How to Grow and Harvest Saffron

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The king of spices. As the world’s most expensive spice, Saffron is celebrated around the world for its versatility in gourmet cooking. Originating from the filaments of autumn-flowering Crocus sativus, discover how to grow and harvest your very own gourmet saffron spice in the garden.

Steps for planting Saffron

Plant Crocus sativus bulbs anytime between August to late September. Space the bulbs around 6 inches apart and 4-5 inches deep in the ground.

Tip 💡 – Approx. 50-65 flowers will produce 1 tablespoon of Saffron.

Steps for harvesting Saffron – Part 1

Saffron is so easy to harvest. Harvest time is in October/November once Crocus sativus start to bloom. Using tweezers, extract the red filaments of the stigma. After extraction, dry the saffron out in a warm, dry room.

Steps for harvesting Saffron – Part 2

Dry out the filaments for around 15-20 minutes and then vwala! You have grown your very own saffron, ready to use in your favourite recipes straight away.

Tip 💡 – If you don’t fancy using your fresh saffron straight away, store away in an airtight container for later use.

Saffron pairs beautifully with:

  • Paellas
  • Italian risottos
  • Seafood
  • Salad dressings
  • Soups
  • Stews

Check out our NEW Autumn catalogue!

When to Plant Crocus

The jewel-like tones of Crocus flowers are just one of the many reasons why these plants are loved by gardeners. Autumn crocus add a rainbow of colour to the garden as summer flowers start to fade, and Spring Crocus are one of the earliest plants to flower in late Winter. Since Autumn Crocus and Spring Crocus bloom during different seasons in the year, these corms need to be planted at their correct times. 

Discover exactly when and how to plant Crocus corms and fill your garden with stunning Crocus flowers for most of the year.

What are Crocus corms?

Corms are very similar to bulbs, but corms are specialised sections of the stem. The appearance of corms differs from bulbs as corms tend to have a flattened shape.

When to Plant Autumn Crocus:

The best time to plant autumn-flowering Crocus is late July to September. Plant the corms around 4 inches deep in gritty, well-drained soil. These plants are perfect for pots and borders and will flower from September into November.

Tip – Plant Crocus corms in drifts in grassy areas or around other plants for a naturalistic look.

Here are some of our favourite Autumn Crocus varieties:

Crocus ‘Sativus’
Crocus ‘Kotschyanus’
Crocus Sternbergia ‘Lutea’

When to Plant Spring Crocus:

Spring Crocus bloom from late February into spring, so the best time to get these corms planted is September-November, just before the ground freezes in Winter. Plant Crocus corms around 4 inches deep in gritty, well-drained soil.

Here are some of our favourite Spring Crocus varieties:

Crocus ‘Orange Monarch’
Crocus ‘Fuscotinctus’
Crocus ‘Grand Maitre’

RHS Award-Winning Bulbs to Inspire your Garden

The RHS Award of Garden Merit is given to plants that have been tested and proven to be good garden worthy plants through a number of factors including: flowering performance, strength and disease and pest resistance.

We have a huge selection of award-winning bulbs and in our blog this week, we will be going through a selection of award-winning varieties, from Tulips to Alliums and Daffodils.

Popular Award-Winning Varieties

Alliums (Ornamental Onions)

A pollinator favourite that deserves a place in any garden. Easy to grow and undemanding, these late spring/early summer flowers have a great range of colours, shapes and height, so there’s an Allium for any garden.

Planting time: September-December

Plant of the Month: Crocus

With bulb planting season on the horizon, it’s perfect time to start planning your spring displays, and what better than beautiful, bold blooming Crocus flowers? As one of the well-loved staples of spring, Crocus are one of the first flowers to appear in spring. From bold and rich purples, lilacs, cheerful yellows, to striking blends and patterns, Crocus have every colour you need to create an eye-catching garden display.

Scroll down to view our favourite bestsellers, a run down of the different varieties on offer and for planting tips and tricks for bulb planting season.

