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!

Flower Garden Stories: Legendary Spring Flowering Bulbs and Plants

After an unusual spring and a glorious summer, its time to start thinking about autumn planting. Our full autumn range is now available for pre-order, ready for you to start thinking about what you’ll be planting this year for your spring 2019 display.

To give you a bit of inspiration, we’ve taken a look at how these gorgeous flowers have been catching our eye for thousands of years. Many of the plants we sell to this day have origin stories in the myths and legends of ancient cultures. In Ancient Greece, everything from the sky to the tiny flowers of the earth had their own deity and mythology.

We’ve chosen six of our favourite plants and bulbs that earned a place in the stories of Ancient Greek mythology;

Narcissus

The story of Narcissus is one of vanity and, yes, narcissism.

The beauty of Narcissus was apparently so incomparable that his mother feared he would meet some tragic demise, but was consoled by a local seer that his life would be long and happy so long as he never recognised himself. Like most of these ancient prophesies, Naricissus’ fate came to pass when he fell madly in love with his own reflection and drowned trying to reach himself.

The beautiful Narcissi sprang up where he died, their delicate nodding heads hanging downwards presumably to admire their own reflection.

Anemone

Greek myth states that the Anemone was traditionally white, but was turned red by the death of Aphrodite’s lover Adonis. A similar connection is made to Jesus, who’s crucifixion in Christianity is often associated with the anemone when depicted in art.

Crocus

The story of Krokos in Greek myth depicts him as a young man who’s lover, the nymph Smilax, had died tragically. In his greif, Krokos prayed to the Olympians for mercy. The gods deemed to turn the man into a Crocus and his lover to an evergreen tree, so that the pair may live in each other’s company for eternity. The delicate crocus can often be found flowering in the shade of larger plants to this day.

 

Iris

The colourful, delicate Iris are supposedly named for the greek goddess of the same name. Iris, which means eye of heaven, would deliver the word of the gods to earth via a rainbow. It make sense that the flower would take this name for its rainbow of colours and unusual eyedrop markings.

Hyacinth

Another tragic love story of greek mythology was that of Hyacinth, a mortal who found himself in a love triangle with the sun god Apollo and Zephyrus, the western wind. When their quarrelling lead to his demise, Apollo’s tears burst into life as they hit the ground and bloomed into wonderful, fragrant Hyacinth.

Peony

This particular myth makes more sense in its own time. Paeon worked as a healer under the god Asclepius, who’s symbolism still inspires the medical industry with the Rod of Asclepius forming the logo of health organisations across the world. So talented was Paeon that Asclepius himself envied him, and the king of the gods himself was forced to intervene. In an effort to save the healer from his tutor, Zeus turned Paeon into the flower Paeony, which was in ancient times more widely used for its apparent medicinal properties.

Hopefully these have offered some inspiration to modern gardeners also, and right now you can shop our full autumn range online with our latest free gifts. Get planning!

Crocus: Spring Garden Guide

CROCUS-VERNUS-MIXED

There’s nothing like the first crocus sighting of the year. While it doesn’t necessarily mean spring is right around the corner – it certainly pushes the winter gloom away!

Whilst I love sightings in parks and woodlands, it’s rather lovely to create your own display at home. In a larger garden a secluded out of the way patch with a host of naturalizing bubs is a delight, and where space is limited crocus lend themselves well to creating a lively potted display.

1-Crocus-mixed

Of course, one of their best features is that they are great naturalisers, creating a bigger display each year as they mature.

How to plant

Crocus corms like good drainage and are really well suited to rock gardens as well as beds and borders. Plant 5-7cm deep in a good sunny position. The bottom of the corms are flat, but if you plant them upside down nature will sort itself out so don’t worry too much!

Crocus-Mixed-bed

The natural look…

Crocus will come back year after year, making them ideal if you want to ‘naturalise’ an area in your garden. Pick a well-drained spot that gets plenty of sunshine, toss your bulbs into that area, then plant them where they land. The idea is to get a natural clumped and haphazard display rather than neat rows you would find in a more formal setting. They will do well if you fertilize your crocus every other year, and you should only cut down the foliage when they have fully died off naturally for the season, other-wise you may not get as good a showing of flowers the following year.

Fun Fact

You can save money by growing your own luxury items!

Grow you own saffron

Saffron is a rare and highly coveted spice and if you’ve ever brought it you’ll already know it’s literally worth more than its own weight in gold! To grow your own is quite easy – however it takes quite a lot of flowers for a good crop. One flower will produce three strands or ribbons of saffron – so to get a pounds work (450g) you would need about 50,000-75000 flowers! So unless you have an acre of land…..

Saffron-field

If you’re planning on growing saffron for your own use however, 50-60 flowers will probably get you a tablespoons worth.

Saffron

Harvest by hand – even commercial growers have to harvest saffron by hand – that’s why it’s so expensive.

Harvesting-saffron-by-hand

The good news is thanks to crocus’ brilliant ability to naturalise –each year they will multiply and flower again giving you an ever increasing display – and stock of spice!

Autumn Flowering Crocus

Autumn Flowering Crocus
Autumn Flowering Crocus

Crocus Sativus Saffron

 

Our fragrant autumn flowering crocus Sativus has been grown for their expensive spice in Britain since the Tudor times. These beautiful purple flowers bloom in Autumn where you can remove their red ribbons with tweezers to collect the spice for your own use.

Crocus Species (Winter/ Flowering)

Winter/Spring Flowering Crocus
Winter/Spring Flowering Crocus

Crocus chrysanthus Advance

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Advance’

 

This unique colouring of bronze and yellow blooms are shaded with lilac along the outside with a creamy yellow inside. A pure delight for early spring that, if left undisturbed will multiply year after year.

Large Flowering Crocus

large
Large Flowering Crocus

Crocus Flower Record

 

This gorgeous Crocus has deep purple blooms with contrasting orange stamens and stigma and is a pure delight for brightening up the garden in the spring time.