Author Archives: Gaby Heagerty

April Gardening Tips


April is characterised as the month of sunshine and showers. There’s a lot to feel excited about as spring blossoms into its full glory, and tulips and flowering cherries adorn the landscape with bursts of colour. Amidst the occasional rainy days punctuated by sunny interludes, you can turn your attention to tending the vegetable plot. This month marks the beginning of outdoor sowing, heralding the anticipation of fresh growth. However, it’s essential to remain vigilant of late frosts, ensuring the protection of tender plants indoors.

Here are our tips for making the most of the month ahead:

– Apply a rose fertiliser now to any roses you have in your garden and a high potash feed to flowering shrubs.

– Give your lawn a spring feed now. There are many products available including some combined products that feed and weed, saving you time.

– You can plant your chitted seed potatoes this month starting with first early varieties and finishing with main crop varieties.

– If you have a greenhouse, continue your sowing of summer flowering annuals and prick out any sowings you did last month moving them up into larger cells/pots. With any seedling you want to encourage a nice compact root system so it pays to slowly increase pot size. Typically seeds go from a seed tray to a divided cell tray or 6cm pot and then a 9cm pot before planting out.

– In April you can start feeding your indoor houseplants again. Follow the instructions on the fertiliser you use as you can over fertilise plants.

– Direct sow annuals such as sunflowers, pot marigolds and Californian poppies this month.

– If you have a greenhouse it maybe worth investing in an automatic vent opener. This simple device contains an oil and as the daytime temperature rises the oil expands which pushes the lever attached to your roof vent and thus opens the vent. As the temperature drops in the evening, the oil contracts and the vent closes. We sell these in our garden centre.

– You may need to repair patches of your lawn this month. We sell small packets of grass lawn seed or rolls of turf, which are all perfect for the job. Turf arrives on a Friday (subject to weather) and is available for sale each weekend only,  so we always suggest calling to reserve rolls before making a special journey.

– If you are going to cut your hedge, check for nesting birds first and hold off until all chicks have flown.

– Brighten up your garden by planting some spring flowering shrubs and herbaceous perennials. Our best sellers last year for April were Evergreen Azaleas, Rhododendrons as well as everyone getting ready for late spring with Lupins, Scabious and Geums.

– Love blueberries but not the supermarket prices? Try growing blueberry plants (Vaccinium corymbosum) in pots as many are partly or fully self fertile. Growing at least two different varieties will ensure cross-pollination and abundant crops. Plant in an ericaceous compost as blueberries are acid loving. Water regularly in dry spells and feed monthly with an ericaceous fertiliser – follow the guidance on the label and do not overfeed. You may need to net your plants to protect from birds.



The weather is getting milder, the sun is coming out and the days are getting longer. Spring has finally sprung! If you visit St Bridget now, you’ll be greeted by a multitude of spring plants for your garden. We have new plants arriving daily – all fresh from our nursery and garden-ready.

There are lots of other reasons to visit us over the Easter holidays. You can browse our selection of unique gifts in our shop or meet friends or family for some freshly cooked food in our Café. If you’re looking for some Easter entertainment for your children, why not take part in our FREE Easter hunt trail.

Easter Holiday Family Fun

We’re inviting children to take part in our fun Easter Hunt in the Easter holidays. Pick up a clue sheet and find all the Easter characters hidden around our garden centre. Once you have completed your sheet, you can claim a small egg-citing treat!

Trail open on Friday 29th, Saturday 30th March and Monday 1st April, 9am-5pm.

Best of the Season Plants

We love plants and our plant team are passionate about showcasing the very best of each season in our undercover plant market.

We have an enormous selection of gorgeous plants for your garden including herbs, edibles, alpines, wildflowers, spring bulbs, spring flowers, perennial flowers, ferns, ornamental grasses, ornamental shrubs, climbing plants, fruit bushes, fruit trees, ornamental trees, evergreen and hedging shrubs, conifers and roses.

We continue to grow all the shrubs we sell; lovingly hand propagated and cared for by our nursery team in Exeter.

Meet and Drink

Our café is the perfect place for breakfast meetings, lunch with friends or afternoon tea for one! Whatever the occasion, you will find delicious home cooked food, tasty treats and friendly service.

Easter Opening Hours

Our garden centre and shop are open Monday to Saturday 9am to 5.00pm and on Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Our café is open daily from 9am to 4.30pm and 10am to 3.30pm on Sundays.

