Congratulations to our competition winners and runners up!
We’ve been thrilled with the quality and quantity of entries this year and would like to thank everyone who got involved. If you want to see the winners and other entrants you can head over to our Facebook page to see their fantastic photography shots.
Mr Dalton from Preston has won £50 worth of J. Parker’s vouchers in first place for his Freesia image, Ms Baird from Inverclyde has won a £25 voucher in second place for her Tulip Early Harvest variety whilst Miss Crawford from Tetbury has won a £25 voucher in third place for her white Narcissi image.
Thanks again to everyone who entered, and keep checking back for more opportunities to win!
We were so thrilled with the response to last year’s Daffodil Photography Competition, that we are offering a second chance to win a £100 voucher to spend on J. Parker’s products.
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 14th June 2016.
To enter, you can share your image on our Facebook page, follow and tweet us @JParkersBulbs or e-mail it to us (along with your post code) to the address email@example.com
All entries will be considered, and you can enter as many times as you wish. Competition closes 14th June 2016 and winners will be notified by e-mail before 26th June 2016.
2. We will view all entries and any which meet the criteria outlined below will be considered for the prize of £100 worth of J. Parker’s vouchers.
3. All entries must be original images, taken by the entrant, of Bulbs in flower purchased from J. Parker’s in the past. 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.
4. Entrants also agree that their names may be published with their entry. No other details will be shared with any third parties.
5. The winning entry will be judged on both the quality of the plant and the image. The Judge’s decision is final.
6. All varieties of Daffodils and Narcissi will be considered, but only those purchased from J. Parker’s will qualify for the competition prizes.
7. The winner will receive a £100 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.
Congratulations to our competition winners and runners up!
We’ve been thrilled with the quality and quantity of entries this year, and to share that enjoyment we’ve picked a selection of our e-mail entrants in the gallery below. You can also head over to our Facebook page for even more fantastic photography shots.
Thanks again to everyone who entered, and keep checking back for more opportunities to win!
If you held off planting in May, now is the ideal time to clear these plants out of your greenhouse and get your summer bedding and hanging baskets finished. There is minimal chance of frost even this far north so line your baskets, prepare the soil and use some organic compost to fertilize the soil. Ensure you water regularly particularly if the weather is warm and dry.
Hot weather protection
Hot and dry weather can be just as dangerous as the harsh conditions of winter for your plants. Recent dry spells mean watering is more important than ever. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste. Regular watering of pots and baskets is essential to maximise your garden show this summer. You should also remember to keep your greenhouses cool and prevent scorch with shading and ventilation.
Prepare to tie up tall border perennials with support. Tall varieties such as Hollyhocks, Delphiniums and Lupins will need a little help and stakes can help prevent wind damage. You might also like to cut back early-flowering perennials such as Papavers as this will provide fresh foliage and possibly even a second flowering.
Protect fruit trees
Protect the newly developing fruit on your fruit trees from birds. This can be tricky as netting suggested last month for soft fruit, is not a viable option. We recommend using some of those unwanted DVDs or CDs in newspaper supplements by hanging these from your trees on string. The changing reflections of light created in a little breeze should keep birds away.
Keep everything tidy
The warm weather and increased sunshine means that weeds are popping up everywhere and can be an eyesore in your garden. Keep an eye on these particularly during dry spells and it will make your garden look much neater. You should also now be cutting the lawn weekly, pruning many spring flowering shrubs and trimming hedges into shape. For bulbs, allow foliage to die down naturally before cutting back to ground level. Keep any waste for your compost bin!
If you’ve been lucky enough to get some relaxation time in the garden, you may have had furniature such as lounger out on your lawn. Be aware that this could damage grass and cause patches of yellow damaged lawn. This is easily prevented simply by moving your lawn furniture regularly. Keep up trimming your lawn regularly, including the edges, and apply fertiliser for a healthy looking growth.
It’s inevitable that each New Year we will constantly read and see ways in which we must improve our lifestyle and become healthier all around. In gardening terms this often means going “organic” and what can be more organic than growing your own fruit and vegetables. There are of course many wonderful choices of fruit and vegetables to get you started, and personal choice should always be the best reasoning for choice. Reading through the usual Sunday papers in early January got me thinking about my own personal favourites, and right up there on top of my list has to be the Blueberry, or Vaccinium to give them their proper name.Great tasting fruit to give you a health kick
The deliciously sweet tasting fruit grown from the Blueberry bush is the most appealing part of this summer fruit. The lovely small, round and colourful fruit appears in abundance throughout the summer, into autumn, providing months and months of enjoyment. Almost all Blueberry shrubs are self-fertile, but to enhance production and yield then why not try growing with partners/pairs. By planting with multiple varieties and various harvesting dates, this allows you to extend the season and allow for more wonderful fruit. Once established and properly cared for they will fruit easily year on year. By growing fruit yourself you can allow them to fully ripen on the vine prior to harvesting for a sweeter taste, a luxury that many large scale growers cannot achieve due to economic restrictions.
We have all come to refer to the Blueberry has one of the most healthy fruits around and it’s easy to see why. Recent research have helped shine light on the high levels of antioxidants, minerals and vitamin C present within Blueberries and often sees this labelled as a modern day ‘Super Food’. By growing your own fruit you control the level of pesticides used within your product, a major concern for many when buying mass produced products.
How to grow your own Blueberries
Blueberries are versatile enough to accommodate growing in the ground or in containers spread out around the patio. Planting in acidic soil is vital to the success of Blueberries, with a PH level of four/five. Make sure the soil is well aerated and rich in humus. If planting in containers then make sure they are large enough to allow the roots to fully spread, and add a handful of crocs or pebbles to the bottom of the container.
Looking after Blueberries is relatively easy and suitable for all skill levels. Make sure the soil is kept moist throughout, but never allowed to become waterlogged. Many organic gardeners choice to use recycled or rain water instead of tap water, to save the environment and in fact this should help keep PH level of the soil a little more balanced. We suggest applying a liquid feed once a month to help encourage larger and more successful fruit.
Top Varieties to Try
1. Blueberry Top Hat – The versatile and compact Blueberry Top Hat produces white flowers during spring which develop slowly into fruits come summer before its foliage finally turns reddish-green as autumn approaches. One of our best-selling varieties, the Top Hat Blueberry plant will thrive in a patio container, and grows to a mature height of just 50cm tall making it the perfect choice where space in minimal.
2. Blueberry Pink Lemonade –Blush white flowers are followed by flavoured and good textured Pink Blueberries in August. Although self-fertile, you can plant in pairs to achieve a greater crop. A real garden novelty, equally effective as an ornamental shrub with all year round interest. Height 1.5m.
3. Blueberry Spartan (Early season Flowering) –Blueberry Spartan is a popular early fruiting variety, reaching heights of 1m. The fruit is high in Vitamin C and can be eaten fresh of the tree or for culinary purposes such as creating a pie or tart. Pot grown plants supplied.
4. Blueberry Dixi (Late season flowering) –The versatile and compact Blueberry Late Season Fruiting Dixi shrub, also known as the ‘vaccinium corymbosum’, is an intensely flavoured variety, producing fruit in August and September as well as fragrant foliage which is highly attractive to bees and other pollinators.
5. Blueberry Giant Patriot – The largest and juiciest of all blueberry shrubs, Patriot fruits July/August. Blueberry Giant Patriot produces some of the largest and most flavoursome fruits of all blueberry varieties. This impressive specimen produces fragrant foliage which is highly attractive to bees and other pollinators. Grows to a mature height of one metre, supplied as a 9cm potted plant.
As more and more people are actively taking an interest in looking after their health and the food that they eat, the UK is rapidly seeing an increase in the use of allotments in urban areas. These little pieces of oasis in built up, often highly populated areas offer a superb way of getting back in touch with nature, growing your own fruit and vegetables and creating an area which allows you relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.Allotments are often allocated to people by their local councils, and one of their key benefits is that they bring people together, allow people to enjoy a shared space and also to share ideas/tips. I love the thought, at the end of the week watching people locally escape to their allotment, getting stuck in and trying to create (and maintain) something wonderful. The maintenance can at times be time consuming and hard work (especially trying to keep on top of those dreaded weeds), but the rewards really can be worth the effort.
What to grow in the allotment this year?
Now summer is almost here, there is still the opportunity to get the allotment into shape and start to transform the area. Don’t worry if the area is small, you
can still grow many varieties of fruit and vegetables in even the smallest of sections.Walking past the allotments near my house recently I stopped and began to chat to a local lady who had made such a lovely, open planned display of her own space. She had Strawberry plants growing in almost perfectly controlled rows, raised beds with Potatoes growing from seed, Blueberry and Blackberry plants growing in containers by a bench, Vegetables on show in garden shed (almost ready to come outside) and she also had a penned in area for her own chickens (seven of them no less).This got me thinking about what would be worth a try this year if you have the space available and here are some top suggestions and tips:
1. Grow some Strawberry Pineberry in multiple rows. Supplied as 7cm pot plants for easy planting, try growing in rows for a successful large crop. Each plant should be space around 40cm apart in a straight line, with around 60-70cm between each row. Strawberry Pineberry is a real novelty, with the look and feel of a white Strawberry but with a smell and taste more closely associated with a pineapple.
2. So if your garden needs a fresh look and feel then why not also make these changes productive by planting your very ownApple Trees. Their striking spring blossoms are a valuable bonus to the allotment, but ultimately it is the crop from this mini fruit orchard that is appealing. Plant your Apple trees in an area with has as much sun as possible, as the more sun they get the healthier the tree will grow. My personal favourite is Apple James Grieve, because of the juicy taste. Grow the varieties you like, that’s the best advice anyone can offer when growing fruit and vegetables.
3.Asparagusare becoming all the rage in Britain and a beautiful vegetable to accompany most dishes. Plant in a trench approx 5-6inches deep with the crowns covered by 2inches of fine soil. As the plants grow, the trench should be filtered gradually and should be level by the autumn. You can choose from three varieties to cover the full season, the early yielding Gijnlim, mid season yielding ‘Herkolim’ and the late season yielding ‘Backlim’.
By growing your own herbs you can easily improve your culinary skills and become more creative. Growing herbs is easy and low maintenance and because you can grow them in containers they can easily be moved around the allotment. Basil ‘Wild Magic’ really caught our eye last summer as a standout new variety to try. Not only is it extremely tasty and heavily scented, but it makes a fantastic ornamental plant with extremely dark green leaves tinged with purple and purple flowers throughout summer.5. Miniature Plum ‘Black Amber’ can be grown in containers or in the ground. Smaller than your average Plum trees, they are ideal for an allotment where space can be at a premium. Growing in pairs will add effective spring blossom in spring and dark-purple thick skinned fruit will pop up in late summer and early autumn. Miniature Plum Trees are a must for lovers of plum trees.
6. Blueberry ‘Pink Lemonade’ are another unusual twist to a popular soft fruit. Blush white flowers are followed by sweetly flavoured and good textured Pink Blueberries in August. A real garden novelty, equally effective as an ornamentalshrub with all year round interest.
7. Striped Tiger Fig is a reliable cropping dwarf fruit tree that produce unusually striped figs on miniature stems. They love fertile, humus rich soil or if planting up into containers you can use a loam based potting compost.
8. Goji Berry (The Miracle Berry), or Lycium Barbarum, to give it its full name can be introduce because of the incredibly high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants found within each berry produced. A very easy plant to succeed with, they will fruit from their second season onwards with a significantly higher yield year after year. A very popular, pleasant tasting fruit that can be eaten straight of the vine, with an almost herbal scent. Originating in the Himalaya, it can easily be added to breakfast cereal, yoghurts, fruit salads.
Mid-to-late May is the best time to plant out summer bedding plants. Prepare the soil and use some organic compost to fertilize the soil ready for the new bedding. You do need to keep an eye on the long term weather forecast when doing this, as a late strong frost can put pay to your hard work. You can keep plants in the greenhouse until the weather improves and move them out towards the end of the month. Just make sure they’re well watered and the greenhouse is well aired, vented and shaded during the day so that these plants don’t over heat in warm weather. The same rules apply for hanging baskets. You can plant these from April onwards, but until the last sign of frost has passed you may want to protect them in the greenhouse. If you don’t have one, hold off planting until the end of May. Line your basket well and add a fertilizer rich compost soil. There are plenty of varieties to choose from but trailing plants work well for covering the sides of your basket. Water well, add fertilizer weekly and keep any eye out for pests!
You may find you need to clip any hedging and topiary now to keep its shape neat and tidy. The warmer weather will also mean regular mowing of the lawn will be a necessity now and through the summer months. Once a week should be sufficient, keep on top this and your garden will look tidy all summer!
Deal with weeds
As the temperatures rise your prized plants will spring to life, but unfortunately so will any unwanted weeds! Pull up any seedlings and dig out perennial weeds with a fork to try and get rid of any roots. Time and effort spent on these perennial weeds will benefit not only your borders but also your lawn, as May is the ideal time to identify those nasty dandelions and deal with them.
If you have a pond, pond weed is equally important to deal with and should be removed regularly before it becomes too difficult to manage and harmful to pond life. Make sure you leave any weeds by the side of the pond for a good while before removing just in case any pond life is hiding there!May is a great time to begin stocking ponds with fish, just make sure any aquatic plants have established first.
Keep an eye on growth
Many growing plants may need your attention this month, add plenty of feed to keep them happy. Tall perennials may need trellis and support as they start to grow to keep them straight and upright.It is also important to tie up your clematis to control their climbing in the direction you would like them to grow. For rambling roses, try and tie as horizontal as possible as this will restrict the flow of sap and increase side shoots, thus causing more flowers. Spring flowered Montana type clematis need pruning after flowering to keep them tidy.
