How to prune shrubs

Last Updated on 29/04/2021 by Esther Roberts

Once you learn how to prune shrubs, it’ll make garden maintenance a lot easier. It’s not as hard as it sounds, and it can improve overall performance, flowering and much more!

Some deciduous shrubs require being pruned in winter. This is due to to them shedding their leaves and sending the food preserves to their roots. If pruned earlier in the year it removes those important food reserves in the green leaves. However, there are some shrubs that benefit from spring pruning depending on when they flower, so check before you start snipping!

Step 1: Check your tools

The tools you used to prune your shrubs can make or break the process. Whether you are using anvil pruners or bypass loppers. Or maybe even small powered tools like chainsaws, wood saws, or a metal hacksaw for thicker branches and trunks. It is vital that your tools are sharp enough to create a straight, clean cut.

Step 2: Where to start

Always cut branches on a slant at a 45 degree angle. Flat cuts are dangerous as they bring the possibility of inviting fungus or disease to your plant. Rainwater slides off a slanted cut. When proceeding to prune, you should cut just above what’s known as the ‘branch collar’. The ‘branch collar’ is a bumpy ring that is filled with plant growth cells, and gives the shrub a better chance of recovering from the cut.

Step 3: Where to prune

‘Heading back’ is a well known technique that gives your shrub a natural look. To achieve this look, locate the tallest main branch. Follow this branch until it meets a lower side branch that points upwards. Cut the main branch off just above the smaller one. Repeat this process with all the main branches, but make sure to continuously access your work. Remember that new growth will give additional height, to prune slightly lower than expected.

If done correctly, then over the next couple of months your shrubs should be growing healthier and stronger than ever. Pruning is an important part of garden maintenance and shouldn’t be ignored.

Read more gardening advice & tips from J Parkers:

How to Plant Geraniums

Last Updated on 28/04/2021 by Amber Williams

Geraniums, also known as Cranesbill or pelargoniums, are hardy bedding blooms. Their vibrant colours and gorgeous green foliage can provide months of beauty to the summer garden.

If you’re new to gardening and are searching for the perfect flower for your beds, then look no further. If you’re unsure on how to plant geraniums, then use this blog as a handy guide!

Where to Plant Geraniums

Typically, Geraniums are used for bedding and container displays. Our Geraniums are supplied as handy plug plants, making the planting process far more straight forward.

However, you can also plant varieties like trailing geraniums in hanging baskets for a floriferous effect throughout the season!

How to Plant Geranium Plugs

Before planting, ensure your soil is well prepped. Position them in well-drained, fertile soil in an area of the garden that reaches plenty of sunlight.

Gently remove the plug from its tray. To do this, you can push from the bottom of the tray and lift. Give each plug a small pot so that it can retain moisture before potting on after a few weeks if the weather allows.

Add compost to each pot and dig a hole that will fit the plug, ensuring the surface of the plant is level with the soil. Cover gently and pat the soil to ensure its secure.

Water once planted, but ensure the soil doesn’t become too wet. Geraniums aren’t thirsty plants, and will do well with intermittent watering. However, when you do water them, do so in the early mornings or late evenings, so the sun doesn’t evaporate the water instantly.

When to Plant Your Geraniums

As a rule of thumb, Geraniums should be planted from the end of May to June, after the risk of frost has passed. If you live in colder climates, then wait as long as possible so you know that there’s no danger of harsh weather.

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What to Plant in May

Last Updated on 06/05/2021 by Esther Roberts

For tips on what to plant this May, look no further! The weather may be getting brighter but it’s still good to wrap up warm when sitting outside. Or maybe even in a beer garden since that’s allowed now. With warmer days ahead, it’s time to get stuck into some planting.

Here’s a list of what you can plant this May.

Lavender

This beautifully fragrant shrub is easy to grow and produces masses of of lavender flowers that can be repurposed for multiple uses! Supplied in a selection of varieties, the flowers can be grown as bedding, border or potted plants and are ideal for creating a low screen or ground cover. 

Lavender Peter Pan

Lavender Stoechas Papillon

Marigolds

Supplied as plug plants, maxi plugs or garden ready, our Marigolds will have your garden bursting with summer. Coming in beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow, Marigolds look beautiful in borders or pots or containers. They also make incredible cut flowers!

Marigold French Durango Mixed
Marigold Fireball

Lobelia

Coming in a range of colours such as blue, purple and white or even mixed. Our Lobelia’s are fantastic plants with cascading varieties that are ideal for hanging baskets or containers and upright varieties. Lobelia’s prefer well drained fertile soil or a balanced compost.

Lobelia Crystal Palace
Lobelia Cascade Mixed

Strawberries

Synonymous with Summer, it’s time to get these delicious berries into the ground. Our Strawberry plants are disease resistant and are all reliable cropping varieties. We have a wide variety of strawberry plants that come in strange colours and exotic flavours! Have you ever tried a ‘Pineberry’?

Strawberry Pineberry
Strawberry Super Size Elsanta

Herbs

Perfect for seasoning and garnishing, our special range of herbs includes popular everyday varieties such as Basil, Chives, Coriander, Rosemary, Sage and Mint. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even try to make your own herb-infused oil!

Chives Staro
Green Sage

Cucumber

Crunchy and juicy, our cucumbers are perfect for summer salads or a homemade spa treatment! With a good resistance to mildew, this is the best time to grow cucumber plants ready for the warmer months.

Cucumber Shakira
Cucumber Gambit

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What to Do In the Garden This May

Last Updated on 27/04/2021 by Amber Williams

garden jobs to do in May

As we move into May, we get closer and closer to those warm summer days that we have all been craving! In preparation for your summer displays, there’s plenty of garden jobs to do in May.

From rigorous spring cleaning to planting and preparing your beds, borders and containers, there’s plenty to do this month. Follow this easy guide to help you start your monthly to-do list.

Hanging Baskets

hanging baskets are perfect for may planting

May is the perfect time to plant summer hanging baskets. Plant shorter plants toward the edge and taller plants in the middle.

Water your baskets regularly, preferably in the early morning or late evening so that the plants can soak up the most water before the sun appears!

Prune and Prepare

Garden jobs to do in may - pruning and preparing for sweet peas

May is the perfect month to start dividing, pruning, and preparing your blooms and plants. Divide large clumps of daffodils, being careful not to disturb the bulbs too much.

Add support rings to your sweet peas to help them climb nice and tall. Divide Hostas, and prune spring-flowering shrubs.

Harvest Rhubarb

harvesting rhubarb - garden jobs to do in may

Now is the best time to harvest your Rhubarb plants. If this is your first year growing Rhubarb, then do not harvest until the second year of growth. Even then, only lightly harvest to avoid weakening the rhubarb crowns.

To harvest, pull the stalks when they are between 23-30cm long. Do not take more than half the stalks at any one time.

Earth Up Potatoes

Earthing up potatoes in May

Once your potato leaves have grown to around 10cm tall, it’s time to start the earthing process. This is to help the crops grow perfectly. This process is then repeated one or two times within 3 week intervals to help the tubers produce the best possible potato.

More Garden Jobs to do in May

  • Feel like starting a new project this month? Adding lawn edging around the garden can make the space feel tidier and well-maintained!
  • Plant summer bedding plants toward the end of month, if you live in southerly parts of the country (just to avoid late frosts, especially in northern England and Scotland).
  • Leave out seeds for birds that are nesting.
  • Mow lawns regularly, if needed.
  • Prune over-crowded and dead stems from early clematis plants once died back.

Read More from J Parker’s

when to cut back spring flowers and plants blog
what is a perennial plant blog

Meet our Floristry Contest Winner!

Last Updated on 27/04/2021 by Shannen Godwin

Time to announce best in show! This April in our floristry contest, we gave one lucky customer the chance to share their best flower display for the opportunity to snatch 2x tickets to this years RHS Chelsea Flower Show!

We received hundred of entries and so many beautiful arrangements, so we want to thank you all for entering! So, without keeping you in suspense any further, the winner of our floristry content is…

Sophie C.

Sophie stole our hearts with this blooming beautiful arrangement of yellow and pink flowers. From pretty peonies to exotic alstromeria, this is certainly a vase worthy of an RHS prize! Sophie will now be attending the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this autumn.

Check out some of our other blogs:

When to Cut Back Spring Flowers & Plants

Last Updated on 23/04/2021 by Amber Williams

Did you know that cutting back some spring flowers and plants helps them to perform better?

Spring is a great time of gardens, as all the remnants of winter finally disappears and we manage to see some sunshine. However, some plants and blooms need regular maintenance to help them thrive.

