Trends from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (2021)

Chelsea Flower Show is finally here! Postponed to autumn for the very first time, this years Chelsea made the most of the time of year, using autumnal colours and tones that aren’t typically seen. But the main part of Chelsea, one of the biggest reasons people from all over the country flock towards the most celebrated flower show… The trends. Chelsea Flower Show is great for many reasons – the talks, the food, and of course the displays. Every year gardeners from all around present their gardens and therefor set the newest trends in the gardening industry. Let’s take a look at trends from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021.

Meadows

As we saw from RHS Tatton Park earlier this year, rewilding and sustainability has become an ongoing theme within the display gardens. The gold-winning ‘Yeo Valley Organic Garden’ embraced nature and the ‘imperfection’ that came along with it. Garden designer Tom Massey and supported by Sarah Mead, allowed plants to grow as they would naturally occur. The garden also promoted support for biodiversity, using plants that were organically grown and chemical-free. Sarah shared some great tips for those at home who wish to adapt their garden and become more environmentally conscious. By packing flowers tightly together it minimalises the amount of sunlight getting to weeds, eliminating the need for weed killer.

Ponds

You might not think that there is much in common between meadows and ponds, but they both share the same biological problem. Much like wildland, we have also lost almost 80% of wetlands. Water brings so much to a garden, but aside from purely aesthetic reasons it also brings in wildlife. It is a place for birds to bathe, insects to hover and creates to take a drink. There are aquatic plants that can add a whole new look to the garden. From waterlilies, water lettuce and blue iris, many of which can be used as natural water purifiers. Water is a vital part of not just human life, but nature and life itself.

Artisan features

Alan Williams highlighted the trend of art becoming a part of the garden. As the award-winning designer of ‘The Parsley Box Garden’ and Creative Director of Form Plants he used sculptures tucked amongst the planting. Artisan features were used amongst many gardens, and these pieces were not your traditional stone sculptures. They included metal formations, a water feature and extraordinary wooden structures. The best part of these art pieces was the emphasis on local craftsmanship and materials used. The award-winning M&G Garden features repurposed metal pipes, something easily accessible and readily available.

Creative containers

RHS Chelsea has had many firsts! From it being held in September for the first ever time, to being the first year to introduce a dedicated container gardening category. This year certainly made up for its absence last year. From this new category, people were able to show what can be done in a small garden space. Not everyone has vast amounts of land or allotments, so a focus on smaller gardening practises is a great start.

Indoor gardens

Following the theme of smaller gardens and dynamic spaces, this was the very first Chelsea Flower Show to highlight houseplants with the brand new indoor gardens category! After postponing the show last year due to world events which saw us all spending more time inside it only seemed necessary. Gardening has seen a massive boost in the last year alone with more and more people seeing the positive benefits it has on mental wellbeing. There were so many designs that were able to utilise the space given and the movability that houseplants have.

Whether you were able to go to the Chelsea Flower Show this year or catch it on television, it’s clear that the trends set this year are here to stay. With a more conscious effort from the RHS to ‘get political’ by focussing on environmental issues and adapt to the new types of gardens, it is proven that this can be done with style.

Read more gardening news here:

What To Harvest In October

Growing your own crops can feel like a long, and sometimes fruitless, process. Finally, you can reap the rewards from your months of labour! October has arrived, and with it brings the appearance of many fruits and vegetables.

Here’s what to harvest in October, whether it be in the garden or allotment.

Carrots

If successful, you can harvest carrots from as early as May, carrying through to December.

Apples

October is the best time to harvest apples. This is when they’ll be at their juiciest! Eat them soon after picking, or use them in recipes for desserts!

Potatoes (Main crop)

Maincrop potatoes can be harvested from August through to October, so grab them out of the ground this month to use them in all your favourite dishes!

Pumpkins

And who can forget the quintessential crop of the autumn months? Pumpkins will be ready to harvest through October, leaving you to fulfil your carving and baking needs!

More to Harvest This Month

  • Runner Beans
  • Pears
  • Beetroot
  • Squashes

Read more from J. Parker’s

What To Expect at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The RHS Chelsea flower show is finally upon us. Having been cancelled last year, the famous festival returns this month, and is bigger and better than ever! From gorgeous displays to professional advice, here’s what you can get up to at the UK’s most anticipated flower show.

What to see at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Whether you’re itching to see the many carefully designed floral displays, or simply want to soak up the atmosphere, there’s plenty to do at this years RHS Chelsea flower show. If you’re there simply for the flowers, and the flowers alone, then you’re in for a treat. This year’s designers have gone all out, and with the show being cancelled the year previous, we just know that the displays will be next level.

This year’s show falls in September, meaning that it coincides with the Chelsea History Festival. If you’re a history buff, you’ll love hearing about stories from war veterans and taking tours of buildings with a rich background.

The house plant studios reflect the ever-growing popularity of house plants. Have a browse of the stylishly posed leafy greens and learn how to utilise their natural appearance in your home.

There’s plenty more to see at the RHS Chelsea flower show, from the Italian Piazza to the discovery zone. And as always, enjoy the hustle and bustle that we’ve all missed over the last year and a half. With free food, drink, and endless shopping opportunities, you’re bound to have a wonderful time!

Read more from J Parker’s

What Is Permaculture Gardening?

Sustainability within our everyday lives is becoming more of a hot topic of discussion. Experts say that the average person can make a big impact by making small changes to their daily routines, whether that’s by recycling, reusing, being conscious of your carbon footprint, or even fine-tuning your gardening techniques.

Within the eco-gardening community prevails a tactic called ‘permaculture gardening’. This practice has been used for hundreds of years by agriculturalists and gardeners alike, concentrating on three main pillars: Caring for the earth, caring for people, and encouraging wildlife.

So, what is permaculture gardening?

Permaculture gardening is essentially creating a garden that co-exists with the environment around it. It focuses on minimal disruption to the soil, but enriching what’s already there, taking only what you need and replacing what you take.

This practice is to mimic nature, producing a sustainable and minimally invasive garden. So, now we know what permaculture gardening is. But how do you start?

There are 8 ways to begin your permaculture journey. These various methods encapsulate the meaning of perma-gardening and sustainability at its core.

  • Plant native. Purchase and grow plants that will thrive in your soil. If there are native plants already in place, leave them be.
  • Build raised beds. To avoid disturbing the ground and the soil, build some raised beds. This means you can till the soil without disrupting what’s already there.
  • Avoid chemicals and non-organic fertilisers. This one speaks for itself. Chemicals and harmful fertilisers do more harm than good, and it’s encouraged to find organic alternatives.
  • Develop a no-dig garden. If you’re working in an allotment and don’t have the space for a raised bed, then a no-dig approach might work for you. Sheet mulching is an easy way to achieve a no-dig garden. Simply lay compostable items on the tops of grass such as cardboard, leaves, and straw to create a layer between your crops or plants and the existing soil below.
Permaculture gardening isn’t a quick fix – It’s a lifestyle change
  • Practice companion planting. Companion planting is an old-age method of gardening. Planting two or more plants together encourages wildlife and will deter pests. Research your plants to discover which will partner perfectly in your area.
  • Consider creating a swale to collect rainwater where it gathers naturally. A swale, in short, is a way to catch rainwater. These can be made anywhere rainwater naturally pools, allowing you to reuse it on your plants. This could be as simple as putting out a bucket to catch rainwater to creating a thought-out ditch form. A perfect way to limit the amount of water you use in your gardening routine.
  • Concentrate on planting low-maintenance crops and plants. Permaculture gardening relies on the natural state of your land. If you struggle to keep up with your plants, then a low-maintenance approach is best. Buy plants that need very little pruning, or pick perfect naturalisers that reappear without encouragement.
  • Let some zones run wild. Wild gardens are a perfect way to preserve the natural state of your land. Let your garden grow freely, enticing wildlife to return to the garden (which will, in turn, improves the yield of crops).

Ready to Start Your Sustainable Garden?

Permaculture gardening is not about jumping headfirst into the unknown. It’s about sustainability. That goes for both the garden, and your consistency.

Small steps make a big impact. Implementing these methods to your daily gardening routine will help you achieve a more sustainable garden, helping the environment to repair itself naturally.

Read more from J. Parker’s

Plants for a vertical garden

Not everyone has the space for a big, luscious garden and the best thing is – you don’t need to. But even if you do have an expansive space, maybe you want to spice up the garden a little bit? Enter the vertical garden! A great way add greenery and brighten up small spaces, cover up unattractive walls or just do something just a bit little different.

Vertical gardens are a fairly simple concept. You start by choosing a wall, preferably one that is a sore sight. But it is also important to think about placement. If your chosen wall gets little to no sun then make sure that the plants you’re picking can withstand that. Once you have your perfect spot it’s time to build the frame! There are many guides online that give you the best idea of what materials to use, along with attributes, sizing and assembly.

Aforementioned, with any garden your space is the most important part. There are so many things you have to take an account of – sun, shade, wind, humidity, and the cold, just to name a few. But luckily for you we have cultivated a list of plants to fit any and all vertical gardens to ensure you’re making the most of your space…

Asplenium scolopendrium

Commonly known as ‘The Harts Tongue Fern’, this RHS Award of Garden Merit Winner is a hardy, evergreen fern! Easy to grow, this luscious green foliage will provide beautiful colour, shape and texture all year round. Perfect for any vertical garden no matter the placement.

Rose Climbing Danse De Feu

Our climbing roses are great for any garden look! From classic fairytale, cottagecore or modern, our Rose Climbing Danse De Feu is perfect for all vertical gardens. Climbers are easy to grow and will reward your garden with gorgeous bursts of colour, a sweet fragrance and up to 20-30 years of character to the garden.

Parthenocissus (Climbing Ivy)

If you’re looking to create a truly enchanting display then look no further! These hardy and robust climbers will grow in all areas of the garden from sunny spots to even the most shaded location. With showy lobed leaves that begin green and slowly bleed into a rich crimson and burnt orange, our climbing ivy is a real treat for a vertical garden.

