How to get a post-lockdown garden

Next weekend starts the lifting of several restrictions that have been put place since the start of the year. With outdoor social mixing once again allowed, it is high time to show off that garden you’ve put so much work into! After months of grafting, weeding and watering. Spending as much time as you could outside, let’s make the garden the centre of attention!

Tidying up your garden

Time to rummage through the back of your garden shed and find the lawn mower, it’s finally time to shine! Whether it’s a simple back and forth or you’re an expert at mowing lawn stripes, this is undoubtedly the first step to tidying up your garden. Much like your grass, now is a great time to ensure your patio or decking are up to scratch and ready to display summer essentials such as barbecue’s, furniture, or maybe even more potted plants. The patio is your oyster.

Social space

With outdoor meetings now on everybody’s agenda seating is essential. It doesn’t have to be fancy seating or bespoke furniture. There are many ways to turn your garden into a social space. Just ensure you have a space large enough to seat the six people of your choice. Furniture doesn’t always have to be an option, a picnic blanket spread on the floor. Even camping chairs can get the job done. So long as you have a space that can accommodate your chosen group all you have to do is provide the entertainment.

Clear the clutter

You did the hard part of transforming your garden. Now you’re stuck with the remains. If there is still any clutter left over its high time to get rid of it. Clean out any garages, greenhouses or sheds while you still have the free time. The best way to get rid of garden waste is your local recycling centre or tip. A great suggestion is labelling boxes to ensure they go to the right waste bin. If you run out of time or simply can’t find a place suitable, store the waste somewhere it can’t be easily accessed or seen.

Enjoy yourself

Lockdown has been such an incredibly hard time for everyone. The gardening industry has seen a massive boost since the start of lockdown with more people picking up the hobby. We at J Parker’s have been so happy to provide quality bulbs to everyone – old and new customers. It doesn’t matter if you are a gardening expert or novice, you should be proud of the garden you’ve created. As Summer comes closer it is time to let your garden loose. Show off your new hanging baskets, bedding plants or potted tubers and enjoy yourself!

Need some more garden tips? Check out these blogs:

How to compost with or without a garden

It’s National Compost Week! How to compost with or without a garden is no doubt a popular question amongst the gardening community. Not only is it positive for the environment, but it can also be important for the garden as well helping to promote healthy growth and sustainability.

What is compost?

Compost is made up of food scraps and kitchen waste, such as eggshells, fruit and vegetable ends and corn cobs and stalks. The best thing about compost is that you are not throwing away anything essential, only the bits and pieces that would end up in the bin anyway. This makes creating compost an easy task and something that everyone can do. It is also great for the environment. A win-win!

Other elements that make up a good compost are from the garden itself. Leaves, shrub prunings, lawn or garden weeds, grass and flower clippings.  Even household items like cardboard and shredded paper make great compost! But remember to steer clear of any raw materials like bones (meat or fish) or diseased plants.

Each of these come together to add much needed nutrients to the garden, restoring vitality to the soil and promoting faster plant growth and health. Good compost comes from a healthy 50/50 mix of all the above to create nitrogen and carbon which makes the garden grow. Nitrogen comes from the green materials such as leaves and weeds, while carbon comes from brown materials such as cardboard and pinecones. But, enough chemistry lessons, you want to know how to compost!

Composting with a garden

There are several ways to make good use of all the space you have in your garden and create somewhere to cultivate your compost. The easiest way is with a compost trench!

Step 1:

Dig a deep trench about 60cm deep. Ensure you have a nice amount of space that can be filled with your compost mixture.

Step 2:

With each compost mixture cover with soil. Continue this step until the trench is full, coating one last time with soil. This will allow each layer to rot down and start creating the moisture and nutrients that your plants will love.

Step 3:

Sow or plant your seeds on top of the compost trench and their roots will grow down into the nutrient filled soil which, thanks to the compost, will start promoting a healthy growth and beautiful bloom. Remember to water regularly.

Composting without a garden

Even if you do not have the space to create a compost trench there are still easy ways to achieve the same growth as those who do!

Step 1:

If you already have a compost bin then great, if not then they can be easily purchased or made. Just ensure that it is deep enough to hold many layers of compost and soil.

Step 2:

Much like with the trench, start to create layers of scraps and then cover with soil. Remember to water regularly.

Step 3:

Sow or plant your seeds on top of the soil. This is where things differ a little, once your plants have started to sprout you can transfer them from the bin to your usual planting space. As the roots have started in the compost, they will be full of nutrients that will aid them as they continue to grow. Or they can remain in the bin until they have fully grown.

National Compost Week is a great time to start thinking about the other benefits to having a garden. Whether it be fresh produce or blooming flowers, there are many ways to continue making a positive impact on the environment and cultivate the garden of your dreams.

Check out some of our other blogs:

Easy Garden Ideas

Garden with tulips

Looking for some simple ways to spruce up your garden? You can create a gorgeous and functional outdoor space without putting in a ton of hard work. Check out our easy garden ideas to provide you with a wealth of inspiration and enjoy your garden to the fullest.

1. Bring life to those dark, shaded spots

Snowdrops

Filling those dark, damp areas in the garden can be a huge struggle. An easy fix is to plant woodland bulbs like Snowdrops and Anemones. These amazing plants are used to surviving in dark, damp locations.

2. Attract wildlife with these simple hacks

Bird bath

Helping your local wildlife out in little ways is so easy and rewarding. To attract birds, place a birdbath in the garden or hang a seed feeder on a garden wall or in a tree/shrub. Also, by putting out fresh feed and water out at least once a week, you will certainly have many local feathered visitors.

3. Grow flowers all season with lasagne planting

Tulips and Muscari flowers

The perfect low maintenance solution to planning a garden display. For a spring garden filled with flowers, layer flower bulbs in pots to grow strikingly colourful displays with very little effort!

Check out some of our other blogs:

5 Gardening tips from the Chelsea Flower Show 2020

Usually held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has gone digital this year! From virtual garden tours from RHS judges and top garden designers to gardening experts sharing planting tips and tricks, there has been plenty to enjoy from this year’s show.

We’ve rounded up our favourite Chelsea-approved gardening tips, so that you can create your own prize-winning garden at home.

1. Working with Small Spaces

With many of us stuck at home at the moment and with many people living in urban spaces, you can still enjoy a bounty of plants, no matter the size. Create new levels with hanging plants, experiment with mobile potted plants and elevate plants with shelving or ladders.

We recommend:

Bacopa Scopia Mixed
Lady Fern

2. Create a Chelsea Inspired Bouquet

Nikki Tibbles, founder of British florists Wild at Heart, gave us a crafty tutorial on how to create our very own Chelsea-inspired bouquets with flowers from our garden. Combine the delicately coloured flowers of pale Peonies, pastel Delphiniums and Clematis flowers to create your own award -winning vase displays and bouquets.

Our recommendations:

Delphinium Summer Skies
Clematis Aromatica

3. Healing Gardens

Garden designer Robert Myers shared his top tips for designing a healing garden. Now more than ever, our gardens are a haven to bring calm to our lives and help with our mental/physical well being. Restore calm with plenty of textured, multi-layered natural greenery, and add a sensory experience with scented plants around seating areas.

Our recommendations:

Leylandii Hedging
Lavender Munstead

4. Create a Mini Allotment

The Skinny Jean Gardener, Lee Connelly, shared his top tips for getting you and the kids growing your own edible produce. Lee says “grow something that you love to eat” and to keep it simple and easy with low maintenance fruit and veg. With space often being an issue for gardeners, Lee shares that you can create a mini allotment with just a window sill or washing up bowl!

Our recommendations:

Blueberry Spartan
Goji Berry

5. Think about Wildlife

Designer Tom Massey shared with us how to encourage wildlife by growing a mini-meadow. To create a meadow planting scheme, mix ornamental grasses with perennials to add both colour and movement to your displays.

Our recommendations:

Pennisetum ‘Hameln’
Allium ‘Drumsticks’

Check out our customers #mychelseagarden photos!

Add a Burst of Colour with Calla Lilies

Calla Lilies, also known as Zantedeschia, are beautiful flowers which offer an attractive colour range, are easy to cultivate and are suitable to be grown outdoors or as houseplants inside. These irresistible flowers produce blooms from May all the way through to October, and make excellent cut flowers as they have a long vase life of up to 2 weeks.

Calla Lily Top Picks

Lavender Gem

A stunning lavender-violet Zantedeschia which produces funnel shaped flower heads and glossy foliage.

Morning Sun

Morning Sun is stunning Calla Lily with gradient petals blooming in yellow to pink shades.

Prado

A beautiful deep burgundy red Zantedeschia with sturdy green stems and large glossy speckled leaves.

Elliottiana

This Calla Lily has glorious golden yellow trumpet-shaped flowers which blend into green flecked foliage.

Rehmannii

Rehmannii has creamy blush pink flowers contrasting with lovely green stems for a beautiful floral display.

Flame

These sizzling flowers become less yellow and more orange-red as they age, living up to their Flame name.

Lipstick

This vivid pink Zantedeschia stands out and will be a lovely bright addition to your summer garden.

Black Magic

Contrary to the name, this bright Calla Lily is actually an eye-catching yellow! The zesty flower sits on dark green foliage.

Planting Guide

Zantedeschia grow best in full sun or partial shade and in organically rich, moist, well-drained soil. They are well suited for bog or marsh gardens, for planting near ponds and streams, or as border plants or for containers. When to plant: any time between Feb and June, but only after any danger of frost has passed.

IN THE GROUND

  • Choose a sheltered position and add some well-rotted organic matter before planting.
  • Plant the Zantedeschia tubers 10cm deep and about 30cm apart.
  • Set the tubers with the growing tips facing up. Cover them with soil and water as needed. Mulch to keep down weeds and conserve soil moisture.
  • Provide consistent moisture during the growing season and do not allow the soil to dry out.

IN POTS

  • Calla Lilies can grow as tall as 2 to 4 feet, so a tall, narrow pot is better container than a wide, shallow one.
  • Place the tuber so it is lying horizontally, with the eyes facing upwards.
  • Cover the bulb loosely and give it enough water just to dampen the soil.
  • Set your tall pots in a sunny spot where they will get a bit of shade in the afternoon and fill the saucer under the pot with water.

AFTER CARE

  • Feed with a balanced liquid fertiliser once a month until the flowers have faded.
  • Mulch annually in autumn with well rotted garden compost or manure.
  • Snip off blossoms as they start to fade, using clean and sterilised gardening shears.

How to Plant: Pansies

Pansies are exceptionally colourful plants and these specially selected winter and spring flowering varieties will present a splendid display of colour over a very long period and in such a beautiful variation of shades. A cool-weather favourite, pansies are great for both spring and autumn garden displays!

Our handy guide will help you with Planting Pansies, as well as how to keep your Pansies growing and blooming.

Planting

  • Plant straight away upon arrival into pots or containers into either freshly prepared soil (with a little organic matter added) or else using a balanced potting compost.
  • Pot up for a number of weeks (minimum of two-three) and then plant out into final position once the roots have become established.
  • Water regularly and make sure soil does not become too dry. This will also help to produce a bigger plant with greater flowering potential.
In this easy to follow how-to video tutorial, our resident gardener Jeff shows you how to plant winter/spring flowering pansies step by step, with tips and tricks for getting the best results out of your pansy plants.

Aftercare

Here are a few tips on caring for your pansy plants.

  • Remember to water your pansies regularly. One of the most common reasons pansies fail is because they are not watered enough, so if your pansies are not doing well, try watering them more.
  • You can use a general, all-purpose fertilizer around your pansies to help them grow.
  • Always deadhead your pansies as they go over and be sure to pinch off the whole flower to the base of the stem and you’ll then get more flowers.