Winter/Spring Flowering

Fragrant Spring-Flowering Bulbs

Fragrance can add a whole new dimension to the spring garden. By planting some fragrant plants this autumn you can create a peaceful, secluded scented garden spot for relaxation, a wonderfully fragrant walkway, or create vibrant and sweetly-scented beds and borders to great you in the spring.

Fill your spring garden with colour and fragrance with these beautifully scented bulbs.

Daffodil Cheerfulness

An award-winning double flowering Daffodil with flecks of sunny yellow nestle within the central cluster of the frilly crisp white petals. This English-grown variety is extremely sturdy and will liven up any borders or containers with their wonderful fragrance.

Click here to view online.

Narcissi Derringer

Soft butter-yellow blossoms complement the bright yellow cup for a charming display. ‘Derringer’ is a fragrant bloomer that smells of spring. We recommend planting in containers or in a location where the sweet aroma can be appreciated.

Click here to view online.

Hyacinth Miss Saigon

This award-winning Hyacinth produces fragrant bell shaped blooms perfectly formed from compact clusters of violet star shaped flowers. With its deep, rich purple color, ‘Miss Saigon’ brings a cheerful sight to the dull days of late winter.

Click here to view online.

Hyacinth Fragrant Sea Mixed

A lovely mixture of fragrant Hyacinth in a soothing blend of white and blue shades for a contrasting display of sea breeze colour. These lovely highly scented flowers are excellent for bedding in early spring.

Click here to view online.

Tulip Orange Princess

You’ll soon see why this double early Tulip has won the Award of Merit. ‘Orange Princess’ Tulips are among the most scented tulips and have a light, pleasingly sweet scent. This garden royalty is a sight for sore eyes!

Click here to view online.

 

Tulip Purple Peony

With wonderful large, peony-like blooms, this gorgeous double Tulip blooms with sweetly fragrant, deep purple flowers. Pair alongside ‘Orange Princess’ for a eye-catching and contrasting spring display.

Click here to view online.

Galanthus Elwesii

A spectacular giant Snowdrop. At the end of a long gloomy winter there is nothing to match the breath-taking sight of a carpet of snowdrops. These award-winning honey scented nodding white flowers are an essential part of the winter/spring garden.

Click here to view online.

Puschkinia Libanotica

Winner of the RHS Award of Garden Merit, these small and fragrant starry, bell-shaped blooms can create a beautiful blanket of white and blue striped flowers under trees and in the grass.

Click here to view online.

 

Ipheion Uniflorum White Star

These sweetly scented, star-shaped flowers produce silvery white blooms that will brighten up the spring garden. Beautiful and long lasting, these cheery flowers are great for the edges of borders and rockeries.

Click here to view online.

 

Ipheion Uniflorum Mixed

These simple yet elegant blooms are an absolute delight in the spring garden. With bright colour and a sweet fragrance, these hardy flowers are great for naturalising in the garden.

Click here to view online.

Muscari Cupido

Add clusters of these sweetly fragrant flowers to your spring garden. This easy to grow perennial bears densely packed blue pea-like flowers, edged in white, which can create a beautiful combination when planted with other spring-flowering favourites.

Click here to view online.

Muscari White Magic

These heavily scented flowers will create a glorious carpet of fragrance that will shine in the spring garden. These white spherical blooms are perfect for partnering alongside richly coloured Tulips.

Click here to view online.

Crocus Snow Bunting

As white as the name suggests, this award-winning Crocus is considered one of the best spring-flowering Crocus varieties. With a sweet scent, their pretty ivory flowers and rich golden hearts are a sight to behold in the garden.

Click here to view online.

Crocus Cream Beauty

These award-winning, creamy yellow fragrant flowers are perfect for planting under taller shrubs and trees in beds or borders. A pure delight in early spring that, if left undisturbed, will multiply year after year.

Click here to view online.

Spring Photo Competition Winners 2019

We asked you to send in your #JParkersBulbs spring photos and you did not disappoint! We had an amazing turn out this year with people sending in their entries by email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We would like to give a massive thank you to everyone who entered this year; we received so many amazing photos that narrowing them down to the final 10 was a real struggle.

So without further adieu, here are this year’s results…

1st Place Prize Winner

The top prize of a £100 J. Parker’s voucher went to this beautiful Crocus image from Isabelle C. sent to us via email.

Isabelle C – Crocus

2nd Place Prize Winners

We awarded 2 £50 J. Parker’s vouchers for our second place prize winners.

Nataliya H – Allium

One voucher went to this beautiful bee-friendly Allium photo from Nataliya H. sent to us via email.

Peter G – Daffodil

The second £50 voucher goes to this delightful daffodil shot sent in by Peter G. via email.

3rd Place Prize Winners

 Our seven third prize winners each won a £25 J. Parker’s voucher and here are their beautiful entry images.

Our Favourite Entries From Previous Years…

« 1 of 2 »

Get started on your 2020 displays and Pre-order your Spring Flowering Bulbs here!

Winter Care: Spring Flowering Bulbs

Bulbs are the epitome of nature’s talent for packaging, containing within themselves all the essentials they need to grow to provide gorgeous blooms year after year if well cared for. Your spring bulbs may be snug underground awaiting the warm weather of Spring but they need to be cared for until then. Bulbs are designed by nature to withstand cold winter temperatures. Indeed they rely on winter’s cold to trigger the biochemical process necessary to bring the bulb to flower in spring, but to help you get the best height, colour and performance out of your spring bulbs, here are some must-know tips for caring for your spring bulbs after they are planted.

General Tips

  • During a warm winter spell, the bulb leaves may start to sprout but do not worry as the foliage and flower bulbs can withstand freezing temperatures without damage. Only when brittle stems are broken, or the weather changes are too abrupt will be when the flowers suffer.
  • If you wish to feed your spring bulbs, feed them at planting time or just as they begin to emerge in the spring.
  • In colder areas, apply a nice layer of mulch over the bulb bed once the ground temperatures have dropped.

Daffodils/Narcissi

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  • For sprouting Daffodils, water sparingly as Daffodils do not require much care but some watering will help establishing roots.
  • Potted Daffodils require regular watering as the soil tends to dry out quicker.
  • If there is no snow cover, the bulbs will also need water throughout the winter.
  • Apply a low-nitrogen, high-potash (potassium) fertilizer after flowering if bulbs are not performing as desired.

Crocus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Apply fertilizer after bulbs flower if your spring is long and temperate; bulbs will have a chance to use the extra nutrients to produce bigger carbohydrate stores.
  • In late February, remove mulches from snowdrops and crocuses so the shoots can come through.
  • In February and March, keep plastic milk jugs or other coverings on hand to protect the flowers of crocuses and other early bloomers against the return of severe weather.
  • Do not let the soil dry out. If the ground is fairly dry in the spring, make sure to water sparingly.

Snowdrops

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Water during the autumn/ winter with a water-soluble fertilizer to nourish the bulbs as they develop new roots and top growth. Your bulbs will survive without fertilizer, but providing extra nutrients encourages more flowers, larger blossoms and longer life for your bulbs.

Tulips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • After the tulips bulbs are planted, you need to water them thoroughly and then cover the area with a mulch of pine bark or shredded leaves to protect them.
  • You can build up their strength further by giving them a liquid feed every 10 to 14 days while they’re still in leaf.

Flower Aftercare

  • After your spring bulbs have bloomed, remove spent flowers of large-flowered bulbs, such as Tulips or Daffodils, as soon as they fade.
  • When the season’s blooms are past, your snowdrops need to store energy for next year’s show. Allow the leaves to photosynthesize (process sunlight to produce food) until they yellow and wither, before removing the spent foliage. Trimming still-green foliage will reduce plants’ ability to nourish next year’s flowers, resulting in fewer, smaller flowers.
  • Six weeks after blooming is when it will be safe to mow the green leaves of any naturalized crocus and snowdrops on your lawn.

Have you completed your gardening jobs for January?

Click HERE to check out our garden job list.

Good luck with your flowers this spring!

12 Days of Christmas In The Garden

Winter is coming and to celebrate the season and the upcoming festivities filled with mulled drinks, festive foods and presents, we’ve selected our 12 favourite Christmas themes flowers to bring an extra hint of magic and sparkle to your homes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Amaryllis Christmas Gift

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amaryllis is a perfect festive plant because it naturally flowers in both spring and winter. This striking Amaryllis, Amaryllis Christmas Gift, is named after it’s stunning snow-like blooms that are guaranteed to add character to your household in winter.

  • The amaryllis was quite revered in Victorian times and carries strong associations of pride. During the Victorian era proud women were thought to be beautiful so this was certainly a compliment to the amaryllis.

2. Crocus chrysanthus Prince Claus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These stunning goblet shaped flowers bring one of the first bursts of colour to the garden in spring, and Crocus chrysanthus Prince Claus blooms beautiful white flowers with purple cores rising from the centre. Crocus are sometimes referred to as the ‘snow crocus’ and are viewed as the herald of spring.

  • Crocus have a natural insulation. Crocus plants can cope with the cold weather and occasional frosts as their leaves and petals are covered by a waxy cuticle.

3. Dahlia Santa Claus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This fun and festive Dahlia is the Dahlia Santa Claus; a stunning bi-coloured Dinner Plate Dahlia, the largest of all the varieties, with red and white striped blooms. A wonderful summer plant that suits all garden borders and patio pots, as well as making perfect cut flowers.

  • These colourful spiky flowers bloom from midsummer to first frost, when many other plants are past their best.

4. Crocus Chrysanthus Snowbunting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starch white golblet shaped flowers with an orange throat. The RHS have given the Crocus ‘Snowbunting’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit. This beautiful crocus variety is perfect for creating a blanket of snow in rockeries or containers.

  • Saffron-based pigments have been found in the prehistoric paints used to depict beasts in 50,000-year-old cave art in what is today Iraq. Later, the Sumerians used saffron as an ingredient in their remedies and magical potions.

5. Lonicera purpusii Winter Beauty (Honeysuckle)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lonicera purpusii Winter Beauty (also known as the winter flowering Honeysuckle) produces masses of creamy-white fragrant flowers in midwinter. This plant flowers reliably by Christmas year after year, with flowers lasting until early spring. Sprigs of this honeysuckle are perfect for those festive winter flower arrangements!

  • During Victorian era, Englishmen often planted honeysuckle in front of their houses to keep evil spirits and witches on the safe distance.

6. Holly Blue Angel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do as the classic Christmas Carols says and “deck the halls with boughs of Holly”. A classic winter wonder, Holly Blue Angel. This shrubs shiny evergreen, blue tinted foliage producing masses of red berries in winter is a staple of Christmas plants.

  • The idea of decorating your home with holly for Christmas dates back to ancient Druids. They believed that the protective qualities of the plant would safe guard them against bad luck and evil spirits.

7. Phlox Peppermint Twist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just like cinnamon and ginger, peppermint is a staple theme of the Christmas festivities. This unique Phlox Peppermint Twist is not dissimilar from the stripes of those well-loved Christmas treats candy canes, with their prolific pink flowers with distinctive white stripes.

  • Phlox make great plants for wildlife, and tend to attract hummingbirds in bird gardens.

8. Rose Hot Chocolate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who doesn’t love some hot chocolate in the winter time? Rose Hot Chocolate is a beautifully unique coloured Rose that produces blooms of rusty orange with velvety smoked chocolate brown, reminiscent of a delicious winter sweet treat.

  •  Ancient Romans used roses as room decorations, and sometimes wore the flower as a necklace. It was also believed in Roman circles that anything said “under the rose” was deemed to be top secret.

9. Tulip Peppermint Stick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tulip ‘Peppermint Stick has striking candy cane colours of red and white, which make ideal candidates for a christmas bouquet. As the season progresses, the flowers slowly open to produce colourful star shapes and then almost a complete white star when they fully open.

