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 Keep Your Plants Cool During the Summer

Knowing how to cool plants down in the summer is an essential part of gardening through the season. Although some plants and flowers are drought resistant, many can struggle through particularly warm weather.

If your plants struggle to thrive throughout the summer months, then you’ve come to the right place! Here are some quick and simple ways to keep your plants cool during seasonal heatwaves.

Install Shade Cloth

Shade cloths are great for protecting crops through the season. You can buy these at most outdoor stores or online. Usually, they won’t be as big as the one pictured above.

Shade cloths are perfect for reflecting the heat of the sun away from your more delicate crops, such as peas and lettuce. The use of a shade cloth can help your crops to grow for longer, providing more produce!

The Best Time to Water Your Plants

You may not realise, but there are optimal times for watering your plants in summer. Although you may think they’re being hydrated when you do it midday, this can actually stunt the amount of water the root is getting.

As a rule of thumb, water your plants early in the morning, or in the evening once the sun has gone down. This allows the water to soak into the soil and nourishing the plant before the midday sun can dry it out.

Think About Your Plants Positioning

Potted plants are great for those that need a bit more shade. Pots can be moved anywhere around the garden, allowing you to find the shadiest areas throughout the day as the sun moves. For this reason, it’s best to grow drought-resistant plants in beds and borders, as they can resist a beat of heat.

Utilise Your Mulch

Mulch is a perfect way to cool plants down. Adding a bit of mulch, like leaves and grass cuttings, to the surface of the soil that surrounds the plant can actually cool the plant down.

Mulch also helps to retain moisture in the soil, and prevents weeds from appearing!

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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!

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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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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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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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How to care for Herbaceous Perennials

Herbaceous perennials are the backbone of any garden display. Not only will they add plenty of colour and texture to your garden, but you can rely on them to reappear year after year!

Perennials, on the surface, seem easy to care for. And usually, they are! But by following these simple steps, you will help them to thrive throughout their season for years to come.

What Are Herbaceous Perennials?

Simply put, herbaceous perennials are plants with non-woody stems. This description encapsulates many different types of plants, from annuals to evergreens. Often enough, when people refer to herbaceous perennials, they typically are referring to plants without woody stems.

Although they are under the general umbrella of ‘herbaceous perennials’, not all of these plants will act the same. Evergreens, for example, will continue to thrive throughout the majority of the year, whereas others will die back at the end of their season.

Caring for your Plants Throughout the Season

Like we mentioned before, as long as you’ve chosen the correct plants for the climate in which you live, your perennials will need very little maintenance. However, there are some things you can do to help them thrive for longer!

In spring, add mulch as this will help the ground to maintain its moisture and will also mitigate the appearance of weeds. Taller perennials, like Lupins and Peonies, might need staking to help them reach their full potential. Do this in spring, so that their blooms hide the stake.

Keep your plants well-watered, especially during particularly warm weather. And finally, deadhead wilting flowers to help encourage a new one to grow, as well as keeping the area looking neat and tidy.

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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!

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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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