Herbaceous Perennials

If you’ve yet to trim your herbaceous perennials, then early spring (March onwards) is as good a time as any! Deadhead any seed-heads, dead leaves and stems to tidy up your garden borders. Throw them in a compost heap so that you can use it later on as mulch.

Bulbous Blooms

Spring bulbs are often the herald of the season. Daffodils, Hyacinths and tulips all fall into the spring flowers category, and although they look breathtaking when bloomed, they need maintaining to keep them that way. Leave your bulbs’ foliage for around eight weeks before cutting them back once died.

Bulbs photosynthesise, meaning that they store food and nutrients within the bulb which helps them to reappear the following year. If you cut these before they’ve had the chance, then they will struggle to regrow, leaving your displays looking sparse. For example, if your bulbs bloomed through March to April, then you should leave them standing until June or July.

Summer-flowering Shrubs

Although these aren’t spring flowering, summer-flowering shrubs should also be pruned throughout spring.

To promote a healthy regrowth before its flowering season, shrubs like Fuchsias should be pruned in early-mid spring. This will ensure that it creates an impressive display throughout its season. Simply cut back any of the previous year’s stems between one or two bud of the older wood frame.

Ornamental Grass

Ornamental grasses should be cut back in early-mid spring, depending on the variety. Grasses fall under two categories: Deciduous and Evergreen. The difference will determine how you prune them. Deciduous grasses will go a golden straw colour, and can be cut back entirely. Evergreens, however, do not need hard pruning, allowing you to simply remove what’s dead.

Read more from J Parker’s

What Is a Perennial Plant?

Last Updated on 22/04/2021 by Amber Williams

echinacea - a variety of perennial plant

When you’re new to gardening, commonly used phrases and complicated jargon will boggle the mind. What’s an annual? What does ground-cover mean?

The most commonly asked question we receive from new gardeners is, what’s a perennial plant? If you also ask yourself this question, then we’re here to clear up your confusion.

What does ‘perennial’ mean?

The word ‘perennial’ is a blanket term for flowers that you plant in beds and borders but aren’t bulbs, shrubs, or trees. Perennials can also be evergreen or semi-evergreen plants.

Somewhat separate from perennials is the term herbaceous perennial. This refers to plants that are non-woody and will die back in autumn/winter, reappearing in the spring. A few examples include Geraniums, Sedums and Asters.

Put simply, perennials are plants that are non-woody (eg., rose bushes) that will reappear for many years after planted. Their time span will vary, depending on the plant. If they’re also evergreens, then their foliage will remain throughout the year, but will only blossom in specific seasons.

Perennial plant lupins

Which plants are perennials?

Agapanthus, Delphiniums, Echinacea and Lupins are all great examples of perennial plants. When buying perennials, you will usually buy them one season ahead of time. For example, if you’re buying perennials that will bloom in summer, you should buy them in early-mid spring.

On our website, we offer a broad range of perennial plants, perfect for adding colour to your garden. Here are some quick examples:

Echinacea magnus
Echinacea Magnus
lupin russell mixed
Lupin Russell Mixed
Phlox subulata collection
Phlox subulata Collection

Perennial plants are perfect for both beginners and those looking to create a maintainable garden. Their ability to last several years make them a brilliant addition to your seasonal displays.

shop our perennial plant range

Read more from J Parker’s

what is cross pollination?
how to keep your plants cool during the summer



When to prune acers

Last Updated on 22/04/2021 by Esther Roberts

The best time to prune acers is when they’re dormant during November and December. But it doesn’t hurt to brush up on your knowledge to ensure you’re ready for when the time comes. The reason we prune acers whilst they are dormant is due to the sap they bleed when pruned which weakens the tree. It is also best to keep the pruning to a minimum as to keep the natural shape of the tree.

Acers are a great addition to any garden, and make an amazing centre piece for any garden. With leaves that turn beautiful shades of red, crimson, orange or yellow in Autumn. As slow growing and compact plants, acers are especially great for smaller gardens.

One thing to be aware of when planting acers is that they grow best in a sheltered position, and need to be protected from wind and frost.

How to prune

In order to keep this natural shape start by removing the badly-placed or crossing shoots to encourage the natural framework of the tree to grow. When reducing the width and height follow the long branches back to the side branch and prune.

