Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Garden

Starting a garden is one of the most rewarding things one can do and anyone do it. From creating a cut flower garden, growing your own sustainable veg patch or planting an amazing border display, getting your hands dirty in the garden has so many benefits, but it can be difficult to know where to start.

Here are our 7 easy steps to guide you through the process of starting your own garden!

1. Make a Plan

First things first, what do you want to grow? A vegetable garden? An herb garden? A flower garden? All of the above? All are great choices but have different maintenance requirements. I’d recommend for all beginners to start small until you know what you’re getting into.

2. Pick the Perfect Spot

Your garden location, soil type, amount of sun exposure and access to water will play a big part in what plants you’ll be able to grow. Most plants, vegetables and fruit thrive in sunny spots but if you garden is shaded for most of the day, there are still plenty of plants (Hostas, Heucheras, Grasses) that can thrive in the shade. Go outside and study your outdoor space, learn about your soil type, and then research which plants would be the best fit.

3. Start the Ground Work

Get rid of the top layer covering the area you plan to plant. If you want quick results (e.g., it’s already spring and you want veggies this summer), cut it out. With a spade, cut the ground into sections to make it easier to remove, then put it on your compost pile to decompose. Now, you have your planting area ready to go!

4. Choose Your Plants

Choose your shopping style. Some gardeners like studying plant catalogues to create their shopping list, others head to the garden centre to select their plants, or you can simply shop online. The key planting seasons are Spring and Autumn, so choose your plants according to their planting times. Summer-flowering bulbs/plants should be planted in the Spring (Dahlias, Begonias, Roses) and Spring-flowering bulbs/plants should be planted in the Autumn (Tulips, Daffodils, Crocus).

5. Hydration is Key

Close care and attention is essential for young plants. Once plants establish a strong root system in the ground (usually a few weeks after planting), they tend to be less needy. After that, how often you need to water depends on your soil, humidity, and rainfall; although once a week is a good place to start.

6. Mulch for Protection

Mulching is life-saving for gardeners. Mulching your plants helps them retain moisture and keep weeds at bay. Cover the soil with a couple of inches of mulch after planting and you won’t have to water as often. Also, by preventing sunlight from hitting the soil, you’ll prevent weeds from forming in your soil.

  • For annuals: Choose a mulch that decomposes in a few months.
  • For perennials: Use a longer-lasting mulch such as bark chips.

7. Care, Grow and Enjoy!

Now that all the planting is done, now is the time to care for your garden and watch it grow.

Don’t forget to keep up with common garden jobs such as:

  • Watering plants regularly. 
  • Pull out any weeds.
  • Prune dead blooms, or leggy growth on plants/shrubs.
  • Remove garden pests (e.g. Aphids) by picking them off the plant, hosing them off with water, or spraying on an insecticidal soap.
  • Support tall plants (e.g., tomatoes) with a trellis, stake or pergola.

Why Gardening is Great for Your Wellbeing

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.”

Luther Burbank

According to the World Health Organisation, good health means more than just the absence of bad health symptoms. It means the presence of positive emotions, quality of life, sense of community and happiness. Research has shown many times that gardening is good for our mental and physical health. With GPs now even prescribing gardening to patients with depression and anxiety, here’s how our gardens are special spaces with many restorative qualities and benefits.

Gardening Connects Us with Nature

“Embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein

Nature has long been recognised for its relaxing qualities as a place for humans to find tranquillity and healing. Recreating nature around our home is a savvy way to develop that special bond with our environment. Surround yourself and your family with cheer everyday by planting an array of pollinator-friendly trees, bushes, and flowers to attract of bees, butterflies and everything in between to your garden.

Gardening Brings Responsibility

“Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

A person who can grow things is a person a little more in tune with the earth. Gardening is also a great way of caring for something; sometimes just the satisfaction of keeping a plant alive, and the responsibility that comes with it, is enough to give us a sense of purpose and pride. They are places where our efforts result in a real sense of achievement, boosting confidence and self-esteem.

Gardening is Great Exercise

“The key to happy living is that Mind should be at rest and body must be exercised and active.” – Hiyamedia

The health benefits of gardening are impressive. Gardening uses all the major muscle groups – the legs, shoulders, stomach, arms, neck, and back all get a workout. Gardening also increases flexibility and strengthens joints. Recent research indicates that 30 minutes daily of moderate exercise such as gardening lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, helps prevent diabetes and heart disease, and prevents or slows osteoporosis. You may even live longer. It’s all good news for gardeners!

Gardening is Therapeutic

“I like gardening — it’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself.” – Alice Sebold

Even the simplest things can brighten our mood, as soil has been found to have similar effects on the brain as antidepressants to lift mood. A study by the University of Bristol and colleagues at University College London found that the ‘friendly’ bacteria normally found in soil, altered their behaviour in a similar way to that produced by an antidepressant. Simply planting up some potted Dahlias or a watering a hanging basket can have a huge impact on your stress levels, helping to stave off anxiety, slash depression risk, boost productivity and ease insomnia.

Happy gardening this spring planting season!

beautiful, flowers, and gif image

Garden Gifts for Mother’s Day

With March 22nd just around the corner, instead of purchasing the usual prearranged bouquet from your florist, why not try these thoughtful alternatives? From symbolic flowers to crafty creations, check out our gift guide to find the ideal Mother’s Day gifts for the mum who loves to get out in the garden.

Symbolic Gifts

For centuries, flowers have been gifted as symbols of specific feelings, thoughts and memories. So instead of your standard floral bunch, why not gift something that your mother can grow, love and enjoy for years?

Peonies

A popular choice for summer gardens. The pretty Peony is often seen as a symbol of beauty in all forms, so what better flower is there to tell your mum just how beautiful she is?

We recommend…

Day Lilies (Hemerocallis)

Big, bold and bright. The Day Lily is a flower that symbolises motherhood. These beautiful, vibrant blooms are the perfect treat for your mum to enjoy in the summer garden.

We recommend…

Roses

Show your mum how much you love her this Mother’s Day by sending her a stunning Rose bush to grow at home. Pink roses are often given as a symbol of gratitude and appreciation and yellow shades of Roses are gifted to express joy.

We recommend…

Gladioli

A classic summer perennial. These wonderful flowers are easy to grow and make stunning cut flowers for your mum to showcase around her home. Symbolising strength, these striking flowers send a strong message of support and love to the person you are gifting this flower to.

We recommend…

Get Crafty

The time and love that goes into creating a homemade present shows nothing but care and admiration. Whether your 2 or 42, here are some crafty Mother’s Day creations to brighten her day!

Fresh picked Spring flowers

With Spring underway, Daffodils, Crocus and Snowdrops are now coming into bloom. So to add a personal touch this Mother’s Day, why not head into the garden and pick a spring bouquet?

Bookmarks with a natural twist

Pressing leaves and flowers to create art is a fun and easy craft for adults as well as children. If you’re feeling crafty, why not use fresh flowers and foliage to diy a personalised bookmark? The perfect present for all the bookworms in your life.

DIY Bird Feeders

A wonderful wildlife-friendly project is the perfect creative gift for any wildlife-lover. This teacup feeder is a great elegant choice that simply requires a tea set, superglue and some rope – simple!

Beautiful Summer Flower Companions

Are you in search of long-flowering, easy to grow flowers to add a burst of energy to your summer gardens? With Spring just a few weeks away, it’s time to get your summer bulb lists together in time for the spring planting season. With just a little planning, you can assemble a collection of summer flowers to bring joy and colour to your beds and borders.

To help you in your summer bulb quest, we’ve done all the hard work for you and put together a useful list of summer bulb companions to inspire you and your gardens:

Crocosmia and Agapanthus

A beautifully bold pairing. These glowing perennials combine vibrant shades and shapes of flowerheads to create a spectacular effect in borders. As an added bonus, most of these two wonderful varieties are drought tolerant too!

Crocosmia ‘Sunglow’
Agapanthus ‘Back in Black’

Echinacea and Rudbeckia

A colourful and easy to grow pairing. These wildlife-loving partners are perfect for livening up any garden with bees and butterflies in the peak of summer. These low maintenance flowers are perfect for beds and borders.

