• Independent Garden Centre in the Heart of London
  • 5 Year Guarantee on All Hardy Plants
  • Award Winning: The Garden Centre Association

Welcome to 2020, Sunshine is 30 years old this year!

The garden is kind to us in January, we have a relaxed start to the year with a only a few jobs in the garden in ready for the more active months in the garden later this year, read on…


Top Tip: Our award-winning bulb room opens again on 2nd January packed with over 230 varieties of summer flowering bulbs and an assortment of veg including potatoes, onions, garlic and shallots. If you haven’t tried summer flowering bulbs before try it this year, it’s really easy, dig a small hole and drop them in!

Fiona, our bulb expert will be on hand to give you advice on the best bulbs for your situation even if you don’t have a garden.


Top Tip: We like to encourage our customers to use environmentally friendly products and you will be please to hear that Sylvagrow peat-free compost came out top in a consumer test (Which?) as the best compost for raising young plants, please try this compost it’s good for the plants and for the environment!

Top Tip: Your Hellebores will be looking gorgeous, remove old leaves to allow the new blooms to be more visible as they emerge.

Top Tip: Keep deadheading winter flowering pansies to encourage more flowering. Sometimes pansies look a bit sad after Christmas (don’t we all!)  if it has been cold but don’t worry, they soon perk up when the sun comes out.

Top Tip: Sweet peas can be sown this month. Sweet peas sown earlier in the autumn can now be potted on taking care not to disturb the roots too much. Place them on a sunny windowsill, or on a high shelf in the greenhouse that gets plenty of light.

Top Tip: Cut back deciduous grasses such as Miscanthus to ground level but be careful not to damage any emerging growth.

Pruning Tip: Thera re a few plants that need pruning this month, some before they start growth, others once they finished flowering:

Fatsia

Winter jasmine

Wisteria

Virginia creeper

Mahonia

Cornus (later or leave til March)

Late flowering Clematis

Campsis

Top Tip: Another relaxing ‘gardening ‘ job: come and choose this year’s seeds: . We will have the full range of Thompson and Morgan seeds on display and also an extensive selection of Franchi vegetable seeds, the renowned supplier of quality Italian seeds. Ciao!

Lawns

Top Tip: Your lawn shouldn’t need much attention this month, however we have had a few customers asking about worm damage and worm casts on the lawn, if you have lots of worm casts on the lawn then you are lucky as that means that you have lots of worms aerating the lawn for you and pulling organic matter into the lawn creating a healthy strong lawn. If you feel that the worm casts are making a mess of the lawn wait until they are dry and sweep them away with a besom (witches’) broom.


Grow Your Own

Top Tip:  The early bird catches the worm, and the early shopper catches the best range of potato varieties. Choose potatoes without long shoots or any signs of mould. When you get them home, tip them out of the bag into a seed tray or an old egg box and leave them in a cool, light place until you plant them. This will discourage the sprouts from growing too long.



Top Tip: Prune apple and pear trees while they’re dormant.

Top Tip:  Prune blackcurrants, gooseberries and redcurrants to maintain a productive network.

Top tip: Start forcing your rhubarb, we have beautiful terracotta rhubarb forcers at £19.99

Top Tip:  Make a polythene shelter for outdoor peaches and nectarines, to protect against peach leaf curl

Top Tip: Feed fruit with sulphate of potash to encourage better flowering and crops this season.

What to feed birds in winter 

Survival for birds can be challenging at any time of year, but in particular during the cold winter months. Small birds especially struggle due to having a large surface area and comparably small volume. This means they lose heat to their surroundings very quickly and must eat a lot of food to replace the energy lost. Many of us want to help them out but aren't sure what to feed birds in winter, which doesn't need to be the case.

The ground during winter is too hard for birds to dig for worms, and caterpillars, aphids, beetles and grubs stay well-hidden, hibernating in thick vegetation. These factors combined with the limited hours of light in which birds can actively search forfood can cause them to be very vulnerable during winter.

But with a little helping hand from us, many more birds can survive the cold. The following are a few of the best types of food to leave out in order to assist our feathered friends and can be placed upon feeding tables, inside hanging feeders or scattered at ground level. Read on to discover the different types of food we can feed birds in winter.

Sunflower Seeds

These are rich in necessary protein and unsaturated fats. Black sunflower seeds are better to use than striped sunflower seeds due to their higher oil content. Sunflower hearts and crushed seeds are great in winter as the birds do not need to waste energy removing the husks, with the added benefit of leaving less mess behind. Both tits and greenfinches are known to favour these seeds. The great thing about these is that they are easy to grow at home to provide good stock.


Nyjer Seeds

These are very small, black seeds which are rich in fat and oil. Due to their size, they will most likely fall straight through a standard feeder and will, therefore, need to be mixed with other seeds in a plastic feeder. Alternatively, a special Nyjer feeder can be bought or the seeds placed on a tray raised off the ground. These seeds are a favourite of goldfinches and siskins.

Peanuts

Salted or dry roasted peanuts should not be used as they may harm birds. Only use peanuts that are fresh and sold for human consumption, or that is from a reputable feed shop, as some can contain high levels of a natural toxin that can be lethal to birds. Peanuts are rich in fat and protein and are popular with tits, greenfinches, house sparrows, nuthatches, woodpeckers and siskins. When crushed or grated they will also attract robins, dunnocks and occasionally wrens. These are also possible to grow at home, but you need to create a good warm climate during the summer months.

Fruit

Fruits such as apples, pears and plums make great bird food due to their high water content and being energy-rich with simple sugars. These can be halved and left on either the bird table or on the ground and will be enjoyed by robins, blackbirds, thrushes and waxwings.

Fat Balls

Fat-based foods are perfect for providing birds with protein and carbohydrates in winter and can come in ball, bar or cake form. If buying from a store, ensure the nylon mesh casing is removed as it can trap and injure birds. For a simple home-made version, melted suet or lard can be poured on to a mixture of seeds, nuts, dried fruit, oatmeal and cheese. The mixture should contain two-thirds of ingredients to one-third of fat. Stir them together thoroughly, then pour the mixture into a container and

allow it to set. The chosen container can also be used as a feeder or the solid mixture can be turned out on to a bird table. This will provide a great boost in calories to a wide range of species.