Looking to break away from traditional gardening methods? For our October Book Club, we’re excited about this upcoming read from qualified Horticulturalist Frances Tophill.
Tophill’s engaging new book showcases the modern age of gardening. Gardeners are no longer focused on the aesthetics of gardening, but its practical, sustainable and environmental uses too. Filled with exciting and creative projects, Tophill also shares advice and tips on how to engage with outdoor space in a more beneficial way.
Do you have a book you’d like us to mention? Send in your suggestions on Instagram using the hashtag #parkersbookclub.
Loved reading about indoor gardening? Discover more gardening trends on our blog!
National Gardening Week is here! This national event, run by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), is to raise awareness of gardening, and to encourage more people to take part in this healthy and productive outdoor activity. We’re celebrating by sharing some of the best kept gardening hacks straight from the mouths of Parker’s team members. Keep reading to discover our top 5 time-saving gardening hacks.
Cut Flower Food Hack
Are your cut flowers in need of some TLC? Instead of buying flower food for your vase displays. Simply make sure to trim the stems every few days to keep the flowers fresh, and add in a teaspoon of sugar into the vase water. The sugar will not only help increase the number and size of open flowers, but it also prolongs the vase life.
Grow your own food with leftovers
Cutting vegetables and planning on throwing the scraps away? Think again! Fresh nutritious produce can be one of the most expensive buys from the supermarket. Luckily there are ways we can reduce this cost whilst experimenting with growing our own food at home. Scraps of potato, garlic bulbs and herbs can be grown in glass jars and water and transform into brand new plants. Great for the environment and your wallet.
Garden Planning Pot Hack
Put your plants in doubled pots, and then bury them at ground level. Whenever you fancy switching up your display, just lift out the top pot and slot in a different one.
Cooking Water Fertiliser
The next time you boil or steam some vegetables, don’t pour the water down the drain. Once the water has cooled, you can pour the vegetable water in your garden to “fertilize” your plants instead of wasting it. Not only is it cost effective and resourceful, the fertilizer it provides for your plants gives them a more stable and steady growth period.
Planning on being away from your garden for a while? Fill a water bottle with water, leave the cap off, and quickly turn it upside down and push it a few inches into the soil. The water will slowly seep into the soil and keep it moist.
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.
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.
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:
Zantedeschia, often known as Calla lilies, are popular exotic-looking plants that are native to South Africa. If you’re new to gardening, or would like to learn how to plant Zantedeschia, you’ve come to the right place! This handy guide includes everything you need to know about planting and caring for Zantedeschia (Calla Lilies).
How to Plant Zantedeschia
Learning how to plant Zantedeschia is as easy as pie! They like moist, well-drained soil and prefer to be planted closer to the surface. Where possible, plant them in a sunnier location. As a native to Africa, they will appreciate it!
Plant the tubers shallow, so the top of the tubers are slightly exposed. Water freely and apply a balanced fertiliser every two weeks until the flowers have faded. Keep slightly moist in winter.
Each tuber will produce several stems, perfect for creating cut flowers. Brighten up any room with a delightful bouquet or surprise your friends and family with a bunch of these stunning flowers.
Getting the most from your tubers
Calla Lilies can be lifted after flowering and stored throughout winter, allowing you to plant them again in spring. Simply dig them up once they have died back. The best time for this is usually in autumn, around the time the first frosts are beginning to set in. Dust off the soil and place them somewhere cool and dry on some old newspaper for several days to allow them to dry off. They can then be stored in a dark, dry area and a cool spot in some peat moss over the winter.
Once spring arrives again and the temperatures turn mild, you can replant your Calla Lilies for a gorgeous show throughout the season!
In the UK, there are around 27 million people who partake in gardening. It’s common to think that only older generations enjoy gardening, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Parker’s orders from 18-24 year olds increased by 213% in February 2021 from February 2020. So, what has made young people getting into gardening? We’ve done some research to uncover the reasons behind the spike in gardening millennials.
Mental Health Benefits
With the pandemic causing a rise in unemployment and uncertain futures, mental health care has never been so important. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 70% of 18-34 year olds experience mental health issues in comparison to 58% of those aged 55 years or above. A recent study by AXA Insurance has found that 50% of people who undertake gardening say they have seen an improvement in their happiness, while 44 per cent admitted to feeling lower levels of stress and anxiety after becoming green-fingered.
The Millennial Move
Covid has changed the way we view cities. A prediction in the U.K. economic outlook report states that London’s population is expected to decline for the first time in the 21st century. During the pandemic, many millennials have switched the city lifestyle for the suburbs.
Difficulties of city living are more obvious than ever in lockdown: trapped in properties that are, on average, smaller than elsewhere; and having less access to a garden (21 per cent of Londoners do not have a garden). Along with the suburban living trend, the growing interest in natural products and sustainability has never been more prevalent.
The Houseplant Frenzy
In recent years, houseplants have enjoyed a massive boom in popularity, especially with Millennials and Gen Z. Sales of houseplants at garden centres across the UK were up 81% in July (2020). Compared with the same month in 2019, according a report published by the Garden Centre Association (GCA).
The millennial love of houseplants also has a lot to do with the self-care and wellness movements. As well, many young people lack access to an outdoor space (due to living in urban spaces, such as flats), so bringing plants inside make those benefits much more accessible. With less space and less time to garden in a home landscape setting, millennials have taken to indoor gardening, which has lead to further similar interests in container growing and small-space vegetable production.
Overall, millennials enjoy gardening for much the same reason as older adults. They enjoy the contentment, peace and satisfaction that comes from tending plants. That much hasn’t changed across generations.
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), banana peels 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!
Dig a deep trench about 60cm deep. Ensure you have a nice amount of space that can be filled with your compost mixture.
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.
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!
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.
Much like with the trench, start to create layers of scraps and then cover with soil. Remember to water regularly.
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.
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:
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 asfruitneed 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:
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.
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.
Wet, but not too wet, summers are far better for allotments than hot, dry ones; crops need water to grow.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 achieved. 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.
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!).
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.
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.