Echinacea ‘Hot Papaya’
Rudbeckia ‘Little Goldstar’

Salvia and Verbena

Plant a mix of these perennials and welcome to your very own wildlife haven. Both varieties are easy to grow, low maintenance and drought tolerant, what more could you want in the summer garden?

Salvia ‘Gigantimo Bluestripe’
Verbena ‘Pink Spires’

Dahlias and Hemerocallis

Inject a dose of colourful drama into the summer garden with these bold bloomers. Even though both varieties are eye-catching on their own, together they are a real burst of joy in the border.

Dahlia ‘Great Silence’
Hemerocallis ‘Double Dream’

Monarda and Geraniums

A fantastic plant combination for a long lasting display. These plants grow harmoniously together in soft pink and purple shades to add a fresh colour palette to borders and containers. Most of these perennials are top performers and some are award winners too!

Monarda ‘Blaustrumpf’
Geranium ‘Rozanne’

🎉🌹🏆 Check out our Latest Competitions & Giveaways 🎉🌹🏆

Spring Photo Competition 2020: Enter to WIN £100

Back by popular demand!

Our annual Spring Photography Competition is back for 2020 with another chance to win up to £100 worth of J Parker’s vouchers.

The competition is simple. All you have to do is take photos of your #JParkersBulbs spring-flowering bulbs in your garden this spring, and send them in online to be in for a chance to win.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about our latest competition:

This year, we have 10 amazing prizes up for grabs. Here is the prize list for our 2020 winners:

🏆 1st Place – £100 J.Parker’s Voucher

🥈 2nd Place – £75 J.Parker’s Voucher

🥉 3rd Place – £50 J.Parker’s Voucher

🏅 Runner Up Prizes – 7 winners of x £25 J.Parker’s Vouchers

All entrants will also recieve a 15% discount for online orders when you enter, which will be valid until the end of June 2020!

For a chance to win, simply send us your best spring-flowering bulb photos (J.Parker’s products only) via these channels:

FACEBOOK – Post your entries on our page for a chance to win!

TWITTER – Tag us in your photos with the hashtag #springcompetition

INSTAGRAM – Tag us in your photos with the hashtag #springcompetition

Or EMAIL us at competition@jparkers.co.uk (Entry must be under 5mb – please include your name and postcode)

Competition closes on the 19th June 2020.

To get your discount code, simply send in your photo entries and we will contact you with your discount (via private message on social or via email).

  • If you are entering by email, you should receive your discount code within 48 hours.
  • If you have entered on one of our social media channels, please note we can only share our code via private message.

Please note that we do expect a high volume of entrants, so if you haven’t received your discount code after 48 hours, please email us at competition@jparkers.co.uk with your entry to request a code.

Please note that entries sent in over the weekend will receive their codes on Monday.

Your image can be of any spring-flowering bulb, so long as it’s your own original image of a J.Parkers variety. Whether you’re growing Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinth, Iris, or Muscari, we want to see your photos.

Check out last year’s prize winning photos:

2019 1st Place Winner
Isabelle C - Crocus
« 1 of 10 »

Terms and Conditions for our 2019 Photo Competition include;

  • We will view all entries and any which meet the criteria outlined below will be considered for the top prize of a £100 J. Parker’s voucher, plus our additional prizes of £75, £50 and 7x £25 vouchers.
  • All entries using photographs must be original images, taken/produced by the entrant. 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.
  • Entrants agree that their names may or may not be published with their entry. No other details will be shared with any third parties.
  • The winning entry will be judged on both the quality of the plant and the image. The Judge’s decision is final.
  • Ten winners will receive either a £100 (1), £75 (1), £50 (1) or £25 (7) 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.
  • All spring bulb varieties will be considered, but only those purchased from J. Parker’s will qualify for the competition prizes.
  • Send your entries by email to competition@jparkers.co.uk (email under 5mb) or you can share it with us on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.
  • As an extra thank you all entries will receive a 15% discount on their next purchase. Enter this at basket stage to claim discount. Discount valid until competition end date (19th June 2020).
  • All entries will be considered, and you can enter as many times as you wish. Competition closes 19th June 2020. Winners will be notified by email before the 17th July 2020.

Winners Announced: Community Garden Competition

We would like to thank all of the entrants for joining in and helping make this year’s Community Garden Competition a success. We’ve had just over 100 entries, who have shared the story of their community garden via email or social, and we have been moved by how many of you are involved in such amazing and caring communities!

Our 3 lucky winners have been randomly selected and each entry had to answer this question:

How does your garden benefit the local community and how would a donation help it thrive?

Each community garden donation winner has been informed via email about their big win. So, without further adieu… here are this year’s winners!

Catterall Village ‘Chatty Bench’ WIN £30 worth of bulbs!

A little village situated north of Preston in Lancashire are trying to put the heart back into the community with gardening!

They have recently made a community garden. At its centre is a beautiful stone bench, west facing, where we hope people will sit and socialise with others. We are going to call it the ‘Chatty Bench’ and surround it with flowering shrubs and plants so people can sit and be joined by others who fancy a chat. This Chatty Bench is intended for young or old and may be the start of other Chatty Benches in the village. It will enable the lonely, vulnerable, or isolated amongst us to feel connected to the world around us and there is no better way than by being in a garden.

The Chatty Bench team would like to win a bulb donation to organise a community Bulb Planting afternoon and involve families especially children, to help decorate the village with flower bulbs.

Southborough SOS Community Garden WIN £50 worth of bulbs!

Southborough SOS’s mission statement is “Help tackle problem areas within Southborough Community, i.e. weeding, cleaning, vandalism etc. General goings on and events. Let’s help each other”.  

Since April 2019, members of Southborough SOS as well as beavers and cubs from the 19th Royal Tunbridge Wells St Matthews Scout Group have started transforming two areas of land in Southborough into two community gardens. Sadly the area has a mixture of community problems but the gardens have made a vast difference and given the community a huge lift. The local beaver and cub groups now can’t wait to get out and help again this year.  They would like to win a bulb donation to continue the good work started last year!

Leicester’s Hospital Secret Garden WIN £100 worth of bulbs!

This garden based at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester is centred on promoting health and wellbeing.

They have a project underway to restore a neglected Victorian walled garden, to provide not only a haven of tranquillity for the users, staff and visitors of Leicester’s Hospitals, but also an environment and facilities to benefit the local and wider community. Plans for the garden include sensory areas, space for quiet reflection, an organic growing area and open spaces for people to gather.

With a focus on the therapeutic and social benefits of gardening, they would like a donation of bulbs and plants to help provide a valuable and much-appreciated boost to the hospital’s garden.

Our Annual Spring Photo Competition is coming soon so stay tuned!

Bulbs to Plant in March

With Spring fast approaching, it’s finally coming up to the time when we can start to enjoy getting out in the garden again! With Daffodils now starting to show their cheery faces, we can enjoy the beauty of spring and start prepping the garden for summer.

Not all summer bulbs can handle the early spring weather, but these are 7 exceptional favourites that are both beauty and hardy.

Lilies

Large, showy and exotic. These easy to grow bulbs can be planted up until May and will naturalise annually for continued pleasure.

Begonias

One of the most popular summer flowers in the British garden. Easy to plant and grow, you can start planting these versatile tubers now. Perfect for pots.

Gladioli

A traditional and well-loved summer flower. This perennial makes a beautiful cut flower for the home in summer.

Ranunculus

Add a dose of colour to any summer garden. As one of the easiest bulbs to grow in pots, why not add some of these beautiful frilled flowers to your containers.

Roses

Bare rooted Roses can still be planted until May. These much-loved flowers add ornamental value to the garden and make stunning cut flowers.

Bulbs in the Green

Didn’t have time to plant your spring bulbs? Our bulbs in the green are an easy and efficient way of adding your favourites spring flowers to the garden straight out the box.

Perennials

Perennial plants are the backbone of nearly every flower garden. Plant now from March-May to brighten up the garden year after year.

🍓 We’re throwing a GIVEAWAY! 🍓

LIKE our Facebook page and giveaway post for a chance to WIN our Strawberry Honeoye.

