Parker’s Book Club: ‘Gardening for Bumblebees: A Practical Guide to Creating a paradise for pollinators’ by Dave Goulson

This month, as we enter the summer months, our book club theme is all about the importance of pollinators! As the summer flowers begin to bloom, this is a key time to take care of the pollinators coming to visit our gardens. To learn how to get your garden ready for these little visitors, check out this fantastically education new release by Dave Goulson.

Bumblebees are on the decline in the UK, yet they are responsible for ensuring that many of our fruit and vegetable crops give bountiful harvests. So now is the perfect time to learn how to provide everything a bumblebee need to feed and thrive in our gardens.

Throughout Dave Goulsons book, he provides an essential guide for all the best flowers and plants that attract pollinators, as well as useful tips and tricks for creating the perfect nesting sites.

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

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

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.

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What to See at RHS Garden Bridgewater

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.

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UK’s best flower shows you have to see

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.

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Meet our Floristry Contest Winner!

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.

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Time-saving Gardening Hacks for National Gardening Week

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. 

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Building a Sensory Garden: Manchester Mind/ J. Parkers

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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How climate change is affecting gardens

For many of us, gardening is much more than a hobby—it is a passion. Did you know on average the UK gardener spend approx. £678 on their garden every year? While gardeners are putting time and money in to their gardens to get them looking their best, there are some effects from climate change making their way into our gardens as the years go on. “Plant health is increasingly under threat. Climate change and human activities have degraded ecosystems, reduced biodiversity and created new niches where pests can thrive,” says United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) expert Marieta Sakalian. Keep reading to discover the repercussions of climate change on our gardens, and how we can reverse them.

The Effects

Over the next few decades, the southern regions of England are expected to become hotter, and dryer overall and experience short episodes of heavy rainfall. The north of England, on the other hand will be milder, with wetter summers and winters. Moreover, trees and plants will probably be exposed to a growing number of pests and diseases. Climate change can affect the population size, survival rate and geographical distribution of pests; and the intensity, development and geographical distribution of diseases.

One of the most visible impacts of climate change, according to the report, will be its affect grass. Currently, warmer springs and autumns combined with regular rain episodes result in an increase in lawn-mowing, which usually does not take place all year round. Should average temperatures rise by 3°C then many grassland areas in south-western England would start to become woodland. In eastern England, households may have to replace lawns with artificial grass.

The Cause

Higher average temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns are causing plants to bloom earlier, creating unpredictable growing seasons. Even warm-weather plants like tomatoes could be harmed by increased temperatures.

Invasive, non-native plants ranges are expanding and making them more apt to take advantage of weakened ecosystems and outcompete native species. Climatic shifts also mean that many native and iconic plants may no longer be able to survive in portions of their historic range. Additionally, some invasive species are even capable of changing soil chemistry, which would be a nightmare for gardeners. 

The Future

Unfortunately, climate change is threatening the gardening experience across the country. Fortunately, there are actions that you can take to be part of the solution—even while gardening.

In a report from the RHS, “urban garden plants and trees help cool the air in our towns and cities, combating dangerous temperatures caused by heat waves”. Allso, breeding pest- and disease-resistant varieties is another environmentally friendly solution, since it reduces the need for pesticides and fungicides.

Additionally, the pandemic has had a surprising and unexpected impact on the environment. The reduction in industrial activity lead to a 17% drop in global carbon dioxide emissions in April, wildflowers flourished on roadsides because verges were cut less frequently, and wildlife reclaimed lost territory.

Since lockdown, there has been a greater emphasis on protecting and enhancing gardens and green spaces. Through sharing information like this, we can help preserve our beautiful gardens for future generations to enjoy.

Do you have any eco-friendly gardening tips? Share in the comments!

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WIN Tickets to RHS Chelsea: Floristry Contest

Are your flowers worthy of best in show? This April we are giving away 2x tickets to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in September, and to win, all you have to do is share your prize-worthy flower arrangements! Keep reading to see how you can get involved and win an amazing day out to this year’s Chelsea show.

How to enter:

For a chance to win, send us a photo of your beautiful indoor flower arrangement, worthy of winning an RHS award. The competition will only run until the 23rd April 2021, so it’s time to get arranging!

FACEBOOK – Like our Facebook page and share your image to our page with the caption ‘Floristry Contest’.

TWITTER – Follow us at @JParkersBulbs and tag us in your photos with the hashtag #floristrycontest

INSTAGRAM – Follow us at @jparkersbulbs and tag us in your photos with the hashtag #floristrycontest

EMAIL – Email us at competition@jparkers.co.uk (Entries must be under 5mb – please include your name and postcode)

The Prize

The winning entry will be given 2x tickets to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (worth £166 for non members).

This year’s show runs from the 21st-26th of September and the winner will also get the chance to pick a date of their choosing!

Competition closes 23rd April 2021.

Want some tips?

For the best chance of winning this amazing prize, here are some of our top tips for creating the perfect flower displays:

  • Use RHS-winning flowers
  • Cohesive colour schemes
  • Fun & creative arrangements

Good luck!

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What is Organic Gardening?

Like the word natural, the word organic gets tossed around a lot. But what does it mean to practise organic gardening? Organic gardening is essentially gardening without using synthetic products like fertilizers and pesticides. It involves the use of only natural products to grow plants in your garden. 

The benefits of organic gardening

Organic gardening comes with many benefits. Organic gardens cultivate an ecosystem that involves feeding the soil, encouraging wildlife, and getting creative with nature’s pest and disease controls. It’s cheap, it’s practical – and it’s good for plants, people and communities. Plus, growing organic fruit and vegetables is the best way to be sure that you’re supplying the purest, highest-quality foods to your family. 

How to start an organic garden

Good soil is key to organic growing. Fertile soil provides the home for millions of bacteria, which are essential for healthy plant growth. Soil also holds air and water which gives it a good structure (not compacted or waterlogged) and good texture (not too heavy or light). This allows plants to put down roots, to absorb water and nutrients, and encourage strong growth. 

Organic gardeners also withhold from using pesticides and use natural bug control methods. Many organic growers, and even some who are not, plant their crops in certain combinations in order to repel pests.

Throughout the year, organic gardeners collect their household waste and yard clippings to use in a compost bin. Compost bins are a cheap and easy way to create your own natural compost. This bin is turned regularly in order to facilitate decomposition. Early in the growing season, the organic gardener will work the compost into the garden plot, thus enriching the soil with the natural ingredients needed for a rich growing bed.

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