Why we prune

Pruning is much more than sawing off branches. Pruning encourages growth, increases flowering and improves overall plant health. Here are a few others reasons to prune your trees:

  • Strengthens tree structure
  • Improves tree health
  • Reduces the risk of dead or weak branches

Important Notes

The key to making sure your acer continues to grow steadily and healthily is to only prune back to a well-placed side branch. Leaving it as a stub will make it susceptible to decay and dieback. Also remember to take out any dead, damaged or diseased wood.

Whether your acer is the main garden event or just a beautiful addition, keeping on top of its maintenance can ensure that it will take centre stage.

Read more from J Parkers:

Time-saving Gardening Hacks for National Gardening Week

Last Updated on 26/04/2021 by Shannen Godwin

National Gardening Week is here! This national event, run by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), is to raise awareness of gardening, and to encourage more people to take part in this healthy and productive outdoor activity. We’re celebrating by sharing some of the best kept gardening hacks straight from the mouths of Parker’s team members. Keep reading to discover our top 5 time-saving gardening hacks.

Cut Flower Food Hack

Are your cut flowers in need of some TLC? Instead of buying flower food for your vase displays. Simply make sure to trim the stems every few days to keep the flowers fresh, and add in a teaspoon of sugar into the vase water. The sugar will not only help increase the number and size of open flowers, but it also prolongs the vase life.

Grow your own food with leftovers

Cutting vegetables and planning on throwing the scraps away? Think again! Fresh nutritious produce can be one of the most expensive buys from the supermarket. Luckily there are ways we can reduce this cost whilst experimenting with growing our own food at home. Scraps of potato, garlic bulbs and herbs can be grown in glass jars and water and transform into brand new plants. Great for the environment and your wallet.

Garden Planning Pot Hack

Put your plants in doubled pots, and then bury them at ground level. Whenever you fancy switching up your display, just lift out the top pot and slot in a different one. 

Cooking Water Fertiliser

The next time you boil or steam some vegetables, don’t pour the water down the drain. Once the water has cooled, you can pour the vegetable water in your garden to “fertilize” your plants instead of wasting it. Not only is it cost effective and resourceful, the fertilizer it provides for your plants gives them a more stable and steady growth period. 

Self-watering Plants

Planning on being away from your garden for a while? Fill a water bottle with water, leave the cap off, and quickly turn it upside down and push it a few inches into the soil. The water will slowly seep into the soil and keep it moist. 

Check out some of our other blogs:

Building a Sensory Garden: Manchester Mind/ J. Parkers

Last Updated on 22/04/2021 by Shannen Godwin

We are happy to announce that J. Parkers have teamed up with the local mental health charity – Manchester Mind, to fund and construct their new sensory garden.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, our customers have shared so many stories about how gardening has benefited their mental health. With mental health close to the heart of our business, we decided to collaborate with a local charity that helps support better mental health. Manchester-based mental health charity Manchester Mind, provide support and training services for those struggling with mental health, including isolation, loneliness and food poverty. After discovering the amazing mental health work MM do, we had to reach out and offer our support.

At their Chorlton-based allotment, Manchester Mind staff and volunteers have been supporting the charity’s emergency food response, which produces meals for families experiencing food poverty in Manchester. At the allotment they are growing and harvesting food, that is then prepared by the catering team and used in the emergency response meals.

One thing sorely missing from the allotment, is a space to relax. After speaking with the Manchester Mind team, they revealed their goal to build a sensory garden. The aim of the garden would be to provide space for volunteers and staff to use for reflection and for one-to-one mental health support sessions. Therefore, to help achieve this goal, J. Parkers are now proudly partnering with Manchester Mind on the funding and construction of their sensory garden.

The Starting Point

A disused area at the back of the allotment will be the setting for the brand-new sensory garden. MM envision a calming space separate from the main plot. For the build, groundwork and planting days have been set out for J. Parker’s staff and Manchester Mind volunteers throughout spring to transform the space.

The Vision

The plan is to transform the desolate, unloved space in their allotment into a beautiful garden thriving with life. A large garden area will host seating areas, a solar fountain and a variety of scented plants. Additionally, a sheltered seating area is to be created as a private space for 1/1 support sessions. The grand opening date for the garden is June 21st 2021, which will celebrate the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Manchester Mind: Sensory Garden Garden (3D design)

One of the core values of Manchester Mind is that everyone deserves to be supported in their mental health needs. This new sensory garden will help provide a safe, relaxing space, all while helping make a difference for those in need mental health support in Manchester.

We will be providing updates on this project every few weeks, so stay tuned!

To get support or find out more information on Manchester Mind, click here to visit their website.

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