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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How to Plant Fruit Trees

Nothing feels more rewarding than growing your own produce. If you don’t have a fruit tree in your garden, planting one is a good investment, as there is nothing like eating the fresh fruit straight from the tree in autumn. Keep reading to discover how to plant fruit trees with our gardening tips.

Before planting:

  • Avoid planting if there’s a frost – place roots into moist soil until conditions improve.
  • Container-grown trees can be planted at any time of year except when frosty or if the soil is too dry or too wet. Bare-root fruit trees can be planted late autumn to early winter as this is when the tree is in its dormant stage.
  • Always try to plant fruit trees in a sunny and sheltered position. This will maximise the time your fruit has to ripen.

Planting in pots

Choose a pot that is 45-50cm (18-20in) in diameter. When planting, place some stones, broken concrete, clay pots, or polystyrene in the bottom of the containers to retain moisture. Use a good-quality compost, and insert the tree. Cover hole and water well.

Planting in the ground

Dig a hole up to three times the diameter of the root system, and break the soil up the surrounding soil with a fork before planting. Place the tree in the hole and carefully refill, placing soil around all the roots to eliminate air pockets. Firm the soil gently by stepping on it.

Quick Tips for Beginners

  • You don’t need a large garden the size of an orchard to grow your own fruit trees. Many fruits like strawberries and raspberries can be grown directly into the ground, into borders, and into containers. Perfect for those with smaller gardens or courtyard spaces.
  • Many fruit trees produce beautiful blooms as well as tasty fruits. Apple trees, pear trees, and beloved cherry trees all create gorgeous flowers that are an absolute treat.
  • Unless your tree is self pollinating (peaches, nectarines, some cherries), then you should be planting a pair of trees to ensure the growth of any produce. Many fruit trees, such as apple and pears, need their flowers to be pollinated by bees and such in order to grow produce. Plant a different cultivar of the same fruit nearby your first tree. Ensure they flower at the same time, or they won’t bear fruit.

Our favourite varieties

Here is a selection of our favourite fruit tree varieties that will add beauty and produce delicious fruits year after year.

Apple Elstar
Cherry Stella
Plum Czar

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Parker’s Book Club: ‘The Naturally Beautiful Garden: Designs that Engage with Wildlife and Nature’ by Kathryn Bradley-Hole

Introducing…Parker’s Book Club! In our monthly newsletter, we are highlighting a book within the horticulture world to bring to your attention, and inspire your next favourite read. This month, we are putting the spotlight on the upcoming book by Kathryn Bradley-Hole – ‘The Naturally Beautiful Garden: Designs that Engage with Wildlife and Nature’.

Casting a spotlight onto today’s gardening trends, Kathryn Bradley-Hole (Author of the bestselling book, BBC Garden Lover’s Guide to Britain) shows you how to naturally enhance your garden and help it thrive! By avoiding chemicals, supporting wildlife and embracing organic practices, you too can achieve a gorgeous, climate-friendly garden.

If you’re looking to become more environmentally conscious, then this is a must-read for you. Pre-order yours today to help your garden flourish.

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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Easter Egg Hunt – Win a £100 Voucher!

With Easter almost here, it’s time to celebrate and what better way to celebrate than with an Easter egg hunt!

This Easter weekend, we are hiding 10 Easter eggs on products on the J Parker’s website. 10 products will have eggs in the product images and the first person to find all 10 will WIN A £100 VOUCHER! 💰

What you need to do

  • Locate all 10 Easter eggs hidden in product images on our website.
  • Email competition@jparkers.co.uk and send us your answers. This needs to include the name of the product the eggs are displayed on.
  • The first 3 people to locate all 10 eggs will win Parker’s gift vouchers!

Prizes

  • 1st Prize: £100 J.Parker’s voucher to spend in our online shop 🛒🛍
  • 2nd Prize: £50 J.Parker’s voucher to spend in our online shop 🛒🛍
  • 3rd Prize: £25 J.Parker’s voucher to spend in our online shop 🛒🛍

How to enter

EMAIL your answers to competition@jparkers.co.uk. Send us the product names you spot the Easter eggs on. (Email entry must be under 5mb – please include your name and postcode)

When does the Easter Egg Hunt end?

Get your answers over to us by the 5th April 2021. The winners will be announced on April 6th.

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Why gardening should be taught in school

As well as being good outdoor fun, school gardening has been proven to have many benefits to health and wellbeing. In 2008, The RHS ‘Campaign for School Gardening’ launched, and since then over 12,000 educational institutes have signed up. The RHS campaign aims to show how gardening can enrich the curriculum and encourage schools to use it as a teaching tool

Gardening is often an overlooked subject for schools. However, many studies have proved how it can help develop several life skills and improve environmental education. Below are just some of the ways in which gardening benefits school children, from new skills to improved academic performance.

Social & Emotional Benefits

According to a 2017 study, access to green space has a link to improved mental well-being and cognitive development of children. Growing plants and vegetables can be very satisfying for children – giving them a positive boost to their self-esteem. Whilst the garden can often be a place for fun, it can also provide a place for children to have some calm and peaceful time. Another study based around the effect of school environments green areas found that pupils should “engage in activities and learning experiences within natural environments as much as possible, in order to boost their psychological and physiological well-being.”

Encourages Exercise and Healthy Eating

A study by Harvard found that the number of calories burnt from 30 minutes of gardening is comparable to playing badminton, volleyball or practising yoga. By bending over to pull out weeds, digging holes for planting, and simply moving around, children tend to become more active, reducing the risk of child obesity. Therefore, gardening is an essential activity for encouraging children to get outside and stay healthy.

It can also sometimes be a struggle to get children to eat healthy foods and enjoy them. Harvesting fruit and vegetables can be both educational and rewarding. Growing vegetables not only teaches kids hard work, but they get a sense of achievement knowing they are eating food they have grown themselves.

Develops Responsibility

Gardening is a great way to encourage your little ones to accept responsibility for a certain task or project. Adopting a healthy attitude to responsibility and accountability will also help your children take pride in their accomplishments.

Improves Social Skills

Gardening can be a very sociable activity. Children can learn to work together and will enjoy discussing different types of flowers, and the anticipation of waiting for whose flower will shoot through the soil first will encourage children to interact and engage.

Also, for special needs children there are many benefits to gardening and working with plants. Many children with special needs may have few opportunities for social interactions, but gardening with a group of students offers a safe place to engage with others and make friends.

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Why gardening has become the latest trend for millennials

lady holding flowers

In the UK, there are around 27 million people who partake in gardening. It’s common to think that only older generations enjoy gardening, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Parker’s orders from 18-24 year olds increased by 213% in February 2021 from February 2020. So, what has made young people getting into gardening? We’ve done some research to uncover the reasons behind the spike in gardening millennials.

Mental Health Benefits

woman watering flowers

With the pandemic causing a rise in unemployment and uncertain futures, mental health care has never been so important. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 70% of 18-34 year olds experience mental health issues in comparison to 58% of those aged 55 years or above. A recent study by AXA Insurance has found that 50% of people who undertake gardening say they have seen an improvement in their happiness, while 44 per cent admitted to feeling lower levels of stress and anxiety after becoming green-fingered.

The Millennial Move

millennial woman holding box of flowers for gardening

Covid has changed the way we view cities. A prediction in the U.K. economic outlook report states that London’s population is expected to decline for the first time in the 21st century. During the pandemic, many millennials have switched the city lifestyle for the suburbs.

Difficulties of city living are more obvious than ever in lockdown: trapped in properties that are, on average, smaller than elsewhere; and having less access to a garden (21 per cent of Londoners do not have a garden). Along with the suburban living trend, the growing interest in natural products and sustainability has never been more prevalent.

The Houseplant Frenzy

millennials caring for houseplants

In recent years, houseplants have enjoyed a massive boom in popularity, especially with Millennials and Gen Z. Sales of houseplants at garden centres across the UK were up 81% in July (2020). Compared with the same month in 2019, according a report published by the Garden Centre Association (GCA).

The millennial love of houseplants also has a lot to do with the self-care and wellness movements. As well, many young people lack access to an outdoor space (due to living in urban spaces, such as flats), so bringing plants inside make those benefits much more accessible. With less space and less time to garden in a home landscape setting, millennials have taken to indoor gardening, which has lead to further similar interests in container growing and small-space vegetable production.

Overall, millennials enjoy gardening for much the same reason as older adults. They enjoy the contentment, peace and satisfaction that comes from tending plants. That much hasn’t changed across generations.

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Perfect Flower Combinations for Wildlife

Bee on verbena

Looking to attract wildlife to the garden but not sure how? With some pollinators in decline in recent years (moths and butterflies), it’s more important than ever to transform our gardens into a pollinator-friendly haven. To help you liven up your garden, take a look at some of our favourite wildlife flower combinations for planting inspiration.

A romantic border

Summer flower border

Are you a fan of pink and purple flowers? Then this romantic colour combination is the perfect choice for you. White Asters, purple Pansies and pink creeping Phlox are a match made in heaven for bees and butterflies. Plant and watch your garden become alive with pollinators in the summertime.

Hot, fiery flower beds

Rudbeckia and Coreopsis summer flowers

Bring the summer heat to your beds and borders with this sunny combination. Rudbeckia are bee-friendly superstars in the flower world, so try pairing flaming red Rudbeckias along with cheery yellow Coreopsis for the ultimate pollinator-friendly flower bed.

A serene white border

White lavender

If you’re a fan of a more subtle look, keep it clean with white flowers. The pure, brightening effect of white flowers is a great way to make smaller spaces look and feel bigger. For the ultimate white wildlife combination, plant white lavender as the focal point of a flower bed or border, and underplant with fragrant white nemesia.

More wildlife flower combinations:

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British garden birds could disappear by 2100, here’s how we can help

Who doesn’t love listening to the sounds of birds in the morning? British garden birds are a wonderful sight in any garden, but recent studies suggest that less and less birds are being spotted around Britain. While the reasons behind their disappearance are still being studied, discover some of the environmental reasons behind their decline and how British gardens can help.

The Data

According to data found by The RSPB, sighting of common birds have declined rapidly since since 1979. RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch data shows that common species such as house sparrows are down 53% and starling sightings are down 80%. The reasons behind these declines are still under study, however there are some obvious factors. A lack of green spaces around the UK, and the continual effects climate change are to name a few. With our climate getting warmer, this could be bad news for bird species that depend on stable access to food in certain seasons.

Several bird species depend on the abundance of larvae while their young are small. Great tits have evolved to breed at the same time that insect larvae is at its most abundant. This is to ensure the breed has a ready food source for their chicks. The larvae feeds on leaves but as earlier springs causes trees to leaf out earlier; this will cause larvae that feed on the plants to hatch out earlier. If larvae supply peaks earlier in the spring than normal due to higher temperatures, this could lead to a lack of food for the hatchlings.

Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology used population models of several bird species to calculate the consequences of different climate scenarios. While great tits can evolve to keep up with prey, a faster change in temperature could see the birds left behind. The ‘breaking point’ is estimated to be when larvae and leaves are produced 24 days earlier than they are at the moment. The University researchers found that the worst case scenario could lead to whole populations of great tits disappearing by the year 2100, simply because they aren’t able to procure enough food for their young.

How we can help garden birds

“The good news is that the populations will be able to survive scenarios with lower or medium warming trends,” says Emily Simmonds, an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. So to help our british garden birds, we need to control the environmental changes caused by climate change.

No task is too small when it comes to helping combat climate change. That being the case, people can make a huge contribution by cutting energy use as much as possible. Simply buying energy-efficient appliances, turning off lights when not needed, using the eco settings on washing machines can make an impact.

Wondering how you can help in the garden? Dr Kate Plummer, of the British Trust for Ornithology says buying a bird feeder “provides water and places for animals to shelter and breed”. Around half of UK householders are now thought to feed birds in their gardens, helping to keep our local species well-fed and safe. More ways to help in the garden is to create a safe haven for British garden birds by growing native plants. As well as using fewer pesticides, and adding a bird bath.

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Spring Photo Competition 2021

Our annual Spring Photography Competition is back for 2021 with another chance to win up to £100 worth of J Parker’s vouchers. So this spring, get out in the garden and take some stunning floral snapshots.

How to enter:

For a chance to win, simply send us your J. Parker’s spring-flowering photos. The competition will only run until 28th March 2021, however there’s plenty of time to snap those pretty spring-flowering bulbs!

FACEBOOK – Like our Facebook page and share your image to our page with the caption ‘Spring Competition entry’.

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

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

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

What you can win:

This year, we have 10 amazing prizes up for grabs:

1st Place – 1 winner of x Win £100 voucher for J Parkers
2nd Place – 1 winners of x Win £75 voucher for J Parkers
3rd Place – 1 winners of x Win £50 voucher for J Parkers
Runners up – 7 winners of x Win £25 voucher for J Parkers

Competition closes 28th March 2021.

Want some spring competition tips?

Here are a few photo theme recommendations from us to help you bag one of our prizes:

  • Pollinator-themed photos
  • Glorious flower close ups
  • Flower combinations

Good luck and happy snapping!

Terms and conditions:

  • All entries which meet the criteria outlined below will be considered for the prize of up to £100 worth of J. Parker’s vouchers, plus an additional 2nd place (£75 prize), 3rd place (£50 prize) and 7 prizes of £25.
  • All entries using photographs must be original images, taken/produced by the entrant.
  • Entrants agree that their names may or may not be published with their entry.
  • Ten winners will receive vouchers 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.
  • All varieties of spring bulb will be considered, but only those purchased from J. Parker’s will qualify for the competition prizes.
  • Send your entries by email to competition@jparkers.co.uk (email under 5mb) or you can share it with us on our social media pages.
  • All entries will be considered, and you can enter as many times as you wish. Competition closes 28th March 2021. Winners will be notified by email before the 1st April 2021.

Check out our 2020 Spring Competition winners