Over the Easter weeked we are open as normal apart from Easter Sunday when we will be closed:

Good Friday – Open from 9am to 5pm
Easter Sunday – CLOSED
Easter Monday – Open from 9am to 5pm

We very much hope to share Easter with you and your family!


march gardening tips


By mid-March, Spring typically makes its appearance, bringing with it ample sunshine and a plethora of gardening tasks to tackle. As the days grow sunnier, it’s prime time to dive into preparing seed beds, planting seeds, pruning winter shrubs, and giving the garden a thorough tidy-up.

Here are our tips for making the most of the month ahead:

– Add organic matter to your soil. Adding a well rotted farmyard manure or garden compost will improve structure of your soil and increase drainage in wet soil. It also aids water retention in dry conditions. Never add fresh manure to your soil unless you are going to leave it bare. This is because it can ‘burn’ plant roots.

– Help our wild bees and other pollinators by ensuring your garden has a range of plants that flower year-round. Pollinators prefer simple single flowers that are easier toget pollen. Do not use pesticides on plants in flower. Some perfect pollinator friendly plants to plant this month (March) are Erysimums (wallflowers) Malus domestica (apple trees) and primula vulgaris (the native primrose).

– Deadhead daffodils as they fade by cutting off the flower head. Leave the foliage to die back naturally as this fertilises the bulb encouraging it to flower and naturalise next year.

– March is the time that you can start sowing your onions and shallots. Put them so that you can just see the bulb tip above the soil.

– Ensure you are ready to battle with slugs and snails. They love to damage new shoots and young transplants.

– Put out food for hedgehogs emerging from hibernation. Avoid bread and milk, opt for specialist hedgehog food (which we sell) or dog food.

– According to Allergy Uk, one in four people have hay fever. Proteins in the pollen cause the immune system to overreact. This creates the chemical histamine causing discomfort and symptoms like sneezing, runny noses and itchy eyes. Although associated with the countryside, hayfever is actually worse in urban environments where pollen mixes with pollutants and becomes more irritating. There are some plants that are low on pollen and therefore better for hayfever sufferers. These varieties include: Holly (Ilex aquifolium especially the female form of Argentea Marginata), Escalonia, Sorbus (whitebeam), clematis armandii, Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis), Garden Pinks (dianthus).

– Sow seeds of tender vegetables this March such as tomatoes, peppers and chillies.

– If you have young seedlings outside in the ground on on an allotment, protect them from frost by laying horticultural fleece or a cloche over them at night.
If the ground dries up enough you can start cutting your lawn in March. Start with the cutter on its highest position and gradually bring it down.

– Regularly clean your bird feeders and baths to prevent the spread of disease between birds.

– If you are sowing runner beans in your garden or allotment this year, now is a great time to prepare trenches with a well-rotted manure and shredded paper at the base.

– Prune your climbing roses this March. Undo the trained rose from the structure you have it trained to. Check all branches for dead wood and remove any dead wood you find. Retain vigorous young branches (bright green stems). Remove only a few old branches if new pale green branches have grown from below. Tie on the long main branches to their structure again. The side branches are not pruned as the rose will flower on these again this summer.

– Prune your winter flowering heathers (Ericas). Cut them down to just below the dead flowers. You can prune carefully stem by stem or grab a bunch of branches in one hand and cut the exposed plant above your hand.


mothering sunday


Mothering Sunday is a great opportunity to show our love and appreciation to all who ‘mother’, whether it is our own mothers or those who care for us. Mother’s Day always brings many emotions – from memories of our mothers, to wanting to treat and surprise those mums who can be us.

We’d be delighted if you brought the special lady in your life to our garden centre on 10th March to enjoy Mothering Sunday together. The garden centre is bursting with colour and inspiration for your garden and you can also enjoy delicious food from our café.

Perfect Plants for Mum

There is no better way to show you care than with a beautiful flowering plant. Our plant gifts will bring happiness to your mum’s garden long after cut flowers have faded. We have the evergreen Azalea ‘Mother’s Day’, gorgeous roses and camellias or flowering plants for borders. Many of these will come back year after year, bringing your mum joy (and reminding her of you) every time she looks at them.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day gifts can be tricky to buy when you don’t want to give the standard flowers or chocolates. Here at St Bridget we have everything you need to show your mother how much they mean to you. We have a wide selection of lovely gifts to choose from.

New In! We have a range of toiletries and gifts from Hampshire based Toasted Crumpet and Flower Focus toiletries from Heathcote and Ivory.

