learn new things.

Supporting the owner, you will drive sales to achieve targets focusing on ensuring the team delivers the highest customer service and that products are displayed correctly. You will lead the team and inspire, motivate and develop them to optimise their individual performance and to deliver the best for customers. You will control the back of house and front of house operational standards ensuring stock processes are in place to maintain margin expectations.


  • Employee discount
  • On-site parking


You will work 8 hours each day between the hours of 8.00am and 5.30pm with a half hour unpaid break each day. Sundays are worked between 9.30am to 4.30pm with a half hour unpaid break.

For more information about the role and to apply, click here.

Garden Centre Sales Assistant

We are looking for someone to join our garden centre shop team on a part time basis. (4 days a week – ideally Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and an alternating weekend day.)

The ideal candidate will have a friendly character, being able to take direction and work as part of a team. Previous experience within the horticultural trade is not essential, but would be an advantage. Applicants should have a passion and good understanding of a range of garden products and have a willingness to learn new things.

This role is physical. You will be on your feet all day and will be required to lift heavy objects from time to time e.g. large trees, compost, pots etc.

Working with the Shop Manager and team you will ensure the smooth running of the Shop Department (this covers all indoors goods plus compost, outdoor pots and fencing).


  • On-site parking


You will work 7.5 hours each day between the hours of 9am and 5.00pm with a half hour unpaid break each day. Sundays are worked 10am to 4pm with a half hour unpaid break and have enhanced pay so even though you work less hours you take home the same pay as you would if you worked a Saturday.

For more information about the role and to apply, click here.



We have teamed up with Taylors Bulbs and their LITTLE DAFFODILS campaign to get children planting bulbs this half term. Bring your children along to our garden centre between the 24th and 28th October 2022 and for just £1 (or free with any purchase) they can plant three daffodil bulbs in their own special pot.

The LITTLE DAFFODILS initiative has been set up by Taylors Bulbs to get more children interested in gardening. During October, there will be widespread planting events throughout the UK at garden centres and local schools so that children have the opportunity to learn more about nature and grow their own flowers.

Children will get the opportunity to enjoy planting daffodil bulbs and then take their own pot home to watch the magic grow! 

The campaign also supports the Greenfingers Charity who create beautiful, outdoor spaces for children who spend time in hospices to enjoy.


sow green manure

Sow Green Manure This Autumn

If you have a vegetable plot or allotment it’s highly likely that now we are in mid autumn, some of your plot has become bare (fallow) as your summer crops have finished. Rather than leave the soil fallow until spring, we highly recommend sowing green manure seed.

Grown to benefit the soil, green manure can improve soil structure, increase soil fertility and help suppress weed growth. In addition they can disrupt pests and disease life cycles. The type of green manure you need to sow now is winter crop varieties. These winter crops prevent nutrients in your soil, especially nitrogen, from being leached away by winter rains. After a winter crop the soil has been broken down so it will be easier to use in the spring.

How to sow and grow green manure

Sow outdoors by thinly scattering the seed over finely raked soil, which has already been watered. Before the green manure flowers and sets seed, turn it into your soil by lifting it up, turning it over and then digging it into the soil. If a longer period of ground cover is required, then flowering of the green manure can be delayed by cutting plants back (by about a third) when flowers begin to form.

We recommend a Winter Rye or an Autumn/Winter Green Manure Mix which usually consist of Crimson Clover, Broad Leaf Clover, Westerwolds Rye Grass and White Tilney Mustard.


Image accreditation: Krzysztof Golik (2021), Trifolium incarnatum (Crimson Clover) on WikiCommons. Last accessed on 19th October 2022. Available at: