5 Ways to Plan for Next Year’s Garden

Part of the fun of having a garden is planning how it’ll look throughout the year. Whether you’re new to gardening and you have a clean slate, or you’re a pro gardener looking for a change, there’s plenty of ways to update your garden.

The best time to plan your new garden is in the New Year, when most of your garden is dormant. Follow these easy steps to help you discover your dream garden for 2021.

Write Your Wish list

Whether it’s spring blooms, summer colours or autumn beauties, there’s plenty of plants and flowers to choose from. Maybe you have some favourites in mind, which can help you to choose complimentary blooms and therefore completing your bedding display. Or perhaps you’re looking to decorate your patio with more colour and variety. Make a list of everything you’d like to grow and keep it in mind when picking your plants and flowers in Spring.

Plan Your Next Move

Next, it’s good to take note of how much space you have to play with. For example, urban gardens tend to have less space, but can be transformed with help from climbing clematis and patio containers filled to the brim with plants and flowers. Determine what space you have and how you would like to fill it before buying your plants.

Pick your Theme

Choosing a theme for your garden can help you decide on what you’d like to plant and when. For example, cottage-themed gardens focus on spring and summer blooms such as alliums, cyclamen, geraniums, begonias and gladioli. Once you decide on your theme, everything else should fall into place!

Order Your Plants and Blooms

Now that you’ve decided on what and where, it’s time to decide on when. As in, when should you start ordering your plants? Well, depending on which season you’re planning for, you’ll have certain restrictions. If you’re planning your spring garden, you should order your bulbs and plants in autumn and winter to ensure they arrive on time and don’t spoil before planting.

Your Planting Plan

And finally, you should think about when to plant your seasonal displays. Every plant will have different requirements, and it’s important to understand when and why you should plant them at certain times of the year. If you’re a seasoned gardener (excuse the pun), then you’ll be familiar with when plants should be put in the ground.

However, if you’re new to gardening, then planting seasons will be a new concept! When buying your plants, you can find growing instructions on the product page. This will tell you when and how to grow your plants.

Shop Our Brand New Spring 2021 Range

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How to make dried lavender

Drying lavender is a wonderful way to preserve your beautiful blooms. There are so many wonderful uses for it too. It’s excellent for making tea, cooking and baking and crafting. Learn all about how to make dried lavender (a few different ways), including the best varieties to use, and when to cut it.

The best lavender to use for drying is English lavender. The reason is because it contains more oils than other varieties. But regardless, you can still dry any variety you have in your garden – whether it be English, Spanish or French.

The Hanging Method

Here’s how to dry lavender using hanging bunches:

  • Cut a bunch of lavender stalks making sure that you leave a few inches of stem on the cut stalk. Group about 15 – 20 stalks together and tie them with an elastic band or twine. 
  • Once set, hang each bundle in a dark, warm, and dry place, like a basement or cellar. Make sure to hang it upside down to help retain its blossom shape. Don’t forget to leave enough space to allow air to travel between the stalks.
  • Now simply leave your lavender hanging until completely dry.

The Oven Method

Here are the simple steps for drying lavender in the oven:

  • Set the oven to low heat at around 100 degrees Celsius. Spread a thin layer of lavender on a baking tray and place it in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the stalks are completely brittle. Keep the oven door slightly open while drying (to allow moisture to pass through effectively). If it still feels moist after 10 minutes, rotate the stalks and then leave it for 5 more minutes to dry.
  • Once done, remove the dried lavender from the oven and run your hand down the dried stalks carefully until the blossoms fall into a container.

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Christmas Wishlist 2020 Winners

The big day is here! For our Christmas Wishlist Giveaway we asked you to send us 5 items on your J. Parker’s wishlist. With the season of giving upon us, here are our 3 winners for 2020. Each winner will receive their special wishlist items as a prize.

Our 2020 Wishlist winners are…

  1. Louise F. (Email entry)

Louise’s wishlist items:

2. Paul L. (Facebook entry)

Paul’s wishlist items:

3. Pauline M. (Instagram entry)

Pauline’s wishlist items:

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When to Plant Your Gladioli Bulbs

Often known as ‘Sword Lilies’, Gladioli bulbs are a favourite summer bulb among gardener’s and it’s easy to see why! Their mix of vibrant colours and scents are two among many reasons why this bulb is perfect for decorating your garden borders.

If you’re new to gardening, you might be wondering when to plant Gladioli bulbs. Luckily enough, you’re in the right place to find out exactly how and when to get your beautiful bulbs in the ground.

When to Plant Your Bulbs

Gladiolus is a native South-African bulb that produces the best blooms in sunny and warm conditions. Like any summer bulb, it’s best to plant them in spring after the danger of frost has disappeared.

How to Plant Your Bulbs

Planting Gladioli bulbs is an easy task, perfect for beginners. Plant a group of 6-8 bulbs in a nicely dug hole that’s roughly twice the depth of the bulbs themselves and spaced a bulb’s width apart.

Now that you know how and when to plant Gladioli bulbs, you can watch your summer garden grow swathes of beautiful blooms all season long.

To care for your gladioli bulbs, water plentifully throughout its flowering season and use tomato feed or comfrey feed every 2-3 weeks to promote healthy growth. Lift in autumn or early winter and store for the following summer.

Perfect Companions

Not sure what to pair with your Gladioli bulbs? Here’s just a few of our favourite summer-interest flowers that are perfect companions to gladioli. Decorate your summer garden colour and beauty with the help from Dahlias, Peonies, and Alliums.

Dahlia Painted Collection
Allium Superglobe Mixed
Peony Top Brass

Creating a Wildlife-Friendly Garden

Many of us may think that to create a wildlife-friendly garden comes a lot of extra effort and money. Well, that’s not always the case! You can make the smallest of changes to your garden to make a big difference to animals and critters around you.

If you’re looking to make some changes to your gardens to make them more hospitable, here are some easy options.

Safe Shelters

All types of wildlife need a safe haven to rest and even breed. By including some simple shelters in your garden, you’re helping them to recuperate and recharge. An essential for all walks of life. Not only could this be bird shelters, but you could even buy or make shelters for hedgehogs and bats.

Shrubs and trees also make wonderful homes for all kinds of wildlife, as their bushy nature provides a veil of sorts away from predators.

Hospitable Habitats

Offering different habitats for wildlife alike is achievable in any garden, regardless of size or budget. You could offer plenty of habitats for a wide range of wildlife without even knowing it.

Flower borders offer nectar for pollinators such as bees and butterflies, whereas uncut and long grass houses lots of critters and crawlers. Trees and shrubs offer homes to plenty of animals like birds and squirrels, and ponds are the perfect breeding ground for toads and frogs.

Feeding Stations

If they nest and sleep there, then it makes sense to help them with nourishment also. Small changes like putting up bird feeders can make a whole world of difference. Berry bushes and flowers can also help feed insects and animals.

Sustainable Changes

And lastly, making small changes to be more green and eco-friendly not only helps wildlife to continue to thrive in their natural habitats, but it makes our world just that bit better and brighter. Things like composting off-cuts of food from the kitchen and old hedge trimmings can make an all-natural compost, perfect for growing your seasonal blooms.

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How to Keep Your Garden Looking Fabulous All Winter Long

winter garden flowers planting

When summer ends and all our favourite blooms die back as the weather gets colder, our gardens can end up looking a bit tired and worse for wear. But, what if we told you that you didn’t have to wait for spring to breathe life back into your winter garden?

We’ve selected a few of our favourite winter garden flowers and plants that will help you add some colour to outdoor space, whatever the weather!

Winter Flowering Faves

It can be hard to find lots of flowers that bloom throughout winter, especially in the UK. However, there are a select few that can effortlessly add more colour and excitement to your flower beds and patio containers, even in the colder months.

single snowdrops
Single Flowering Snowdrops
winter garden flowers jasmine
Jasmine nudiflorum
Helleborus Niger Christmas Rose

Grasses and Shrubs

You don’t need flowers to create an exciting garden display! Ornamental grasses and shrubs are a brilliant way of adding some much needed colour to your garden in the winter, and we’ve got the perfect selection to choose from.

Cornus Midwinter Fire
pampas grass
Pampas Grass Collection
euonymus emerald gaiety
Euonymus fortunei Emerald Gaiety


As the name suggests, Evergreen trees and shrubs are perfect for adding some greenery to your garden. Unlike our other winter garden flowers and plants, these beauties will last you all year round and need very little pruning and upkeep. A perfect choice for those who don’t tend to spend lots of time pottering around their gardens.

euonymus harlequin
Euonymus fortunei Harlequin
winter garden flowers photinia
Photinia Red Robin Hedge
clematis evergreen winter collection
Clematis Evergreen Winter Flowering Collection

Early Spring flowers

If you prefer your spring garden displays, then why not start them early? There are plenty of spring-flowering bulbs that appear earlier in the season; a brilliant choice for adding some much needed colour and cheer to your garden towards the end of the winter.

Cyclamen Coum
winter garden flowers lonicera
Lonicera purpusii Winter Beauty (Honeysuckle)
 clematis apple blossom
Clematis armandii Apple Blossom

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Garden Trends for 2021

I think we all want some change in 2021. Gardeners are always actively working to make the garden more beautiful, mainly with relaxation and fun as the goal. If you fancy giving your garden some TLC in the new year, have a look at our top garden trends for 2021 and get inspired.

Garden Trends: Colour Schemes

Comforting Neutrals

With more of us spending a lot of time at home, 2021 will be a year of creating cocooning, cosy spaces. Dulux have announced that their ‘Colour of the Year’ for 2021 is “Brave Ground”; a warm neutral. So, why not use the trendy colours designed for the home in the garden? Creams and warm neutrals are the perfect colours for creating restful and relaxing flower displays that bring a sense of comfort to your outdoor space.

For trailing trellises and walls, we recommend an elegant creamy rose, or warm pastel begonias for your summer borders and pots.

Rich Reds

We predict that 2021 will steer towards the warmer tones of reds and plum. These rich saturated hues are effortlessly chic and will make for dramatic and luxurious flower beds and borders. There are so many ravishing red dahlias to choose from that are perfect for borders and for cut flower gardens.

Garden trends: Garden Styles

Balcony gardens

Since one in eight households (12%) in Great Britain has no access to a private or shared gardens according to ONS, British city-dwellers are getting more inventive with ways to grow plants. Growing potted plants on balconies is a great way for those living in a block of flats or a high rise building to enjoy a small piece of nature at home.

Windowsill gardening also a great way for growing plants in small spaces; grow herbs to add a little something extra to your cooking or fill them with colourful flowers. You might not have a big, sprawling space, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grow fresh plants and flowers!

Raised beds

Raised bed gardening has grown in popularity, and it’s easy to see why. Gardening in raised beds has endless possibilities and so many benefits.

  • Fewer weeds
  • Easier for those with mobility issues
  • Better water retention in areas that have super-sandy soil
  • Better drainage in areas with clay soils
  • More growing space
  • No soil compaction from foot tread
  • Warmer soil earlier in the season
  • Warmer soil for a longer season
Cottage gardens

Classic styles always stay on trend. The very familiar and popular modern-day concept of cottage gardening dates all the way back to the 14th century during Elizabethan times. If you’re looking to achieve this stunning, traditional style at home, consider planting roses, foxgloves, alliums, poppies, and delphiniums.

Grow your own produce

‘Grow your own’ has been one of the biggest growing garden trends over the past few years, but with so many of us looking for new hobbies to keep us occupied over lockdown, growing fruit and veg has become more popular than ever. For those looking to pick up the trend, dwarf fruit trees and rhubarb are perfect for growing produce in any sized space.

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New Gladioli for Summer 2021

Native to the Mediterranean and prized for their majestic flower spikes, Gladiolus (Sword-Lilies) are one of the most treasured flowers in the summer garden. Whether used in borders, containers or as cut flowers, these easy to grow blooms always provide a spectacular effect. Blooming in late-spring to early summer, these beauties can grow up to 2-3 feet tall. Discover the new additions to our Gladioli range for your 2021 garden.