Forever in Your Heart

Losing your mum or a beloved mother figure can make Mother’s Day feel painful. However, remembrance plants are a lovely way to commemorate a special person. Planting a beautiful rose in your garden in memory of your mum can help to bring comfort. Some plants are symbolic of grief and loss, for example rosemary is traditionally the herb of remembrance.

For those of us who are remembering someone dear, we also have a range of memorial items in our Gift Shop.

Delicious Food and Drink in our Café

Why not visit our Kitchen Café and treat your mum to a delicious lunch together? You can enjoy freshly prepared, home cooked meals, sweet treats and beverages.

Opening Hours

Our garden centre and shop are open Monday to Saturday 9am to 5.00pm and on Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Our café is open daily from 9am to 4.30pm and 10am to 3.30pm on Sundays.

We very much hope to share Mothering Sunday with you and your family.


february gardening tips


As February progresses, signs of the approaching spring become apparent, with bulbs emerging and wildlife stirring as light levels and temperatures rise. While nature awakens, there’s ample opportunity this month to ready your garden for the upcoming season. February offers a chance to lay the groundwork for a flourishing garden in the months to come.

Here are our tips for making the most of the month ahead:

– Apply blood fish and bone mixed organic fertiliser to your plants to give them a good start and for a spectacular floral display later in the year.

– Use cloches (a translucent cover) to warm up your soil for early seed sowing outdoors. In general, transparent or clear plastic is most effective for solarisation, as the heating rays from the sun will pass through the sheet and be trapped to heat the soil below.

– Start chitting your seed potatoes. Chitting potatoes means encouraging the tuber to produce strong, short, stubby green shoots before planting. It’s the practise of making potatoes start to sprout before planting in the soil. Chitting is supposed to help a crop mature quickly after planting. We suggest putting your seed potatoes in an open egg carton in a cool well lit room to do this.

– If your lawn gets waterlogged we suggest spiking the ground to improve drainage. You can use a special hollow tined aeration tool or just the spikes from a garden fork.

– Start your seed sowing. Many seeds can be sown undercover this month including sweet peas, lettuce and broad beans. Don’t forget your seed trays and compost.

– Apply nitrogen fertiliser to your spring cabbage and broccoli at the end of the month to ensure they green up.

– Plant rhubarb crowns and asparagus. .

– Add some colour back into the garden with the joyful primulas. Hardy primulas and polyanthus look great in pots or at the front of borders. If you regularly deadhead the flowers as they go over you will be rewarded with new buds and prolonged flowering.

– If your camellias are in full bloom, it is advisable to keep an eye on the weather forecast and throw some horticultural fleece over your plants before frosty nights. This will prevent the blooms from being blackened. You can hold the fleece in place with clothes pegs and remove it in the morning when temperatures rise. When camellia flowers have finished flowering and going brown they can be removed from the plant.

– Tidy up your strawberry plants by snipping away the old foliage down to the crown of the plant. This will promote healthy leaf growth by exposing the central part of the plant to light and air. You can force the plants to flower early (and therefore fruit early) by growing them undercover.

– Prune your autumn fruiting raspberry canes, close to ground level. To get a small early crop, leave a few strong shoots unpruned.

– Plant new or saved dahlia tubers. Keep them in pots undercover for the spring and then plant out in May. Other summer flowering bulbs, corms and tubers can also be planted now like Begonias, Gladioli and Lilies.

– National Nest Box week always coincides with Valentines Day as many garden birds are beginning to pair up and look for a home to raise their family. You should always site your nest box away from prey (i.e. at least 1.5m above ground level) and with the entrance facing north/north-east, away from the prevailing wind and rain

– Continue feeding your garden birds this month as they will be working hard to build nests and need all the extra energy they can get.


poinsettia care


The poinsettia (scientifically known as Euphorbia pulcherrima) has claimed the title of the UK’s most popular houseplant during the Christmas season.

Recognised as the Christmas Star flower, this plant hails from Mexico and sees over eight million sales in the UK annually. Blooming from mid-November to January, the poinsettia serves as an iconic festive adornment for homes, second only to the Christmas tree.

Poinsettias are commonly seen as challenging to care for, yet by adhering to some simple guidelines, your plant can flourish throughout the Christmas season and beyond.

Top tips for caring for your poinsettia

Place poinsettias away from drafts to prevent leaf loss, favouring warmth and light in sheltered spots.

Keep poinsettias in temperatures between 15-22°C, preferring light over shade but tolerating winter sunlight near a south-facing window.

Use soft rainwater for poinsettias; it’s best. Otherwise, reduce tap water’s mineral content by boiling, standing, using distilled water, or a filter.

