Peat Free Compost

Why Peat-Free?

Peat is created over thousands of years from layers of dead sphagnum moss. When the moss dies in the acid wet conditions it likes to grow, instead of rotting away the moss compacts into layers which eventually solidify into peat. While the peat remains wet in the bog it will not fully decompose, so storing thousands of years of carbon. As soon as the water is drained away, either for cutting peat, or to make the soil available for agriculture such as in the Fens, the peat starts to rot away, releasing those thousands of years of carbon as carbon dioxide.

Continue reading

Christmas Wreath

Have you ever considered where our Christmas traditions came from?

Approximately 85% of adults in the UK put up a tree in their household every year, but very few of them will know how this famous tradition links to the birth of Christ over two thousand years ago.

Continue reading

Include some fruit trees in your garden

Include some fruit trees in your garden.

The satisfaction of growing, harvesting and tasting your own fresh fruit is one of the great pleasures of gardening.  Try tree fruits (top fruits) which include apples, pears and figs.  The term top fruit embraces both pome fruits (those containing a core with pips, such as apples, pears and medlars) and stone fruits (those containing stones, such as cherries and plums), as well as a few other fruits including mulberries.

Continue reading

Hydrangeas for Summer Colour

Hydrangeas are useful for a range of garden sites.  They are excellent as specimen plants or in group planting, in a shrub border, or in containers.  Use the climbers to clothe a shaded wall or fence.  The flowerheads may be dried for use in flower arrangements.

They can be fully hardy to frost hardy depending on the variety.

Grow Hydrangeas in moist but well-drained, moderately fertile, humus-rich soil in full sun or partial shade.  Provide shelter from cold, drying winds.  Some Hydrangeas will become chlorotic in shallow chalk soil.

Flower colour in the macrophylla group are affected by the relative availability of aluminium ions in the soil.  Acid soils with a pH of less than 5.5 produce blue flowers; soils with a greater pH than this produce pink flowers.  In more or less neutral soils, flower colour can be influenced by the addition of blueing compound if you want to keep blue flowering types ‘blue’.  White flowers are not affected by pH levels in the soil.

Hortensia hydrangeas (also known as mopheads) are compact bushy deciduous shrubs with broadly ovate leaves and rounded flower clusters composed almost entirely of showy sterile flowers.


‘Madame Emile Mouillere’ is a small deciduous shrub height up to 1.8m, with large oval leaves and Hortensia-type, rounded heads of white sterile florets, the sepals are serrated and sometimes tinged pink in full sun. 

‘Masja’ is a bushy more compact variety with deep green foliage and large red flowerheads.  Height up to 90cm, makes a good informal hedge.

‘Little Hortensia’ is a new form of the most compact hydrangeas, it’s perfect for patios and front border positions.  The glowing flowers in pink, blue, white or purple appear for months on end and can be cut for fresh or dried flower arrangements.  Height and width 60cm x 60cm.

Try the paniculata range of hydrangeas, they have frothy conical flower heads and upright growth; flowering from late summer to early Autumn.  Give them a go they are spectacular!!

Hydrangea paniculata is a vigorous, spreading to upright, deciduous shrub with large conical panicles, 7-20cm (3-8”) tall of creamy white fertile flowers and large, pinkish white sterile flowers borne in late summer, early autumn. (To obtain larger flowerheads on cultivars, cut back previous season’s shoots to within a few buds of the woody framework in spring.)  Height 3-7m (10-22’), spread 2.5m (8’), origin Russia, China and Japan; fully hardy. 

‘Lime Rickey’ is a compact deciduous shrub producing large, rounded lime green flowers on strong sturdy stems in the summer usually from May to September.  Eventual height from 0.9 to 1.2m (3’-4’)

‘Phantom’ has enormous white flower panicles, which emerge pale green in early summer and fade to white as they mature.  For best results, prune back hard to around 30cm above ground level each year, and mulch with a thick layer of well-rotted organic matter.  Height 1-1.5m (3’–5’).

‘Diamante Rouge’ – when the flowers first appear the petal-like sepals are white but they soon start to change colour , first to pink and then a deeper shade of rich raspberry red.  Height 1.2m (4’)  

‘Limelight’ has very dense flowerheads, large greenish-white panicles that turn pink as the season progresses, height 1.65m (5.5’). 


‘Magical Candle’ is a delightful hydrangea with delicate panicles of greeny cream flowers which change to white with age, it is upright and does not flop.  Prefers a rich soil in a sunny or semi-shaded site.  Height and spread 4-5’

‘Grandiflora’ has large flowerheads, 20-30cm (8”-12”) tall, of mainly sterile white blooms that turn pinkish with age.


‘Vanille Fraise’ has fluffy, loose pyramid-shaped flower panicles, creamy white turning shades of pink as they age, flowers July-October.


Ornamental Cherry trees with their ‘Blushing pink blossoms’.

Nothing beats the sight of a cherry tree in full bloom, these showy spring blossoms vary from shades of white to bright pink and may be single, semi double and double.  There are many sizes and shapes to fit all gardens, including top grafted (to keep them smaller) and weeping.

Prunus serrulata Kanzan – prized for its exceptional ornamental value with a profusion of pink double flowers in spring.  This ornamental tree will hold its blooms for up to 2 weeks, which is twice as long as most other varieties.  Its leaves turn to gold and orange shades in the Autumn.  Prunus Kanzan prefers moderately fertile, well-drained soil and full to partial sun.  It can grow to be 8m-12m tall and over 8m wide, and makes an ideal statement or single specimen plant.


Prunus Royal Burgundy – produces double pink flowers in  clusters in April and May.  The rich burgundy coloured foliage complemnts the pale pink flowers perfectly.  Its deep red foliage turns to a spectacular bronze colour in the Autumn.  Prunus Royal Burgundy will prefer a sunny spot in any fertile soil and will grow to be a tree of approximately 6 meteres high but can be kept smaller with pruning if preferred. 


Prunus incisa Kojo-no-mai – or the Fuji cherry, has zig-zag branches which are very unusual.  Kojo-no-mai means ‘flight of the butterflys’.  It was discovered along the Yoshida path to Mount Fuji.  Prunus incisa Kojo-no-mai has single flowers that open before the leaves in early spring.  The petals open white or pale pink, becoming deeper pink in the centre.  It makes an excellent specimen tree and grows to 1.5m-2.5m in height and spread.  Prunus incisa Ko-no-mai grows best in moist but well-drained soil, in a West, East or South facing aspect. 


Prunus cerasifera Pissardi – displays dark-purple leaves on blackish stems, against which pale pink flowers are a beautiful contrast during April and May.  The flowers often fade to white and can be followed by plum like ornamental fruits Not edible to humans) in the autumn, so extending the period of interest.  With a rounded habit, the height and spread of the tree after 20 years is 5m x 3m.  It does well in a reasonably fertile soil in sun or partial shade, but it’s best to avoid very wet conditions.


Prunus Amanagowa – is a small, narrowly fastigiate deciduous tree with slightly fragrant, semi-doube, pale pink flowers in late spring; in autumn, the leaves turn orange and red.  It will grow in all aspects and is happy in all soil types.  The height is 4-8m x 2.5-4m in 20-50 years.  



When purchasing compost it can be very confusing faced with lots of different types, in different sized bags and a kaleidoscope of coloured packaging.  But at the end of the day it all boils down to what you actually want to use it for. 

All purpose or multi-purpose compost is generally quite fine and can be used for sowing seeds, growing seedlings on and filling your hanging baskets and containers for bedding plants.

Multi-purpose with added John Innes (a specific mix which is made from sterilised loam, peat or peat-free substitute, coarse sand and other minerals). This is better for shrubs, roses and trees or plants that are going to be in a container for a long period of time as it holds moisture for a longer period.

Soil improver/soil conditioner is basically that, well-rotted organic matter that can be added to your soil to improve the texture. 

Bark/wood chip is usually made from waste bark or chipped timber and woody garden waste i.e. pruning’s and hedge trimmings.  This is best used as a mulch on the surface as it depletes soil nitrogen as it rots down.

Then there is the question of what does organic mean?

‘Organic’ in Horticulture often refers to the practice of organic gardening which relies on materials derived from living things, such as manures and composts made from garden and green waste.  Materials that do not derive from living sources are not allowed, for example chemical fertilisers. 

The organic matter content of most soils is fairly low as it rots down during the season so your soil will benefit from having organic matter adding to it.

Peat Free or not Peat Free that is the question?

Potting composts are designed to be the best growing medium for plants.  Peat has been used as a component because of its ability to retain water and nutrients.  Nowadays, with more awareness around peat-bog depletion, and peat as a limited resource, many gardeners prefer to use peat-free composts.

Peat-free composts can be made from a variety of ingredients, including wood fibre, green compost, manure and coir(coconut fibre).  They are great for water retention but, for plants that require good drainage, adding a bit of grit and sharp sand to the mix will help support growth.

New peat-free composts perform excellently but you might notice they have a different texture, which requires a slight change in watering habits.  Because of their high coir and woodchip content, peat-free mixes have a tendency to dry out more easily.  They have a course texture, which can appear dry on the surface but still damp further down.  Check by putting your finger in the soil to see if it’s dry all the way through.  Watering little and often is best, don’t let them dry out otherwise they can be difficult to water again, as the water runs off the top.  If this happens, soak the whole pot in a bucket of water to let it draw up moisture.

Why not plant up your new shrubs and trees with peat free compost.  We are proud to stock a range of peat free products with recyclable packaging using 30% recycled plastic in the bags – the highest amount.  The core raw materials in Happy Compost products are either recycled or by-products including bark, green compost, wood fibre and coir; all of which are 100% peat free.  Happy compost is manufactured in Great Britain at the most modern growing media factory in the country and trialed extensively over two years, outperforming all brand leading peat-free compost; it is the most ecofriendly range yet.

Time to choose your Christmas tree!

Ready cut trees come in several different heights without roots and often already with a slice of wood on the bottom to stand them upright.  At the Love Plants centre you can choose from a large range of sizes, staff are on hand to help you make that choice.  They can remove the wooden block so that you can insert it in a stand that holds water or net your tree ready for you to take home; and they will be happy to carry your tree to your vehicle or arrange delivery for you.

If you would rather purchase a tree that is either root balled or container grown so that you can pot it on each year or plant it in your garden, staff will be able to help you choose one that suit your requirements and advise you how to pot it on or plant it.

Continue reading

Japanese acers

Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) are small, deciduous trees grown for their graceful habit, coloured stems or beautiful foliage.  Their amazing  foliage which may be deeply dissected, gives exceptional autumn colour.  Many Japanese acers grow extremely slowly and are perfect in a smaller garden,  or can be grown successfully in a large container.

Continue reading

Love Plants opening

Love Plants Opening Statement


An update to our friends of Love Plants

Following updated guidance from the Government that garden centres and nurseries are to re-open. We are pleased to announce that Love Plants opens its doors again from 9am Wednesday 13th May 2020.

On the run up to opening you can rest assured that we have reviewed the safe trading guidance from The Horticultural Trade Association and the Government, and we will be implementing the strict 2m social distancing measures and ensuring regular cleaning procedures are in place ready for your arrival to protect yourselves as our customers, and protecting our employee wellbeing.

Please ensure that these measures are followed and obey the signage displayed.

We are extremely grateful for all your support over the last couple of months and we look forward to welcoming you back to Love Plants.