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Mrs Bloom: Niamh, what is the favourite part of your job?
Niamh: Nothing thrills me more than seeing the face of my customers lit up when I explain to them the hidden potential of a specimen beyond mere appearance. Perennials such as syringa or osteospermum that look dormant during the colder seasons can double in size during summer with relatively low-maintenance pruning and cultivation.
Mid Ulster Garden Centre tip: Get a pot of osteospermum and see the difference for yourself! (£3.50 after 50% discount)
"Nothing thrills me more than seeing the face of my customers lit up when I explain to them the hidden potential of a specimen beyond mere appearance."
Mrs Bloom: Osteospermum…Latin names are complicated!
Niamh: But the Latin names can give you information that common names don’t. Two examples off the top of my head: “Cotoneaster horizontalis” grow low and sideways; “Hydrangea quercifolia” means oak-leaved, as “querci” stands for “oak”. Hidden in the name are hints about their origin, shapes and style, and a fascinating story. I, for one, definitely got a lot of mileage from my GCSE Latin class.
Mid Ulster Garden Centre tip: Hydrangea Quercifolia has oak-shaped leaves; £9.99
Mrs Bloom: If nothing else, the Latin names certainly lend the plants an air of proud ancestry…
Niamh: You are right! I am often fascinated by the history and origin of plants. Of all the specimens we have at the Mid Ulster Garden Centre, my favourite is the Ginkgo Biloba. It is native to China and has been found in fossils dating back 270 million years!
Mrs Bloom: Winter is coming; what about the garden?
Niamh: Winter is actually the best time to prepare your garden for the next planting season! Use a heavy-duty rake with thicker metal to tidy up both foliage and gravel (apart from promoting aeration); clean your tools with wire brush and old engine oil to prevent rusting.
Mid Ulster Garden Centre tip: Joseph Bentley’s stainless steel soil rake, £22.99
Mrs Bloom: What about tools that are useful year-round; any tips?
Niamh: Two things I always keep handy are the deadheads mini snips and a pair of pruners. Deadheads snips allow you to trim really close to the stems for more effective pruning and better aesthetics. For pruners, make sure you get a pair from a reputable manufacturer - you'll have cleaner cuts which is better for the plant material, and your hands won't be as tired from using dull, rusty tools!
Mid Ulster Garden Centre tip: Wilkinson Sword Aluminium Bypass Pruner, £9.99