Ensure the plant’s root ball remains moderately moist, avoiding overwatering to prevent water-logging and root rot.

Regularly inspect leaves for yellowing or dropping, as overwatering might be an issue.

Water when the soil is dry, potentially daily near a radiator or every few days elsewhere. Check by fingertip or weight, ensuring soil saturation occasionally.

At St Bridget this Christmas you’ll find a wide selection of Christmas houseplants, including poinsettias, to buy either as a gift for someone or to decorate your own home.


november garden jobs


November brings specific tasks for our gardens as it is crucial time to prepare for the colder weather while also enjoying the remaining autumnal beauty. We discuss activities essential for maintaining garden health during the approaching winter and ensuring a vibrant garden when spring arrives. Read our blog to discover how to care for our outdoor spaces during this transitional season.

Plant Bulbs for Spring

If you haven’t already done so, plant tulip bulbs in pots or the ground to flower in spring. We have several varieties available to buy either loose or in pre-packs along with other spring favourites like daffodils. Hurry though as the bulbs need to be in the ground by the end of the month.

Treat Dahlias or Canna Lilies to Some Mulch

If you Dahlias or Canna Lilies in your garden you will need to either give them a thick mulch of bark (think of a mulch as a think layer of organic matter that acts like a blanket) Or dig them up, shake off the soil from the roots and tubers/rhizomes and then store them in a dry dark place over the winter before re-planting again next spring.

Prune Your Trees and Shrubs

Start by inspecting for any dead, diseased, or damaged branches. These can be identified by their lack of foliage, discoloured or withered appearance, or signs of pest infestation. Using sharp and clean pruning tools – such as pruning shears or loppers – carefully remove these problematic branches.

Beyond simply removing damaged parts, pruning also offers an opportunity to improve the overall shape and structure of your trees and shrubs – think of it as a haircut trim!

Protect Garden Pots

We have already seen a few cold nights, make sure you have some bubble wrap as home (we sell it by the metre) to wrap around pots in the garden. Not only will this protect the actual pot, but it will keep your plant’s roots and the soil warm. It is also a good idea to raise your pots off the ground using pot feet to prevent the soil becoming waterlogged.

Tend Your Fruit and Veg Garden

November is a good time to tidy up your veg garden. Remove and clean stakes from summer crops that have finished and store them in a dry place for use again next year. Lay straw or cardboard on the beds of root vegetables to reduce frost damage.

Plant bare root raspberry canes between anew and March. Ensure you enrich the soil before planting with a well rotted manure or other organic matter and a slow release fertiliser.

You may want to pot up your garden herbs and bring them indoors on a well lit windowsill for the winter period.

Take Care of Wildlife

If you plan on having a bonfire always check piles do not contain hibernating toads or hedgehogs before you light them.

Leave the seed heads on plants like grasses ad perennials as they provide food for birds and insects.

Put out feed for your garden birds; a feeder of peanuts and one of seed should attract and help the majority of garden birds.


feeding garden birds

What To Feed Garden Birds

The nation has a love affair with feeding garden birds. For some, it is the simple pleasure of watching some of our most beautiful and colourful wildlife. For others it comes from a compassionate need to nurture and assist in cold periods.

By and large feeding garden birds in winter does help birds survive but putting them in a better physical condition for the breeding season which typically starts in February. There are also some studies suggesting that birds that are fed produce larger broods with heavier more viable chicks.

Whatever your reason for feeding garden birds there is quite an overwhelming number of different feeds on the market and choosing the right mix for your garden is important.

Choosing bird feed

By and large the four main choices are peanuts, seeds, mealworms or suet and what you choose will be down to what birds you have in your garden or what birds you want to encourage.

PEANUTS… an old favourite for tits and greater spotted woodpeckers. Make sure you use a purpose made peanut feeder (as they do differ from seed feeders and they enable the birds to grab on to the side of the feeder and peck away in their natural feeding position).

MEALWORM & CALCIWORMS: These dried up insects are the food of choice for ground feeding birds or birds that feed from the flat. Therefore, you need a feeding tray or bird table. They are the food of choice for robins and blackbirds.

SEEDS: Seeds are the biggest category of bird feed. The safest bet is to buy a seed blend which will appeal to a wild variety of birds. However, you can also be selective. Just ensure your bird feeder is suitable as the following types of seed do have dedicated feeders to avoid waste and mess.

NYJER SEED: principally for goldfinches and redpolls and therefore this food maybe ignored in some gardens.

