Wildlife Competition

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!

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Homemade Mint tea

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:

How to prune shrubs

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:

What to Plant in May

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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When to prune acers

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:

What is cross-pollination

The question of how to cross pollinate is a common one. But before learning how to, it’s best to learn what it is. Cross-pollination is not only exclusive to bees! It is a process of transferring pollen from the anther of one flower to the stigma of another flower. Cross-pollination can be used intentionally to create unique varieties of plants and vegetables.

What is cross-pollination

When one plant pollinates another variety, the two plants genetics combine to create a new variety. This new variety shares characteristics from both plants. A popular cross-pollination is for tomatoes, to create new and better varieties. This is intentional cross-pollination but it doesn’t always happen this way. In some instances, external forces play a hand in cross-pollination, like the wind or bees, carry pollen from one variety to another.

Common cross-pollinate misconceptions

Unlike flowers, not all plants can cross-pollinate easily. Cross-pollination within vegetables is less about the pollen, and has more to do with the species. For example, a cucumber could not cross-pollinate with a tomato as they are not the same species. But, it can happen between a broccoli and cauliflower.

Secondly, that the current harvest has been affected. This isn’t possible. Cross-pollination only affects the fruit of any seeds planted from that fruit. If think your harvest looks odd then it might be worth exploring other options such as pests and diseases before jumping to conclusions.

Controlling cross-pollination

Cross-pollination can be controlled, it just requires some extra steps. The easiest method is making sure to only grow one species in the garden as cross-pollination is unlikely to happen. If you want to grow multiple varieties you should determine if the plant you are growing is self pollinated or wind and insect pollinated. You can eliminate the chance of cross-pollination by planting different varieties of the same species at least 3m apart.

Whether is it intentional or not, cross-pollination isn’t always a bad thing. Your plants remain unaffected and you might even create a new variety that grows better and stronger than ever.

Read more gardening information from J Parkers:

How to Plant Lavender

This guide will not only teach you how to plant Lavender but also where. As an incredibly fragrant flower there are optimal places to allow these flowers to bloom. One of the easier shrubs to grow, Lavender grows best in free-draining soil. It also thrives in full sun and is drought tolerant. Best planted in spring as it will flower in Summer, filling the air with that well-known, aromatic scent.

Step 1: Where to plant

Before you start planting your lavender, it’s vital to choose where. Lavender grows beautifully in containers, but absolutely steals the show when planted in flower borders and herb gardens. It also works well as a boarder or lining a walkway, ensuring the sweet scent can be smelled all over the garden.

Step 2: Prepare your soil

Ensure you’ve removed all weeds from the selected area, and dig over any free-draining soil. If growing in groups, space plants about 90cm apart. If you’re growing a hedge, space plants about 30cm apart.

Step 3: Water

After planting, water regularly during the first season, especially in dry weather. Although lavender is drought tolerant, during the first summer newly planted lavender should be watered regularly.

Step 4: In containers

Containers, about 30-40cm, hold Lavender the best with large draining holes. Make sure the lavender is planted at the same level as its previous pot. At first water well, but then once or twice a week during summer to ensure the soil does not dry out. Containers dry out quicker as the roots have a limited amount soil in which to search for moisture.

Tips:

  • To keep your lavender plant neat and attractive, annually trim the plant in late summer, once the flowering has finished. Remove any spent flower stalks.
  • In winter, cover the lavender with a winter mulch which will protect the lavender from freezing winds and temperature.
  • Lavender is also multifunctional and can be easily repurposed. Lavender oil is perfect for aromatherapy. Or, if dried it makes great tea!

Read more of our gardening tips and planting guides:

How to get a post-lockdown garden

Next weekend starts the lifting of several restrictions that have been put place since the start of the year. With outdoor social mixing once again allowed, it is high time to show off that garden you’ve put so much work into! After months of grafting, weeding and watering. Spending as much time as you could outside, let’s make the garden the centre of attention!

Tidying up your garden

Time to rummage through the back of your garden shed and find the lawn mower, it’s finally time to shine! Whether it’s a simple back and forth or you’re an expert at mowing lawn stripes, this is undoubtedly the first step to tidying up your garden. Much like your grass, now is a great time to ensure your patio or decking are up to scratch and ready to display summer essentials such as barbecue’s, furniture, or maybe even more potted plants. The patio is your oyster.

Social space

With outdoor meetings now on everybody’s agenda seating is essential. It doesn’t have to be fancy seating or bespoke furniture. There are many ways to turn your garden into a social space. Just ensure you have a space large enough to seat the six people of your choice. Furniture doesn’t always have to be an option, a picnic blanket spread on the floor. Even camping chairs can get the job done. So long as you have a space that can accommodate your chosen group all you have to do is provide the entertainment.

Clear the clutter

You did the hard part of transforming your garden. Now you’re stuck with the remains. If there is still any clutter left over its high time to get rid of it. Clean out any garages, greenhouses or sheds while you still have the free time. The best way to get rid of garden waste is your local recycling centre or tip. A great suggestion is labelling boxes to ensure they go to the right waste bin. If you run out of time or simply can’t find a place suitable, store the waste somewhere it can’t be easily accessed or seen.

Enjoy yourself

Lockdown has been such an incredibly hard time for everyone. The gardening industry has seen a massive boost since the start of lockdown with more people picking up the hobby. We at J Parker’s have been so happy to provide quality bulbs to everyone – old and new customers. It doesn’t matter if you are a gardening expert or novice, you should be proud of the garden you’ve created. As Summer comes closer it is time to let your garden loose. Show off your new hanging baskets, bedding plants or potted tubers and enjoy yourself!

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Easter Egg Competition Winners

Happy Easter to all who celebrate! Over the Easter weekend we hid 10 Easter eggs on products on the J Parker’s website in our Easter Egg Competition. The first person to find them all has won a £100 VOUCHER! But don’t worry, there are second and third place prizes also up for grabs! Were you the first person to email us? Find out below!

  • 1st Prize: £100 J.Parker’s voucher – Lorna Elliot!

  • 2nd Prize: £50 J.Parker’s voucher – Margaret Copeland!

  • 3rd Prize: £25 Parker’s voucher – Kirsty Hill!

We will be contacting the lucky winners via email with their voucher codes! Thanks to everyone for participating, and don’t worry there will be more chances to win with us in the future!

More from J Parkers!

What to Plant in April

Not sure on what to plant this April? Although it isn’t officially summer, British Summertime has begun! With the clocks going forwards and lockdown restrictions being lifted, your garden is about to be the best place to be. Don’t forget to order summer bedding or hanging basket plants!

Here’s what to plant this April, from bulbs to vegetables, we’ve got it all.


Begonias

Begonias are a staple for any and every garden. Producing compact and vigorous plants with bright flowers up to 7cm across. Begonias make the perfect addition for not just the garden but also, patio pots, window boxes or the front of a border. Plant them now to ensure they are in full bloom for summer.

Begonia Double Exhibition Pink
Begonia Double Exhibition Yellow

Calla Lilies

Calla Lilies are vividly beautiful and exotic looking tuberous perennials. With waxy leaves and bright colours, Calla Lilies – sometimes known as Zantedeschia – are ideal for pots or as part of a summer border. They make for excellent cut flowers too! Plant now in humus rich, moist soil for a summer bloom.

Zantedeschia Lipstick
Zantedeschia Captain Solo

Gladioli

Gladioli are the perfect addition to any garden, coming in a wide variety of shapes, colours and sizes. They are a must-have for the summer garden, a British favourite for many years. Supplied as corms, they should be planted in well drained, light, sandy soil.

Gladioli Large Flowering Bicolour Collection
Gladioli Perry

Crocosmia

Our wonderful Crocosmia collection will help you create the summer garden of your dreams. With an abundance of bold and beautiful flowers, these flowers look perfect in pots or containers on the patio. Or plant in groups within the border for a larger display. Plant now for the best summer garden!

Crocosmia Emily McKenzie
Crocosmia Emberglow

Tomatoes

April is the last month to plant your tomatoes so they can be ready to be harvested in the summer. Plant in well drained soil or compost and deadhead when necessary to ensure proper growth. They’re also super easy for beginners!

Read more J Parker’s planting guides: