Wildlife Competition winner

Last Updated on 28/05/2021 by Esther Roberts

In the month of May we unveiled our brand new Wildlife Competition! The aim of this was to encourage all of you to keep a keen eye out for all the little friends in the garden! Another great part of this competition is our contribution to The Wildlife Trusts. For each and every donation, no matter the platform, we promised to donate £1 to help towards the preservation of wildlife. But not only that, one lucky person has won a £100 VOUCHER to spend on our website! Let’s not waste anymore time and unveil our winner…

Jane Newland

Congratulations Jane for winning our very first Wildlife Competition! There are so many elements to this shot that I love, starting with the interaction with nature. You must be well acquainted with the wildlife in your garden to be able to coax it to strike a pose for the camera! Along with the beautiful foliage in the background, this entry was definitely our number one.

But the fun doesn’t stop there, thanks to all your entries we were able to donate £332 to The Wildlife Trusts to help continue their amazing conservation work! Hopefully next year we can beat this amount and keep spreading the importance of wildlife. Get out there and keep looking after our planet!

Check out some of our other blogs:

How gardening has helped our wellbeing

Last Updated on 14/05/2021 by Esther Roberts

Mental Health Awareness Week comes around every year from the 10th to the 16th of May. This years theme is ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’, while reconnecting with nature. We can think of no better way to express this than with gardening. Over the course of global events we have seen an increase of people getting into gardening as it has become a form of therapy and escapism. Here are some reasons we think gardening has helped us through lockdown.

In the Green

There is evidence to suggest that spending time in a green environment helps us reduce stress, improve our mood and our overall wellbeing. With gardening there is no better place to start than in the garden. Whether you have just a small patch of land, or own an allotment, gardening is easier than ever. There are a plethora of plants that even the most novice of gardeners can start with. From beginner level Hollyhocks, to low maintenance Asters, gardening is truly for everyone. Social media also saw a rise in gardeners as the community continues to grow as more people pick up this amazing hobby.

Stress reduction

Mental Health Journal reported that gardening is great at aiding those who suffer with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Through gardening they were able to see a reduction in stress and improved mood. But it’s not just those afflicted who think so too. Many gardeners feel a real sense of achievement as retrieving your very first harvest or watching flowers bloom is a great accomplishment. What makes gardening such a rewarding hobby is that all your hard work can be counted for. After months of planting, watering, pest removal and constant hard work, there is nothing better than seeing what you have put so much work into first sprout.

Gardening opportunities

Aforementioned, gardening is not just helpful to those with mental health problems. Gardening has several different opportunities to help many more people from those with life-long or long-term physical health needs. But also those recovering from illness and accidents. Since the start of the year we here at J Parkers have been working closely with Manchester Mind to help bring their vision of a sensory garden to life.

“Shared sensory experience is one of the nicest things about our project. Delight at hands in mud, the sound of chirruping birds and the glorious whiff of new tomatoes are just a few examples of the way the garden can stimulate the senses and engage people to improve mental wellbeing. We wanted to enhance this and explore it further.”

Manchester Mind

Through our partnership we intend to create an experience that can be felt all over Manchester and support those in need. Seeing more and more people enjoy the power of gardening has been just one of the benefits for us.

Mental health is an incredibly important subject that we take seriously. From growing pretty flowers that brighten your day. To harvesting fresh produce and focusing on your health. Gardening has something for everyone and we really enjoy reading all of your comments telling us how much it has helped during the past year.

How have you reconnected with nature this Mental Health Awareness week?

Read more about our community projects:

How to make lavender essential oil

Last Updated on 20/05/2021 by Esther Roberts

Lavender has several uses and benefits, especially pertaining to health and beauty. When using a particular oil, like extra virgin olive or sunflower oil, it can be easily incorporated into cooking. Or, if creating your own at home spa treatment, grapeseed or jojoba oil work brilliantly. No matter how you use lavender oil, it is very easy and lasts for a long time.

Servings: 1 jar

You will need:

  • A large jar (for the infusion)
  • Cut and dried Lavender
  • Olive oil or mineral oils (depending on the use)
  • Cheesecloth or muslin (for straining)
  • A bottle or glass container (for storage)

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Infusion time: 1-3 weeks

Instructions:

  1. Harvest and dry – Once you have harvested your lavender allow it to dry completely before starting the infusion process.
  2. Divide lavender – Fill jar with dry lavender until it is at least three-quarters full.
  3. Choose your oil – Add enough oil so that the lavender is completely submerged and can move around freely.
  4. Leave it – Secure the lid and leave the jar on a windowsill in direct sunlight. Depending on the strength desired leave the oil for up to 3 weeks, occasionally giving it a light shake.
  5. Strain – Use the cheesecloth or muslin to strain the lavender flowers and store the infused oil in a glass container.
  6. Use – Once you’re happy with your oil feel free to use immediately!

Tips:

  • What other oils can I use?

For skincare: Grapeseed Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Argon Oil. Each of these oils has their own benefits and ways they will react to your skin. Always do research and a patch test before using.

For cooking: Avocado Oil and Safflower Oil.

  • What else is Lavender Oil used for?

Lavender Oil is often used in aromatherapy. It can also be used to treat anxiety, allergies, insomnia, and menstrual cramps.

Check out some of our other blogs:

Parker’s Book Club: ‘Eat What You Grow’ by Alys Fowler

Last Updated on 13/05/2021 by Shannen Godwin

This month in our book club, we’re thinking about sustainability. What could be better than growing your very own produce in your garden that you can bring to your plate? Discover this new release by Alys Folwer, who teaches you just how grow fresh, wholesome, chemical-free food with flavour, so you’ll never need to hit up the supermarket for your produce again.

In Eat What You Grow, Alys shows you how to create a beautiful, biodiverse garden that can feed yourself, your family, as well as local wildlife and pollinators.

From perennial vegetables that come back year after year, to easy-to-grow delights, she has selected plants that are perfect for harvesting in the garden. She also guides you through the process of feeding your soil and taking cuttings to increase your harvest. 

Do you have a book you’d like us to mention? Send in your suggestions on Instagram using the hashtag #parkersbookclub.

Check out some of our other blogs:

What to See at RHS Garden Bridgewater

Last Updated on 12/05/2021 by Shannen Godwin

The Royal Horticultural Society
RHS Garden Bridgewater

The wait is almost over. The world’s leading garden charity, The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), will soon be opening their 154-acre garden in Salford, Greater Manchester. The RHS Garden Bridgewater is one of the biggest horticultural projects in Europe. Landscape architect, Tom Stuart-Smith created the overall plan for the garden, with the mission of blending history and horticulture.

The RHS is investing £35m in the creation of the garden. They forecast that the garden will generate around £13.2m per year to the local economy by 2030.

What is there to see at RHS Bridgewater?

Weston Walled Garden – RHS Garden Bridgewater

One of the biggest attractions will be the grand 11-acre Weston Walled Garden. One of the largest publicly-accessible working walled garden in the UK. This garden consists of an inner walled garden surrounded by a series of connecting gardens. 

Each section will feature designs by RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winners, alongside several dedicated community spaces, intended to provide gardening inspiration and education. Additionally, there will be a Welcome Building, which will feature an events space, learning space, offices, café and shop.

The Kitchen Garden – RHS Garden Bridgewater

The nearby Kitchen Garden focuses on the local history of food growing. Designed by award-winning Harris Bugg Studio, this garden features a display of productive growing techniques and a selection of edibles.

An orchard garden has been added to boost biodiversity. The new orchard, designed by Curator Marcus Chilton-Jones, will replace a lost and extremely valuable habitat. The orchard incorporates a diverse array of fruit trees to support wildlife habitats and species

In addition, there are several community gardens. From the Community Wellbeing Garden, Community Grow area to the Peel Learning Garden. Another noteworthy area is the first dedicated RHS Trials ground outside the RHS’s Wisley, which will enable garden plants to be assessed for their performance in a northern climate.

When does it open?

RHS Garden Bridgewater will open its gates on Tuesday 18 May 2021 after the coronavirus pandemic delayed opening plans by almost a year.

Check out some of our other blogs:

Wildlife Competition

Last Updated on 07/05/2021 by Esther Roberts

We have a brand new type of competition to add to our ever growing list. During the month of May we will be running our very first Wildlife Competition! May is such a great month for plants and animals, and we want to highlight what you can find in your very own garden.

It’s super easy, contributes to a good cause and gives you the opportunity to win a £100 VOUCHER!

How to enter

  • Snap a picture of some wildlife in action in your garden. Wildlife can include birds, squirrels, insects – whatever critters you find!
  • FACEBOOK – Like our Facebook page and share your image to our page with the caption ‘Wildlife Competition entry’.
  • TWITTER – Follow us at @JParkersBulbs and tag us in your photos with the hashtag #wildlifecompetition
  • INSTAGRAM – Follow us at @jparkersbulbs and tag us in your photos with the hashtag #wildlifecompetition

Every entry you send in, we donate £1 to The Wildlife Trust.

What you win

The winner of our Wildlife Competition will win a £100 VOUCHER to spend on our website! But that’s not all, every single entry no matter the platform will count as a £1 donation to The Wildlife Trust directly from us. So, whether you win the competition or not, you will be contributing to the preservation of wildlife and our goal to make nature a vital part of our lives.

The Wildlife Trusts

The Wildlife Trusts are an independent charity who aim to restore a third of the UK’s land and seas for nature by 2030. As a company part of the horticulture business, nature is important to us. Through hard work and preservation we want to spread awareness of the work The Wildlife Trusts are doing. There are loads of ways to get involved with The Wildlife Trusts such as events, fundraisers and volunteering. But our favourite is through wildlife gardening! Wildlife gardening puts the focus on the smaller creatures in the garden, and how managing our gardens can help to benefit wildlife.

When does the Wildlife Competition end?

Get your photos to us by May 24th. The winner will be announced on May 28th.

Need some tips?

To have the best chance of winning our grand prize, here are some of our top tips for taking pictures of wildlife in your garden:

  • Use wildlife friendly flowers – Lobelias, Calibrachoas and Lavender work great!
  • Be sneaky – when getting close to our smaller friends a lighter foot will do wonders.
  • No flash – not only could it possibly hurt the critters, the flash might also scare them away.

Good luck and start snapping!

Check out some of our other blogs:

Homemade Mint tea

Last Updated on 10/05/2021 by Esther Roberts

Our Homemade Mint tea is delightfully refreshing, but also incredibly easy to make! Using fresh mint leaves, you can brew yourself a delightful cup with a range of amazing health benefits. As it is such a simple recipe, there is a wonderful amount of additions that can help elevate your brew to the next level.

Servings: 1 pot

You will need:

  • 240ml filtered water (1 pot)
  • Freshly picked handful of Mint
  • Honey or sweetener of choice
  • Lemon slices (optional)

Time: 5 minutes

Instructions:

  1. Bring water to a boil.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the fresh mint leaves – Steep for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on desired strength. Or until the liquid starts to become a slight pale yellow/green hue.
  3. Gently apply pressure to Mint leaves – release the oils and extract as much liquid as possible.
  4. Pour into heatproof  tea cups or mug – Sweeten with honey or sweetener of choice if desired.
  5. Garnish – add an optional lemon slice or use for additional flavouring.

Tips:

  • What benefits does mint tea have?

Mint tea has many benefits for the body such as, relieving clogged sinuses, easing digestive upsets, reducing bad breath and strengthening the immune system.

  • Can anyone drink mint tea?

Although mint tea has many amazing properties it is still vital to make sure that it will not interfere with any existing medical conditions. For example, if pregnant or on certain medications, it is best to consult with a medical professional before drinking.

Thirsty for more? Try out some of our other recipes:

UK’s best flower shows you have to see

Last Updated on 05/05/2021 by Shannen Godwin

Flower shows are horticultural exhibitions that occur annually, and celebrate the very best of gardening, home and lifestyle. With stunning show gardens and mind-blowing floral exhibits, the UK has some of the best flower shows in the world. If you’re looking for a great day out, check out some of our favourite flower shows around the UK.