SUNFLOWER SEEDS: attract a wide selection of birds but in particular finches and tits. Sunflower hearts are more attractive to birds as they do not have to de-husk the seed.

SUET/FAT: Suet and fat are a good choice for winter. The foods are sold in various shapes and sizes from a ball to logs and blocks and they will either contain berries and seeds or mealworms and nuts. Tits in particular love these.

Feeding Frequency

Whatever food you choose, ensure you feed a little and often as this will keep the food fresher. Don’t forget to clean your feeders from time to time too to maintain hygiene and always wash your hands after feeding the birds. Store your bird feed in an airtight container. If you live with or near cats, ensure that feeders are kept out of the way.

Finally, as well as feeding garden birds don’t forget to plant for wildlife too. Trees and shrubs not only provide shelter for birds, but they are a source of natural food too.


How To Plant A Tree

While our gardens may be entering their dormant phase, you can continue to enhance your autumn and winter garden by introducing trees that will add colour to even the dreariest days. Autumn is the perfect season for tree planting due to the warm moist soil.

If you have purchased a new tree (hopefully from us) and want to plant it, here’s a step-by-step guide to giving your tree the best start.

How to plant a tree

> Give it a good water before you take it out of the pot. Remove the tree from its pot and gently tease out the some of the outer roots where possible.

> Dig a hole to the depth of the rootball and loosen the soil below the hole. You also want to dig/loosen the soil to at least three times the root system diameter to help the roots grow outwards for stability. Round holes are easier to mow around if you are planting in a lawn and interestingly it is believed that square holes help root penetration at the corners on heavy soils.

> Position the tree in the hole so the point where the trunk base widens to meet the main roots (known as the flare) is level with the natural soil surface of your land. Sprinkle some mycorrhizal fungi on the roots (look for the product Rootgrow in our garden care section)

> Refill the planting hole adding a good tree planting compost with a mix of the soil removed from the hole. Ensure there are no pockets of air around the roots.

> Gently stamp over the area to firm the soil around the tree but don’t over compact it.

> Push a tree stake in at 45 degrees so the end of the stake faces the prevailing wind direction (the SW) ensuring that your stake does not hit the main rootball. Alternatively, you can stake parallel to the tree trunk placing the stake on the windward side.

> Secure the tree to the stake with a rubber tree tie (available from our garden accessories department) If necessary, you can also use a tree guard to protect the base of the trunk from deer and rabbits.

> Place a thick (10-15cm / 4-6in) layer of mulch around your tree to retain moisture and reduce weed growth. Avoid putting the mulch too close to the trunk.

> If you are planting in the autumn, you shouldn’t have to worry about watering but if we do have an unseasonably dry period then it is worth watering.

> Keep your tree planting area free of weeds and watered in dry hot periods for the next three years whilst your tree fully establishes itself.

Trees at St Bridget

We have an extensive selection of trees including evergreen, deciduous, ornamental and fruit-bearing varieties and would be pleased to help you make your tree selection.

We are certain to offer the ideal tree for your outdoor space, that will not only add colour and beauty to your garden, but create much needed shelter and food for wildlife as well.


dealing with box tree caterpillar

Dealing With Box Tree Caterpillar

Box Moth Caterpillar is a relatively new pest to the South West of England. We thought you ought to know that a fair few customers have found Caterpillar on their Box bushes this month! Because of this, we thought we’d share hints and tips from our Plant Team on how to deal with this common problem.

Cydalima Perspectalis, known as Box Moth Caterpillar is a moth larvae that feeds on Buxus (Box) plants. In summertime, they can be seen with webbing on plants and can strip leaves causing die back. The Plant Team at St Bridget are happy to offer advice for the loving care of all the garden plants we grow.

What Can You Do?

If you spot an infestation, wearing gloves, pick off all the caterpillars that you can spot. You can also use various pesticides that you can buy, including organic options. Or if you’d prefer, there are natural enemies such as nematodes and  parasitic wasps.

Time to Think Alt-Box?

There are alternatives to Box plants that you might want to consider growing including Euonymus or Pittosporum. Why not come into the Garden Centre and have a chat with our Plant Team about suitable replacements.

Can We Help You?

If you can’t see any caterpillars, but your Box plant isn’t looking too good you might be suffering from Box Blight. Please take a close up photograph or two and email it to us at and we’ll be able to advise you.

For more information on Box Moth Caterpillar we strongly recommend the Royal Horticultural Society. Take a look at their helpful advice here:,uk