Not sure which seeds to choose?

If you’d like to start seed sowing whilst you are at home but not sure which seeds to buy, we can help you!

By clicking on the link at the bottom you’ll find a helpful chart which provides excellent information on seed sowing and harvesting times, along with a guide on which seeds can be sown directly outdoors into the soil, and which need to be started inside.

Happy Sowing & Growing from Otter!

Please click below :-

Seed Sowing Guide

Santa Claus is planning to come to Ottery St Mary!

We have spoken with Santa and are delighted to announce that he is planning a festive drive-by in his sleigh through the roads and past the houses in Ottery St Mary on Tuesday 22nd December. He has checked with his “Elf & Safety” Team and can confirm that it is within the covid safety guidelines for him spread Christmas cheer and wave to all of the children in the town from his sleigh.

 

According to our sources at the North Pole, Santa is hoping to see friendly waves and smiling faces as he rides on his sleigh through the town tomorrow evening. He has asked for you all to please stay warm and safe in your homes. Keep your ears open for the sound of his festive tunes as he approaches your road and keep your eyes peeled through your windows to spot him passing your home. When you see Santa please give him a big wave from your front door or from your window.

 

Santa will be touring through the town from approximately 5.30pm until 6.30pm.

His route will hopefully cover Butts Road area, Ridgeway area, Chineway area, Slade Road area, Primary School area, between 5.30pm and 6pm.

Followed by Winters Lane area, Millcroft area, Mill Street, Thorne Farm Way area and Claremont Field area between 6pm and 6.30pm.

 

Santa has asked that if you would like to make a donation to show your appreciation for his drive-by through Ottery, please make a donation to any charity of your choice to support those in need this Christmas.

 

Each year the Rotary Club arrange with Santa for him to visit many towns before Christmas to raise money for charity and see all the local children. This year it has not been possible for them to arrange this event and the team at Otter are pleased to be able to organise this Santa sleigh drive-by in place of this.

 

*We want to ensure that everyone remains safe and well for Christmas Day and that all Covid-19 guidelines remain adhered to. Please do not approach Santa’s sleigh, venture on to the pavements, or gather in groups. Santa’s sleigh is quite large and it may not be possible for him to manoeuvre through every street. He will do his best to pass as many homes as possible, but to avoid disappointment it may be a good idea to wait until you hear the festive music or see the sleigh before you tell your children.

Cooking Up Christmas Cheer for the Local Community

In a show of Christmas spirit, our MD Jacqui Taylor is helping to make sure that no-one in the nearby community of Ottery St Mary will go short of a festive meal on Christmas Day.

With the annual free Christmas lunch in the town unable to take place due to the pandemic, Jacqui and her team of willing helpers at Otter Garden Centre will provide a roast turkey dinner complete with a Christmas cracker and mince pie to the elderly, infirm, isolated or anyone otherwise in need, at no cost. The meal will be freshly cooked and delivered at lunchtime on December 25.

Jacqui says, “It’s been such a hard year for everyone but especially so for older people and those who have had to shield – there has been so much isolation and loneliness. Many don’t have family to care for them, whilst for others their family members live a long distance away or in a higher tier, so they are not able to visit this Christmas.”

“We really do believe Christmas is a time for giving and for showing that we care. With this small gesture we hope that the most vulnerable and lonely in our community will know that we are thinking of them.”

The meals, which will be freshly prepared by our restaurant team, will include roast turkey and all the trimmings – roast potatoes, fresh vegetables, stuffing, pigs in blankets and gravy, plus the all-important homemade mince pie to finish.

Jacqui has enlisted several family members who together with the “Ottery Community Volunteer Group” and other volunteers from Ottery will be putting off their own celebrations until later on Christmas Day in order to make the deliveries and ensure the food arrives piping hot and on time.

Family, friends and neighbours are encouraged to nominate anyone they think should be included. Former mayor Glyn Dobson and the Ottery Help Scheme are putting the list together. Glyn says that he has received requests from family members living hundreds of miles for their elderly parents to receive a meal.

To nominate someone for a meal, contact Glyn 01404 813403 and at glyndobson@aol.com  or Emily at the Ottery Help Scheme 01404 813041 and at info@otteryhelpscheme.org.uk

 

 

Otter Elves raise money for Brain Tumour Charity

It was “hi-ho hi-ho” all the way as a number of our team members in Ottery St Mary dressed as festive elves and cycled, jogged and walked to work at Otter in memory of Ottery colleague Rob Gillingham, who passed away from a brain tumour earlier this year.

The elves were fundraising for Brain Tumour Support, a charity that helps those affected by any type of brain tumour, not just patients, but also their families, friends and carers.

Karl Baker cycled from Exeter

We were delighted that a total of 43 team members dressed up and took part in the event that took place on Friday 3rd December. They were given a surprise to find the big man, Santa waiting at the garden centre to meet them, along with mince pies and hot drinks to warm up and thank them for their efforts. Many of the team also carried on with their elf antics throughout the day, remaining in costume to the delight of customers visiting the garden centre.

Otter Garden Centres Managing Director Jacqui Taylor took part by wearing an elf outfit and cycling into work through Ottery St Mary. She got behind the fundraiser on behalf of the business by pledging a £50 donation for each of the team members who took part, adding £2,150 to the pot. Jacqui said:

“Rob was a valued, popular member of our team, and well known as the driver of our grotto’s ‘Santa Express’ train each year; it’s an honour to fundraise in his memory.

“Although our grotto isn’t open this year due to the pandemic, seeing so many elves at the garden centre really gave everyone a boost of festive cheer!”

Volunteer fundraiser from Brain Tumour Support, Jeanette Hackwell who organised a collection on the day added: “It was such a successful day and a lasting tribute to Rob.

“The funds raised will go a long way to keeping the charity active, especially after the impact of Covid-19.”

Helen Patterson with Elves, Sally, Lauren, Sally and Wendy

Jeanette and her team, all of whom have or have had brain tumours, collected £250 generous garden centre customers, swelling the total further. Another brain tumour survivor Helen Patterson (pictured right with her bike), the inspiration behind the fundraiser, cycled 30 miles to the garden centre in her elf outfit, raising over £500

which she split between Brain Tumour Support and Alzheimer’s Society.

Together with the amount raised by the festive Otter elves and the collection on the day, the total raised so far for Brain Tumour Support is well over £3,500.

There is still time to make a donation by visiting the JustGiving page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/otter-garden-centres

Town centre lights up with Otter-grown tree

Christmas has come to Ottery St Mary and we are delighted to have been asked to donate a beautiful, home grown Christmas tree again this year.

Our team from Otter, Ottery St Mary delivered and set up the tree in its traditional spot, outside the library in Silver Street. We were extremely grateful to Ottery resident Richard Coley who always makes sure a tree goes up every year for his help in decorating the tree, and we appreciate his time to help add

the baubles and twinkling fairy lights. Our Branch Manager John Giblin was there to make sure that everything went to plan and the tree looked the best it has ever looked to bring added festive cheer to the town.

The tree is a beautiful 10 year old Nordman Fir, a variety with a low needle drop so we know it will look its best throughout the festive season. It’s from our own range of Christmas trees grown less than two miles from the town, so very much locally sourced!

For each Christmas tree we cut down we plant two new ones, meeting our sustainable aims. Our Christmas tree growing area also provides shelter and food for wildlife, including bees from beehives kept there which use the pollen to feed their larvae.

After the season, the tree will be recycled through the local council’s recycling scheme.

 

Elf Sparkle Cycle Day Fundraiser December 4th

Elf Sparkle Cycle Day fundraiser in memory of former Santa Express driver

You may see some of our Ottery St Mary team members dressed as elves on the local roads around our garden centre this Friday!  A large group of our team members are rallying round with a seasonal fundraiser in memory of their colleague Rob Gillingham.

Sadly Rob, described by colleagues as a kind, lovely man, passed away from a brain tumour earlier this year. He was well known for his annual stint as the Santa Express driver, ferrying families to and from our popular grotto.

The idea for the fundraiser came from Helen Patterson, who has worked at the grotto as an elf! Helen also had a brain tumour which was removed in 2017, leaving her with a titanium plate in her skull and an eyelid that won’t open. Her plan is to cycle from Exeter to the garden centre in Ottery dressed as an elf to raise money for Brain Tumour Support and Alzheimer’s Society.

She says, “I was so disappointed not to be an elf this year that I thought this would be a great way to dress up and raise money at the same time!”

The Ottery team got on board by loaning Helen her elf costume from the grotto wardrobe. Then they started thinking about how they could help more.

Branch manager, John Giblin explains, “We realised we could join in with the fundraising for Brain Tumour Support in memory of our colleague Rob so we started encouraging staff members to get involved.

“We now have more than 40 signed up to cycle, walk or run to work dressed as elves. It’s a great way to use of our elf costumes to bring some festive cheer as we’re unable to run our grotto this year.”

Helen adds, “I’m thrilled that so many people from Otter are getting behind the charity – out of something sad has come something good.”

The event has been named ‘Elf Sparkle Cycle Day’ to reflect events being run by Brain Tumour Support and Alzheimer’s Society.

Volunteers from Brain Tumour Support will be with us in Ottery all day to raise money and encourage donations on the JustGiving page.

The team are hoping to raise over £1,000 for the charity!

To donate, visit the JustGiving page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/otter-garden-centres

For more information about Brain Tumour Support visit https://www.braintumoursupport.co.uk/

Giant Pumpkin at Otter Lymington

Have you visited our Lymington Garden Centre recently? If not, then now’s a great time to go for the chance to view a monster pumpkin!

The pumpkin has been grown by our Lymington neighbours Pinetops Nurseries  – they have hit the news year after year with their record-breaking giants.

The nursery, like Otter, is a family-run business, started in 1959 by Derf and Jean Paton. Their sons, twins Ian and Stuart Paton started growing pumpkins when they were just 11 years old, and it’s become an obsession. 48 years later, they still get a kick out of growing the biggest squash in the country – in fact, they hold the British record with a pumpkin weighting 2433.9lb!

This year they have their eye on the prize, the World record! The current pumpkin (pumpkin 1875) is looking on track to smash the record. The result will be known on Saturday 10th October when Pinetops is holding a ‘Virtual Pumpkin Festival’.

Normally there’s a pumpkin festival at Royal Victoria Country Park but due to Covid-19 it was cancelled – hence the virtual ‘drive-thru’ festival. People will drive in, their pumpkins will be unloaded, weighed and measured and they’ll drive out again.

Even if Ian and Stuart do clinch the World record on Saturday, the twins’ brother Rory says they won’t stop trying to grow an even bigger pumpkin. Apparently, even when they are all on a family holiday, the twins are always itching to get home to check the pumpkins.

So – what’s the secret? Well it’s not rocket science. The brothers start growing their pumpkins in March under a grow light, and plant them in good soil on 13th or 14th April. Then the pumpkins do their thing and grow and grow, with lots of watering in the summer.

You can find out more about the virtual festival by clicking here and you can also follow progress of pumpkin 1875 on Ian’s Instagram: ianpaton2269

And don’t forget to pop into our Lymington garden centre to see one of these monsters for real!

 

Hannah is a world record breaker!

With one of our Taunton team members taking part in the Müller British Athletics Championships we were keen to find out the results! The Championships took place on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th September at the Manchester Regional Arena. The event was held behind closed doors.

With para-only events being staged at these championships for the first time, we were so thrilled to see Otter Garden Centre team member, Hannah Taunton, do so well. Hannah broke the women’s T20 5000m world record in a time of 17 minutes, 17 seconds (17:17.30)!

Hannah has worked in Otter Taunton Garden Centre for many years and is a vital part of our plants team. Colleagues describe Hannah as some who always has a lovely smile on her face and enjoys caring for the plants at the garden centre.

From everyone at Otter Garden Centres, and especially Rob and all the team in Taunton who work with Hannah, we would like to say a huge congratulations for breaking a world record, this is a massive achievement and we are all very proud of you!

 

Face coverings from July 24th

From July 24th it will be compulsory to wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England.

We are asking all our customers to adhere to this and to come to Otter with your face covering ready to wear.

Exemptions will apply, please click below for full details of the latest government guidance:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own

The government has issued this information on why wearing a face covering is important:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) can spread predominantly by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces, if you touch a surface and then your face without washing your hands first. This is why social distancing, regular hand hygiene, and covering coughs and sneezes is so important in controlling the spread of the virus.

The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.

A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face.

A face covering should:

  • cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably
  • fit comfortably but securely against the side of the face
  • be secured to the head with ties or ear loops
  • be made of a material that you find to be comfortable and breathable, such as cotton
  • ideally include at least two layers of fabric (the World Health Organisation recommends three depending on the fabric used)
  • unless disposable, it should be able to be washed with other items of laundry according to fabric washing instructions and dried without causing the face covering to be damaged

When wearing a face covering you should:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on
  • avoid wearing on your neck or forehead
  • avoid touching the part of the face covering in contact with your mouth and nose, as it could be contaminated with the virus
  • change the face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it

When removing a face covering:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before removing
  • only handle the straps, ties or clips
  • do not share with someone else to use
  • if single-use, dispose of it carefully in a residual waste bin and do not recycle

 

Celebrating 95th birthday with a return to Otter!

The red carpet was rolled out for a very special customer at our Ottery St Mary garden centre when Lionel Smith paid a visit to mark his 95th birthday. It was the first time Lionel had left home since lockdown measures were introduced, and he came with wife Barbara to choose his birthday presents.

Otter team members worked hard – within social distancing guidelines – to make his visit memorable. They rolled out the red carpet, with a banner, balloons, cake and birthday card from founders Marilyn and Malcolm White, signed by many team members.

Lionel and Barbara moved to Devon 30 years ago after Lionel retired as a scientist. A very keen gardener, his first question to a new neighbour was “where can I find a good garden centre?” and he was duly directed to Otter. Lionel and Barbara have been loyal customers ever since. Barbara says, “All our garden has come from Otter!”

The garden centre seemed the obvious choice for the big day. Daughter and son-in-law Jenny and Tony Seculer drove from Newbury in Berkshire for a socially distanced shop with them. Lionel brought his shopping list; first up were the basics, like orchid compost and other essentials, but his face lit up with a smile when he saw the plants.

“Lionel has such a love of gardening and passed that to Jenny, who took a degree in horticulture,” explained Tony. “When they got to selecting plants, it was like watching two children in a sweetshop!”

Our Managing Director Jacqui Taylor was on hand to wish Lionel a happy birthday. “We’re delighted that Lionel decided to spend his 95th birthday with us, and we hope he enjoyed his birthday cake! Many of our customers are regulars who have shopped at Otter for many, many years, and we feel like they’re part of our family.”

Happy Birthday Lionel from all the team at Otter!