When to Plant Lilies

Lilies are an elegant summer flower that are praised for their appearance and versatility in cut flower displays. They are a popular choice among many gardeners as they aren’t only easy on the eyes, but easy to grow as well.

However, if you’re new to growing lilies, the when and how part of planting your favourite blooms can be a bit daunting. Follow our easy guide to effortlessly grow your new lily bulbs, just in time for the summer season.

When to Plant Lilies

Plant your lily bulbs in late autumn to early spring. This could be anywhere from late October to early April to see them flower throughout the summer months.

How to Plant Lilies

The colder the season, the deeper you should plant your bulbs. As a standard rule of thumb, plant your lily bulbs 15cm apart and 3 times their depth and width.

Where to Plant Your Lilies

To plant your lily bulbs, ensure that they’re sitting in moist and well-drained soil or compost and have access to direct sunlight. Allow its foliage to die down naturally after flowering.

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Family-Friendly Fish Pie

Sometimes it can be difficult to feed the whole family and keep everyone happy. This easy to cook dish is the perfect meal for week day dinners and will keep the whole family coming back for seconds!


Servings: Family of 4-6 people

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes


You will need:

  • Large saucepan
  • Medium saucepan
  • Strainer
  • Whisk
  • Oven-proof dish
  • 1kg potatoes
  • 400ml milk + a dash
  • 25g butter + a knob
  • 25g plain flour
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 handful of peas
  • 1x fish pie mix (320g – 400g worth)
  • 1tsp Dijon or English mustard
  • 1 handful of frozen sweetcorn
  • Half a 25g pack of chives, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of grated cheese

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200c/fan 180/gas mark 6.
  2. Peel and halve your potatoes and put into your large pot on the stove. Fill with water until it covers the potatoes and bring to the boil. Simmer until soft.
  3. Once your potatoes have cooked, drain using your strainer or pan lid and put back into the pan. Mash thoroughly with a splash of milk and knob of butter. Season well with salt and black pepper to taste. Put to one side before going onto the next step.
  4. Put 25g of butter and 25g of plain flour into your medium pan. Finely slice your 4 spring onions and add those to the pan too. Put on a low to medium heat and stir till the butter has melted. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Whisk in 400ml of milk with a balloon whisk or fork. Bring to the boil and stir well to break down any lumps. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes till thickened.
  6. Once thickened, take off the heat and add your fish mix, your mustard, chives, peas, and sweetcorn. Mix together and pour into your oven-proof dish.
  7. Flatten down with a spoon and add your mash potatoes on top. Evenly sprinkle your cheese to the top of the mash layer.
  8. Place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.

Tips

  • What can you add to this recipe?

If you prefer a bit more of a kick to your food, add some chilli flakes to the top of the potato layer before adding the cheese. If you grow your own potatoes, this recipe is perfect for their debut!

  • How long can you store this dish?

Place any leftovers in a sealed container and pop in the fridge for a maximum of two to three days. Alternatively, you can place leftovers in a well-sealed container and put in the freezer for longer keeping. Heat through thoroughly in the oven before eating.

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What to Plant in February

Spring isn’t far away and there are many bulbs and plants that you can start to plant in February. From early spring-flowering beauties to getting a head start on planting your favourite summer bulbs, if you’re keen to get planting, here are our top February planting picks.

Bulbs in the green

Bulbs in the green are active-growing bulbs which arrive with fresh foliage on the bulb. These little plants are quick and easy to grow, and are the perfect way to grow snowdrops and aconites with a 100% success rate. Plant in February for late winter/early spring blooms.

Lilies

Bold and beautiful, plant lily bulbs in pots, or straight into the ground, from early autumn to mid spring. With so many varieties on the market, dwarf and Asiatic lilies are perfect for beds and low-growing borders, whereas Goliath OT lilies are ideal for the back of the border.

Bare root roses

Unsurpassed in beauty and fragrance, roses are a key element of the summer garden. The best time to plant bare rooted plants is whilst they are dormant in the winter time, which is why February is the perfect time to get planting bare root roses.

Shrubs

Give your garden structure and interest with shrubs. Since they can be planted anytime between autumn and mid-spring, shrubs are one of the easiest plants to grow. If you plant while the weather is cooler, it makes the job easier, giving the plants that much longer to get established before the summer heat hits.

Fruit trees

Eating homegrown fruits plucked right off your own fruit trees is terrific. Along with bare rooted plants, fruit trees should be planted in their dormant season. This usually means between November and the end of February.

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New Year, New Garden Giveaway Winners

This month we said we were giving 3 customers the chance to win a £50 e-voucher to spend on our J. Parker’s site. Now that January is finally over, it’s time to announce our New Year, New Garden giveaway winners!

The winner’s list…

  • Tracy L.
  • Edith C.
  • Michael F.

Congratulations to each of our garden giveaway winners. Each winner will be receiving a £50 e-voucher to spend on our website.

This month’s giveaway saw hundreds of entries so thank you all for heading over to our Facebook page and taking part. We will be back with another new competition in February so keep your eye’s peeled.

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When to Plant Bulbs in the Green

‘In the Green’ Bulbs are growing plants that are lifted in late winter/spring when the bulb is actively growing, in flower or after flowering, when they are beginning to die back. These plants are easy to grow, quick to establish and are an extremely useful way to inject flowers quickly into bare spots in your winter garden. Learn when to plant some of your favourite spring-flowering bulbs with our planting tips.

When to plant them

Flowering from January through to March, ‘In the green’ bulbs, such as winter aconites and snowdrops, should be planted while they have leaves in early spring, rather than as dormant bulbs in the autumn.

How to plant them

When your plants arrive, tease them apart taking care not to damage the roots. Plant at the level at which the leaves change colour (approx. 8-10cm deep). Fill soil around the bulbs, compacting lightly. Water immediately.

Our favourite varieties

Discover some of our favourite ‘green’ bulbs for planting in the garden this spring.

Single Snowdrops
Double Snowdrops
Winter Aconites

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What to Plant With Dahlias

Dahlias are an impressive flower to showcase in the garden. Their large blooms and exciting variety of colours and shapes creates an incredible display throughout the summer.

Full of life and vibrancy, it’s easy to see why they’re a seasonal favourite among gardener’s. Although Dahlias offer plenty to the garden on their own, discovering new and exciting Dahlia companions can take your displays to new heights. With that in mind, we have chosen our favourite Dahlia companion plants to consider for your summer gardens.

Echinacea

Echinacea’s produce beautiful blooms, each one boasting with colour. Flowers from July to September and will add dimension to your Dahlia displays.

Shop Our Range of Echinacea

Echinacea Green Jewel
Echinacea Single/Double Mixed
Echinacea Unusual Colour Collection

Geraniums

Geraniums are often considered a British summer garden staple. Their wide range and variety provides you with plenty of option for your seasonal display.

Shop Our Range of Geraniums

Geranium Century F1 Red
Geranium Double Sybil Mixed
Geranium Single Trailing Collection

Crocosmia

Originating from South Africa, Crocosmia boasts with beautiful blooms in vibrant shades throughout the summer. They’re also incredibly hardy, making them a perfect Dahlia companion plant.

Shop Our Range of Crocosmia

Crocosmia Sunglow
Crocosmia Large Flowering Mixed
Crocosmia Large Flowering Collection

Verbena

Last but by no means the least is the beautiful Verbena. Blooming all season long, this versatile flower is an essential summer garden addition whether planting with Dahlias or on their own.

Shop Our Range of Verbena

Verbena Santos Purple
Verbena Quartz Mixed
Verbena Samira Collection

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Tasty pancake toppings for pancake day

Pancake Day is the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. It is also traditionally the day for eating lots and lots of pancakes! Here are some of our top 10 favourite sweet pancake toppings to avoid flops on Shrove Tuesday.

Pancake toppings

Check out these traditional and tasty pancake topping ideas.

  • Classic lemon and Sugar
  • Fresh Strawberries and Nutella
  • Chocolate, peanut butter & banana
  • Salted caramel sauce
  • Maple syrup with pear
  • Chocolate sauce and cherries
  • Lemon curd & blueberries
  • Peaches and cream
  • Banana, honey & walnut
  • Cinnamon and poached apples

Pancake day tips

Here are some of our top tips for throwing the best pancake day possible.

  1. Make the pancakes in advance

If you have little ones, prep your pancakes, otherwise you feel like a sous chef with your family demanding their next pancake. Pop the made pancakes onto a plate, cover with foil and keep or re-heat over a pan of simmering water. That way you can all sit at the table together and enjoy your fair share along with the family.

2. Leftovers

If you make a few pancakes too many, don’t worry, you can always freeze any spares and take them out when you fancy. Pancakes will keep in a freezer for up to 3 months!

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When to Plant Begonias

Begonias are a summer staple, bringing a plethora of colourful flowers to the garden all season long. Their bright blooms and easy to grow nature is exactly why the species is so beloved by gardener’s across the country.

However, knowing when, how, or where to plant Begonias can be a confusing task – especially for those new to gardening! Follow our guide to effortlessly grow your Begonias for the summer season.

When to Plant

Plant Begonias in early spring, once the threat of frosts has disappeared. Begonias aren’t a hardy plant, and can be damaged by cold weather.


More specifically, March and April are the best months to plant your Begonias, as there is less chance of frosts to appear.

How to Plant

Planting Begonias is an easy enough task. Most Begonias are supplied in a tuberous form, which are similar to bulbs in the way that they should be planted.


Plant your tubers in seed trays in March or April. Fill trays with moist potting compost, and place the tuber inside around 3cm deep and spaced apart 3cm. Once sprouting leaves, move into individual pots and harden off when all danger of frost has passed.

Where to Plant

Begonias can provide masses of blooms around the garden, regardless of where planted. They prefer sunny conditions, so take this into account when finding the perfect spot.


I’ts helpful to note that Begonias don’t like overly-damp conditions, and will rot if kept too moist. Whether you plant them in hanging baskets, patio pots, or simply in the border, your Begonias will thrive.

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How to Grow a Cut Flower Garden

Growing cut flowers has surged in popularity over recent years, along with the grow your own product trend. Growing cut flowers is so easy to do, there will be no need to hit the supermarkets for bouquets again! Discover the best cut flower tips, as well as the most popular summer blooms to grow for cutting.

Two ways to start growing cut flowers

Use existing borders

Utilise existing beds and borders by planting groups of annuals, perennials and bulbs suited for cutting to allow for picking without affecting the overall appearance of the border. Add in a few interesting shrubs and grasses for texture and extra interest!

Create a cutting garden

Dedicate an area of the garden to growing cut flowers. If space allows, the advantage of a cutting garden area over picking from borders is that it avoids depleting beds and borders. Choose a sunny area of the garden, and apply moderate applications of general fertilisers over the space; this will help get tall healthy growth and abundant flowers.

The best cut flowers for summer

Bulbs

The most popular summer bulbs for cutting are dahlias, gladioli and lilies, due to their strong tall stems and assortment of shapes and colours. The huge blooms on decorate and dinnerplate dahlias are perfect for big, show stopping bouquets. Gladioli produce clusters of tall and colourful florets, and lilies provide fragrance and elegance to any cut flower display.

Perennials

Perennials are the perfect plants for cutting, because they’ll grow back year after year and provide wonderful blooms each summer. Peonies make wonderful cut flowers and have a long vase life. Why not plant large-flowering perennials like Delphinium and Echinacea? These beautiful flowers provide copious amounts of colour and interest in vases around the home. 

Shrubs

What about shrubs? Hydrangeas are especially long lasting and often show an intriguing colour change as they age. Roses are renowned for their fabulous fragrance and pretty blooms. Simply snip a few stems of your beautiful bushes in the summertime.

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New introductions for Spring 2021

From dazzling dahlias to statuesque gladioli, in 2021 we have added dozens of new introductions to our spring range. To help you plan your summer displays this year, check out some of our new spring favourites.

Dahlias

Dahlia Hartenaas

Dahlia Hartenaas is a beautiful pink Collarette variety that blooms from July all the way until the first frost. A great pick for borders, containers or cut flowers.

Dahlia Pulp Fiction

There is nothing fictional about the beauty of this new dark-leaf dahlia. Producing beautiful scarlet florets, plant this stunning dahlia in beds, borders or containers.

Dahlia Crème De Cassis

This romantic decorative dahlia showcases magical pale lilac petals with deep purple centres. Perfect for cut flower fans!

Gladioli

Gladioli Amber Mistique

A stunning cream gladioli with violet centres. Ideal for cutting, this beautiful new sword-lily deserves a prime spot in beds, borders and containers.

Gladioli Lumiere

A flower that packs a punch. This large-flowering gladioli boasts the most vibrant plum purple and pink blooms. Perfect for cut flowers or bouquets.

Gladioli Lemonlicious

A statuesque gladioli that will brighten up any garden. These pastel yellow flowers with deep yellow centres are perfect for the back of a border or as cut flowers.

Cannas

Canna Semaphore

An exotic, easy to grow perennial. The bright yellow flowers of Canna semaphore will add plenty of colour to your summer containers.

Canna Triomphe

Stunning scarlet red blooms. This low maintenance perennial is not only stunning, but is a favourite amongst pollinators.

Canna Angelique

Stunning salmon pink blooms against a dark purple foliage. Canna Angelique is an excellent perennial that will add an exotic touch to beds and borders.

Lilies

Lilium Levi

A romantic Asiatic lily with delicate pink and white flowers. A lively lily which will look amazing in borders or planted in patio containers.

Lilium Martagon Purple Morning

This fragrant pale pink lily produces glossy petals on tall, erect stems. Ideal for summer landscapes, and perfect for cut flowers.

Lilium Tribal Kiss

An Asiatic lily that makes the perfect plant for adding exotic beauty to the back of a border. Boasting white flowers with violet centres, this amazing lily makes the most beautiful cut flowers.