How to: Attract Wildlife to the Garden

butterfly on violet scabiosa
Wild butterfly on a violet scabiosa

By allocating just a little bit of time and space to your garden this Autumn, you can easily attract various wildlife to your garden all year around. For many people wildlife is a welcomed addition to the garden providing extra character and also the knowledge that they are doing their bit to help with British conservation.

Online now you will find many varieties of plants and shrubs which will help you along the way, by both attracting and providing food/shelter for various forms of wildlife. Composting and letting a few patches of your garden grow a little wild will help to encourage visitors (and what gardener needs to be told the virtues of compost!).

If you have the space grow trees and big shrubs. By devoting even the smallest part of your garden to attracting wildlife you can turn it into a paradise for beneficial birds, mammals and insects.

bird hanging under peanut birdfeeder (goldfinch)Birds

Birds are attracted to areas where they find both food and shelter. A good way of doing so in the autumn/winter is by planting up shrubs and trees which produce berries, such as Ilex (Holly), Pyracantha or Gaultheria. Not only will they produce valuable food but they also produce some much needed ornamental value in the Winter months. A bird table is also a fantastic way of enticing birds into a specific area of the garden. Ornamental grasses are also a popular way of making the garden appealing to seed eating birds.

Butterflies

They will visit most gardens, especially if they find plants in sunny or sheltered locations. The secret here is to make available nectar rich, fragrant flowers which are colourful and from which they feed.

Perennail strip for Blog pollinatoors
Lavender, Buddleia, Syringa, Forsythia and Echinacea are just a few fantastic garden favourites for attracting butterflies and all look great in the garden!

SquirrelSquirrels

Of course, they are fascinating wildlife to watch as they scurry around during the day. They feed off acorns, buds, nuts, berries and seeds. They will initially appear scared and frightened but with regular feeding they will soon feel at home in your garden. They are easily found around woodland areas, large trees, beech tress and are especially attracted to your bird feeders, although take caution as they can damage them over time.

Toads

Provide water and shelter for Toads! These are great for keeping unwanted pests at bay and if you have a pond or one nearby its likely you already have Frogs and Toads living nearby. (If you have a dog remember Toads will release skin secretions which are toxic to dogs).

 

Hedgehogs

A pile of old logs or bricks, some overgrown grass or turned over empty pots can all help with providing shelter for animals – Hedgehogs will happily take advantage of your hospitality and thank you by eating pesky slugs and snails – an ideal natural defender of you Hosta plants!


 

How to Grow Dahlias: Summer Flower Guide

Dahlias have become a very fashionable and valuable summer flowering plant, that will work perfectly with almost all types of plants. They compliment any garden wonderfully regardless of size and can be incorporated into a border or into patio pot/container displays.

Named after the famous 18th Century botanist Anders Dahl, Dahlia plants have been around for many years and are all our Dahlias are supplied as top quality dormant tubers which can be planted straight into the place where they are bloom (their final location). Success rate from these dahlia tubers is extremely high and they are a relatively inexpensive way to create a large number of flowers from one tuber.

Benefits of Planting Dahlias:

1. They are easy to grow, and suitable for gardeners of all skill levels. They are fast growing by their nature and will flower in the first year and for many years to come (just keep them stored and frost free over the winter).

2. They are versatile and will tolerate most types of well drained, fertile soil or compost. They can be grown successfully in pots, tubs, window boxes and in borders.

Pom Pom Dahlia Mix (Jill varieties)

3. They are one of our favourite summer bulbs because of the many different types/sizes/colours available, which all look slightly different in shape, but are all equal in beauty.

4. Year after year sees many new exciting new varieties introduced which means once hooked on Dahlias, you will continually be able to find and try something new.

5. They flower continuously through the summer, right up until the first frost of the autumn.

6. They look fantastic as cut flowers and are great for lovers of something a little different.

Types of Dahlias to try Growing this Year

The main types of Dahlias available can be classified into a number of different categories, representing the main characteristics of the flower blooms themselves.

Dahlia Blue Bayou ®
Dahlia Cabana Banana

 

Anemone Flowering Sometimes referred to as Powder Puff Dahlias, these beauties produce unique flowers with double feathered central petals resembling a Powder Puff.

 

 

 

 

Cactus A favourite for many years, Cactus Dahlias produce fully double pointed petals which turn backwards to create a tubular petal effect. Sometimes referred to as Spiky Dahlias, they are perfect for the border.

 

Dark Leaf Dahlias Mixed

 

Dark Leaf These Dahlias are a little different in that their foliage is not the usual green colours of most varieties. They create an abundance of flowers through the summer as expected, however the blooms appear on darker (usually purple/black) foliage.

 

 

Dahlia Arabian Night

 

Decorative The largest range of large, fully double flowers with rounded petals through the summer right up until the first frosts. They produce masses of flowers for cutting purposes.

 

Dahlia Gallery Art Fair ®
Dahlia Lilac Time

 

Dwarf Gallery A range of smaller, more petite Dahlias which are perfect for the front of the border.They are prolific flowering varieties, look also great planted mixed together in pots on the patio.

 

 

 

Dinner Plate As the name suggests these are the largest flowers within the range, often up to as much as 25cm in diameter (see illustration below). Try these as cut flowers and be certain to draw attention.

 

 

Dahlia Boom Boom Yellow

 

Pompom Love the unusual? Then these are certainly for you. Almost spherical flowers (like balls) appear through the summer. The petals have rounded tips and are curved upwards at the edges. The flower heads are also slightly flattened towards the centre.

How to Grow Dahlia plants in pots or containers

Dinner Plate Dahlia Fleurel

A fantastic way to brighten up your patio is to introduce some Dahlias in pots/containers. The colour range is fantastic, with many unusual bi-colour varieties which will brighten up any space. Simply beautiful to sit back and look at during a warm summer afternoon. Supplied as tubers (as illustrated).

1. Once your tubers arrive safely in the post, they can be soaked overnight in a bucket of water to soak up as much moisture as possible.

When all signs of frost have passed they are ready to pot up, giving plenty of time to get well established before the summer.

Dahlia-Tuber
Tubers as supplied

2. It is recommended to place some pebbles at the bottom of the pots before adding the compost to help with drainage, by ensuring the compost doesn’t block the drainage holes. Fill in some compost and then add the tuber with the growing tip facing upwards. Continue to fill in the rest of the compost to firmly hold the tuber, making sure the growing tip at the top is peeping out and is not completely covered. This is now ready to be moved to the patio or garden area, with access to as much sun as possible.

3. Water well after potting and then keep compost moist but not waterlogged as tubers will rot. You can add a liquid feed weekly during the growing season and provide some protection from slugs as they really love Dahlias.

4. If growing tall varieties, insert a cane to help with growth and to keep secure.

5. Little pruning is needed on Dahlias, however you can deadhead as flowers begin to fade.

Dahlia Planting Tutorials

Dwarf Gallery Dahlias

Decorative Dinnerplate Dahlias

Cactus Dahlias

Bishop Dahlias

Click HERE to view our full Dahlia range!

 

Win £100 worth of vouchers

Winner

 

We were so thrilled with the response to last year’s Daffodil Photography Competition, that we are offering a second chance to win a £100 voucher to spend on J. Parker’s products.

Your image can be of any spring flowering bulb, so long as it’s your own original image of a variety purchased from us. Examples include Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinth, Iris, Muscari and many more. Any J. Parker bulb in flower in your garden before 14th June 2016.

To enter, you can share your image on our Facebook page, follow and tweet us @JParkersBulbs or e-mail it to us (along with your post code) to the address competition@jparkers.co.uk
All entries will be considered, and you can enter as many times as you wish. Competition closes 14th June 2016 and winners will be notified by e-mail before 26th June 2016.

To view some of last year’s entrants, please click here..

1. To enter the competition, please use one of three methods;

A) Share your image on our J. Parker’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/jparkers.co.uk),
B) Tweet your image to @Jparkersbulbs on Twitter
C) E-mail your entry under 5mb to us at competition@jparkers.co.uk

2. We will view all entries and any which meet the criteria outlined below will be considered for the prize of £100 worth of J. Parker’s vouchers.

3. All entries must be original images, taken by the entrant, of Bulbs in flower purchased from J. Parker’s in the past. You must own all rights to the image and in entering the competition you agree to allow us to use your image in further promotions, on social media or in print.

4. Entrants also agree that their names may be published with their entry. No other details will be shared with any third parties.

5. The winning entry will be judged on both the quality of the plant and the image. The Judge’s decision is final.

6. All varieties of Daffodils and Narcissi will be considered, but only those purchased from J. Parker’s will qualify for the competition prizes.

7. The winner will receive a £100 voucher to spend on any products currently offered by J. Parker’s. This cannot be exchanged for cash and there is no substitution for this prize.

Gardening Jobs for June

Summer Bedding
If you held off planting in May, now is the ideal time to clear these plants out of your greenhouse and get your summer bedding and hanging baskets finished. There is minimal chance of frost even this far north so line your baskets, prepare the soil and use some organic compost to fertilize the soil. Ensure you water regularly particularly if the weather is warm and dry.