With March having arrived and with the weather finally beginning to warm up a little, it is now time to begin putting our gardening plans into action for the summer. Bluebells have sprung in abundance, Snowdrops are as reliably present as ever and the sight of the beloved Daffodil in the past few weeks has offered much encouragement to us gardeners (in a year were we have seen unusually high levels of rainfall earlier this year).
Spring is always one of our favourite seasons and equally one of the busiest, let’s get planting and let’s get preparing!
Each year in our own garden we love to test and trial new varieties and introductions, it keeps things new and interesting for us, but our garden is never without one of our most popular and best-selling summer flowering plants of all time – Begonias. The versatility, vibrancy of colour and relative inexpensiveness of Begonias, especially when grown for tubers, make them a must for the garden this summer and for many years to come. Whether grown for hanging baskets where they can trail beautifully or for containers and troughs where upright varieties will provide character and charm, please consider these perennial plants, we hope you will agree that once tried that you will find them difficult to ignore in the future.
A reliable, star attraction
Begonias, part of the Begoniacea family. have been around for many years and although some varieties can be grown indoors, typically here in Britain they have become one of our most commonly grown summer flowering perennials outdoors. Begonias, named by the famous botanist Charles Plumier, are well worthy if their place in the garden, flowering continuously through the summer months, often right up until the first frosts of autumn.
Growing Begonias from quality tubers helps improve results, they are very reliable and can easily be lifted and stored indoors over winter, then replanted the following spring for continued flowering.We only supply the best grade tubers possible to offer you the best results. They are simple to plant, care for and the high level of results they achieve make them an easy choice when growing Begonias.
Fill your hanging baskets with cascading Begonias
When looking to fill your summer hanging baskets we often look to traditional trailing plants such as Surfinia, Million Bells and trailing Geraniums. A superb way of mixing things up while still achieving excellent blooms is to try some trailing Begonias.Cascading or Pendula Begonias produce giant sized flowers through the summer months and are easy to plant on arrival. Ideal for hanging baskets mounted to the wall or for containers raised of ground level. For the largest blooms possible try growing on the Giant Exhibition sized 5/6cm tubers, guaranteed to produce up to 100% larger double flowers from each tuber. Chosen and used by the professionals at most garden shows and in large country homes, they are certainly worth that little extra money.
You can add a touch of fragrance to your trailing baskets with our range of Begonia Odorata tubers, which come in a range of colours. You can choose from ‘Odorata Red Glory’, ‘Odorata Pink Delight’ or the hard to ignore classic white ‘Odorata Angelique’. For the premium ‘Shower Bouquet’ effect we recommend the Balcony Begonia Collection, Gold and Pink ruffled edged petals, with a gentle cascading habit. Mix together for a wonderful blend as illustrated.
Try planting three 5/6cm tubers into an average hanging basket, in moist compost for a display that will cascade beautifully over the edges. Begonias are great lovers of moisture and during dry weather they should be watered in the early morning or the evening.
Give your patio pots and containers a splash of colour
The versatility of Begonias makes them great for the patio as well as in flower beds. By growing in pots and containers around the garden you can easily add a dash of colour, while having the added benefit of being able to move them around if the need arises. You can choose more compact and upright varieties which can be grown in pots, such as Double Flowering Begonias or for larger blooms with serrated edges why not opt for Fimbriata Begonias, a perfect choice for troughs on a windowsill.Non stop Begonias are compact enough for this but also are quite vigorous growers, so can virtually flower constantly through the entire summer, non-stop as the name suggests. Reaching heights of only 20cm they are great for the front of a border, with some Dahlias or Gladioli towering over them.One of our favourite varieties to grow in pots are the often ignored, but impossible to forget once you grow them yourself, ‘Maxima Switzerland’. The truly sensational dark leaves contrast effectively with the scarlet red flowers. A real treat for the container! ‘Bertinii Skaugman’ will offer your some of the most surprisingly large sized plants possible from a single tuber. ‘Flamboyant’ produces small flowers, but more than makes up for that by the abundance in which they appear.
Some top tips for success with Begonias 1. Begonia tubers may be started into growth from February onwards. The easiest way is to put them into shallow boxes containing a mixture of loam, leaf mould and sand. Meanwhile, prepare the potting soil.
Good top soil mixed with one-sixth part of manure should form the basis. To this prepared soil add leaf mould in a proportion of 1 part leaf mould to 3 of loam and enough sand to make a fairly porous compost. Soot and bonemeal added to the compost will be appreciated. As soon as the shoots of the tubers are about 2cm long pot them up in 15cm pots and place them into larger pots as the roots reach the sides of the pot.
2. Plant in full sun or partial shaded areas. The more access to sun, the more vibrant the colours will be.
3. You can feed once every two weeks with a high potassium up until the blooms begin to fade.
4. Make sure they are watered regularly during the summer and that the soil is not allowed to dry out. Begonias love moisture and will use up quite a lot during the hotter spells in the summer.
5. Lift tubers after flowering has finished and the leaves have begun to turn yellow. 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.
Get set for summer
Now would be a great time to think about your summer garden. There’s still a few months left of spring but it won’t be long until the weather improves, in theory. Add some seating areas and get your summer garden furniture now and you’ll be immediately prepared to take advantage of any sunshine we get.
You can start planting summer-flowering bulbs out from mid-April. The winter
months are over and we can expect far less harsh conditions for your plants. Keep an eye on the weather however as frost is always a possibility. If the weather forecast looks chilly, keep your bulbs inside until it perks up a bit. Shrubs and spring flowering bulbs will appreciate a bit of feeding at this time of year in preparation for the growing season.
The first green shoots of new growth are very susceptible to damage from slugs and snails. Container grown plants can be protected by copper rings around pots. Slug pellet application is always effective however a gravel barrier/border can also be a natural deterrent. Weeds will also become an increasing problem with the weather improvements so keep those under control.
The weather will begin to improve and provide a suitable climate for preparations for summer flowering bulbs and the ideal platform for tidying up your borders/shrubs after the long winter. Deadhead spring bedding plants and remove tired winter bedding. Prune shrubs and hedges now before the birds begin to nest to encourage healthy new growth. All deciduous shrubs need pruning as soon as they have flowered. Often the most leggy and untidy shrubs can be pruned hard now to create a much neater and compact specimen.
Treat the Lawn
April is the most important month when caring for your Lawn. Your lawn will need cutting approximately twice a week by mid-April. Think about sowing new lawns or repairing any bare patches. Applying feed at the start of the month will be beneficial for stronger growth. In a mild period, apply feed evenly and economically. Use a wheeled distributor if possible. Now is also the perfect time to apply weed killer to your lawn.
Get your trellis prepared for climbing plants
Now is the time to put up trellis in preparation for your existing or planned climbing plants. Soon your Clematis or Honeysuckle will burst into life and demand climbing assistance.
Click here to view our full jobs list for February!
Few shrubs/plants will add the elegance and beauty to the British garden quite like a Rose. Roses can come in a number of colours, shapes and sizes and are grown for their attractive and often fragrant flowers, flowering mainly in summer and autumn.
Roses are ideal for planting as stand-alone specimens, planted together in groups, miniature roses can be used in raised beds and climbing varieties to climb a wall, trellis or a fence. All make perfect cut flowers.
How to Plant Roses
To plant, dig a hole large enough to take the roots when fully outspread, remembering that the point at which the plant was originally budded should be sufficiently low in the hole to be 2.5cm below the surface of the soil when it is filled in. Distribute the roots evenly round the hole and put in a little fine soil to which has been added a small amount of bone meal.
Fill in a further 5cm of ordinary soil over the roots and tread in firmly. Tread in additional soil firmly at each stage as the hole is filled. Roses must be firmly planted. If they are not the winds of winter will loosen the roots and may cause the newly planted rose to die.
Generally speaking, the depth of holes in which the roses are to be planted will vary between 10-20cm but examination of the plants will show quite clearly the depth to which they were originally planted and this depth should be adhered to provided that it does place the point at which the stock was budded just below the surface of the soil.
How to Prune Roses
(Bush Roses, Floribunda or Hybrid Tea)
Bush Roses should be well pruned in mid-March in Southern England and further north this should be deferred at such a rate that in the North of Scotland it is done in the second week of April.
Floribunda Roses are a little tenderer and should be pruned one week later than the above dates.
Newly planted Hybrid Tea Roses should always be pruned back hard in the spring, provided the roots are firmly established, leaving only three or four eyes per stem, generally leaving about 15-25cm in length. Roses are roughly pruned in the nursery to approximately 35-45cm of stem. If left unpruned they will die back along the stem and perish or produce leggy poor specimens.
These are miniature versions of Hybrid Tea or Floribunda types and should be treated the same allowing for the difference of scale. Miniature Roses are ideal for borders and rockeries or as pot plants, though they should be in the dry atmosphere of the house only for limited periods. Prune hard after planting.