Introduced to the UK over 200 years ago Scabiosa caucasia are a striking alternative to the sunny yellow, orange and red shades that tend to dominate the summer months. They become a beautiful sight once their amazing and colourful blooms appear during the summer, flowering perpetually from June through to the first frosts in autumn. They make excellent cut flowers, but left in the garden are highly attractive to butterflies and bees.
Scabiosa like a sunny position. They will do best in temperate weather conditions, do not allow to get over wet in winter. In a really hot summer they can die back but as the weather cools towards October they may start to flower again. Extremely hardy and free flowering; they will thrive in most well drained soils – particularly good for chalky soil.
Deadhead to promote flowering. When established they will be more drought tolerant.
Will naturalise if left undisturbed making them a good addition to a wild garden.
‘Snow Cushion’ is a mound-forming, deciduous to semi-evergreen perennial with broadly lance-shaped, variably-lobed, grey-green leaves and upright, wiry stems bearing semi-double, white flower heads from early summer into autumn.
We’re very excited about our Summer Competition. We’ll be sharing Environmentally friendly tips and ideas so get in touch for the chance to win prizes!
As we’re all becoming much more aware of our environment and local wildlife the interest in being environmentally friendly is increasing and the most exciting development has been the realisation that the best places to start is in your own back yard!
So in a change to our normal competition format this summer we are looking for your best environmentally friendly ideas, tips and garden experiments! You’ll find the full terms and conditions and how to enter at the bottom of this page.
You can find lots of plants that are useful for attracting butterflies and bees HERE.
In 2012 Dr. Nigel Dunnett filled the Olympic Park with wildflower meadows and a new craze was born. Councils all over the UK started filling roadside verges with wildflowers and you’ll have noticed they were all full of similar plant varieties.
Keep local in mind.
Plants protect themselves from predators, understandably not wanting to be eaten! Local insects have spent millions of years evolving so that they can eat their local vegetation, and they will go on to be eaten by birds. Without the birds to eat the insects the harmful insects don’t get eaten, but without the insects the birds don’t come to the garden. Our Eco systems are fragile and take millions of years to establish. Exotic, foreign plants are great but plant some traditional ones as well!
Growing dense shrubs and trees is good for the environment in a number of ways. As well as cleaning the air buy turning carbon dioxide into oxygen, they are good for reducing noise pollution, great if you live near a busy road or motorway. Trees filter the air we breath, reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere which helps to protect the ozone layer. Trees also combat soil erosion, which has been a real issue with the flooding of recent years.
We’ve posted about composting and saving water before(SEE HERE) but how can we take it further – what about actually planting something to make a difference.
Plant drought resistant plants!
Once established lost of plants don’t require much water to thrive –Verbena, Hebe’s, Gazania’s, palms and some grasses are all great examples. My favourite drought tolerant plant is by far the incredibly useful Lavender plant. There are so many varieties on offer now and along with that heavenly scent, lavender is a huge bonus for bees and can even be dried and brought inside.
To enter our competition with your ideas email email@example.com and keep an eye out on our Facebookand Twitter pages as we will be announcing the winning entries and sharing as many of the best ideas as we can!
Terms and Conditions:
Your written entry can be up to a maximum of 300 words.
You may enter a photo with your written entry, in fact we’d love that (!) but any photographs must be accompanied with a written entry – for example a brief description of your eco-friendly idea/tip.
All entries using photographs or drawings must be original images, taken/produced by the entrant. You must own all rights to the image and in entering the competition you agree to allow us to use your image in further promotions, on social media or in print.
Entrants also agree that their names may be published with their entry. No other details will be shared with any third parties.
The winning entry will be judged on both the quality of the plant and the image. The Judge’s decision is final.
The winner will receive a £100 voucher to spend on any products currently offered by J. Parker’s. This cannot be exchanged for cash and there is no substitution for this prize.
The best entries will win up to £100 of J. Parkers vouchers and we will share all the best tips and advice on our website and social media so not only could you win a prize but you will also be helping us all to make the world a better place! So get in touch – we can’t wait to see your ideas.
As an extra thank you all entries will receive a 15% discount on their next purchase, valid for three weeks.
All entries will be considered, and you can enter as many times as you wish. Competition closes 30th September 2016 and winners will be notified by e-mail before 7th October 2016.
For a few eco-friendly tips and ideas to get you started check out our blog here.
By allocating just a little bit of time and space to your garden this Autumn, you can easily attract various wildlife to your garden all year around. For many people wildlife is a welcomed addition to the garden providing extra character and also the knowledge that they are doing their bit to help with British conservation.
Online now you will find many varieties of plants and shrubs which will help you along the way, by both attracting and providing food/shelter for various forms of wildlife. Composting and letting a few patches of your garden grow a little wild will help to encourage visitors (and what gardener needs to be told the virtues of compost!).
If you have the space grow trees and big shrubs. By devoting even the smallest part of your garden to attracting wildlife you can turn it into a paradise for beneficial birds, mammals and insects.
Birds are attracted to areas where they find both food and shelter. A good way of doing so in the autumn/winter is by planting up shrubs and trees which produce berries, such as Ilex (Holly), Pyracantha or Gaultheria. Not only will they produce valuable food but they also produce some much needed ornamental value in the Winter months. A bird table is also a fantastic way of enticing birds into a specific area of the garden. Ornamental grasses are also a popular way of making the garden appealing to seed eating birds.
They will visit most gardens, especially if they find plants in sunny or sheltered locations. The secret here is to make available nectar rich, fragrant flowers which are colourful and from which they feed.
Of course, they are fascinating wildlife to watch as they scurry around during the day. They feed off acorns, buds, nuts, berries and seeds. They will initially appear scared and frightened but with regular feeding they will soon feel at home in your garden. They are easily found around woodland areas, large trees, beech tress and are especially attracted to your bird feeders, although take caution as they can damage them over time.
Provide water and shelter for Toads! These are great for keeping unwanted pests at bay and if you have a pond or one nearby its likely you already have Frogs and Toads living nearby. (If you have a dog remember Toads will release skin secretions which are toxic to dogs).
A pile of old logs or bricks, some overgrown grass or turned over empty pots can all help with providing shelter for animals – Hedgehogs will happily take advantage of your hospitality and thank you by eating pesky slugs and snails – an ideal natural defender of you Hostaplants!
These big beautiful shrubs are hugely popular and why not? Lush broad foliage with huge clusters of flowers that change colour in different soils – what’s not to love! Most Hydrangeas like the morning sun and will thrive if planted in a shady or partially shaded area – especially the big leaf varieties.
The big bold “flowers” on the mophead are actually colourful leaves so in a botanical sense aren’t flowers at all. Beautiful to look at BUT not as useful to anyone creating a garden with wildlife in mind. For that you need the lace-cap varieties which are loaded with pollen so great for bees, butterflies and other useful insects.
Colour changes in hydrangeas occur naturally as the plants mature – but the PH levels of your soil will affect blue and pink varieties especially the big leaf varieties.
If the pH level of your soil is more acidic then Hydrangeas will turn blue, going mauve in neutral soils and pink in alkaline. (Neutral is pH 7.0)
Know your soils! – you can buy tests to check the pH levels of you garden soil from most garden centres OR if you’re lucky enough to be living next door to a keen gardener make friends with them and you might pick up a bit of local knowledge!
Urban myth or amazing fact?
Rusty nails will turn a Hydrangea blue!
Sorry but we couldn’t possibly go around dispelling advice passed down for generations here! However if you do decide to try this make sure you:
DON’T damage the root of the Hydrangea when you add your nails
DO plant the nails 8-10 inches away from the base of the Hydrangea
DO plant the nails at 8-10 inches intervals around the base of the Hydrangea
DON’T do it at all if you have inquisitive pets (or children) who might dig them up and hurt themselves!
White and green flowered Hydrangeas will generally keep their colour regardless of soil PH – although the pink and blue varieties that do change colour often will mature to white and green!
An easy way to keep your Hydrangea’s true to their colour is to grow them in containers or raised flower beds. Hard water from taps can also effect a change in colour so use rainwater to water your hydrangeas where you can. Saving and using rainwater has the added bonus of saving money on your water bills and being great for the environment!
A superb collection of two premium, colour changing Hydrangeas which really do make the ultimate statement in the summer garden, from July to October. You will receive one each of Magical Amethyst (lime-green and Pink) and Magical Revolution (blue and purple).
Firstly a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who submitted. This year the standards were truly excellent and it was extremely difficult to pick between the fantastic entrants! A big congratulations to our winners. Our first prize of £100 will be going to Mr. Edwards for his eye catching Tulips. Prizes of £25 each will be going to our runners up Ms. Baird for her Narcissi Rip Van Winkle, Ms. Lee with her Crocus, Ms. Ralph with her Mixed Tulips and Ms. Hughes for the best garden picture.
Thanks again to everyone who entered, and keep checking back for more opportunities to win!
Whether in an allotment or your own garden there is an undeniable joy in growing your own produce – and where better to start than with a classic staple – the potato! One of the most versatile vegetables, potatoes feature in the most traditional and creative dishes and can be a great addition to a healthy diet plan.
The potato is healthy – FACT!
Potato skins are a great source of fibre and potassium.
Low in sugar
Potatoes are naturally saturated fat free (You can even find machines these days that will fry them into chips using as little oil as possible! Not that that makes them healthy!)
Potatoes are gluten free – great news for coeliacs!
Coeliac disease can be difficult to cater for, gluten free products are getting more varied (and tasting better) than a few years ago but they are often very expensive. The humble potato is cheap and gluten free.
You can grow potatoes in the smallest of spaces! If you have a smaller garden or simply want to keep your potato gardening organised try using grow bags. Our 40 litre Patio Potato Sacks will grow 5-7 seeds per sack. Find out how to grow potatoes in sacks here!
Charlotte are a favourite of all chefs, very useful for more than salads. A long oval shape, with a beautiful floury taste. Pink Fir Apple are a more traditional variety, suitable for boiling, baking or steaming. They are long knobbly in shape, with pink skin and a creamy coloured flesh.
2. Second Early Harvest (June-July)
They take a little longer to harvest than the first Early varieties – from late June. Bonnie is a very popular all-rounder. Maris Peer has a firm white variety with a high yield. The award winning Kestrel is very smooth in texture with purple eyes. Great old fashioned variety.
3. Main Crop Varieties (harvest August-October)
These take the longest to harvest and take up slightly more space in the growing patch. King Edward and Maris Piper are well known all round favourites, while Cara is a heavy cropping variety with the added bonus of being very drought/disease resistant. Desiree is the best of all the red main crop varieties, ideal to boil, mash, chip or sauté.
You don’t have to use our Patio growing sacks for just potatoes – they work equally well for growing Asparagus!(you can even grow Rhubarb in them).
You can get Asparagus all year round in supermarkets BUT recently there has been a huge drive to ‘support local’ so from April to June (British cropping season) the shelves will be full of UK varieties.
Asparagus will produce their first real crop 12 months after planting. If you are growing your own you can buy varieties to cover the whole cropping season – see J Parker’s range here.
Asparagus grow in trenches in fields and the border so we need to replicate this in the grow bag. Make sure the bag has drainage holes, if not make some.
Step1 – Create a hole 6-8 inches deep in the middle of the bag with a small mound of compost at the bottom. Well-rotted manure or general fertilizer can be used in the compost.
Step2 – Spread the roots over the mound you have created at the bottom and cover the crown with 2 inches of soil, try and use fine soil for this or sieve/riddle before you cover the crown.
Step3 – Fill up with compost as the shoots grow, gradually filling up the hole whilst still leaving a small part of the shoot exposed. When the shoots reach the main level the hole can be filled completely.
Step4 – Water newly planted crowns thoroughly and keep damp during dry weather.
Step5 – Any stems produced within the first 12 months should be left to produce bushy stems, the foliage will look like ferns.
Step6 – Cut down the stems in autumn to 5cm above soil level.
Step7 – The following year the stems can be harvested. When they are 12cm/5 inches long cut the stems 7cm/3 inches below the soil. Do not let the spears grow too tall.
Step8 – By mid-June stop harvesting, let any remaining spears fully develop to fortify next year’s crop.
Fill one third of your Patio Potato Sack (15-20cm) with the damp compost
and place the seed potatoes on top of the compost. Then cover the seed potatoes
with a further 10cm of compost up to half of the sack.
Step 2 –
As plants start to grow and green foliage appears add more compost
around them to slowly fill up the potato sacks to a few inches
from the top. We do this as the potatoes grow from the stem beneath the
soil level so we want to keep that stem covered.
Every time that you add more compost you can feed the bag
with a general potato fertilizer which is high in potash.
Make sure you keep the compost moist at all times, but not too moist
as the tubers/seed potatoes will rot if over watered at this stage.
Step 3 –
For a bumper pack, increase watering when the plants
flower (this is when the tubers begin to form). They will usually be ready
for harvesting once the flowers begin to open.
Step 4 –
About two weeks before the potatoes are ready to harvest
you should cut all the growth off at ground level to prepare
the potatoes for lifting, making the skins tougher and less
likely to break on lifting.
In this easy to follow video planting guide, Jeff demonstrates how to grow your own potatoes in a grow bag.
Casablanca are a superb new First Early Variety producing white skin and creamy coloured flesh. A great all-rounder. Casablanca has good resistance to common scab, blackleg and golden eelworm. This new variety is bound to become a household name and be one of the top potatoes in the kitchen.
Best red, main crop variety. Desiree potatoes have a firm, creamy tasting flesh making them ideal for smooth mash or being cooked in a sauce, such as our favourite Potato Dauphinoise/Dauphinoise Potatoes. Desiree are easily recognisable by their lovely red skin and light yellow flesh. Desiree are normally larger, longer and oval shape.
This is the best option for beginners and the best chipping variety available, and a versatile ‘all rounder’. Potato ‘Maris Piper’ produces dry, floury tubers with creamy-white flesh of good flavour, that rarely discolours on cooking.
Way back in 1933 Martin Duiker-Parker came from Holland and started a mail order bulb business. He was following the footstep of three generations of his family, all bulb growers and exporters and his son, Chris, and grandsons Paul and Daniel are carrying on this tradition to this very day!
We now have three Garden centers in Manchester and Cheshire and a thriving wholesale department along with our mail order side which now takes order over the web as well as by phone or post.
We have a whole series of How Too… Video Guides staring the marvellous Jeff Turner!
Jeff is a plant expert who’s years of experience and boundless enthusiasm are a real treat
for all you gardeners out there be you novice or expert!
We are building a comprehensive guide to complement our Videos and Cultural Instructions and How Supplied information. We aim to cover many of the plants we have on offer here at Parker’s so you can expect to see this category growing as we add more products as well as as ideas and advice on garden projects
Did we miss anything?
If you have any questions or things you would like to see on our website get in touch and we’ll do our best to include your ideas! Please contact us via Facebook or Twitter.
With economic difficulties over the past few years and with an increased attention given to environmental issues (both domestically and around the world) now is a great time to take stock and evaluate exactly how environmentally friendly (eco-friendly) our gardens actually are.
We may never reach the scales of the popular 70’s BBC show ‘The Good Life’ but we can all do a little here and there to help. Regardless of whether your garden has an aesthetic focus (ornamental only) or a productive (food producing) focus there are many small, simple to implement and relatively low cost techniques which can easily be introduce to improve the overall friendliness of the garden.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – The overall goal should be to create a wonderful garden; somewhere you can easily relax and enjoy the rewards of all your hard work. Simultaneously this should be done with one eye on the environment! Eco-gardening is a way of making the garden more self-sustainable by reducing the energy /water the garden uses up, improving air circulation, promoting recycling, attracting wildlife and in essence being less wasteful.
Saving on water is a great way to get started – One of the best ways to get start is to look at ways in which you can reduce the amount of water used in the garden around the year. By using water from the mains less and less you will help significantly to reduce the overall national water use rate, but on a domestic level you should see the yearly household water bill come down (which can be no bad thing). Some key ways to reduce water used are as follows :
Water plants early in the morning or late at night. Watering during hot periods (such as lunchtime and early afternoon) when the sun is at its strongest will waste water due to evaporation and will be less beneficial to the plants themselves.
Install a water butt and re-use rainwater. Why not, it’s free and will reduce your water bills? Water butts can be an efficient and cost effective way to collect and reuse natural rainwater. The beauty of living in a country like Britain is that we get plenty of rainfall throughout the year. The thought that we do not collect and reuse this, instead being depending on water from the tap can be a little hard to understand at times. Some very large water butts can store over 24,000 litres of water (although there are plenty to choose from to suit all garden sizes) and can easily be transferred to the water can for use around the garden.
Introduce drought-resistant plants. There are many great drought resistant plants which can be introduced to the garden and will thus reduce the dependence on manual watering during dry periods. For more advice on drought resistant plant visit the RHS website for their comprehensive list of recommended plants.
