Spring Photo Competition: Win up to £100 worth of J. Parker’s Vouchers

Our popular Spring Bulbs Photography competition returns for 2019, with another chance to win up to £100 worth of J Parker’s vouchers. All you have to do is share your best photographs of spring bulbs growing in your gardens this year. Here’s everything you need to know about our latest competition.

Last year we were so impressed by your entries that we awarded not one but TEN prizes to our top three winners. This year we’re offering the exact same prize; one gold prize of a £100 voucher, plus two winners of a silver prize of a £50 voucher and seven runners up awarded a prize of a £25 voucher.

1st Place – 1 winner of x Win £100 voucher for J Parkers

2nd Place – 2 winners of x Win £50 voucher for J Parkers

3rd Place – 7 winners of x Win £25 voucher for J Parkers

All entrants will also recieve a 15% discount for online orders when you enter, which will be valid until the end of June.

For a chance to win, simply send us your best spring flowering bulb photo so long as it is of your J. Parker’s products. The competition will run until 15th June 2019, so you’ll have plenty of time to snap those Daffodils and Tulips as they come into flower.

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 (Entry must be under 5mb – please include your name and postcode)

To get your discount code, simply enter in one of the above three ways. If you are entering by email, you should receive your discount code within 48 hours. If you have entered by Facebook or Twitter, please note we can only share our code via direct message.

Please note that we do expect a high volume of entrants, so if you haven’t received your discount code after 48 hours, please email us again at competition@jparkers.co.uk with your entry to request a code.

Please note that entries sent in over the weekend will receive their codes on Monday morning.

Your image can be of any spring flowering bulb, so long as it’s your own original image of a variety purchased from us. Examples include Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinth, Iris, Muscari and many more, any J. Parker bulb in flower in your garden before 15th June 2019.

Here is last year’s winning photo; a stunning soft focus shot of some beautiful spring flowering Snowdrops taken by Gill K.

Its very difficult choosing a winner when we receive so many fantastic photos from all of your beautiful gardens. Previous winners have been chosen for their composition and quality, so get your photographers hat on! Here are last year’s runner up winners.

View Some of the Best entries from previous years.

Terms and Conditions for our 2019 Photo Competition include;

  • We will view all entries and any 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 2 prizes of £50 and 7 prizes of £25.
  • All entries using photographs or drawings must be original images, taken/produced by the entrant. You must own all rights to the image and in entering the competition you agree to allow us to use your image in further promotions, on social media or in print.
  • Entrants agree that their names may or may not be published with their entry. No other details will be shared with any third parties.
  • The winning entry will be judged on both the quality of the plant and the image. The Judge’s decision is final.
  • Ten winners will receive either a £100 (1), £50 (2) or £25 (7) voucher 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 Twitter or Facebook page.
  • As an extra thank you all entries will receive a 15% discount on their next purchase, valid for three weeks. Enter this at basket stage to claim discount.
  • All entries will be considered, and you can enter as many times as you wish. Competition closes 15th June 2019. Winners will be notified by email before the 7th July 2019.

So send us your entries and good luck!

Complete Guide: How to Prune

Pruning is an essential job that is often overlooked, but with a little planning and preparation in advance then we can easily maintain the long term health and vibrancy of the garden.  For larger trees it can sometimes be safer and easier to consult a professional, but most pruning is a simple do it yourself job.

Why do I need to prune?

  1. Promotes healthy development – By removing the old, dying or weak branches from the trees/shrubs this will allow the structure to become stronger and flowering thus to become more prolific and less prone to disease.
  2. Maintain the ornamental appearance – Removing damaged or wayward shoots will stop the branches from becoming entangled and messy.
  3. Controls height and shape – If you are looking to keep certain plants, such as climbers or vigorous growing shrubs from becoming unmanageable, then regular and hard pruning will be a must.
  4. Promotes flowering and fruiting – Proving can improve air circulation, should result in more flowers or a much better and larger crop year on year for fruit.

How to Prune

As a starting point cut back and remove all dead and diseased wood.  Always work with the natural habit and structure of the tree or shrub, to encourage continued natural growth. This can be followed up with removing any crossing or rubbing branches at the centre of the plant.  By removing these branches which can act as a barrier to further growth, you will in fact improve circulation around the shrubs/tree, helping to reduce the likelihood of plant disease.

When removing stems, we suggest cutting at a little above healthy buds, cutting back around 0.5cm above.  Never cut back and leave short stubs.  Make all cuts perpendicular to the branch and close to the branch collar to facilitate rapid healing.

For fruit trees, its important to encourage healthy growth and a bumper crop of fruit. It’s critical to prune before the buds appear from mid-late spring.  Make sure that any rubbing or branches that cross each other are trimmed back completely.  Identify damaged or weakened branches and remove these also. Create a simple open structure where the side shoots can develop and become stronger.

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For more information, follow the links below to read our previous posts on pruning different plants;

How and when to Prune Ornamental Trees and Shrubs

How and when to Prune Climbing Plants

How and when to Prune Fruit Trees

How and when to Prune Roses

Complete Guide: How To Plant Begonia Tubers

There’s no denying that Begonias are one of the most popular and sought after flowers for the summer garden. With a beautiful and rich assortment of colours and a long flowering season, there are so many qualities to enjoy when it comes to these vibrant beauties.

Check out our guide to find out more about tubers and how to plant them, as well as a summary of our beautiful types of Begonias, so you can find a variety that best suits you and your garden’s needs.

What are Tubers?

Tubers are a thick underground part of a stem or rhizome and Begonia sizes are measured by the diameter of the tuber. Many of our varieties are supplied either as:

  • Standard size (3/4cm) – great for mass planting
  • Exhibition size (5cm+) – excellent for large flowering displays

How Do I Plant Begonia Tubers?

  • Planting Time: February – May 📆
  • Position: Full Sun/Partial Shade ☀
  • Flowering Time: June-October 🌸
  1. Start off your Begonias indoors (until all risk of frosts have passed) in a light room or greenhouse.
  2. Plant the tubers in pots with the hollow side facing up.
  3. Cover the tubers with no more than 1cm of soil or potting compost.
  4. Watered regularly during the summer, so that the soil is not allowed to dry out.
  5. Feed once every two weeks with a high potassium up until the blooms begin to fade.
  6. Lift tubers after flowering has finished and the leaves have begun to turn yellow.
  7. Store in a dry, cool (but frost-free) location over the winter. Store in soil that is only a little moist and keep this a little moist over the winter (with irregular watering) to keep the tubers from drying out.

Check out our video tutorials

How to Plant Cascading Begonias
How to Plant Cascading Begonias
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Begonia Types

Which tuber suits you? To help you get a head start on your summer planning, we’ve listed out the different types of Begonias, so you can decide which magnificent bloomer will best suit your garden.

Double Flowering
A British favourite. Their ruffled, double flower heads bloom in an array of bright colours. Perfect for summer borders and pots.

Cascading
Create a waterfall of elegance with these beautiful, trailing Begonias. Perfect for hanging baskets and patio pots.

Non-Stop
As the name suggests, these beautiful Begonias will produce masses of flowers all throughout the summer months. Great for summer baskets, pots or beds.

Superba (Mighty Mini) Our premium Superba (Mighty Mini) Begonias are a stand out for the summer garden. This colourful, compact and versatile plant is perfect for pots, hanging baskets or window boxes.

Fancy Frills (Fimbriata)
A remarkable, flamboyant Begonia. Add charm to your summer patios with these large, frilly blooms. Available in an assortment of magnificent colours.

7 Ways to Help Wildlife in your Garden

For many people, wildlife is a welcome addition to the garden, bringing a cheerful breath of life and character to your very own backyard.

It is especially vital at this time of year, in the cold frosty months, to keep supporting your local wildlife with the space you have. Taking just a little time out of your day to make some easy changes in your garden can attract a flurry of wildlife and help do your bit for the environment.

Here are seven easy ways to make it happen;

  1. Leave a snack

Food can be scarce for animals during the winter, so this time of year is the perfect time to begin attracting wildlife to your garden. Even something as simple as adding a bird feed or scattering monkey nuts on the lawn can easily attract various wildlife to your garden. A bird table is a fantastic way of enticing birds into a specific area of the garden.

  1. Choose Shrubs for shelter and food

If you have the space grow trees and big shrubs. By devoting even the smallest part of your garden to attracting wildlife you can turn it into a paradise for beneficial birds, mammals and insects.

Birds are attracted to areas where they find both food and shelter. A good way of doing so in the autumn/winter is by planting up shrubs and trees which produce berries, such as Ilex (Holly), Pyracantha or Gaultheria. Not only will they produce valuable food but they also produce some much needed ornamental value in the Winter months.

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  1. Choose nectar-rich flowers

Bees and butterflies will visit most gardens, especially if they find plants in sunny or sheltered locations. The secret here is to make available nectar rich, fragrant flowers which are colourful and from which they feed. Lavender, Buddleia, Syringa, Forsythia and Echinacea are just a few fantastic garden favourites for attracting butterflies and all look great in the garden!

Ornamental grasses are also a popular way of making the garden appealing to seed eating birds.

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  1. Don’t forget water!

Just a little water left out can help out passing critters. Remember if you have a water feature or are near bodies of water, be sure to provide water and shelter for Toads. These are great for keeping unwanted pests at bay and if you have a pond or one nearby its likely you already have Frogs and Toads living nearby. If you have a dog remember Toads will release skin secretions which are toxic to dogs.

  1. Use an old Tennis Ball

Having a space for a water feature in your garden is a fantastic way to attract wildlife, but in the colder months freezing temperatures can create lethal conditions for your pondlife. A great tip for preventing your water feature from completely freezing over is to float several old tennis balls on the surface.

  1. Offer Shelter

Critters and bugs appreciate a little homemade shelter. A pile of old logs or bricks, some overgrown grass or turned over empty pots can all help with providing shelter for animals – Hedgehogs will happily take advantage of your hospitality and thank you by eating pesky slugs and snails – an ideal natural defender of you Hosta plants! 

  1. Go Wild

Wild gardens and meadows have been popular in recent years for their stylish swathes of summer colour. Composting and letting a few patches of your garden grow a little wild will help to encourage visitors (and what gardener needs to be told the virtues of compost!).

Online now you will find many varieties of plants and shrubs which will help you along the way, by both attracting and providing food/shelter for various forms of wildlife.

Read Some of our Best Reader-submitted Tips

February Plant of the Month: Snowdrops (Galanthus)

There’s nothing quite like the sight of delicate Snowdrops bursting into flower to signal that winter is almost at an end. The sight of snowdrops appearing late in January is a cheerful reminder of the warmer, brighter days to come.

Double Snowdrops boast all of the same features, but with novelty double flowers as a twist to the early spring favourite.

Both are great naturalisers, so will multiply and come back year after year. They are robust and easy to grow and have earned a RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Planting

You can plant dry Bulbs in the autumn or from January to March you will be able to buy snowdrops in the green.

In the Green simply means that you plant the snowdrops whilst they are in leaf. You can buy them like this, or when your bulbs come through you can lift dense clumps of snowdrops and transplant them elsewhere which will create a better display but also give the snowdrops more space and encourage them to flower better next year.

Snowdrops prefer shade, and work really well amongst shrubs or under trees. Ideally they like fertile, moist but well drained soils.

Bulbs: You can buy and plant Snowdrop bulbs in the autumn for the following early spring. Plant in moist, well-drained soil at least 5cm deep and 5cm apart. They can be grown successfully in pots and containers but only temporarily and will need to be lifted after their growing season.

In the Green: transplanted with their green foliage intact giving you a guaranteed 100% success rate. Make sure to water well once planted, to encourage their roots to re-establish with the soil.

These RHS award winners will naturalise well and you can just let them die back at the end of their season so require little after care. If you get heavy, dense clumps of snowdrops in one place lift and divide the clump when the foliage starts to fade, careful not to break any of the roots.

Make sure the soil does not fully dry out in summer.

Our Snowdrops in the Green offer guaranteed pre-grown success, supplied in the green ready to be planted straight in the ground.

Click here to shop Bulbs in the Green

Competition Winners Announced

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who entered or shared our recent charity competition. We have been overwhelmed with the response and it has been a great pleasure to read about some of the amazing projects being undertaken around the country.

We received so many fantastic initiatives, so many in fact that we couldn’t choose just one winner. Last year we announced in a subscriber email that we selected three overall winners, to receive a large donation of bulbs towards their community project.

We also sent out an additional runners up prize to our top 30 entrants, all of whom were sent their prizes back in November. We regret that we couldn’t support everyone who got in touch, but we’re excited to see our bulbs used to brighten communities up and down the country.

Middle Street Community Gardening group

This Nottingham based gardening project is a fantastic initiative that supports people who have Mental Health Difficulties to be involved within all aspects of gardening and developing new skills.

They describe their garden as a ‘secret garden’ in the middle of town, a place that prides itself on having a warm and friendly atmosphere where all members of the community are welcome. Their team of volunteers strive to make sure there is a place to sit and read a book, have a picnic, play games, listen to music, write poetry, take photographs keep fit, paint and just feel connected to nature in a spiritual mindfulness way. They’re hoping a donation of bulbs will create a colourful palette for young and old to admire and appreciate and perhaps encourage wildlife to the kaleidoscope of colour which spring and summer bulbs create.

Growing Together Levenshulme

This lovely group is an entirely volunteer-ran, therapeutic horticulture project. Each week, around 30 asylum seekers and refugees from across Greater Manchester come together at their Levenshulme community allotment to learn and share skills, build a supportive community, and create a beautiful and relaxing garden.

We were thrilled to be able to donate bulbs that would help them reach out to the community and transform key areas with some much-needed spring colour.

We chose this entry as one of our favourites because of their positive community spirit and their enthusiasm to include everyone. Asylum seekers are often met with hostility, and one of their propositions was to approach places where members have instead experienced support or welcome, and ‘give back’ by running gardening activities to enhance their green spaces. It is their hope to use this as an opportunity to work directly with other community groups, breaking down barriers and building understanding and connections, through gardening together.

Grey Urban Decay to Fabulous Spring Display

One of our favourite entries came from the Meanwhile Gardens Community Association, who were hoping to improve the lives of locals in their community park.

Their gardens are located in North Kensington nestled between the Grand Union Canal and the famous Trellick Tower. The area offers a beautiful green space, as well as a free skate park and Playhut “Stay & Play” drop in.

Sadly our community was badly affected by the nearby Grenfell tower disaster and for many months the mood was sombre as the tragedy unfolded.  The area has been able to offer “Eco Therapy” gardening sessions in partnership with the local NHS Trust for refugees attending their Forced Migration Trauma Service, as some attendees have suffered extreme trauma and PTSD.

They aim to use their donation as part of a Community Bulb Planting Day, inviting the community to get involved. With the help of their small gardening team, including regular volunteers, they aim to put a smile on people’s faces again by interacting with friends and neighbours by planting and enjoying growing their own little bit of paradise.

Full List of Winners

1              Growing Together Levenshulme

2              Meanwhile Gardens Community Association

3              Middle Street Community Gardening group

4              YMCA Wirral

5              South Lincolnshire Blind Society

6              South Kintyre Development Trust

7              Chirnside Field of Hope

8              Chorley in Bloom

9              Glossop Community Allotment

10           Friends of Prescot Cemetery & Churchyard

11           WETRA Community Garden

12           The Conservation Foundation’s Unlocking Nature project

13           Edinburgh Care Home; ‘Inch View’

14           Springbank Road Community Garden

15           Friend of Glen Gardens

16           Floral Friends of Frampton

17           The Camden Society

18           Clem’s Garden CIC

19           Cherwell Wellbeing garden

20           Hall Cliffe Community Garden

21           Lochend Community Growing Project

22           Ryde community garden

23           Marple garden

24           Fruitful Abundance

25           St Barnabas Hospice

26           Tayport Community garden

27           Friends of Hermitage Park

28           Bordesley Green

29           Birkby Community Wildlife Garden

30           The Barge Memorial Garden

January Plant of the Month: Eranthis

January’s plant of the month is a cheerful, early-flowering bulb that will bring some much needed colour to your garden in these gloomy months.

Also known as Eranthis hyemalis, winter aconites beam a golden glow into the garden at a time when the sun rarely breaks through the clouds. These golden yellow flowers bloom the earliest of all spring flowers and will delight you with vibrant yellow flowers in January and February.

We strongly recommend trying Winter Aconites to kick off your spring display, and they are particularly recommended for rockeries and naturalising. These gorgeous yellow blooms are contrasted by beautiful green foliage, which covers the ground long after the flowers have disappeared.

Although bulb planting season is at an end, there is still time to get some last-minute colour in your garden. If you’re looking out at a wintery garden and can’t wait for spring, consider investing in our Eranthis in the Green available now ready for planting and flowering this year.

Our Eranthis in the Green offer guaranteed pre-grown success from these Eranthis hyemalis, supplied in the green ready to be planted straight in the ground.

Click here to shop Eranthis in the Green

Competition Time: WIN a donation to your local community

Community comp1

Do you have an idea for a project to improve your local area and include your local community? We want to help.

Whether it’s starting an allotment with your neighbours or helping cheer up some local land with spring bulbs, we’d love to hear your best ideas to improve your community with gardening. More than that – we want to help you make it a reality.

Gardening can bring people together and transform a neighbourhood – and here at J. Parker’s we want to support all your hard work. Tell us your idea for your local community and we’ll choose five of our favourites to donate what we can to help make it happen.

Big or small, simply write up your idea in under 250 words, detailing a project that would really help your community and send it to us to competition@jparkers.co.uk by 10th November 2017. Tell us how you would organise your project, how it would help your local area and how a donation of bulbs or plants from J. Parker’s would help.

We want to hear about your community and how our donation could help it thrive. Perhaps you want to raise that community spirit with a big gardening project or regenerate a local area, just tell us why you want to help and how you plan to pull it off and we’ll choose our favourite to support.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

  • We will view all entries and any which meet the criteria outlined below will be considered for the prize of a donation of J. Parker’s products to go towards the project outlined in the entry.
  • Three winning entries will receive a donation of bulbs or plants from J. Parker’s for use in their proposed community project
  • Entries should be under 250 words. Images can be used so long as your entry email is less than 5mb in size.
  • Send your entries by email to competition@jparkers.co.uk (please keep your entries under 5mb to ensure we receive them).
  • Entrants agree that their names and stories may be published publicly with their entry. No other details will be shared with any third parties.
  • Entrants agree that, should they be successful, their story and their project may be used in future for coverage on our blog and social channels.
  • All entries using photographs or drawings must be original images, taken/produced by the entrant. You must own all rights to the image and in entering the competition you agree to allow us to use your image in further promotions, on our blog, on social media or in print.
  • The winning entry will be judged on the criteria outlined below. The Judge’s decision is final.
  • The following criteria will be used to judge entries;
    • The idea itself, its practicality and how well it has been outlined by the entrant.
    • How the idea will benefit local communities and environments.
    • The originality of the idea and anything that sets it apart from other entrants.
  • The winners will receive a donation of J. Parker’s products with a value of up to £500 subject to available stock. This will be made up of products of our choosing based on the project described in the entry, cannot be exchanged for cash and there is no substitution for this prize. This donation of products can only be used for the purpose outlined in your entry.
  • All entries will be considered. Competition closes 10th November 2017. Winners will be notified by email before the 20th November 2017.

 

8 Ways Gardening Can Help Your Community

Gardening can bring people together and transform a neighbourhood. Here at J. Parker’s, we are big believers in the benefits of a simple bit of gardening, and we’ve gathered some of the best ideas to give you some inspiration.

side banner 1Healthy Living

A community garden patch or allotment can provide fresh, healthy produce for the whole community. From organic vegetables and tasty herbs to juicy fresh fruit, your community garden could be an excellent source of vitality for you and your neighbours.

Growing your own food is incredibly rewarding, and can also boost awareness of healthy diets that can improve your fitness and general well-being.

Provide Activities for Kids

Including children and providing workshops can really do wonders for the kids in your community.

Whether its simply including them in a grander project or setting up something just for them, kids love to get in and get gardening. Why not have them plant a bank of spring Daffodils or decorate a local school.

It might just inspire the next generation of green fingered folk!

Sustainable Living

Gardening in your community can spread the importance of local conservation and environmental awareness. The very attitude of getting out there and making a difference is vitally important and can puts out an extremely positive message.

We have to look after our world, and that starts from the bottom up. Promote recycling, educate people on how to reduce their footprint and get people involved in efforts to spread the word. Getting together to support each other and discuss your work is a wonderful, practical way to really encourage sustainable living changes in your whole community.

Reach out to all areas of your Community

We all love gardening. Its natural, relaxing and good for you. But there are people in your neighbourhood who might find it more difficult to join in. Whether its physical or mental health restrictions, whether young or elderly, you can reach out to these corners of your community and involve them.

This kind of inclusion gives vulnerable or overlooked parts of your community opportunities to contribute in really positive activities.

side banner 2

Learn New Skills

Nothing beats a good, hard day’s work on something that’s important to you. Everyone deserves a chance to experience that, and working on a garden can help develop important skills. You can learn all about plants, the type of soil they prefer, how deep to plant them, and how to care for a garden.

If you’re an advanced gardener, maybe you’d like to give back to your community by giving them practical experience in planting and maintaining a garden.

Transform Land

Of course, the greatest boon of a good garden project is the end result. You can turn a derelict, forgotten area of your local community into a beautiful space you can all be proud of.

From rooftop gardens to forgotten allotments, look for land that is in desperate need of some TLC and find out what you can do to help.

Help Wildlife

Modern life is tough on birds, bees and other wildlife that frequents our garden. Some species are struggling more than others, and this is particularly true in cities and built up areas. You can create an area of land that not only attracts them, but helps them thrive. Be sure to design an area that will really appeal to everything, with plenty of flowers to pollinate or places to hide and nest.

 

October Plant of the Month: Heuchera

Heuchera are famed for their superb range of spectacular foliage and attractive late spring/summer flowers. Uusually bought for their amazing coloured and veined foliage, the vibrancy of leaf colour alone makes these semi-evergreen perennials a must have.

Hosta2

When many plants in the garden are fading in October, the beautifully coloured and marked foliage of Heucheras really stand out and often become more vibrant.

Hosta1

We have a huge range of Heuchera and Heucherella available, our largest selection yet. These beautiful, colourful perennials will brighten up your garden with a vibrant range of colours and distinctive foliage. Try growing in pots on the patio or at the front of any border (even in shaded locations).

POTM Planting

Planting and Care

Choose an area of partial shade for best results, but Heuchera are also versatile enough to cope in the full shade of tricky, hard to fill spots in the garden as well as full sun. They like nutrient rich, well-drained and slightly acidic soil, so be sure to give the space a bit of preparation. Heuchera prefer a site with good drainage so be sure not to over-water and stick to damp soil.

Given their low-growing, compact habit Heuchera are perfect for the front of a border but they will also grow well in pots and look stylish decorating the patio in containers.

Choice Varieties

Ideal for growing in border, rockeries or in patio containers, try mixing Heuchera together for a rainbow colour effect. The variation and range of colours available is unmatched by any other dwarf evergreen perennial. We have sourced the best varieties to offer, perfect for adding real style to your garden.
black jam
Blackberry Jam produce rich purple and maroon foliage, with deep veins. Try growing in pots on the patio or at the front of any border (even in shaded locations). Height 30-40cm.
heuch mix
Our luxury mixture is the perfect choice if you want to get started with Heuchera. A spectacular mixture of 10+ premium varieties, these plants are sure to brighten any border or patio container. When many plants begin to fade, this mixture will bring you remarkable colour all year round. Height 30-40cm.
You can also shop our full range of Heuchera online here.