Our Top Picks

Need help deciding which pansies to buy? Can Can or Cool Wave? Maxi plug or garden ready? Here is a selection of our favourite varieties to simplify your gardening.

Pansy Cool Wave (Garden Ready)

The next generation of trailing pansy from seed, Pansy Cool Wave. Simply plant in a hanging basket or container and the plants will naturally spread and trail to create a stunning spring display as illustrated. This pansy has exceptional overwintering performance and is the first to re-bloom in spring, and another highlight of this variety is it’s light scent. Height 15cm. This pansy is supplied as garden ready plug plants, our largest sized plugs on the market and are very easy to grow making them perfect for the novice and experienced gardener alike. Each plug plant supplied is 10-15cm in height and 5cm in width, supplied in trays of 30.

Pansy Can Can (Maxi Plug or Garden Ready)

Our stunning double winter flowering Pansy Can Can is an extravagant frilled pansies, which will make your winter basket, patio containers and borders a sight for sore eyes. The ruffled semi-double flowers are exquisitely marked with shades of yellow, red blue, white and orange, perfect for adding a flair of colour to your garden display. Available as Maxi Plugs, a small but robust variety, and Garden Ready plants , which are our easiest plug plant to succeed with, ready to plant on arrival and are the quickest of all to establish and grow. Maxi plug height 15cm. Garden Ready height 20cm.

Winter/Spring Pansy Select Mixed (Garden Ready)

Winter and Spring pansies never fail to perform, they show a splendid display of multi-colour over a very long period. Pansies really are super hardy plants and don’t mind being covered with a dusting of snow in the winter – they just carry on flowering right through to spring. Height 15-20cm.

Click here to view our full Pansy range!

March Plant of the Month: Magnolia

After the gloomy grey of winter, its always a joy to see the garden return to its glory in spring. Magnolia delivers that joy in abundance, bursting into life in early spring with large, magnificent blooms.

Magnolia plants are wonderful ornamental trees, available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes with something to suit any garden. These easy to grow beauties are very low maintenance, making them perfect for experts and novice gardeners alike.

Even so, here are some tips on getting the most out of your plant.

Planting tips

 

 

 

 

 

 

On arrival, plant in moist, acid-to-neutral soil in full sun or partial shaded areas. Shallow planting is required for magnolia bushes, in areas that have great drainage. It is often recommended that you provide some protection from strong winds, and provide a mulch in early spring. Do not allow plants to dry out in hot weather and water regularly.

Little pruning is required for these magnificent shrubs, but if required you can prune lightly once the flowers have faded.

Varieties

We have several varieties of Magnolia available to buy online from just £9.99, so you are sure to find the perfect choice for your garden. Here are just a few of our favourites;

Magnolia soulangeana, also known as the Saucer Magnolia or Chinese Magnolia, is probably the most popular of the Magnolia family. It has dark green leaves and deep saucer shaped flowers that are white to rosy-pink. Great for smaller gardens, as it remains a shapely shrub for many years.

Magnolia liliiflora Nigra is a compact shrub native to Southwest China and Japan, also known as the Black Lily Magnolia. The flowers are held erect on sturdy branches amongst glossy elliptic shaped leaves. Deep purple-red outer petals in a narrow tulip shape gently reflex at the tips like a lily revealing a paler colour within. Flowering April to June, later than other magnolias.

Nigra holds the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit for its reliable performance, stability of colour and form and good resistance to pests and diseases.

 Magnolia loebneria Merril is another award winning Magnolia, with branches laden with dainty buds in spring open to milky white flowers, abundant and smaller than most other magnolias. Later, oblong deciduous leaves cover the branches when the fragrant flowers have fallen. A hybrid of the magnolia kobus and stellata varieties loebneri Merrilli is prized for the upright habit and robust natures of its parents although is smaller and more free flowering than both, its mature height and spread rarely growing beyond 2m.

Click here to shop the full range now.