Category: Newsletter

dobies may newsletter national gardening week

May Newsletter

A recent “what’s your favourite month” poll amongst a few colleagues confirmed May as the clear winner. Increased sunshine, trees greening up, flowers blooming, birds singing, bees buzzing, etc were all given as reasons. Hedgerows will be covered in clouds of snowy hawthorn and elderflower blossom meaning that now is the time for making elderflower cordial and champagne. Perfect for those long sunny afternoons of the now not too distant summer.

As if all that isn’t enough, we’re currently in the grip of National Gardening Week! Run annually by the RHS, this year’s theme is ‘Edible Britain’, and we’re celebrating with some fantastic offers on veg, flowers, equipment and more. There’s never been a better time to roll your sleeves up and get growing, and if you’re already a seasoned grower you can mark the event with savings on everything from grafted veg to fabulous foliage!

The “hungry gap” has now ended and May sees food once again being available, fresh from the garden. Asparagus, broad beans, radish, salad leaves and herbs will all be ready for harvest. These goodies will create space for runner beans, cauliflowers, peas, spinach, etc.

And when you need a rest from all that gardening, you can reach for the new 92-page bumper Dobies Summer Catalogue 2019, offering:

  • New and exclusive perennial flower plants
  • A taste of the Med on your summer patio
  • Super-sized flower plants for as little as £5 a plant
  • Summer bedding, including Pick & Mix
  • Grafted potted veg plants
  • Windowsill veg
  • Kitchen herbs and growing ideas
  • Fruit trees and plants
  • Plus loads more, including an Outdoor Living 30-page pull-out special

Order a free copy here or browse & buy directly from our new-look online catalogue.

National Gardening Week Offers

It’s officially National Gardening Week, and we’ll be celebrating over the next four 

days with some fantastic special offers. You’ll find deals on everything from flower plants to equipment, which provide the inspiration to get you back in the garden this May.

Tomato Success Kit 3 FREE Plants – These planter/frames are a great way of maximising your tomato harvest, enabling you to grow up to four plants for every metre – perfect for gardens or greenhouses with little space. With a built-in support frame and a 2 litre water reservoir, watering and training is simple and gives your plants the best possible chance to produce lots of tasty fruit!

18 Fabulous Foliage plants for £60 – beautiful foliage plants are right on trend because they’re great for adding texture to your borders and filling in those pesky gaps in your displays. This collection will include some of our popular foliage varieties, mixing shapes, colours and varieties for that standout look. 

dobies gardening jobs to do for april
  • Many veg seeds can be sown direct, with supports having been put in place first for climbing varieties such as beans
  • Veg plants raised indoors can be gradually hardened off, ready for planting out.
  • Keep earthing up those potatoes. As the shoots show just gently hoe some soil over them to act as a dark blanket, protecting the tubers from frost.
  • Remember that your plants need bees and try to include as many pollinating plants as possible
  • Weed, weed, weed. The weed again! Getting on top of the weeds now will be a great help come summer.
  • Vine weevil is your major enemy this month so consider using Nemasys Vine Weevil Killer or prepare to spend your evenings outside, picking them off by hand.
  • Onions and garlic planted last autumn will start to swell now so keep them weed free and well-watered
  • Deadhead tulips and give both them and any daffodils a feed.
  • New lawns can be sown or turfed this month but do remember to frequently water.
  • Those tender plants that you’ve kept under glass over-winter can now be hardened off and then moved outside but do take it slowly! Citrus trees, olives, fuchsias, etc will all need to be gradually acclimatised and toughened up.
  • Once they’ve finished flowering prune your spring flowering shrubs, such as Forsythia, Ribes and Spiraea. This will help maintain a nice shape and will encourage flowering for next year.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dobies-header-plot.jpg

Many of us like the idea of eating seasonally but I wonder how many actually do. Of course, if you grow your own fruit and veg then you will be eating what you grow but chances are you still buy some extras. Yet the one food that many people only tend to eat when it is in season is asparagus. And some, like me, gorge on it!

Asparagus tips make a healthy alternative to toasted soldiers for dipping in soft boiled eggs and poached eggs but are also delicious roasted. Simply snap off the tough end of the stalk and place the tip on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and chopped thyme or mint. Then roast in a hot oven for about 5 minutes until lightly charred. Gorgeous.

Asparagus and wild garlic are a good match and make a fine risotto. Or simply eat your asparagus spears raw in a green salad dressed with olive oil, lemon or orange zest and juice and chilli.

Instead of discarding the tough bottom end of the spear use them to make a rich stock. Perfect for that asparagus and wild garlic or pea risotto and for soup.

If there is one negative about asparagus it is the resulting smelly urine. So why does asparagus make some people’s pee smelly but not others. Such important information clearly needs to be shared widely so, here it is, courtesy of Modern Farmer.

“Scientific study has confirmed why some individuals don’t notice the uniquely pungent urine experienced by others after eating asparagus: The sulfurous compounds in asparagus pee are highly correlated with a condition called “specific anosmia,” the genetic inability to smell certain odors. In an infamous blind smell test, 328 individuals were subjected to the odor of a man’s urine after he had eaten asparagus. The majority of those who had experienced asparagus pee themselves were able to correctly identify the substance, while those that claimed their urine did not smell strangely after consuming asparagus were not.”

British asparagus is only around for a few weeks as it needs to be left to build its reserves ready for next year’s crop. So, enjoy it whilst it’s available. And don’t worry about your pee.

Asparagus works well with:

Lemon             Mint                Peas                 New Potatoes           Butter

Eggs                 Bacon          Mushrooms     Parmesan            Pine Nuts

Broad beans    Garlic              Chorizo                 Pesto                 White wine

Super Petunias

Petunias of old gave a wonderful splash of colour to the garden but suffered with summer rain and looked less than wonderful when they succumbed to mildew. But things have moved on and new to 2019 we have “Super Petunias”, a new generation of petunia/calibrachoa hybrids to give stunning weather-resistant displays throughout the summer.

An intergeneric hybrid between petunias and calibrachoas, Dobies Super Petunias combine the best features of both, with a superb compact-medium mounded habit and large flowers, making them the ideal choice for pots and patio containers. The flowers are textured and strong, and the large, weather-resistant plants recover from rain much faster than standard petunias. Being non-sticky, another benefit is that they are more pleasant to deadhead than normal petunias!

Available in 5 individual colours or as a collection, these plants will look fabulous as a single colour in a container or as a striking colour combination in a pot or in the garden. Click here to view our full range of Super Petunias.

Photo Competition

Customers often send in photos of the fabulous summer displays they have created with Dobies plants and so we thought we’d make a competition of it. For a chance to win £100 worth of Dobies vouchers simply take a photo of your display and enter it into one of the following categories:

  • Floriferous Blooms. In this category, we’re looking for the most colourful, vibrant flowers packed with beautiful blooms
  • Unusual & Quirky. We all love to see something a little bit different so please share, share, share.
  • Clever use of space. Here we’d love to see ways in which you make the best use of those tricky outside spaces.

Click here for more details and terms & conditions.

dobies april newsletter header

April Newsletter

Spring is finally here. The time for us to really start putting plans into action so that the wonderful summer garden we hold in our heads can become a reality. The clocks have sprung forward, the days are lengthening, and the soil is warming.

By now most of us will have lined our windowsills with trays full of seedlings. But if you haven’t started sowing yet then it’s not too late. Better to start late than too early and seeds sown now will quickly catch up. Read below for guidance on sowing hardy annuals direct in your garden.

The big news from Dobies this month is the launch of our 2019 Summer Garden Planner catalogue. This bumper edition is four catalogues in one and includes everything you need to make your 2019 garden/allotment both beautiful and bountiful. Rob Smith’s Heritage Veg range includes some fantastic varieties to choose from, including the Beetroot Rouge Crapaudine that caused such a stir last year on MasterChef. In addition to new and old veg plant varieties the catalogue has a fabulous range of flower plants, fruit and garden equipment. Click here to order your catalogue!

Even a bumper catalogue cannot hold our full range, for example, online you will find we offer over 900 shrubs together with many more items that we simply couldn’t squeeze into the catalogue. Happy shopping!

dobies gardening jobs to do for april
  • Sweet peas can be sown direct this month. No garden should be without some of these perfumed beauties.
  • Many seeds can be sown direct this month, but first check that your soil has warmed up. Sowing dates shown on seed packets are for guidance only and need to be adapted to local weather conditions.
  • If your sage is looking straggly then rejuvenate it by cutting to just above ground level. This will encourage fresh new shoots that will grow into a neater looking plant.
  • Late frost will kill off fruit blossom so keep some fleece handy. But do remember to remove it to allow pollinating insects access.
  • This is the last month for ordering bare root fruit trees so if you want to benefit from our “Buy a single tree for £22, add a 2nd for just £11” offer then you’d better be quick
  • Seedlings in the greenhouse may struggle on sunny days so give them some shading. Carefully laying newspaper on them will do the trick.
  • Put supports in place for peas and beans, ready for planting out.
  • Plug plants potted on now and kept in the greenhouse will put on a glorious display this summer. Dobies’ colour themed collections are a perfect, and easy, way to fill your tubs and hanging baskets with colour.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dobies-header-plot.jpg

Most gardeners are aware of the term “the hungry gap” and many try to avoid it each year but somehow end up getting caught out. The hungry gap is that period in early spring when the veg patch is almost devoid of anything to harvest. By April many stored and over-wintered cops are running low yet it’s still far too early for summer crops.

Brassicas are one of the few veggies holding their own in the April garden. Amongst brassicas purple sprouting broccoli (PSB) is king, the asparagus of early spring. Even the pickiest of children can be persuaded to eat PSB, especially when it’s been grilled and dipped in a lovely soft-boiled or poached egg.

Only harvest as much PSB as you wish to eat although it does store well in a paper bag, popped in the fridge. When cooking you need to do it fast as that will keep the lush purple colour. So, grill, stir-fry, lightly steam, roast or griddle but please, never over boil!

Best mates to PSB include:

Garlic                     Tomatoes            Chillies                  Pasta                     Bacon                    Pancetta

Lemon                  Cheese                 Eggs                       Butter                   Anchovies           Capers

Walnuts               Almonds              Crab                       Mustard               Ginger                  Parsley

Sowing Hardy Annuals

Hardy annuals are easy to grow and to look after, are great in tubs, baskets or sown direct and will flower within just a few weeks. What’s not to like?

Annual weeds starting to appear is a good indication that conditions are right to sow your Dobies hardy annual seeds. This is usually from the end of April to mid-May but does of course depend on where you live and on what sort of spring we’re having, the timings given on seed packets are for guidance only. The soil needs to be warm enough to allow and encourage the seeds to germinate and cold frosty nights need to be a thing of the past. If you are happy to sit out in the evening with a cup of tea or glass of wine, then the chances are that the time for sowing hardy annuals has arrived.

Pick an open sunny site and give it a good hoe to remove any weeds. Tread to firm the soil and rake it over so the surface is a fine crumb. Hardy annuals do best on poor soil so resist the temptation to add fertiliser.

If you are going to sow several varieties of hardy annuals, then it’s a good idea to mark out their designated areas using sand or grit. Create drifts of semi-circles or just lovely sweeping curves. Using a hoe create shallow drifts, going in different directions within each marked area. This means that although you will in effect be growing in rows the blooms will not look at all regimented. Rather than creating drills you could just scatter the seed, but this will make both weeding and thinning that much harder. With drills you know that anything growing outside of the row is a weed and needs removing.

The depth of the drill depends on the size of the seed and advice is probably given on the seed packet. As a rule, the drill needs to be twice the depth of the seed. If the soil is dry, then water before sowing.

Sow the seed thinly and then carefully rake the soil back over the drill. Now wait for the seedlings to appear. Once they have formed their first set of true leaves thin them out to about 1 seed every 4cm, then as they grow thin them to a spacing of 9cm to 14cm. For exact spacing for each variety refer to the seed packet.

Within just a few weeks you’ll be enjoying a blaze of colour as will visiting bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. And all for just a few pounds spent on Dobies seeds and a few hours of enjoyable gardening. Marvellous!

Saved from Extinction – Tomato “Sutton”

Managed by the wonderful charity Garden Organic, the Heritage Seed Library (HSL) exists to conserve vegetable varieties that are not widely available and currently holds about 800 varieties. These rare varieties are maintained by HSL for future generations to enjoy.

tomato sutton dobies newsletter

Working closely with the HSL Dobies provide seed on rare varieties each year and last year we produced enough Tomato Sutton seed to now be able to offer a limited number of plants to our customers. For the full, interesting story visit

Tomato Sutton produces fruits that are ivory to pale yellow in colour and fresh and fruity in taste. A beefsteak type, Tomato Sutton is best grown in the greenhouse as a cordon. The plants are very productive, bearing slightly flattened fruits, perfect for salads and sandwiches.