  • The Tulip is a classic flower of love, although it was considered more of a symbol for charity by the Victorians.

10. Snowdrops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the first flowers of the new year, the snowdrop is one our most endearing flowers. The much loved traditional Snowdrops produce honey scented nodding flower heads with pure white outer petals surround small inner petals with green tips.

  • Snowdrops were named after earrings not drops of snow. In the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries women often wore dangly, white drop-shaped earrings known as ‘eardrops’ thus inspiring the flowers name. Some other common names of snowdrops are: Candlemas Bells,  White Ladies and Little Sister of the Snows.

11. Tulip Christmas Orange

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tulip Christmas Orange is a flaming orange colour with a broad cherry flame. These flowers are also in demand for forcing around Christmas time for festive displays of colour.

  • Because tulips are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, they can mean rebirth.

12. Petunia Chameletunia Cinnamon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for something warm up your garden like the tasty cinnamon treats at Christmas time. Our Petunia Chameletunia Cinnamon has a beautiful profusion of orange-red flowers adding that perfect amount of sweet spice to your summer gardens.

  • All types of petunia can be divided in 4 major groups: grandiflora, hedgiflora, multiflora and milliflora.

Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year!

Autumn In the Garden

Gardens undergo a stunning transformation in autumn. The leaves are falling, the days are getting shorter, and morning are slowly getting chillier as the summer weather fades away. Autumn gardens are a beautiful place to unwind, or for activities such as playing with children and pets. We’ve compiled a selection of autumn based activities, plant favourites and gardening tasks to occupy you this autumn season.

Top Nature activities

  • Botanical Gardens

Autumn is a glorious season for visiting local botanical gardens, such as Tatton Park and Fletcher Moss. During autumn, gardens transform in to a rich tapestry of reds, golds and rich browns from the maples, rowans, beech spindle trees. The ground is blanketed in fallen leaves along with autumn crocuses, spectacular fungi and fruits galore; prickly beech nut husks, fir cones, maple keys and shiny conkers.

  • Wildlife Crafting

There’s not much to beat watching wildlife outside your own back door and with habitat loss and changes in the countryside meaning that an increasing number of native British animals are visiting domestic gardens, creating a wildlife area is a great start to encourage visitors with ready-made homes to tempt them to stay. By using a little wood, some nails and a few hand tools, you can soon be producing ideal homes for birds, bees and butterflies.

  • Local/Social Events

Autumn is a hot spot for festivities, as Halloween grows nearer and bonfire night follows soon after, a world of activities opens up during the fall season. From pumpkin picking at your local pumpkin patch, hosting campfires and adventures on camping trips, to attending local open air events such as firework displays, there is a variety of entertaining activities to celebrate autumn.

Top 5 Autumn Flowering Favourites

Even as the cold takes hold, there are a few tough little winter flowering bulbs that are happy to brave the cold and bring a welcome splash of colour to brighten the darkest days of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a selection of our autumn flowering ranges to add some beautiful colour for the colder seasons. For the best displays, a little forward planning is required. Begin to plant autumn and winter flowering bulbs, corms and tubers in borders and containers in spring.

  1.  Crocus Sativus (Saffron)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fragrant Autumn flowering crocus Sativus, have been grown for the expensive spice in Britain since the tudor times. When in flower look for the red ribbons and remove with tweezers. They can be dried and stored in an airtight container for up to two years. You need a lot of Sativus to harvest a significant crop of Saffron. It is fun to have a little home grown Saffron and the flower is delightful.

2. Cyclamen Hederifoliums

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sight (and fragrance) of the Cyclamen Hederifolium brings a much-needed boost to the garden, at a time when most other flowers are looking more than sorry for themselves. Cyclamen Hederifolium has a long flowering period before disappearing over the summer – but not without leaving behind a pretty carpet of heart-shaped marbled leaves. The Cyclamen Hederifolium originates from the Mediterranean, therefore it comes as a surprise that they are equally happy to grow in shade as they are in sun. Supplied in 13/15cm and 25+cm bulbs.