Gladioli Amber Mystique

A striking, bi-coloured plants. Gladiolus ‘Amber Mystique’ is a creamy white Gladioli with contrasting lilac throats. Ideal for planting in summer borders.

Gladiolus Circus Club

A sight for sore eyes, with white backgrounds, purple edging, yellow centres and maroon eyes. While taking little space to grow, they combine so well with other plants. They make striking cut flowers too.

Gladiolus Fergie

Add a whimsical finish to your summer borders with gladiolus ‘fergie’. Ideal for borders and pots. Their vivid lime-green flowers will bring an exotic look to garden displays.

Gladiolus June

Warm up your summer garden with the sunny gladiolus ‘June’. June is a delightful orange and yellow butterfly Gladioli variety; guaranteed to brighten up any garden.

Gladiolus Nanus Nathalie

Nathalie is an elegant light pink nanus gladiolus. Their pretty pink petals contrast against the deep throat markings. This ever popular variety looks perfect planted in groups, and they also make beautiful cut flowers.

Click the image below to browse our full range of Gladioli bulbs. Available to pre-order now for delivery from mid-January.

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Mental Health Benefits of Gardening

Feeling stress or anxious? Try getting a little dirt under your nails. Many people have likely experienced loneliness and frustration during the lockdown, which is likely associated with a loss of all the activities we are used to taking part in. Gardening has quickly become a popular pastime for people during the lockdown. Engagement in gardening has shown to have both immediate and long-term effects on mental health. So if you’re looking for a new hobby that will lift your mood, calm your mind, and improve your living space, then look no further.

Gardening can build self-esteem…

Whether you’re digging, planting flowers, or pruning trees, your self-esteem gets a boost when you see what you’ve acheived. In a study conducted by Thrive, 317 people took part in table-top gardening sessions and 80% reported better mental health as a result, with 93% saying they had improved their confidence and motivation.

Gardening is good for your heart

Gardening is a great source of exercise. All that digging, planting, and weeding burns calories and strengthens your heart. Studies have found that even just 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity most days of the week can prevent and control high blood pressure.

Gardening reduces stress

When we experience stress, our blood pressure raises and puts extra strain on our hearts. In the garden, the task of cutting away at a tree or bush or digging at the soil will enable you to take your stress out on the job at hand, leaving you feeling less stressed and calmer. 

Gardening can make you happy…

Gardening gets your body moving. When we exercise levels of serotonin and dopamine, which make us feel good, rise, and levels of cortisol, which make us feel stressed, are lowered.

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How to make pressed flowers

Do you hate seeing your flowers fade? It always feels like a shame when you have to throw out cut flowers, but what if we told you that you don’t have to? By turning your blooms into pressed flowers, you’ll be able to keep them as an everlasting ornament. Pressed flowers also add personalised additions to greeting cards and invitations, or even jewellery if you’re feeling crafty! Here’s everything you need to know about pressing flowers.

Step 1: Choose your Flowers

Freshness is the key. Choose flowers that are either still in bud form, or that are freshly bloomed. If you’re picking them from a garden, do so in the morning right after the dew has evaporated. One thing to note is that flowers with naturally flat faces are the easiest to press.

Step 2: Prepping

Once you have chosen your flowers, it’s time to prep.

  1. Hold the stems under water immediately after cutting. Then, recut the stems at an angle.
  2. Remove foliage that will be below the waterline in the vase.
  3. Place flowers in a clean vase with water and flower food (or a teaspoon of sugar). Keep them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight for a few hours.
  4. To press thick flowers like roses, split them down the middle with scissors or a knife.
  5. Lay the flat face of the flower on your paper and you are ready to press.

Step 3: Making Pressed Flowers

You will need:
  • books
  • newspaper

Open a book and line it with newspaper. Place your flowers (as flat as you can) on the page. Then, carefully close the book and weight it down (additional heavy books work well as weights). Store this pile in a warm, dry place and check on your flower specimens daily (this can take a couple of days to a few weeks for your specimen to dry completely). Finally, once your flowers are dry, carefully remove them and enjoy your pressed blooms!

Here are some of our favourite flowers for pressing:

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