Primrose Day – 19th April

This year, Good Friday is also Primrose Day, a useful/useless fact to drop into the village quiz. Once recognised nationally, the 19th April is now just another date on the calendar that bears little or no significance, unless like this year it clashes with Easter.

The primrose is the prima rosa of the year and belongs to the primula family of which there are roughly 1,000 varieties. The one we see at this time of year, adorning banks, verges and hedgerows across the country is the common primrose. An insignificant name for a lovely little plant with its soft yellow flowers rising on hairy stems from tough leathery leaves.

primrose april dobies newsletter

The 19th April 1881 was the day on which Queen Victoria’s favourite prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, died. Queen Victoria sent a wreath of yellow primroses with a note referring to them being “his favourite flowers.”  Naturally it was assumed that she was referring to the primrose being Disraeli’s favourite flower, but it was later believed that she had in fact been referring to her beloved Prince Albert. Nonetheless Primrose Day was formed, and wreaths of primroses were placed on Disraeli’s monument for many years.

Not only does the common primrose have its own day it also has its own county! In 2002 the organisation Plantlife led a nationwide campaign to identify and designate a native wildflower to each county. The people of Devon voted for and elected the primrose and so it is of special significance to all of us here at Dobies. Being based in Paignton, Devon, we are lucky enough to have the lovely primrose as our county flower.

If you don’t already have primroses growing in your garden, then it’s too late for this year but perhaps make a note for next? Preferring cool semi-shaded areas of the garden these plants are ideal for woodland edges, banks and for growing under hedgerows. In a well-drained yet moist soil primroses will flower year on year and will readily self-seed and naturalise.

Why not surprise your friends and neighbours by wearing a primrose buttonhole in honour of Primrose Day? Queen Victoria would be amused.

“And all England, so they say,

Yearly blooms on Primrose Day.”

Henry Cuyler Bunner

Calling all Bee Keepers

Our sister company, National Bee Supplies, has just launched a new catalogue offering everything needed by both new and experienced bee keepers. The catalogue has a complete range of beekeeping equipment, including starter kits, replacement frames, clothing, feed and a wide range of bee friendly seeds and plants. National Bee Supplies is also proud to now offer sterilised wax foundation, free from all known pathogens and so protecting the hive and the bees.

For full details and to request a catalogue please visit National Bee Supplies.

Real Sunflower Lamps

Our team of horti experts travel the globe all year round and today, have made an exciting discovery in Germany which we’re thrilled to be sharing with the gardening nation here in the UK. It’s the finding of varieties of flowers that are so phosphorescent they give sufficient light to read by.

real sunflower lamps

Under proper conditions the flowers of the clematis glow like stars, while sunflowers, if correctly nurtured, make it quite possible to read a newspaper by their unaided light.

We can’t say too much at the moment, but it could be a combination of bio luminescent marine bacteria with a plant genus breeding programme to create varieties so phosphorescent that they appear to glow.

Click here to order your Sunflower Lamps today.

Plant of the Month

To welcome in Spring, April’s Plants of the Month give you a great excuse to get out into the garden and sunshine. For a limited period, we’re offering a range of fantastic 5 litre potted shrubs, with prices starting from just £12.99 each. That’s a 5 litre plant for the price of a 3 litre plant, which means your shrubs will be more mature when reaching your door. Stocks are limited so be quick as when they’re gone, they’re gone!

suttons april newsletter shrub offer

Click here to view our selection and order yours while stocks last.

march newsletter

March Newsletter

March sees the start of the busiest time in the gardening year. There are seeds to be sown, onion sets to be planted, winter weeding to complete, bare root trees to plant, lawns to mow and oh so much more.

Continue Reading

February Newsletter

February Newsletter

Spring is in sight. The days are visibly lengthening, and our gardens are slowly reawakening. Depending on where you live, primroses, muscari and iris reticulata will be in flower and daffodils will be strutting their jaunty stuff.

Continue Reading

January newsletter

January Newsletter

Winter is well and truly upon us with January often being one of the coldest months. Snow, frost, wind, rain, mud and grey skies seem here to stay but never fear, snowdrops and celandines will soon be putting on their annual show. Yes, the days are lengthening, but oh so very slowly.

Continue Reading