Honeysuckle American Beauty

Also known as the ‘Golden Flame Honeysuckle’, this striking beauty produces beautiful peach and pink flowers and is the holder of the RHS Award of Garden Merit. Another great feature is its sweet fragrance and climbing habits with climbing vines that will grow up to five metres to create a wonderful feature.

Clematis Double Season Collection

This particular variety is a real treat as it double flowers each year giving you a display from March through to August! But that’s not all. Hardy and versatile, no wall, trellis, fence or even tree can stop its vigorous climbing habit.

Keep up to date with our latest blog posts:

How to grow fruit and vegetables from scraps

People are always striving to do better. Be kinder, be healthier and throw away less waste. Not everyone has the know how or garden space to sow seeds and learn how to properly cultivate a garden. Luckily, fresh home-grown produce is easier than ever to have, and all it takes is a few scraps from the kitchen bin.

‘Garbage gardening’

Sometimes known as ‘garbage gardening’, growing your own frit and vegetables from scraps couldn’t be further from it. Not only does it teach valuable lessons about sustainability, but helps to cut down on food waste and even save money. Buying sustainably grown, non-GMO, organic produce can be costly and even regular produce costs a significant portion of the shopping bill. By taking the parts normally considered as waste and turning it into something new, it helps to shift the perspective of ‘waste’ and nurture our understanding of the cycle of growing. There’s also a great sense of pride and accomplishment when harvesting your own food!

What can be grown from scraps?

Here are some common fruits, vegetables and herbs that you can easily regrow from scraps:

  • Carrots
  • Potatoes and other root crops
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Onions, Garlic, Leeks and Shallots
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbages
  • Basil, Mint, Cilantro

The simplest growing method

This is the simplest and easiest method for growing your own produce from scraps. However, not all fruits and vegetables can use this method.

  • Cut off the top of the root, make sure you leave 3-5cm of the edible part remaining.
  • Submerge the root in water, using toothpicks to hold it in place in the glass.
  • Place in a sunny location and replace the water every other day.
  • Once the roots have been established, place into a pot with soil to continue growing.

Some produce, like Strawberries and Tomatoes, require their seeds to first be picked before being planted.

Other ways to use your scraps:

  • Fresh vegetable stock
  • Add to the compost heap
  • Natural dyes

With this super simple method and a bit of time and patience you will soon have your very own fruit and vegetable harvest, and can continue this new cycle of growing and sustainability.

Read more sustainability tips and ways to reduce your waste:

How gardening has helped our wellbeing

Mental Health Awareness Week comes around every year from the 10th to the 16th of May. This years theme is ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’, while reconnecting with nature. We can think of no better way to express this than with gardening. Over the course of global events we have seen an increase of people getting into gardening as it has become a form of therapy and escapism. Here are some reasons we think gardening has helped us through lockdown.

In the Green

There is evidence to suggest that spending time in a green environment helps us reduce stress, improve our mood and our overall wellbeing. With gardening there is no better place to start than in the garden. Whether you have just a small patch of land, or own an allotment, gardening is easier than ever. There are a plethora of plants that even the most novice of gardeners can start with. From beginner level Hollyhocks, to low maintenance Asters, gardening is truly for everyone. Social media also saw a rise in gardeners as the community continues to grow as more people pick up this amazing hobby.

Stress reduction

Mental Health Journal reported that gardening is great at aiding those who suffer with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Through gardening they were able to see a reduction in stress and improved mood. But it’s not just those afflicted who think so too. Many gardeners feel a real sense of achievement as retrieving your very first harvest or watching flowers bloom is a great accomplishment. What makes gardening such a rewarding hobby is that all your hard work can be counted for. After months of planting, watering, pest removal and constant hard work, there is nothing better than seeing what you have put so much work into first sprout.

Gardening opportunities

Aforementioned, gardening is not just helpful to those with mental health problems. Gardening has several different opportunities to help many more people from those with life-long or long-term physical health needs. But also those recovering from illness and accidents. Since the start of the year we here at J Parkers have been working closely with Manchester Mind to help bring their vision of a sensory garden to life.

“Shared sensory experience is one of the nicest things about our project. Delight at hands in mud, the sound of chirruping birds and the glorious whiff of new tomatoes are just a few examples of the way the garden can stimulate the senses and engage people to improve mental wellbeing. We wanted to enhance this and explore it further.”

Manchester Mind

Through our partnership we intend to create an experience that can be felt all over Manchester and support those in need. Seeing more and more people enjoy the power of gardening has been just one of the benefits for us.

Mental health is an incredibly important subject that we take seriously. From growing pretty flowers that brighten your day. To harvesting fresh produce and focusing on your health. Gardening has something for everyone and we really enjoy reading all of your comments telling us how much it has helped during the past year.

How have you reconnected with nature this Mental Health Awareness week?

Read more about our community projects:

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 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!

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.

Check out some of our other blogs: