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 [email protected] (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 [email protected] 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 [email protected]. 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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