Free autumn talks

From weed worries and wildflower wonders to ornamental grass growing and autumn planting ideas, our line up of free talks will get you ready for autumn in the garden.

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Last Thursday we celebrated Dorset’s most wildlife friendly gardeners at Dorset Wildlife Trust’s annual Wildlife Friendly Gardening Competition awards ceremony at Castle Gardens. With the introduction of an Innovation Award for 2018, encouraging gardeners to share their inventive ways of welcoming wildlife into their gardens, this year’s entries saw an unprecedented crop of contenders, featuring all shapes and sizes of gardens from the smallest of courtyards to the most striking of meadows.

Before the awards were announced, Neil Lucas inspired the audience with a talk on the relationship between our gardens and the animal life within them. The RHS council member dug into his personal experience, uncovering how his naturalistic planting style led him to establish the Knoll Gardens Foundation, supporting sustainable gardening that is welcoming to wildlife.

The fantastic volume and variety of entries we received this year shows that wildlife friendly gardeners are moving ever more into the mainstream. I can’t wait to see then new gardens that next year brings, and I hope all of the entrants left feeling proud of their efforts and inspired to keep up the good work.


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Tea time at Castle Gardens is always something of a celebration, especially during this heatwave as it gives us chance to cool off and recharge, but this week we savoured the moment by celebrating yet more Garden Centre Association awards success. Following the annual spring inspection, we received a highly commended certificate, meaning we achieved a score of over 75%, which is no small feat. Our team works extremely hard to make Castle Gardens a welcoming environment for gardeners of all levels, so it is a real pleasure to see this recognised and rewarded.



Making the most of the good weather during this most sporting of seasons, The Apple Tree Restaurant’s Summer Festival for Wimbledon is entering its second and final week. Customers have been enjoying strawberries and cream, Pimm’s and lemonade and taking part in our own Wimbledon inspired quiz. The winner will be announced at the end of the week and will receive a goody bag from The Apple Tree Farm Shop.


Ken Dolbear

Picture credit: Ken Dolbear, MBE

Judging is now complete, and the Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife Friendly Gardening Awards Ceremony is fast approaching. With the introduction of an innovation award, this year has seen a record number of entries from wildlife friendly gardeners, all keen to share their imaginative havens and habitats for birds, bugs and mammals, right across the county.

Taking place on Thursday 26 July at Castle Gardens, in addition to celebrating the achievements of Dorset’s most wildlife friendly gardeners, the awards ceremony will include a talk from Britain’s leading plantsman and owner of Knoll Gardens, Neil Lucas.

Drinks and canapes will be served from 6:30pm before the ceremony at 7:00pm. Tickets are £5 each and can be purchased from Castle Gardens.


Proudly, I can announce that all of our gift-wrapping at The Gardens Group is now environmentally friendly. The new wrapping is made from a variety of ingenious materials including plant-based raffia, bio-plastic film, and recycled paper, meaning our complimentary gift-wrapping service has never been greener.

Looking after the environment is at the heart of what we do at The Gardens Group, so it is brilliant to be able to give all of our customers confidence that their gifts are eco-friendly. The new materials, which come in a vibrant array of colours, complement the plants beautifully and are going down very well at the centre.


Adam Frost

As part of the Yeovil Literary Festival we will be welcoming Adam Frost to Brimsmore Gardens on Monday 22 October at 7pm. Best known for his work presenting Gardener’s World and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Adam is an award-winning garden and landscape designer, and an enduring plant enthusiast.

Tickets are now on sale at the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil, as well as Brimsmore, Castle and Poundbury Gardens and cost £12 per person, discounted to £10 for The Gardens Group Gold members, YCCA members, Footlights and Waterstone’s card holders.

Doors will open at 6pm at The Apple Tree Restaurant for refreshments before the main event.