3. Crocus Sternbergia Lutea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crocus like flowers of clear, golden yellow, and they are perfect for planting in pots on the patio, for a delightful autumn floral displays. Alternatively, you could plant Sternbergia Lutea in a dull corner of the garden to brighten things up with their vibrant colour.

4. Asters Alpinus Mixed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cheerful ornamental flowers are daisy-shaped with bright yellow centers surrounded by petals in a variety shades of pinks, blues, violets and creamy whites. The leaves are narrow and dark green. The heavy cluster of flowers will produce an ever increasing mass of bold colour every year from August to well into the autumn. These little beauties only grow to 30-40cm, and are ideal for rockeries, dry stone walls or general ground cover where it will help to suppress weeds.

5. Clematis Cirrhosa Freckles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cirrhosa Freckles is an evergreen variety that flowers  a beautiful red bloom, with unique frosty white speckles. The Clematis Cirrhosa Freckles has a lot more colour than other varieties as the majority are white or creams, and when there is not a lot in flower in the garden at this time of year it’s very eye-catching!

Autumn Gardening Jobs

Autumn has arrived and although summer is coming to an end, there are still plenty of plants in your garden that can give colour and interest right through autumn and up to the beginning of winter.

  • Rake Up the Leaves

A few piles of leaves in out-of-the-way places – under hedges, for example – can provide shelter for overwintering wildlife. But remove leaves from your lawn, paths (which can be slippery) and borders. Use them to make leaf mound, works  great as a soil improver.

  • Plant Spring Flowering Bulbs

If you want to fill your garden with colour next spring, plant bulbs from October to December, before the first frost hits. There are many choices for filling up your spring displays and borders next spring from daffodils, tulips, crocus, grape hyacinths and fritillarias.

  • Tidying Up

To ensure vibrant displays for next spring, Make sure to tidy up your borders by removing dying leaves and collapsed stems from herbaceous perennials, either pulling by hand or cutting at the base with secateurs. Leave any stems that have attractive seed heads for birds to enjoy, and don’t forget to tidy up deciduous shrubs and trees that are getting a little out of hand with some careful pruning.

Creative Gardening: How-To Start Lasagne Planting

Planting layered spring bulbs, also known as lasagne planting or double decker pots, is a great way to get a fabulous spring display or a staggered display that lasts several months and keeps delivering colour to your patio.

You can do this with any spring flowering bulbs and really get creative with the combinations you choose. We selected some traditional favourites for our own display, with Triumph Tulips, Dwarf Narcissi Tete-a-Tete, Bedding Hyacinth Mixed and finally large flowering crocus mixed.

Getting a long lasting pot display really couldn’t be easier, and we’ve put together this guide along with a complete video tutorial from our expert Jeff Turner to show you exactly how to get the best from your spring patio displays.

All you need is a large pot, some crocks or grit for drainage, good multi-purpose compost and some quality J. Parker’s bulbs. Watch the video below to see how Jeff gets on;

The trick is to plant the larger, later flowering bulbs towards the bottom so that the small, early flowering varieties can flower first early in the season, and as they die off the next lot comes through to continue the display.

In this case we plant our Triumph Tulips first, as Tulips prefer to be planted that bit deeper. We’ve used Triumph Tulips for their tall, strong wind resistant stems and the fantastic variety of colour that goes into our Parker’s mixture.

Next add another layer of compost, and plant your next set. We’ve gone for Narcissi Tete-a-Tete, the most popular dwarf Daffodil known for its versatility and reliability. This will produce traditional golden trumpets on short stems.

The next layer was Hyacinth, specifically a bedding sized mixture for a strong display, and finally the top layer is large flowering Crocus Mixed. This will be the last planted and the first to flower, as these beautiful early spring bulbs will produce a carpet of low-growing colour.

Have you tried this at home? Let us know how you got on!