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.

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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 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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Create the Perfect Patio Garden Display

plants on the patio

Patio displays are the modern gardeners dream! They’re perfect for spaces of any size and design, providing a gorgeous outdoor living space for year-round activity.

Requiring very little maintenance, the patio garden is a perfect place to display your favourite seasonal blooms. If you’re stuck for inspiration, here’s a few tips to get you started!

Plan for Size

the perfect patio garden

Regardless of size, you can create the garden of your dreams. However, its always a good idea to plan your design within reason. If you have a grand design in mind but limited space, maybe try and scale the project back to maximise the effect.

If you’re struggling to get creative with your smaller garden, try starting small. Find furniture that fits the space, or maximise your design with plenty of potted plants scattered around the edges.

Decide on a Focal Point

a garden fire pit

If space permits, creating a focal point can take your patio garden to a whole new level! Whether it be a fire pit or pond, find something that will benefit you and your family as well as your personal taste.

Go Alfresco

patio garden design for small gardens

Unsure of what to include in your patio design? A great option for any patio is a gorgeous outdoor dining table. Pair it with a big parasol for sunnier days, and you’ll be ready to go. Just don’t forget the sun cream!

Keep it Simple

plants in pots on the patio

If you’re still unsure of where to start or what design you prefer then just keep it simple! Pick a few colourful flower pots to scatter around the patio and fill them with all your favourite seasonal flowers and plants.

You could even try your hand at growing your own produce by using grow bags or pots!

Perfect plants for growing in patio pots and containers

Diascia Divara mixed
Livingstone Daisy mixed
Cosmos Apollo Lovesong

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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 to 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!

Need some more garden tips? Check out these blogs:

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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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!

Mind-Blowing Gardens In Art

The Monet Family in their garden, by Edouard Manet, 1874, French impressionist oil painting.

Art lovers everywhere will have their favourite pieces. Sometimes they’ll be from iconic painters, and sometimes they’ll be from underground artists.

Some of the most famous paintings ever created are of depictions of gardens. Pictured above is the painting created by Édouard Manet. As he reached the garden of Claude Monet, he found the scene so entrancing that he decided he must capture the moment.

Here are a few of our favourite famous paintings of gardens in art work that have been created throughout the last few centuries.

Vincent Van Gogh – Garden of the Asylum

Image by Fine Art Images via Gardens Illustrated

Garden of the Asylum is a popular piece from Van Gogh. It illustrates the garden of the clinic where he stayed for a year in Saint-Rémy. Van Gogh loved to use bold colour in his paintings to portray the world in the way he saw it. His pieces aimed to convey feeling and emotion, which you can see just looking at this particular piece.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir – Woman with a Parasol

Image by Bridgeman Images via Christies.com

Surrounded by beautiful blooms, Renoir felt inspired. ‘Woman with a Parasol’ is a timeless classic that reflects the studio’s gardens in which he worked. This impeccable impressionist piece gives off a peaceful emotion, which one can imagine he felt as he recreated the scene.

Paul Cézanne – The Garden at Les Lauves

Image by The Phillips Collection via theculturetrip

Completed in 1906, Cézanne’s cubist depiction of the Garden at Les Lauves is a perfect summary of his late work. Cézanne was infamous for becoming frustrated and dissatisfied with his work and would try again and again to create the perfect piece. The Garden at Les Lauves is a piece that heavily influenced cubism.

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What to Do In the Garden this April

What garden jobs to do in april - admire your crocuses

Spring has sprung, Daffodils are blooming, the sun is shining – Let’s talk about garden jobs to do in April.

Now that the spring season is in full force, it’s truly time to get gardening. Not only is there plenty to plant this month, but there’s also lots to do! Follow this quick and easy guide to help you write your monthly to-do list.

De-weed the Garden

Deweed the garden to prepare for spring gardening

Nothing is more annoying than those pesky weeds clogging up valuable plant space! Before you plant any new plants or flowers, get rid of as many weeds as you can. Make sure to try and get the whole root to ensure it doesn’t grow back!

Give Your House Plants Some Love

Regularly water your house plants

Now that the weather is starting to get warmer, your indoor plants will need extra TLC! Start to feed them a liquid fertiliser once a week to encourage a healthy growth, continuing through to Autumn.

Hanging Baskets at the Ready!

Stuck for garden jobs to do in April? Start to plan and plant your hanging baskets.

Now is a great time to start potting up your summer bedding plants, especially for hanging baskets. Flowers like Sweet Peas, Petunias and Geraniums are perfect for both seasonal hanging baskets and throughout borders! However, if you’re in colder parts of the country like Scotland, wait until the threat of frost is gone.

More Garden Jobs to do in April

  • Feed roses and shrubs. You can do this by using general purpose fertiliser.
  • Grow herbs in trays (This includes Coriander, Chives, Parley and Basil).
  • If you’re an owner of a greenhouse, give it a general tidy and spring clean before you start to spend more time in there. There’s nothing worse than being hit in the face by a cobweb or two when you’re potting up plants!
  • Deadhead spring flowering blooms to encourage regular growth.
  • Protect your newly planted fruits at night by covering them with a garden fleece. This will protect them from sudden frosts in the evening or weather that’s colder than expected.

More from J Parker’s

What to plant in April
Why gardening should be taught in schools


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: