How to cultivate Rhododendron colour in your garden

Rhodo Cosmopolitan

Thanks to the continued rise in temperatures and some decent sunshine after the rain, we are cultivating some of our seasonal favourites – colourful bursts of rhododendrons, azeleas and camellias.

So, how can we help you cultivate yours, or get the best out of a new purchase or gift?

Rododendrons, Azeleas and Camellias are all ericaceous plants, meaning they need to grow in an acid or lime-free soil to ensure they stay healthy. Alternatively, compact varieties can grow well in large pots or half-barrels filled with ericaceous compost (we have plenty in stock).

Rhodo Maire de Montague

Known for their vibrant colour in Spring, and some deciduous varieties in Autumn, Rhododendrons are described by the Royal Horticultural Society as being of ‘moderate difficulty’ to grow (they have pulled together some excellent guidance notes on how to help get the best from yours).

As with all plants, it’s a balance of elements that help your plants thrive. An excellent source of information on Rhododendrons is one of our trusted suppliers, Osberton, who write a great ‘ask the expert’ series. They recently published a nice piece with practical insights into how best to care for your rhododendrons, whatever your soil or garden conditions may be.

Rhodo Albert Schweitzer and Horizon Monarch

If you would like a more personal answer to your shrub queries (or any other gardening matters) we are always here to help so please quiz us when you’re next in store and we’ll be happy to talk through what’s likely to work best in your garden.

All the best,

Simon and the Team at Ben Reid Garden Centre

Primrose – a burst of colour in Spring

Primrose Cauldron £8.99
Individual 9cm pots £1.29
6 Carry Pack £6.99


Primroses are part of the Primula family coming from the Latin primus meaning first, the first flowers of the Spring! These colourful flowers are perfect for containers or flower beds to give instant colour in the late winter/early spring and goodness me we could do with some of that at the moment. As ever we can suggest other plants to complement Primroses in your planting plan or take in your existing containers and we can plant them up for you here in the nursery.

Seed potatoes – grow your own chips!


Want to experience the full taste and texture of new potatoes, then you need to grow your own!

Our full range of seed potatoes have arrived and we have a variety to suit you. Whether you want to bake, boil, chip or mash we have got it covered. First earlies , second earlies and main croppers available. We also have a range of onion sets, shallots and garlic.

Find our list here seed tatties 2018

Find hints and tips from the experts here How to grow potatoes RHS   Gardening Guide Growing Potatoes BBC

Want to grow potatoes in a tub, have a look here Grow potatoes in containers – Grow Veg

All the Trimmings…

All the Trimmings…

Are you getting geared up for the Christmas festivities?

This weekend is predicted to be a full on with flurry of festive purchasing and we’d love to help you out with a spot of hassle-free tree shopping.

Our undercover elves are on top form this year with many happy tree purchasers already enjoying that Christmas smell in their homes thanks to our lovely REAL trees.

You may already know, but, our trees are stored in a dry shed for you to browse. Choose your perfect Fir or Spruce (we can help if you like) and we can wrap it and take to your car (or even arrange for us to deliver it to you during the week, ask us more in store).

What else do you need to stock up for Christmas – logs? We have stacks of them.

These marvellous elves are also running a roaring trade in our other festive favourites thanks to our shop full of Poinsettias, Cyclamens, mixed planters and a range of other indoor plants. These along with a whole range of gardening tools are sure-fired winners for gifts for the gardener (aspiring or seasoned!) in your life. If you are really struggling for inspiration remember we sell both our own gift vouchers and national garden gift vouchers. Nothing last minute about these decisions – just meeting that Christmas deadlines!

We’re noticing a real rise in people picking up our handmade Holly and Fir wreaths as well as choosing festive plants as gifts when visiting – a nice change from bottles or chocolates (though we know you like those too!).

So we hope to see you this weekend and enjoy spreading some real Christmas magic with us!

Ho Ho Ho, MERRY CHRISTMAS from Simon and the team at Ben Reid Garden Centre

Happy National Poinsettia Day!

Carolyn Spray inspects one of the thousands of Poinsettia plants, at Pentland Plants  near Edinburgh.

Happy National Poinsettia Day!

The rising popularity of poinsettias is a very welcome sight at Ben Reid, as throughout December they transform our little shop into a blaze of colour.

But do you know the history? Poinsettias come from Mexico where they have been associated with Christmas for centuries. An old legend tells of a poor girl who dreams of bringing a beautiful gift to favour the Virgin Mary for a Christmas Eve service, yet has nothing worthy. On the way to Church, she meets an angel who tells her to pick some weeds. She kneels by the roadside and despite her protests that they are far from desirable, gathers a handful of common weeds. She then makes her way to a small chapel where she places her offering on the altar. The moment she does, they burst into blooms of brilliant red poinsettias and her sorrow turns to joy. The Mexicans renamed it Flor de Nochebuena (Christmas Eve Flower).

The colourful weed gained prevalence in North America throughout the years, really gaining momentum in the 19th century when botany was a passion for many people. Historian and gardener William Hickling Prescott renamed the Mexican plant as the Poinsettia during this period, after an amateur botanist who was the first American Ambassador to the region.

Poinsettias became very popular in California in the 1920’s and were soon fashionable with the Hollywood set, and we all know what happens next when that happens.

We are accustomed to the red flowers and their affiliation to Christmas but the cream and pink varieties can also give an added dimension to your indoor displays if you’re looking for something a bit different. A Poinsettia is an excellent gift at this time of year, as they continue to brighten up homes long after the festivities have passed.

Here are Two Top Tips for ensuring the longevity of your Poinsettia long after the festive season

  1. Make sure it is wrapped up when you buy it. We re-sleeve all our Poinsettias so keep it wrapped up until you get it inside and don’t leave it in the car for any length of time so it gets cold. Once home and unwrapped, place it away from any cold drafts, like the front door as they don’t like them. A warm and bright place is where they want to be but avoid window sills as they like a consistent temperature.
  1. Don’t panic about watering, its simple. Water from the top, sparingly. The compost should be damp to the touch but not wet. If you think you have used to much water just put the pot on the kitchen draining board for the excess water to drain away. Top tip is to use tepid water not cold.

Poinsettias have a reputation for being difficult to look after once you get them home, but often it is how they have been looked after before you get them home that counts. Here at Ben Reid’s we buy them from Pentland Plants, another Scottish family nursery, outside of Edinburgh. They load up their vans and lorries inside the glasshouses where the plants are grown the night before they deliver. This means that they never get cold and damaged before they arrive to us here in Aberdeen.

We think Poinsettias are a fabulous Christmas tradition and we love that locally grown plants can play such a central part of our festive plant mix. We hope you enjoy them at this time of year as much as we do.

Merry Christmas from All of the Team at Ben Reid

Have you planted some winter colour yet?

Skimmia Magic Merlot
Skimmia reevesiana
Winter Flowering Pansies
Outdoor Cyclamen

Have you replanted your containers with some winter colour yet?

I must admit Stuart has just done a lovely job of revamping our car park containers this week. With the mild weather of the last six weeks the summer bedding has gone on and on. With the second frost this morning it is time to think about changing round your tubs and containers. Have a look on Pinterest 25 best winter container ideas for inspiration or better still nip up to the garden centre and have a look round and a chat with any of the team who can advise you. We are still bringing plants over from our own nursery and buying them in from our other favorite growers.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the autumn sunshine.


In search of berried treasure

Pyracantha (Firethorn)
Malus Golden Hornet (Crab Apple)
Sorbus cashmiriana



In search of berried treasure

Berry-bearing trees and shrubs come into their own in autumn, creating colourful displays that last well into winter, which is why they have been chosen as the Horticultural Trades Association’s (HTA) Plant of the Moment for October.

From elderberries to rose hips, crab apples to firethorns, the addition of “berrying” plants adds a new dimension to any garden, with plants carrying fruits and berries through autumn and into winter. Berry-producing plants also provide home grown food for hungry birds and wildlife too, enhancing their appeal and value to the garden.

Evergreen shrubs provide structure and form to the garden throughout the year, but many produce early displays of flowers followed by autumn berries. One of the best compact shrubs for borders or patio pots is a Skimmia with a mouthful of a name, Skimmia japonica subsp. reevesiana. Don’t let this put you off as its displays of bright red berries are second to none!

Also check out the compact and spreading Viburnum davidii, a hardy shrub with distinctly veined evergreen foliage that produces the most unusual metallic-looking blue-black berries. It really is quite a talking point.

To create seasonal pots for autumn colour include a small Gaultheria mucronata carrying brilliant berries in pink, red or pure white. Combined with pansies and violas, trailing ivy, heather, carex or skimmia your pots will put on a display that lasts for months.

Trained against walls and fences, firethorn is a valuable evergreen shrub. Its thorny stems make it a great choice for producing secure garden boundaries, but don’t let the spines put you off buying Pyracantha. They provide valuable nesting sites for birds, flowers that attract bees, and red, orange or yellow berries to feed birds into winter.

With such a rich and diverse range of plants to choose from it really is possible to fill your borders with berried treasure this autumn!


Firethorn – (Pyracantha varieties)

Skimmia – Many female varieties produce wonderful displays of berries including Skimmia japonica subsp. reevesiana, Skimmia japonica ‘Nymans’ and ‘Obsession’. Male varieties are equally appealing with great flower displays, like ‘Magic Marlot’ and ‘Rubella’.

Gaultheria Mucronata (Formerly called PERNETTYA)

Cotoneaster – wide range of berrying shrubs including Cotoneaster horizontalis, Cotoneaster ‘Coral Beauty’, C. ‘Cornubia’, C. lacteus, and many others.


  • Many shrubs can be given a permanent home in large patio pots. Plant pots using a free-draining loam-based compost.
  • Always stand pots on feet during winter to prevent drainage holes getting blocked and pots filling-up with water, literally drowning their roots!
  • Small berry-bearing shrubs included in seasonal patio pot arrangements can be removed and planted out in the garden next spring.
  • Some plants have both male and female varieties, so it might just be the female one you buy that’s carrying berries. Ask for advice, as in future years you may need to grow male forms alongside the females to ensure their flowers get pollinated and develop future crops of berries.


As well as choosing planting partners carrying berries try and create varied displays by including evergreen shrubs, ornamental grasses, architectural plants with strong shapes and forms, and those with great autumn foliage colours. Here are some to consider:

  • Beauty Berry (Callicarpa ‘Profusion’ and many others)
  • Carex ‘Evergold’
  • Heathers (Including Calluna varieties)
  • Holly (Ilex varieties)
  • Pansies
  • Roses with colourful hips, like Rosa rugosa, Rosa canina and Rosa ‘Geranium’
  • Skimmia ‘Magic Marlot’
  • Spindle (varieties of Euonymus like ‘Red Cascade’)
  • Viola
  • Viburnum including Viburnum davidii and varieties of Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus)

Grow your own fruit

Autumn time is tree planting time! Our favorite fruit tree nursery has delivered our first batch of trees. Apples, plums, pears and cherries. This is the best time of year to chose and plant fruit trees. Why I hear you ask? Well the soil is warm and moist so the trees can get going establishing roots and settling in just as they go dormant for the winter. This means when spring comes they will have a head start getting established and cope better with a dryer summer. Also because the nursery dispatches this years crop at this time of year you get the biggest choice of varieties available to you.

Don’t know how to grow fruit trees then come in and speak to us and we will talk it through with you or have  a look at these websites.

Trees for life – the nursery that grow our fruit trees

BBC Gardening – How to grow a fruit tree

RHS – A-Z grow your own fruit

Remember we have everything else you need from a spade and fertiliser to secateurs and winter washes and we can deliver.



Spring has sprung with perfect primulas

Spring has sprung with perfect primulas

Plant a rainbow of colour in the garden with primulas and polyanthus and welcome in spring, the Horticultural Trades Association’s (HTA) ‘Plant of the Moment’ for March.

These cheerful bedding plants offer great value, flowering their hearts out for weeks on end to brighten your outlook on even the dullest of days.

New varieties are continually being bred offering outstanding garden performance, larger flowers and better resistance to the vagaries of our weather. Although single-coloured flowers are always popular also look out for bicolours, double and rosebud types, plus wonderfully scented new varieties too.

Bold blocks of primulas always look striking, but impressive displays can also be created by combining them with other spring bedding, flowering bulbs and foliage plants too. Small pot grown plants are available now in full flower, making them perfect for creating instant displays in any garden, patio or courtyard.

Top tip

Cheeky sparrows and other birds sometimes peck at primroses, damaging their blooms. It’s hard to stop these antics, especially with plants growing in borders, but try moving pots closer to the house to scare them away. Some people have noted that blue varieties often avoid their attentions.

Planting combinations

Here are some ideas of the flowers you could choose as companion plants for primulas and polyanthus.

  • Bedding Daisies (Bellis)
  • Bugle (Ajuga)
  • Daffodils and Narcissus
  • Forget-me-nots (Myosotis)

Plant a blaze of colour in your garden this summer







We have everything you need to create a blaze of color in your garden this summer.

  • Big and healthy bedding plants
  • A fantastic range of hanging basket plants
  • Plant feed and water retention gel for container planting
  • A full range of composts – we can carry to the car
  • Big range of pots
  • Hanging baskets and liners
  • Pre-planted containers and baskets
  • Potting up service – ask any of the team
  • We deliver – just ask for details
  • Have you got your Ben Reid Reward Card yet?
  • And lots and lots of inspiration

See you soon.