How to Start an Allotment

Have you ever thought about growing your own fruit and vegetables but lack the space in your own garden? Find out all you need to know about how to start an allotment from scratch along with our beginner planting suggestions.

How to start an allotment:

  1. Plan your plot

If there is no space for crops in your garden, contact your local council on allotment opportunities in your area. Once get your allotment, go for a plot size suited to your needs – half a plot is adequate for most people and ideal for beginners. Here are some initial plot planning steps:

  • Decide what style of vegetable beds you’d like
  • Decide what size of beds you’d like.
  • Make sure you include space for sheds / greenhouses / compost bins / water butts etc.
  • Make sure you consider where you’ll place trees, fruiting bushes, and other perennial (stay in the in the ground year on year) plants.

2. Weed maintenance

The biggest burden of an allotment owner…the weeds, and most allotments need continual hoeing and weeding. When prepping a plot, once you’ve cleared the weeds, dig the soil and remove weed roots. It’s worth investing in a push hoe and a draw hoe to be fully prepared for any weed problems.

  • Potatoes smother weeds, so plant them in the weediest areas.
  • Perennial crops such as fruit need no cultivation, but must be planted in areas that are clear of all perennial weeds.

3. Soil conditions

Once you get out all the roots of the weeds. Compost their foliage, and drown the roots in a bucket of water for 2 months (then you can add them to a compost heap). Turn a layer of compost into the first 5 –10cms of the soil and you are ready to plant!

Beginner plants for allotments:

Here’s our selection of plants for allotment beginners:

Allotment seasonal guide:

Winter ❄

In late winter, rains should have restored the soil to full moisture levels, if they have not left it soggy, battered and emptied of nutrients. You can get some crops off to a good start, although on difficult clay soils transplants raised indoors might be necessary.

Spring 🌸

Getting plants going well before late spring is essential. Crops grow best during the long, warm days and sunshine of late spring to late summer.

Summer ☀

Wet, but not too wet, summers are far better for allotments than hot, dry ones; crops need water to grow.

Autumn 🍂

By autumn, growth is tailing off in lower light levels, so little rain is needed; warm, dry weather is better for ripening produce now. Beware of wet weather that can lead to rots and unripe produce that won’t store well.

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New Gladioli for Summer 2021

Native to the Mediterranean and prized for their majestic flower spikes, Gladiolus (Sword-Lilies) are one of the most treasured flowers in the summer garden. Whether used in borders, containers or as cut flowers, these easy to grow blooms always provide a spectacular effect. Blooming in late-spring to early summer, these beauties can grow up to 2-3 feet tall. Discover the new additions to our Gladioli range for your 2021 garden.

Gladioli Amber Mystique

A striking, bi-coloured plants. Gladiolus ‘Amber Mystique’ is a creamy white Gladioli with contrasting lilac throats. Ideal for planting in summer borders.

Gladiolus Circus Club

A sight for sore eyes, with white backgrounds, purple edging, yellow centres and maroon eyes. While taking little space to grow, they combine so well with other plants. They make striking cut flowers too.

Gladiolus Fergie

Add a whimsical finish to your summer borders with gladiolus ‘fergie’. Ideal for borders and pots. Their vivid lime-green flowers will bring an exotic look to garden displays.

Gladiolus June

Warm up your summer garden with the sunny gladiolus ‘June’. June is a delightful orange and yellow butterfly Gladioli variety; guaranteed to brighten up any garden.

Gladiolus Nanus Nathalie

Nathalie is an elegant light pink nanus gladiolus. Their pretty pink petals contrast against the deep throat markings. This ever popular variety looks perfect planted in groups, and they also make beautiful cut flowers.

Click the image below to browse our full range of Gladioli bulbs. Available to pre-order now for delivery from mid-January.

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Mental Health Benefits of Gardening

Feeling stress or anxious? Try getting a little dirt under your nails. Many people have likely experienced loneliness and frustration during the lockdown, which is likely associated with a loss of all the activities we are used to taking part in. Gardening has quickly become a popular pastime for people during the lockdown. Engagement in gardening has shown to have both immediate and long-term effects on mental health. So if you’re looking for a new hobby that will lift your mood, calm your mind, and improve your living space, then look no further.

Gardening can build self-esteem…

Whether you’re digging, planting flowers, or pruning trees, your self-esteem gets a boost when you see what you’ve acheived. In a study conducted by Thrive, 317 people took part in table-top gardening sessions and 80% reported better mental health as a result, with 93% saying they had improved their confidence and motivation.

Gardening is good for your heart

Gardening is a great source of exercise. All that digging, planting, and weeding burns calories and strengthens your heart. Studies have found that even just 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity most days of the week can prevent and control high blood pressure.

Gardening reduces stress

When we experience stress, our blood pressure raises and puts extra strain on our hearts. In the garden, the task of cutting away at a tree or bush or digging at the soil will enable you to take your stress out on the job at hand, leaving you feeling less stressed and calmer. 

Gardening can make you happy…

Gardening gets your body moving. When we exercise levels of serotonin and dopamine, which make us feel good, rise, and levels of cortisol, which make us feel stressed, are lowered.

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How to Make Your Garden Look Good on a Budget

Throughout 2020, many of us have turned to our gardens for a place of comfort and space for activity. We’ve even taken up new projects and new hobbies to keep ourselves busy through each lock down.

With a new focus on our gardens, many of us have been looking to revamp our outdoor spaces. But how do you do that when you’re on a bit of a budget? We’ve considered four of our favourite cheap garden ideas to help you create a beautiful space in the comfort of your own home.


Up-cycle Old Furniture

Have odd bits pieces of old furniture dotted around the house? Why not give them a spruce and pop them outside? Up-cycling has become increasingly popular over the last decade, and helps you to re-purpose those old bits of furniture that aren’t quite living up to their potential indoors.

Similar to the image above, why not use some old dining chairs as a potted plant holder? How about repainting/finishing your old dining tables and putting them outdoors for some al fresco dining? Instead of heading for the dump, these relics can be useful after all (and save you some dosh in the meantime!).

Mood Lighting

Our cheap garden ideas continue with this next tip: fill your outdoor space with lights! Sounds simple, but by adding just a few stringed lights here and there can hugely transform any area (regardless of size and shape).

From places such as B&Q and even Home Bargains, you can grab yourself some beautiful outdoor lights that don’t break the bank.

Patio Decor

Another great way of injecting colour to your outdoor space is by making use of your patio pots and containers. Fill them with your favourite seasonal flowers and arrange them around the garden for the optimum display!

You can find plenty of affordable potted plants on our website that’ll add lots of colour to your outdoor space.

Grow Your Own Veggies

If you have the space, growing your own vegetables is a great way to save money. Although it does entail patience and some effort, you’ll be rewarded in the long run.

Creating your own vegetable garden will not only save you money that you’d spend at the supermarket, but will also add some greenery to your outdoor space. The best of both worlds, you could say!

You don’t have to spend lots of money to transform your outside space. Try any one of our cheap garden ideas to achieve your dream garden.

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Can Gardening Be a Good Form of Exercise?

Exercise is essential to everyday life. However, going to the gym every morning just isn’t possible for many of us. To keep fit and healthy, all you need is 30 minutes of non-stop activity a day…

That’s right. Just 30 minutes (or longer!) of gardening a day is enough to keep the doctor away. Activities such as weeding, mowing the grass, and planting bulbs can do wonders for the old ticker. Not only does it raise your heart-rate and gets your body pumping, but it also helps you get much needed fresh air and vitamin D.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, just 30 minutes of pushing the lawn-mower around the garden is just as vigorous as riding a bike or playing doubles in tennis. Perfect for those not used to more intense of a work out.

Like any workout, you want to make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions before pottering in the garden. This includes light stretching and building up your activities from light to moderate to ensure you don’t hurt or injure yourself. Any sudden movements or twisting of the body can cause more harm than good.

Gardening is a great form of exercise, and any amount of time you have in the garden is time well spent. Be safe when starting any task and always ask for help if you feel that you’re over-stepping your abilities. Better to be safe than sorry later!

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How Gardening Helps the Environment

Whatever the size, our gardens can help the environment in lots of ways. To help reduce the human impact on the environment and the world we live in, here are some fantastic environmental gardening tips to bring into your outdoor space.

Helps tackle pollution

Planting particular trees has been shown to improve local air quality. Garden trees do a great job trapping pollution particles, absorbing toxic gases and producing oxygen; this helps to mitigate the harmful air pollution that’s released from the engines of our cars and machines. The best trees to plant to help reduce pollution are maples including ornamental acers, silver birch, alder and conifers. Acers are a great choice for those with little outdoor space, as dwarf varieties are perfect for patios and pots.

Reduces noise pollution

Since many homes in the UK are close to busy roads, we have a few methods for soundproofing your garden and reducing unwanted noise pollution. Planting shrubs is one of the effective ways to lessen the noise in your garden. For instance, shrubs like Hollies and Junipers have thick branches at ground level, which can help reduce traffic noise. Once these shrubs reach maturity, they will create a barrier to stop noise travelling.

Why not try encouraging wildlife into your outdoor space? Plant pollinator-friendly plants and you’ll be joined by an abundance of pleasant, natural sound — which is a great distraction from external noise.

Protects natural habitats

Birds and squirrels need a natural habitat in which they can thrive — and the garden can be the perfect place for them. Planting trees and hedging is an easy environmental gardening technique to create natural homes for all the small local mammals. Fragrant flowers like spring-flowering Muscari or Roses also attract butterflies and bees, which are great pollinators who benefit the environment.

Reduces urban “heat islands”

As cities grow, natural greenery is replaced with concrete. These building materials become impermeable and dry, which causes cities to heat up, creating “heat islands”. Since gardens in London are 26% smaller than the national average, according to the Office of National Statistics, many city dwellers need to be practical when it comes to gardening. A rooftop garden can have amazing environmental and social benefits. Green roofs provide shade, remove heat from the air, and reduce temperatures of the roof surface. Using green roofs in built-up environments with limited vegetation can moderate the heat island effect, particularly during the day. 

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How to Grow Indoor Amaryllis

indoor amaryllis christmas gift

Loved by beginners and experts alike due to their superb flowering potential and minimal effort, it’s the well-loved Amaryllis bulb. Hippeastrum or Amaryllis bulbs are very easy to plant and will flower indoors during the winter months, producing spectacular showy flowers in a huge range of colours and shapes.

Indoor Amaryllis makes an excellent potted plant and are available in two different bulb sizes – the standard 26cm+ bulbs which will produce two stems per bulb, or our giant 34cm+ Amaryllis bulbs which are the largest on the market and will produce three stems per bulb.

We have a wide range of popular Amaryllis bulbs to choose from, which you can find here.

How to Plant Your Bulbs

To plant your indoor amaryllis, all you need are rocks for drainage, multi-purpose compost, a medium to large sized pot, and the bulb itself. Place your rocks at the bottom of your pot. All you need is a shallow layer which helps with drainage. Next, fill your pot with soil halfway and pop your bulb into your pot.

Put compost around the bulb so that it’s anchored in place, but don’t fully cover the bulb. Leave the tip poking out the top so that it grows properly.

Aftercare

Once you’ve planted your bulb, try not to over water it. This will cause the bulb to rot.
After the amaryllis has stopped flowering, it can be made to flower again.  Cut the old flowers from the stem after flowering, and when the stem starts to sag, cut it back to the top of the bulb.

Follow our simple step by step guide here or click on the link below to watch our garden expert Jeff Turner in our video tutorial on planting these winter flowering beauties!

DIY Gardening Crafts to Keep You Busy During Lockdown

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Do it yourself projects are on the rise this year. With many of us spending a lot more time around the home, sales within household goods stores were 9.9% higher in August 2020 than February 2020, mainly due to a rise in the desire for home improvement items, according to The Office for National Statistics. So, with lockdowns still present all over the UK, why not bring the DIY trend into the garden with these autumnal DIY gardening crafts.

Home-made Birdhouse

Pick up a pre-made birdhouse from the craft shop or build your own. Then, paint it your favourite colour at home and hang it out in the garden. Avoid hanging your birdhouse in a spot that receives strong sunlight, rain and wind.

Tip 💡 For decorating, why not try painting your birdhouse in polka dots, stripes, or flowers!

Pallet Compost Bin

Composting is a cheap and easy to way to create your own nutrient rich compost to add to your garden plants in the springtime. Using leftover wooden pallets are perfect for those of you who are new to composting. To make a pallet compost bin you’ll need four pallets of matching size. Join together four pallets to create the back and sides, then stand them up and screw them into place. Now, you have your completed pallet bin!

Upcycled Planters

Almost anything can be turned into a fun, unique planter. Tin cans and buckets can be painted and upcycled into fun small garden planters for patios. Whereas larger items such as tyres, chest of drawers and wheelbarrows can be given a new lease of life as a planter to create a feature in the garden.

Foliage Wreath

A great one for the kids, these festive autumn front door wreaths will give your home serious autumnal curb appeal. All you need is a wire circular frame, some moss to form the base, and a bunch of your favourite flower and foliage. Simply bundle your foliage, cover the frame, and attach using floral wire all the way around the wreath.

