By Jill | August 19th, 2014

Here at Crown Nursery we are passionate about fruit, and it is always an exciting time when the first apples of a new season are ready. There is something wonderful about picking a fruit off the tree when it is still warm from the sun.

Early-season apples will not keep for very long – often only a couple of weeks – so they are best enjoyed straight from the tree.  We have an Apple-Tasting Shed here at the nursery – which enables us to demonstrate to our customers the huge range of apples we grow – as well the opportunity to try before you buy!!

Discovery is always one of the early-ripening favourites – a local Essex apple – although originally raised in Suffolk – this is a cross between two old English apples – Beauty of Bath and Worcester Pearmain.  Completely covered in a red flush – the flesh is sweet and juicy – and turns pink-stained as the air dries it out.

Over the next few weeks, we will add more varieites as they come into season – so do come down and take a look – an ideal time to start planning your autumn planting.




By Jill | August 2nd, 2014

We just had to have a ‘plant combination’ of the month this time since there are two outstanding plants on the nursery at the moment – plant them near each other and they make a perfect contrast!

One is Russian Sage – Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ – a wiry silver-blue plant with spikes of blue flowers – not unlike a giant catmint – it will flower all of August and into September – a great plant for giving a vertical accent to any border.  But combine it with the new Hypericum ‘Magical Pumpkin’ and you really do have an eye-catching sight.  The yellow flowers of the Hypericum tie in superbly well with the upright blue Perovskia and this grouping will go on right into autumn and still look great.

If you want to see what they look like together – we have created just this combination outside the office door!  Come and take a look!




By Jill | August 2nd, 2014

Question – after all of the heat of July is your garden still looking great and bursting with colour – or is it looking rather tired and drab??

If it is the latter – then you are not alone!  It was always said that the August Gap was part of the natural cycle of the garden – where hot,dry weather caused plants to look past their best  – and it would be September before the cooler weather started the autumn flowers off again.  Well that is no longer the case!!   Modern plant breeding has given us as much colour now as in the summer!!   There are plenty of plants still looking great at the nursery – that will keep your borders looking smart right into September – and beyond.

And if you feel that the ground is just too hard and dry to plant into the soil – then why not do what I do in my garden – and plant up a large container of good-looking plants and place it in amongst the other plants in the border – instant results – then plant them out when the soil is in better condition.

So what sort of plants are we talking about – Hydrangeas are looking great,  the Russian Sage – Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’ – gets everybody talking – Verbena Bonariensis – the old favourite never fails – and of course Penstemons – we have the lovely ‘Raven’ looking great at the moment – combine it with grasses such as Stipa and you have a classic combination.  Japanese Anemones are flowering early this year and give substance to any border.

Abelias are now starting to flower – why don’t more people grow this plant? Superb semi-evergreen bronze leaves and clusters of white/pink scented flowers – it’s a cracker!!  But one we are particularly impressed with is a ‘new kid on the block’ – a new Hypericum called ‘Magical Pumpkin’!!  A bizarre name – it refers to the yellow starry flowers that then turn into orange-red berries that sit at the top of the plant right through the autumn – a real knockout!!

No time to lose – I’m taking some home with me!!




By Jill | August 2nd, 2014

We have had a lot of customers in recently complaining of a really potential crop of plums going rotten on the tree – and wondering what they can do about it.

It is our old friend ‘Brown Rot’ – and it is a result of the current weather patterns.  There is an excellent – even heavy – crop of most plums this year – but the tightly-packed clusters of fruits hanging on the branches are ideal breeding grounds for this fungus.  It also tends to get into fruit where there is physical damage – this is often a result of the Plum Moth – which burrows into the fruit – causing a sticky drop of juice to exude from the plum which in turn attracts the fungus and rots the fruit – once one gets it because they are so close together the whole bunch is lost.

So what can we do to prevent it – firstly pruning after the crop has picked should allow better air circulation – and although it is a fiddly job – thinning of the young fruits in June will also help.  Hang a Plum Maggot Moth Pheromone trap in the tree after flowering – these are really efficient and will prevent the fruit surface being penetrated.

If you have rotten plums now – let them fall and then clear up and destroy.  A lot of funhus can overwinter on the stones laying around the base of the tree – some fruits will not even fall of and remain in a mummified state stuck to the branches – they must be removed as well or the problem will be worse next year.

We cannot control the weather – but we can make everything to our advantage as much as possible – and have every chance to enjoy that crop of plums we have worked so hard for!



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