Rose Guide: 8 Simple Steps to Pruning Roses

Wondering when to prune your Roses? The moment you choose to prune your Roses can be the difference between a beautiful, healthy plant that produces an abundance of blooms, to one that might not make it through the winter. Late winter is the ideal time to prune Rose bushes, and the right care can ensure healthy growth in the spring time.

Pruning Tips

Here are our 8 simple steps for pruning Roses:

1. Remove the foliage 🍃

Remove all the remaining leaves off the plant to allow you to see all the stems clearly. This step also removes any annoying pests or diseases that may be hiding in the foliage over the winter.

2. Remove Broken, Dead and Diseased Wood

How do you know if it’s dead? Cut into the stem and if it’s brown it’s dead, but if it is green, the stem is healthy.

3. Remove any thin, weak stems🌿

The trick is to remove any stems that are thinner than a pencil. These stems will only produce very little blooms.

4. Prune all remaining canes 🌹

Prune new growth to your desired shape and overall look. New stems grow in the direction of the bud so the goal is to encourage them to grow outward, not inward. Therefore, prune by making clean cuts at a 45-degree angle about 1/4 inch above a bud.

5. Seal fresh cuts

If you experience problems with cane borers, seal all large cuts with white glue to minimise risk.

6. Clean up time 🗑

After all your pruning work is done, it’s time to clean up. Dispose of all cut branches and leaves to remove any risk of attracting pests.

7. Feed 🥗

If you want to get the most out of your Roses, we recommend feeding them with a long-lasting fertiliser.

For the best results, we recommend two annual feeds:

  • Late-March/April 🏡
  • Late July after flowering 🌸

Community Garden Competition – WIN £100 WORTH OF BULBS

Are you a part of a local community garden? If so, we want to donate!

Whether it’s a tiny wildlife garden, fruit and vegetable plot on a housing estate, or a school garden, tell us how your community garden benefits your local area and we’ll choose three gardens to donate a selection of bulbs/plants to. The prizes will consist of a specially selected range of J.Parker’s plants and bulbs that we will hand pick to compliment your community garden’s theme.

WHAT CAN I WIN?

There will be 3 prizes for our top 3 favourite community gardens.

1st Prize – £100 worth of bulbs

2nd Prize – £50 worth of bulbs

3rd Prize – £30 worth of bulbs

COMPETITION DETAILS:

Simply answer this question (in 250 words or less):

How does your garden benefit the local community and how would a donation help it thrive?

HOW TO ENTER:

Send us in your entries by MARCH 2ND 2020

Enter via email at:

competition@jparkers.co.uk (please keep your entries under 5mb to ensure we receive them)

or enter via social media:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

RULES OF ENTRY:

  • We will view all entries and any which meet the criteria outlined below will be considered for the prize of a donation of J. Parker’s products to go towards the local projects.
  • Three winning entries will receive a donation of bulbs or plants from J. Parker’s for use in their community project.
  • Entries should be under 250 words. Images can be used so long as your entry email is less than 5mb in size.
  • Send your entries by email to competition@jparkers.co.uk (please keep your entries under 5mb to ensure we receive them) or entry via social media.
  • Entrants agree that their names and stories may be published publicly with their entry. No other details will be shared with any third parties.
  • Entrants agree that, should they be successful, their story and their project may be used in future for coverage on our blog and social channels.
  • All entries using photographs or drawings must be original images, taken/produced by the entrant. 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 our blog, on social media or in print.
  • The following criteria will be used to judge entries;
  • How the idea will benefit local communities and environments.
  • The originality of the idea and anything that sets it apart from other entrants.
  • The winners will receive a donation of J. Parker’s products with a value of up to £100 subject to available stock. This will be made up of products of our choosing based on the project described in the entry, cannot be exchanged for cash and there is no substitution for this prize. This donation of products can only be used for the purpose outlined in your entry.
  • All entries will be considered. Competition closes 2nd March 2020.
  • Winners will be notified by email before the 11th March 2020.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

6 Easy to Grow Climbing Plants

Climbers can give the garden an instant makeover. Covering bare walls and fences, trailing over trellises and pergolas to brightening up an unused corner of the garden, there’s nothing a climber can’t fix. Discover our top 6 climber plants to add a dose of colour to your garden.