Hot weather protection

Hot and dry weather can be just as dangerous as the harsh conditions of winter for your plants. Recent dry spells mean watering is more important than ever. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste. Regular watering of pots and baskets is essential to maximise your garden show this summer. You should also remember to keep your greenhouses cool and prevent scorch with shading and ventilation.
Perennial Work
Prepare to tie up tall border perennials with support. Tall varieties such as Hollyhocks, Delphiniums and Lupins will need a little help and stakes can help prevent wind damage. You might also like to cut back early-flowering perennials such as Papavers as this will provide fresh foliage and possibly even a second flowering.

Protect fruit trees
Protect the newly developing fruit on your fruit trees from birds. This can be tricky as netting suggested last month for soft fruit, is not a viable option. We recommend using some of those unwanted DVDs or CDs in newspaper supplements by hanging these from your trees on string. The changing reflections of light created in a little breeze should keep birds away.

Keep everything tidy
The warm weather and increased sunshine means that weeds are popping up everywhere and can be an eyesore in your garden. Keep an eye on these particularly during dry spells and it will make your garden look much neater. You should also now be cutting the lawn weekly, pruning many spring flowering shrubs and trimming hedges into shape. For bulbs, allow foliage to die down naturally before cutting back to ground level. Keep any waste for your compost bin!
Lawn Care
If you’ve been lucky enough to get some relaxation time in the garden, you may have had furniature such as lounger out on your lawn. Be aware that this could damage grass and cause patches of yellow damaged lawn. This is easily prevented simply by moving your lawn furniture regularly. Keep up trimming your lawn regularly, including the edges, and apply fertiliser for a healthy looking growth.

Click here to view our full list of jobs for June!

Grow Your Own: Blueberries (A Modern ‘Super Food’)

Fruit_BlueberryIt’s inevitable that each New Year we will constantly read and see ways in which we must improve our lifestyle and become healthier all around. In gardening terms this often means going “organic” and what can be more organic than growing your own fruit and vegetables. There are of course many wonderful choices of fruit and vegetables to get you started, and personal choice should always be the best reasoning for choice. Reading through the usual Sunday papers in early January got me thinking about my own personal favourites, and right up there on top of my list has to be the Blueberry, or Vaccinium to give them their proper name.Great tasting fruit to give you a health kick

The deliciously sweet tasting fruit grown from the Blueberry bush is the most appealing part of this summer fruit. The lovely small, round and colourful fruit appears in abundance throughout the summer, into autumn, providing months and months of enjoyment. Almost all Blueberry shrubs are self-fertile, but to enhance production and yield then why not try growing with partners/pairs. By planting with multiple varieties and various harvesting dates, this allows you to extend the season and allow for more wonderful fruit. Once established and properly cared for they will fruit easily year on year. By growing fruit yourself you can allow them to fully ripen on the vine prior to harvesting for a sweeter taste, a luxury that many large scale growers cannot achieve due to economic restrictions.

We have all come to refer to the Blueberry has one of the most healthy fruits around and it’s easy to see why. Recent research have helped shine light on the high levels of antioxidants, minerals and vitamin C present within Blueberries and often sees this labelled as a modern day ‘Super Food’. By growing your own fruit you control the level of pesticides used within your product, a major concern for many when buying mass produced products.


Blueberry_DixiHow to grow your own Blueberries

Blueberries are versatile enough to accommodate growing in the ground or in containers spread out around the patio. Planting in acidic soil is vital to the success of Blueberries, with a PH level of four/five. Make sure the soil is well aerated and rich in humus. If planting in containers then make sure they are large enough to allow the roots to fully spread, and add a handful of crocs or pebbles to the bottom of the container.

Looking after Blueberries is relatively easy and suitable for all skill levels. Make sure the soil is kept moist throughout, but never allowed to become waterlogged. Many organic gardeners choice to use recycled or rain water instead of tap water, to save the environment and in fact this should help keep PH level of the soil a little more balanced. We suggest applying a liquid feed once a month to help encourage larger and more successful fruit.


Top Varieties to Try

1. Blueberry Top HatThe versatile and compact Blueberry Top Hat produces white flowers during spring which develop slowly into fruits come summer before its foliage finally turns reddish-green as autumn approaches. One of our best-selling varieties, the Top Hat Blueberry plant will thrive in a patio container, and grows to a mature height of just 50cm tall making it the perfect choice where space in minimal.

 

2. Blueberry Pink LemonadeBlush white flowers are followed by flavoured and good textured Pink Blueberries in August. Although self-fertile, you can plant in pairs to achieve a greater crop. A real garden novelty, equally effective as an ornamental shrub with all year round interest. Height 1.5m.  

 

 

3. Blueberry Spartan (Early season Flowering)Blueberry Spartan is a popular early fruiting variety, reaching heights of 1m. The fruit is high in Vitamin C and can be eaten fresh of the tree or for culinary purposes such as creating a pie or tart. Pot grown plants supplied.

 

4. Blueberry Dixi (Late season flowering)The versatile and compact Blueberry Late Season Fruiting Dixi shrub, also known as the ‘vaccinium corymbosum’, is an intensely flavoured variety, producing fruit in August and September as well as fragrant foliage which is highly attractive to bees and other pollinators.

 

5. Blueberry Giant Patriot The largest and juiciest of all blueberry shrubs, Patriot fruits July/August. Blueberry Giant Patriot produces some of the largest and most flavoursome fruits of all blueberry varieties. This impressive specimen  produces fragrant foliage which is highly attractive to bees and other pollinators. Grows to a mature height of one metre, supplied as a 9cm potted plant.

Fruit & Veg: What to Grow in your Allotment this Year

AllotmentAs more and more people are actively taking an interest in looking after their health and the food that they eat, the UK is rapidly seeing an increase in the use of allotments in urban areas. These little pieces of oasis in built up, often highly populated areas offer a superb way of getting back in touch with nature, growing your own fruit and vegetables and creating an area which allows you relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.Allotments are often allocated to people by their local councils, and one of their key benefits is that they bring people together, allow people to enjoy a shared space and also to share ideas/tips. I love the thought, at the end of the week watching people locally escape to their allotment, getting stuck in and trying to create (and maintain) something wonderful. The maintenance can at times be time consuming and hard work (especially trying to keep on top of those dreaded weeds), but the rewards really can be worth the effort.


What to grow in the allotment this year?

Now summer is almost here, there is still the opportunity to get the allotment into shape and start to transform the area. Don’t worry if the area is small, you

Allotment 2

can still grow many varieties of fruit and vegetables in even the smallest of sections.Walking past the allotments near my house recently I stopped and began to chat to a local lady who had made such a lovely, open planned display of her own space. She had Strawberry plants growing in almost perfectly controlled rows, raised beds with Potatoes growing from seed, Blueberry and Blackberry plants growing in containers by a bench, Vegetables on show in garden shed (almost ready to come outside) and she also had a penned in area for her own chickens (seven of them no less).This got me thinking about what would be worth a try this year if you have the space available and here are some top suggestions and tips:

1. Grow some Strawberry Pineberry in multiple rows. Supplied as 7cm pot plants for easy planting, try growing in rows for a successful large crop. Each plant should be space around 40cm apart in a straight line, with around 60-70cm between each row. Strawberry Pineberry is a real novelty, with the look and feel of a white Strawberry but with a smell and taste more closely associated with a pineapple.

2. So if your garden needs a fresh look and feel then why not also make these changes productive by planting your very own Apple Trees. Their striking spring blossoms are a valuable bonus to the allotment, but ultimately it is the crop from this mini fruit orchard that is appealing. Plant your Apple trees in an area with has as much sun as possible, as the more sun they get the healthier the tree will grow. My personal favourite is Apple James Grieve, because of the juicy taste. Grow the varieties you like, that’s the best advice anyone can offer when growing fruit and vegetables.
Asparagus3. Asparagus are becoming all the rage in Britain and a beautiful vegetable to accompany most dishes.  Plant in a trench approx 5-6inches deep with the crowns covered by 2inches of fine soil. As the plants grow, the trench should be filtered gradually and should be level by the autumn. You can choose from three varieties to cover the full season, the early yielding Gijnlim, mid season yielding ‘Herkolim’ and the late season yielding ‘Backlim’.

4. Create your own Herb Garden in containers and pots.

By growing your own herbs you can easily improve your culinary skills and become more creative. Growing herbs is easy and low maintenance and because you can grow them in containers they can easily be moved around the allotment. Basil ‘Wild Magic’ really caught our eye last summer as a standout new variety to try. Not only is it extremely tasty and heavily scented, but it makes a fantastic ornamental plant with extremely dark green leaves tinged with purple and purple flowers throughout summer.5. Miniature Plum ‘Black Amber’ can be grown in containers or in the ground. Smaller than your average Plum trees, they are ideal for an allotment where space can be at a premium. Growing in pairs will add effective spring blossom in spring and dark-purple thick skinned fruit will pop up in late summer and early autumn. Miniature Plum Trees are a must for lovers of plum trees.