You can use:

Have you done any do it yourself gardening projects? Share your photos with us on Instagram!

How Much Value Does a Garden add to a Property?

House garden

The housing market is quickly rebounding post-lockdown, with house sales running 28% above pre-lockdown levels according to the latest Zoopla House Price Index, and the need for outdoor space has come a popular trend for buyers and renters.

The Office for National Statistic suggests that around 1.7 million people have been working mainly from home during lockdown, and since many people have not had the luxury of escaping into a garden, there is now a surge in people looking to move out of the city to more rural areas and get closer to nature. According to Rightmove, rental searches for gardens were up 16% this June compared to the average seen in January and February, which shows that the need for outdoor spaces has become an important factor for many people looking to move home.

Does a Garden add Value to a Property?

According to PropertyPriceAdvice, the potential value of a garden on property value can be up to 10%. Whether your property has a garden, decking or just a patio, with some simple maintenance you can transform your outdoor space into an asset for your property.

How can I add value with my garden?

According to new research from Post Office Money, landscaping your garden could increase your property value by 77%. So to help grab attention from potential buyers, here are some simple home improvements to upgrade your garden

1. Cut the grass

A simple, freshly cut lawn is a great way to make a good first impression with potential buyers. Since the lawn is the first thing anyone sees when stepping on to a property,  a tidy, well maintained lawn gives the impression that the whole home is maintained.

2. Potted plants

potted plants in the garden

Versatile and mobile, potted plants are great for giving any garden a face-lift.  Give your garden a fresh and presentable look for showing with bright, fresh flowers like white Tulips in the springtime, or grow modern foliage Hostas for summer pots.

3. Weeding

Weeding plants

When showing a garden, presentation is a priority. Make sure to clean up the garden by tidying up and pulling out any pesky weeds to keep your garden looking its best.

4. Create garden zones

Garden seating area

If you have enough outdoor space, why not create some secluded zones to add a unique touch to your garden. By adding a garden shed or throwing up an outdoor screen to create a seating area, you can transform a standard garden into an interesting space for relaxation and entertainment.

5. Keep it Simple

Fern plant

According to Garden Design, low maintenance plants have become a big trend in 2020, especially foliage plants. Plants like Heucheras and Ferns are ideal for amateur and experienced gardeners alike as they require very little maintenance, as well as less watering and pruning than other plants.

Drought Resistant Plants for Your Garden

Agapanthus flowers

Do you find watering the summer garden time consuming? With British summers getting hotter and drier, drought tolerant plants are the answer to growing a beautiful garden that can withstand the summer heat.

Check out our favourite drought tolerant plants that will best adapt to the prolonged dry season.

Agapanthus Melbourne

Agapanthus

Native to South Africa, these hardy perennials are perfect for tackling the summer heat. Incredibly drought tolerant and loved by bees and butterflies, Agapanthus plants are a summer garden must-have.

Our recommendations:

Agapanthus 'Silver Baby'
Agapanthus ‘Silver Baby’
Agapanthus ‘Midnight Cascade’

Panicle Hydrangeas

Panicle Hydrangeas, or Hydrangea Paniculatas, are one of the hardiest shrubs around and they’re surprisingly drought tolerant! Beautiful big blooms for summer garden borders.

Our recommendations:

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’
Hydrangea ‘Vanilla Fraise’
Echinacea 'After Midnight'

Echinacea (Coneflowers)

Drought, heat, humidity and poor soil tolerant! These tough, easy to grow plants are perfect for filling your garden with vibrant colour all summer long.

Our recommendations:

Echinacea ‘Hot Summer’
Echinacea ‘Pink Double Delight’

Sedums

Add never ending interest to your garden with hardy Sedums. These easy to grow, drought tolerant perennials are perfect for creeping borders or gravel gardens.

Our recommendations:

Sedum ‘Kamtschaticum’
Sedum ‘Summer Glory’

Salvia

Loved by bees and butterflies, these hardy Perennials are the perfect low maintenance summer plants. Wonderfully drought tolerant and flowers profusely all summer.

Our recommendations:

Salvia Nemerosa ‘Rose Queen’
Salvia Nemerosa ‘White’

Euphorbia

Why grow Euphorbia? These drought tolerant and low maintenance perennials add structure and colour to garden borders. Perfect for spring and summer gardens.

Our recommendations:

Euphorbia Ascot ‘Rainbow’
Euphorbia ‘Bonfire’

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