Clematis

Easy to grow and many to choose from, it’s easy to see why Clematis plants are one of the most popular climbers on the market. Plant in spring or early- to mid-autumn and transform a pergola or wall with a waterfall of colour.

Clematis ‘Winter Beauty’

Create a blanket of colour with this lush evergreen Clematis. Their white, bell-shaped droplet flowers bloom until February to bring a burst of colour to the winter garden.

Clematis ‘Huldine’

An elegant summer climber. With a profusion of fragrant white star-shaped flowers, create a blanket of blossom when planted up trellis or along walls.

Clematis ‘Apple Blossom’

An abundance of baby pink buds with deep pink flushes,  will open into baby pink flowers in spring. Enjoy their gorgeous almond scent by a doorway or seating area.

Clematis ‘Broughton Star’

A rich, romantic bloomer. This free-flowering Clematis boasts vibrant double flowers in the spring and you can enjoy their blooms all the way into the summertime.

Clematis ‘Amber’

RHS Chelsea ‘Plant of the Year’ 2016. This award-winning climber produces delightful pale yellow blooms and will add warmth to the summer garden. Perfect for covering over a trellis.

Ivy

There are few places that ivy cannot grow. This beautiful climbing plant is perfect for bringing life to walls, fences or even hanging baskets.

Boston Ivy

A vigorous climber with glossy leaves and amazing autumn colour. This enchanting plant can be planted almost anywhere in the garden from sunny spots to shaded areas.

Virginia Creeper

A popular climbing plant. With an effective and rustic look, their reddish-bronze foliage look extremely eye-catching when grown up walls.

Jasmine

Few climbers can rival Jasmine’s beauty and fragrance. Despite vigorous growth habits, Jasmine plants are easy to grow in the garden and flowers from November to March.

Fragrant Star Jasmine

Need something to cover an unsightly wall or fence? Try the highly fragrant, white star-shaped blooms of Star Jasmine. A truly stunning addition to the summer garden.

Jasmine nudiflorum

Brighten up any wall with this cheery evergreen climber. Easy to grow and hardy, the vivid yellow flowers are also highly fragrant. We recommend planting as a feature on a prominent wall or trailing over a garden fence.

Wisteria

Looking for a spectacular, fast growing climber? Try the beautiful vines of Wisteria. Easy to establish and versatile, these plants are known for their traffic stopping colours and high performance.

Wisteria ‘Black Dragon’

One of the most spectacular of all the climbers. With fragrant, violet blue pendular flowers, this early summer beauty is a delight when trained around trees or over bare walls.

Wisteria ‘Multijuga’

An RHS Garden Merit winner. ‘Multijuga’ is one of the most desirable varieties of Wisteria on the market today. Their fragrant lilac flowers bloom from summer into the autumn.

Honeysuckle

Bright and beautiful. Honeysuckle are an easy to grow, effective climber that makes a great addition to any landscape.

Honeysuckle ‘Gold Flame’

Enjoy the masses of colourful tubular cartwheel-shaped red and orange flowers are produced from June through to September. This vigorous grower that can quickly cover a wall or fence.

Honeysuckle ‘American Beauty’

A cottage-style Honeysuckle. With strikingly beautiful peach and summer pink flowers, this beauty will make a wonderful feature plant in the sunshine.

Climbing Roses

Climbing Roses are truly resilient plants. Vigorous and relatively easy to grow, plant a rose to add a touch of charm to the summer garden.

Rose ‘Zephirine Drouhin’

A free flowering, thornless Rose. Adorned with an abundance of fragrant, silvery pink blooms, this climber is perfect for covering the wall of a house or gracing a trellis, arch or pergola.

Rose ‘Golden Showers’

Add some sunshine to the summer garden with these bright yellow blooms. Easy to grow and versatile, there is nothing more beautiful than a climbing colourful rose decorating the wall of a house.

Our Spring 2020 competition is now up and running – Enter to WIN £100!