Tag Archive for: Pet friendly garden

winter plant subscription

Winter scents

How can you keep garden interest throughout winter?

Many gardens will have one or two winter flowering shrubs in them. Viburnum bodnantense Dawn, Hamamelis (witch hazel) and Mahonias are some of the most common, however, there are others, including Sarcococca (christamas box), Chimonanthus (winter sweet), and Daphnes.

Some have striking coloured flowers, the witch hazels in particular with their striking spidery yellow or orange flowers, whilst others exhibit pale shades of yellow and white, The flowers of the Sarccoca are tiny and almost insignificant, and those of the winter sweet hang down on bare branches. However, the thing that unites them all is the fact that they all have striking scents, often strong and sweet, but all very rich.


Viburnum bodnantense Dawn will flower from October to March with pink flowers on its bare stems. Its rich scent will fill a garden with scent on all but the windiest of days. Chimonanthus, the aptly named winter sweet will fill a room with a sweet scent if a branch or two is brought inside or if it is planted under a window. It has small pale yellow flowers which hang down from its bare stems. However for me, the star of any winter garden is Daphne Bohula Jaqueline Postill. This semi-evergreen shrub has masses of tiny star-shaped pink flowers from the beginning of January through to late March and has a scent all of its own.


So why do plants put so much energy into producing such a strong scent in the depths of winter?

They have evolved this as the best technique to attract the few pollinators that are around in the cold, dark days of winter. Bees in search of nectar on a warm day are attracted to the strong sweet smell of a Daphne or Christmas box. So, if you wish to maintain a garden which is beneficial to insects all through the year, it is essential to include one or two of these in your garden.


Our January GardeningBoxes included the pet-friendly Mahonia aquifolium ‘Apollo’ – sign up for your subscription now!

Dog safe gardening

Pet Safe Gardening

It’s a fact – gardens and pets are two things that make people happy, so enjoying both at the same time is perfect, but how can we make sure that pets are safe in our outside spaces?

GardeningBoxes founder James is a vet with over 20 years’ experience, and any plants in GardeningBoxes deliveries which could be dangerous to animals have always been clearly marked.

But for extra peace of mind we have now launched our Pet Safe GardeningBoxes, so that customers can be completely confident that their gardening passion will not put their furry friends at risk – just select the Pet-Friendly option in the drop-down menu when you order your GardeningBox. We would still recommend discouraging pets from trying to eat any ornamental plants, as cleaning up the end result can take some of the joy out of the relationship!


James has provided a few more tips for pet-friendly gardening below!


1. Most animals will avoid eating anything particularly harmful, although a lot of plants can cause mild tummy upsets if eaten. Remember that puppies and kittens are especially prone to trying to nibble plants as they explore the world around them and their smaller size means that they may be more prone to toxins. A lot of plants are listed as ‘toxic’ online but are only associated with very mild symptoms, if any. However, if you are concerned your pet may have eaten a toxic plant do contact your vet sooner rather than later, preferably with clear identification of the plant. Do be careful with berries, bulbs, and fungi.


2. Certain types of plants are associated with serious toxicity, so be careful if you have these in the garden. Many species of lily can be toxic to cats, even if they just happen to groom themselves after getting pollen on their coat. Plants such as heliotrope are not immediately toxic, but can cause liver problems if ingested over a long period of time. If you notice your pet likes to chew on plants think about leaving an area of grass to grown longer, and encourage them to nibble this.  Distract them with games such as hunting for treats if they start to head for the ornamentals.


3. More common poisonings that we see involve human foods that pets, especially dogs, have managed to eat. Chocolate toxicity is well known, but vine fruit such as grapes, raisins, and sultanas seem to cause kidney issues in some dogs. Pets hoovering up wooden kebab skewers after barbecues is a particularly dangerous habit as the sharp tips can cause damage to the stomach. Do be careful if having picnics in the garden! Dog-safe fruits and vegetables include pieces of apple (seeds removed if possible), banana, and carrot.


4. Dogs can very quickly understand areas that they are allowed to play and areas that are out of bounds, so to keep them from trampling your plants encourage them to stay in permitted areas with games, treats, and praise. If they do happen to stray, a gentle encouragement back to their permitted area followed by praise is usually all that is necessary.


5. Avoid using non-organic slug and snail pellets – read our blog post for some ways to tackle garden pests. Slugs and snails, and their slime, can also be a source of infection with lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) which can lead to serious complications – speak to your vet about a sensible worming plan. to avoid these risks.


We hope these quick tips enable you and your pets to enjoy your gardening!