RHS Hampton Court Flower Show

Highlights of the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival 2019 / RHS  Gardening

Experience the world’s largest annual flower show in the setting of one of London’s most historic royal palaces, at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival.

Explore innovative show gardens and stunning flower displays. Watch demonstrations by celebrity gardeners and chefs around the showgrounds. Go visit the show this year from the 6th – 11th July 2021.

Southport Flower Show

Southport Flower Show 2021 - Visit Southport

Sadly cancelled this year due to Covid, Southport Flower Show is the largest independent flower show in the country. The flower show is one of the biggest fixtures in Southport’s calendar each year and the largest of its kind in the North West. 

It is not always recognised that the Southport Flower Show is a charity. Any profit is reinvested into the Show, along with paying for the upkeep of Victoria Park. The beautiful 34-acre Victoria Park has housed the show since it began over 90 years ago.

Tatton Park Flower Show

Tatton Park Flower Show 2019: Rainbow of 5,000 Dahlias On Display

The RHS Tatton Park Flower Show is located in the grounds of the National Trust estate of Tatton Park. Featuring one of the most historic gardens in Cheshire, the gardens are also renowned for their remarkable glasshouses, the Japanese Garden – considered the finest in Europe, and their extensive Kitchen Gardens.

Running from the 21st-25th of July 2021, this years theme is on the Summer of Love. 2021 will be celebrating colour, creativity, community and the positive power of plants and flowers.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Virtual Chelsea - Flower trends and Beautiful Blooms from the RHS Chelsea  Flower ShowsCHILSTONE

A staple in every gardener’s calendar. Moved to the 21st – 26th of September in 2021, RHS Chelsea is one of the most renowned and loved flower shows in the UK.

A great day out for anyone with a love of landscaping and design. For 2021, there will be a new RHS Chelsea category: Sanctuary Gardens. With more of us turning to our gardens as a place of solace, this category will highlight the positive impact plants have on health and wellbeing — a theme which has effected many gardeners over the past year.

Blenheim Palace Flower Show

Blenheim Flower Show

The Blenheim Palace Flower Show is a celebration of all things horticultural. Set in the magnificent surroundings of one of the country’s greatest stately homes, the 20,000 square foot Grand Floral Pavilion forms the centrepiece of the Show.

New for 2021 is Floral Street, the perfect place to discover your favourite plants, flowers and an array of gardening goodies, as well as beautiful flowers. The Blenheim Palace Flower Show takes place from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 June 2021.

Check out some of our other blogs:

Rosemary Sweet Potato Chips Recipe

Last Updated on 04/05/2021 by Amber Williams

Do you LOVE potatoes in all types of shapes and forms? These gorgeous rosemary sweet potato chips are the perfect option to accompany a burger, or as a side to your favourite dishes.

Follow this easy guide to create a culinary masterpiece!

Servings: 4

Time: 15 minutes prep, 30 minutes to cook

You will need:

  • Resealable plastic bag OR medium sized bowl for mixing ingredients together
  • Baking tray

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp fresh rosemary OR 1 tbsp of dried rosemary
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7
  2. Prep the potatoes – Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into long strips.
  3. Mix the herbs and spices – Add all your ingredients to a large bowl and mix it together. Try and cover every potato strip with the mixture for an even flavour. You could also put the ingredients into a bag and shake until combined.
  4. Cook in the oven – Put your sweet potatoes onto your baking tray and spread out evenly. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until crispy!
  5. Serve! – Enjoy as a side to your favourite burger or as a solo snack!

Tips

  • Add some spice

If you’re looking for a more intense flavour, then you could add some chilli flakes to the spice mixture when combining in a bowl.

  • If you don’t like rosemary

Not a fan of rosemary? Use salt, pepper and garlic for a sensational flavour!

Now you’ve tried our rosemary sweet potato chips, why not try something else?