6. Blueberry ‘Pink Lemonade’ are another unusual twist to a popular soft fruit. Blush white flowers are followed by sweetly flavoured and good textured Pink Blueberries in August. A real garden novelty, equally effective as an ornamentalshrub with all year round interest.

Fig Ficus carica Panachée nr 3

7. Striped Tiger Fig is a reliable cropping dwarf fruit tree that produce unusually striped figs on miniature stems. They love fertile, humus rich soil or if planting up into containers you can use a loam based potting compost.

 

 

 

8. Goji Berry (The Miracle Berry), or Lycium Barbarum, to give it its full name can be introduce because of the incredibly high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants found within each berry produced. A very easy plant to succeed with, they will fruit from their second season onwards with a significantly higher yield year after year. A very popular, pleasant tasting fruit that can be eaten straight of the vine, with an almost herbal scent. Originating in the Himalaya, it can easily be added to breakfast cereal, yoghurts, fruit salads.

Click here to view our full range of Fruit and Vegetable range!

How to Plant Roses

climbing-roses-on-trellis-2

Few shrubs/plants will add the elegance and beauty to the British garden quite like a Rose. Roses can come in a number of colours, shapes and sizes and are grown for their attractive and often fragrant flowers, flowering mainly in summer and autumn.

Ht-roses
HT Roses. Prolific flowering, scented well formed blooms, these classic and popular roses are prized for their distinctive colour and shape. From left to right Lovers Meeting, Black Baccara and Sunblest.

Roses are ideal for planting as stand-alone specimens, planted together in groups, miniature roses can be used in raised beds and climbing varieties to climb a wall, trellis or a fence. All make perfect cut flowers.

Rose-Tickled-Pink
Floribunda Roses. Produces in clusters these really give you more roses for your money! Great bedding plants and good in the vase, the blooms are open and less of a classic rose shape than the HT varieties but they do have a real charm that’s all their own. Image variety Tickled Pink.

How to Plant Roses

 

To plant, dig a hole large enough to take the roots when fully outspread, remembering that the point at which the plant was originally budded should be sufficiently low in the hole to be 2.5cm below the surface of the soil when it is filled in. Distribute the roots evenly round the hole and put in a little fine soil to which has been added a small amount of bone meal.

Fill in a further 5cm of ordinary soil over the roots and tread in firmly. Tread in additional soil firmly at each stage as the hole is filled. Roses must be firmly planted. If they are not the winds of winter will loosen the roots and may cause the newly planted rose to die.

Generally speaking, the depth of holes in which the roses are to be planted will vary between 10-20cm but examination of the plants will show quite clearly the depth to which they were originally planted and this depth should be adhered to provided that it does place the point at which the stock was budded just below the surface of the soil.

Page-2_Rose-Blue-Moon-and-rhapsody
Still impossible but highly coveted – the elusive blue Rose. These two are the closest you can get in nature, Rose Blue Moon and Rose Rhapsody in Blue.

How to Prune Roses

(Bush Roses, Floribunda or Hybrid Tea)

Bush Roses should be well pruned in mid-March in Southern England and further north this should be deferred at such a rate that in the North of Scotland it is done in the second week of April.

Floribunda Roses are a little tenderer and should be pruned one week later than the above dates.

Newly planted Hybrid Tea Roses should always be pruned back hard in the spring, provided the roots are firmly established, leaving only three or four eyes per stem, generally leaving about 15-25cm in length. Roses are roughly pruned in the nursery to approximately 35-45cm of stem. If left unpruned they will die back along the stem and perish or produce leggy poor specimens.

Climbing Roses

 

Do not prune for two years after planting and then only sparsely, removing unrequired growing tips. Weak or dead wood should be removed.

Standard Roses

Standard-Rose-Pascalli-0001746

Stake well with expandable ties, driving in the stake below the head of the tree. Plant Rose Tree to old soil mark level. Put liberal amounts of planting medium in hole. Prune back well in spring to good bud. You’ll find a helpful How To Video with our garden expert Jeff Turner here.

Miniature Roses

H390_H392_H394_-Three-Rose-Fairy

 

These are miniature versions of Hybrid Tea or Floribunda types and should be treated the same allowing for the difference of scale. Miniature Roses are ideal for borders and rockeries or as pot plants, though they should be in the dry atmosphere of the house only for limited periods. Prune hard after planting.