Improve air circulation and quality
Planting trees in the garden – To improve the purity of air you could try planting some larger trees such as conifers, Betula, Beech trees and Magnolia. Not only will they look beautiful through the year they will help improve the circulation and quality of air. This is even more important in urban areas where the actual air is more likely to become polluted because of increased exposure to chemicals and gasses.The role of trees is not one to underestimate. They produce the oxygen we need to survive and also help to remove particles from the air that could potentially be harmful. They also act as protection to other plants, provide a cooling shade in the summer and also can help reduce noise for your garden.
Create a water feature or pond. You could also look at introducing a water feature into the garden area to improve purity of air. A steady stream and flow of water, not only adds a sense of tranquillity and beauty but also helps to remove harmful pollutants from the air. This along with some well positioned trees will help create an environment of lovely fresh air and help the plants, soil and your own health as well.
Reduce Electricity used in the garden. By reducing the overall amount of electricity the garden uses your bills will come down and you will be using less national resources. This can only be a good thing, and combined with the work done by wind farms and solar panels we should see an overall reduction in usage from the national grid.
Use solar garden lighting – Instead of using large outdoor lighting you could try to introduce some solar garden lights. They come in many shapes, sizes and budgets and can easily be installed. They will store energy from the natural light during the day and release this when needed at night time. They have become much more reliable in the past ten years as an alternative and are certainly an area to explore.
Choose alternatives to chemicals/pesticides – Where allowable we suggest using organic pesticides and products in and around the garden. Choose the right product for the job and make sure it will not have any detrimental effect on other insects around the garden. You could try using some alternatives to pesticides such as crushed egg shells or grounded coffee beans to deter slugs and snails or by planting marigolds in your flowerbeds (they are known to deter insects and pests).
Strong smelling perennials such as Lavender and Rosemary can also have the effect of keeping pests away from you borders so introducing a number of these will help avoid using chemicals. Many people choose to actually introduce certain insects into the garden as a way of scaring off those pests that will do damage to plants. Lady bugs are great at eating aphids and will help preserve your plants.
Recycling will help create an organic compost or mulch – You can create your own organic compost by recycling gardening waste, food waste and fall leaves. By recycling this waste we will be helping to keep it out of the ever increasing landfills and also will in turn create a moisture retentive and rich compost or mulch that can used around the garden. The plants will benefit hugely from this natural and organic addition to the soil and also will save you buying manure or compost the following year.
The choice of goods to use in the compost bin or heap is almost endless and getting the balance right may take a number of attempts. Luckily the internet can be your friend and will the popularity growing hugely in this area, there are many good gardening forums and websites to offer advice. Some of the most popular, everyday items from the household to find their way onto the compost heap include raw vegetables, crushed egg shells, fruit peelings, newspapers, cardboard and even teabags. Gardening waste such as fallen leaves, wood cuttings, grass cuttings, old bedding plants and plant foliage are also used regularly.
Make the garden wildlife friendly – A key feature to creating a garden that is in touch with nature is to make sure that it is attractive to wildlife. By allocating just a little bit of time and space to your garden, you can easily attract various wildlife to your garden all year around. For many people wildlife is a welcomed addition to the garden providing extra character and also the knowledge that they are doing their bit to help with British conservation.
Make sure you have an area to enjoy and relax – Make sure that you allow an area for enjoyment. Creating a garden full of colour and fresh fruit/vegetables is great and highly rewarding, but one key aspect to making sure your love for gardening lasts a lifetime is getting out and enjoying the garden. Have an area where you and your family/friends can sit around and enjoy the fresh air and beauty you have worked so hard to create.
Many people love the summer barbeque as it allows people to gather together outdoors and enjoy their surroundings, with some good food. These great moments are vital to enjoying the garden and the summertime. Get out there and enjoy it! Getting in touch with your own little piece of the environment is critical to becoming an environmental gardener.
Grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs – Growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs is a fun, rewarding and can be a great step towards being less dependent on supermarkets. Even in gardens when space is at a premium you can easily grow strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in pots or containers.
If you have the space available why not allocate a patch or raised bed towards growing some potatoes, carrots, asparagus, beans or whatever vegetables take your fancy. You could also look at planting some fruit trees which not only produce great tasting fruit but will add ornamental blossom on spring.